Monday is a generally light day on the MLB schedule due to it being a travel day and today is no exception with nine games scheduled. All of these are the first game of new series, which can lend itself to good pitching performances.
Zach Wheeler CIN at NYM ($8,600 FD, $9,300 DK): Not many top-tier arms are scheduled to be on the bump tonight but we don’t have to go too far back in time to see an ace in the making in Wheeler. In his last start, against a good hitting Philadelphia squad, he pitched seven innings, gave up only five hits, did not walk any batters and struck out 11. This start extended his quality start streak to three and coincided with a correction in his mechanics. Before the fix he had eight walks in his first 9.1 innings of the season. Since then, he has walked only six in 20 innings while striking out 24 batters. Also impressive is that he has gone at least six innings and 105 pitches in that three start stretch. He is working tonight in a great park for pitchers as Citi Field ranks 23rd in hits allowed in 2019 (and going back to last season it ranked 22nd in HRs and 30th, which is dead last, in runs). Now about his opponent, the Reds. They are the eighth easiest team to strike out against righties with a 24.7% strikeout rate. With a 27th ranked OPS of .648 and a 28th ranked wOBA of .278, when they do make contact and they are not doing much damage.
Eduardo Rodriguez OAK at BOS ($8,500 FD, $9,100 DK): Dustin Pedroia a pitching guru? While he recovers from a recurring knee injury, Pedey recently taught E-Rod the grip on a new pitch, the slider. According to an MLB.com article, Rodriguez said, “Four days ago, I was talking with Pedey in the dugout and he told me, ‘Hey, do you want to throw a really good breaking ball?’ I was like, Yeah, bro, I’ve been battling to throw a breaking ball since I got here in the big leagues, since I was in the Minor Leagues. He told me throw the ball like this and hold it like that, and two days ago I started throwing it with my knee over there, and it’s funny, because the first time I threw that kind of breaking ball was today and it was working.” E-Rod said these words after a six inning start against Detroit on April 24th, one in which he gave up only two hits with three walks and seven strikeouts. If you are a believer in E-Rod sticking with this new pitch, you may like his spot at home against the Athletics. According to the same MLB.com article, “Of Rodriguez’s 90 pitches against the Tigers, 16 were sliders. Of the 16, he generated one swing and miss, two called strikes, three foul balls and two outs. And having the slider as a weapon made his other pitches more dangerous. Rodriguez induced 18 swings and misses, which means the Tigers whiffed at one of every five pitches he threw. The mix was a thing of beauty for Rodriguez, as he also threw 52 fastballs, nine cutters and 13 changeups.” Be forewarned though, the A’s hit lefties well (they strike out the fewest of any MLB team so far in 2019 against lefties, have a wOBA of .347 and have an OPS of .823 which both rank in the Top 10) and the game is at Fenway Park. A high risk, high reward play.
Nick Margevicius, SD at ATL ($6,800 FD,$7,600 DK): Another high risk, high reward play here. Yes, the Braves can hit. And they hit lefties very well too. SunTrust Park is a good place to hit HRs in (currently 13th best in 2019). All those factors are against Margevicius. However, Margevicius’s pitching style is all about pinpoint control and limiting hard contact and this makes him profile well against a Braves team that likes to mash fastballs. In his last start, Margevicius walked more than two batters for only the second time in his pro career. I would not bet on that many walks this time out against a Braves team that is middle of the pack in walk rate against lefties (10.5%). With a home run rate against him of only 3% and a line-drive rate of 23% so far in 2019, you can see he has done a good job at limiting hard hit balls. I expect him to pitch a good game against the Braves. He will need to keep the Braves off-balance with his full repertoire of pitches. Luckily, he certainly has the ability and pitch profile to do exactly that.
Zach Davies COL at MIL ($6,400 FD, $6,800 DK): In five starts in 2019, Davies has not allowed more than two runs in any of them. He has struck out at least four batters in three of those starts. Colorado continues to be a different team on the road than compared to at home, with a team wOBA of .347 at home and .262 on the road. This may be the theme of this article, there is risk in this spot. Miller Park is no ordinary away park, ranking as one of the best to hit in all of MLB. In 2018 it was the 10th easiest park to hit a HR in, while so far in 2019 it is 4th easiest park. However, Davies knows how to pitch at home, not allowing an earned run there so far this season in 10.2 innings.
John Means, BAL at CHW ($7,000 FD, $7,000DK): Means is a revelation so far in 2019. He is a pitcher whose best pitch, and one that he throws second most often, is his changeup. Means’ changeup comes in over 11 mph slower than his fastball, which is averaging 94 mph and is thrown 54% of the time. The average MLB pitcher has a difference of 8.7 mph between his fastball and changeup. His larger than average difference keeps batters off-balance. This is indicated by his hard-hit rate, which is less than 35%. What might be even more impressive is that Means has more than a nine inch drop on his changeup. So not only does a batter have to be worried about the change of pace, but one that has tremendous movement as well. According to Kyle Glaser of Baseball America, “I was not familiar with Means until last week. A scout brought him up to me unprompted. Four days later (by complete chance) I saw him pitch at Fenway against the Red Sox. There’s something there. (The) Os have something.”
DFS meteorologist concentrating on MLB and the NFL, I graduated from UMass-Lowell with a degree in meteorology in 1996. I worked at AccuWeather as a meteorologist for almost a decade. I combined my two loves, weather and sports, and like to think I help 1000s of DFS'ers out each day. Huge Boston sports fan, lover of nature and animals and a proud father of 4 boys (2 biological).