Easter is over and we now fully dive into the MLB season, especially with no NBA slate tonight.
This is the first time this season where a main slate lacks a legitimate “ace”, making picking the correct pitcher a bit more difficult.
On slates like tonight, I’m more inclined to save a few bucks and spend up on a top-tier stack, but nonetheless I recommend chasing safety at the position.
One final note that I’d like to share is the lack of pitchers this season that have surpassed 6 innings pitched. Bill Deakins, one of the FanCave MLB analysts, shared this tweet with our staff earlier today:
Way too early, but be aware:
% of Starts 6+ IP:
2018: 35.5% (entering Sunday)
Did I mention I'm aware it's too early?
Keeping track #BullPenning
— Brian Kenny (@MrBrianKenny) April 2, 2018
The importance? Less innings equals less FDP. This makes strikeout rate and run prevention all the more important when it comes to choosing your pitcher.
Speaking of pitchers, this slate is UGLY, but we need to break it down. Here we go!
As a refresher, here is how I am breaking down my pitching article:
- “the metrics” – The sabermetrics that make Pitcher X a strong play in their respective tier.
- “the opponent” – The stats regarding Pitcher X’s opponent that strengthen his case, or that could increase risk.
- “the history” – The BvP from the previous 3 seasons for Pitcher X against his respective opponent
- “the verdict” – Brief breakdown of these numbers, with recommended formats for Pitcher X. For example, Cash game lock/chalk, strong cash play, GPP-only, GPP flier, etc.
*Batting stats are 2018 numbers, Pitching stats are 2017 numbers
Charlie Morton ($8,500)
The Metrics (2017):
- 26.4% Strikeout rate (32.8% vs L, 20.9% vs R)
- 51.8% Ground ball rate (45.6% vs L, 56.1% vs R)
- 26.9% Hard-Contact% (27.8% vs L, 26.3% vs R)
- wOBA – 0.249 vs L, 0.345 vs R
The Opponent: Baltimore Orioles (vs RHP in 2018)
- 0.169 wOBA (30th)
- 0.060 ISO (27th)
- 25.0% K Rate (11th)
Only 4 different Orioles have had exposure to Charlie Morton in their careers, batting a lifetime 0.367 with a 0.399 wOBA over 31 official plate appearances.
The Verdict: Cash Game Chalk (stomach some risk)
Almost by default, Morton clocks in as arguably the safest play on the board today. After a successful 2017 campaign where he saw an above-average strilkeout rate and ground ball rate, he also did a fantastic job of limiting hard contact and preventing home runs (under 1 HR/9 innings).
The Orioles have been arguably the worst offensive team to start the season, as their bats haven’t seemed to make the trip north of spring training yet. As a team, they rock a lowly 0.169 wOBA vs RHP and overall a 0.116 team batting average. Even in a mire slump, this offense is dangerous, giving Morton a bit of risk. To help compensate for the risk of an offensive explosion, his counterpart Chris Tillman should get absolutely rocked tonight, leaving him in a great position to add a W bonus to his stat line.
Mike Clevinger ($7,700)
The Metrics (2017):
- 27.3% Strikeout Rate (25.8% vs L, 28.3% vs R)
- 0.96 HR/9 (1.60 vs L, 0.59 vs R)
- 34.2% Hard-contact% (36.4% vs L, 32.8% vs R)
- wOBA – 0.349 vs L, 0.259 vs R
The Opponent: Los Angeles Angels (vs RHP in 2018)
- 0.370 wOBA (3rd)
- 0.214 ISO (5th)
- 9.8% K rate (29th)
Current Angels players have a lifetime 0.349 average and 0.423 wOBA against Clevinger over 51 plate appearances with 7 strikeouts.
The Verdict: GPP Only
The Angels are not a team that I look to attack this season, which is why I view Clevinger as a GPP-only play.
He had a nice 2017 season in which he saw a significant bump in his strikeout rate (up to 27.3%), which should help him compensate for the Angels lack of Ks (9.8%).
Because of the Indians’ high-octane offense, Clevinger comes in as a -133 favorite (per FantasyLabs), strengthening his case a bit more. He should also come with sub-10% ownership for you deep-field GPP players.
Andrew Triggs ($6,400)
The Metrics (2017):
- 17.7% K rate (16.7% vs L, 18.4% vs R)
- 26.7% Hard-contact% (29.2% vs L, 24.8% vs R)
- 6.7% Walk Rate (6.7% vs L, 6.8% vs R)
- wOBA – 0.281 vs L, 0.342 vs R)
The Opponent: Texas Rangers (vs RHP in 2018)
- 0.255 wOBA (25th)
- 0.146 ISO (15th)
- 32.4% K rate (4th)
The current Texas Rangers’ lineup has a lifetime 0.111 batting average and 0.121 wOBA in 28 plate appearances vs Triggs with 4 strikeouts.
The Verdict: Low-end Cash Game Pivot, strong GPP play
Triggs had a pedestrian year compared to his strong 2016 rookie season, but his first matchup of 2017 is one that should ignite a bounce-back season.
The Rangers lineup is FULL of free swingers (Gallo, Odor, Beltre) and it’s shown through the first weekend of the season, as they hold a terrible 32.4% strikeout rate against RHP and a dismal 0.255 wOBA.
What makes this play even more enticing? He’s facing off with none other than Big Sexy himself, Bartolo Colon. While the A’s are only -128 favorites, I expect them to smack Colon around and given the Rangers’ lack of production, Triggs could earn himself a nice W while keeping them contained, just don’t be surprised if he ends up with a few earned runs.
Thank you for reading and good luck in your contests!