Welcome to the Sunday edition of the DFS Primer. If you read my article yesterday and selected Brandon Woodruff as your pitcher, we were looking very good for a while! Woodruff was perfect for the first 4 innings and was superb through 6 innings having struck out 9 batters while giving up just 1 hit and 3 walks on 89 pitches. Woodruff also had a 3-0 lead so a win almost seemed like a guarantee.
Then he got into some trouble in the 7th inning and his bullpen failed him by giving up a 2 run bomb which turned out to be the go ahead run for Pittsburgh. Interestingly, Pittsburgh got three hits in a row to start the 7th inning and all of them were on the first pitch. I sometimes find that teams that have nothing to lose will just swing away and pray that their bats will make good contact with the ball in a favorable way.
That is what happened to Cristian Javier last week against Kansas City. Javier had arguably one of the greatest stretch of 2 starts in modern baseball history by being a part of a no-hitter in the first start (7 IP with 13 Ks) and following up that start with another 7 IP and 14 Ks. Variance in baseball is very real and we just have to shake our head in disbelief and move on.
For today, I will keep using the Pitch Arsenal metrics on Statcast instead of making my fancy table ranking all of the pitchers. I am confident that such an approach is the right way to find the best pitcher on any given slate. The one who stands out for me as a guy to roster with confidence is Shane Baz of the Tampa Bay Rays. Check out his whiff rates below for the 4 pitches he throws.
4-seamer: 14.8% (157 pitches)
Slider: 46.1% (141 pitches)
Curveball: 47.8% (59 pitches)
Changeup: 6.3% (34 pitches)
Those whiff rates for the slider and curveball are outstanding. Don’t worry about the low whiff rate about 4-seamers. Even the great ones don’t have high whiff rates for their fastballs but you need 2-3 other pitch types you can use to punch out batters and a wise pitcher will know when to throw such pitches at the right time. After all, the battle between pitcher and batter is truly a battle of wits and Baz has proven that he wins that battle often. At AA last year, Baz accumulated 49K and gave up just 2 BBs on 32.2 IP thrown. WOW! He then struck out 64 batters and walked 11 in AAA while throwing for 46 innings. His K/BB and K/IP rates are excellent again this year.
Of course there are other pitchers on most slates who have similar success with whiff rates as Baz. So why not them and why Baz? Because the Cincinnati bats whiff at a high rate against the curveball and slider. Tommy Pham and Joey Votto, arguably the two best hitters for the Reds and both who tend to bat in the heart of the order for the Reds, whiff at curveballs at 31.6% and 34.5%, respectively. Nick Senzel, who is projected to bat 9th, whiffs at curveballs at 42.1%.
As for the slider, the Reds starters for today aremuch worse. Check out these high whiff rates.
I fully expect Baz to get us at least 6 IP, give up no more than 2 earned runs, strike out 10 batters, and hopefully get us the quality start and the win. Do the math and we are looking at 52 fantasy points for just $8700 on FanDuel. Sign me up!
Clearly I went on the deep end with my analysis of Baz and the Reds bats so hopefully you are convinced that Baz is the guy we must start. I believe his ownership will be low which works to our advantage. So what about the stacks? Let’s keep it simple: go back to the Braves and roster the White Sox. Both have the highest implied run totals for today and face weak pitchers. Paolo Espino for Washington and Drew Hutchison for Detroit are both flyball pitchers with Espino’s FB/GB ratio nearly at 2. Hutchison’s ERA is expected to rise by 0.97 while Espino’s should rise by 1.09 according to Statcast.
Another thing to consider is that both the Braves and White Sox offenses are fully healthy and feature excellent leadoff hitters. The weather is also decent in both Atlanta and Chicago so we should see a healthy dose of extra base hits and runs today. As usual, it is hard to pinpoint the right batters for each stack so consider multiple lineups. In fact, here are some sample lineups.
P: S. Baz
P: C. Sanchez
C: T. D’Arnaud
1B: J. Abreu
2B: L. Garcia
3B: J. Harrison
SS: D. Swanson
OF: L. Robert
OF: A. Vaughn
OF: M. Ozuna
P: S. Baz
C/1B: J.A Abreu
2B: J. Harrison
3B: A. Riley
SS: O. Arcia
OF: L. Robert
OF: A. Vaughn
OF: M. Azuna
UTIL: T. D’Arnaud
There you have it! Baz as your pitcher and go with the Braves and White Sox bats. Good luck!
Design by J.R. Caines (@JRCainesDesign on Twitter and @caines_design on Instagram)