There are some really fun matchups tonight and you can make a strong argument that the top end of the field is even better than yesterday. We have at least six aces for their respective clubs on the mound tonight, which is exciting. It feels like a strong day to mostly spend up on pitching but let’s dig in and see who we like the most in an extra-large version of the Starting Rotation 4.13!
Trevor Bauer ($10,200 DK/$11,000 FD)
On a slate full of options, I’m attacking the Rockies outside of Coors and that’s likely to be the case often this season. This lineup honestly just isn’t that good. It’s fair to note that they’ve only had 90 PA against righties on the road but the early results aren’t encouraging. The whiff rate is over 26% to start with and the walk rate is under 6%. They also rank 21st or worse in OBP, slugging, OPS, ISO, wOBA, and wRC+. Bauer has basically picked up where he left off last year with a 39.2% K rate, a 0.69 WHIP, and a 35% CSW. Even the swinging strike rate is up 1% to 13.6% through two starts. The curve he uses is just nasty –
Trevor Bauer, Pretty 80mph Knuckle Curve…and insta K Strut. 🌈 pic.twitter.com/XDBAfkCC4i— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 7, 2021
Trevor Bauer, Pretty 80mph Knuckle Curve…and insta K Strut. 🌈 pic.twitter.com/XDBAfkCC4i
The fly ball rate is still over 42% but that’s come down from last season and I’m not all that worried about the 2.08 HR/9 with a Coors start under his belt. Bauer has hit double-digit strikeouts in both starts and he’s owned righties so far with a 43% K rate. The only LHH that I would even be mildly concerned with are Charlie Blackmon and Ryan McMahon but two hitters don’t break a play. That’s even more accurate when that pitcher has the upside Bauer possesses. The only way I’d not play Bauer is if MLB comes out with some type of punishment for the “suspicious” balls they’re inspecting from Bauer’s previous starts. I wouldn’t expect that in the least.
Shane Bieber ($10,700 DK/$11,200 FD)
I’m not sure if folks will avoid Bieber just because of the matchup but I can’t say I’m all that worried here. Across 11 IP last year against the Sox, Bieber racked up a total of about 48 DK points, whiffed 18, and gave up three earned runs. You can make a strong argument that the White Sox were better last season since they had the services of Eloy Jimenez and Tim Anderson. Bieber has had a slightly average start to the season from preventing runs but I’m not sure there’s anything to be worried about. The hard-hit rate is just 36.4% and the CSW is 38.9%, higher than last season. The swinging strike rate has taken a huge leap from 17.1% to 22.2% this year and that leads the majors at this juncture. He’s throwing the slider about 20% more this year and it’s generated an absurd 72.2% whiff rate. His mix plays so well altogether –
Shane Bieber, Ks 4, 5 & 6.Thru 3. It's just what he does. pic.twitter.com/5J9oh3Xkkm— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 7, 2021
Shane Bieber, Ks 4, 5 & 6.Thru 3. It's just what he does. pic.twitter.com/5J9oh3Xkkm
The seven walks so far are mildly concerning for this price range and Chicago does lead the league in walk rate against righty pitching. Even having said that, Bieber is in the 22nd percentile in barrel rate and the 19th percentile in hard-hit rate. He’s also still striking out both sides of the plate and both sides have an xFIP of 2.82 or better. I would say one of the metrics that sticks out is his first strike rate, which is only 49.1% after living above 63% in his career. I don’t see anything wrong overall with Bieber and he’s a threat to lead the slate in strikeouts every time out.
Lucas Giolito ($9,800 DK/$9,800 FD)
Giolito has really only had one poor inning so far this year and that came with some help from his defense. He’s racked up a 42.9% K rate thus far and the trio of FIP, xFIP, and xERA are all under 2.40. Giolito’s WHIP is down under 0.85 and hitters aren’t squaring him up at all with a 28.6% hard-hit rate. His CSW and swinging-strike rate are both up about 2% to 33.9% and 19.1% respectively. The changeup is already top 15 in the league through two starts and only Franmil Reyes and Eddie Rosario rate well against the change so far. That pitch has generated 12 of the 18 strikeouts for Giolito. You go ahead and hit that changeup –
Lucas Giolito, 93mph Fastball and 83mph Changeup, Overlay. Hitting is impossible. pic.twitter.com/xsLGACM9pP— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 7, 2021
Lucas Giolito, 93mph Fastball and 83mph Changeup, Overlay. Hitting is impossible. pic.twitter.com/xsLGACM9pP
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect about the start for Giolito is his splits against LHH since the start of last season. In 2020, he sported a 34.7% K rate to lefties and just a .180 average. In just 16 hitters faced this season, he’s whiffed eight of them, and Cleveland is projected to have eight in their lineup. Cleveland is in the bottom half of the league in wOBA and wRC+ so far this year and I’ll have no issues pitching Giolito in any format this evening.
Brandon Woodruff ($7,500 DK/$8,800 FD)
I’m not sure why DK hates Woodruff since he scored 31 DK last time out and is still under $8,000. I feel like we see a very similar situation as last night in cash. The field will pick their favorite top-tier guy (likely Bauer) and pair it with attack the Cubs offense with Brewers pitching. Woodruff has maintained his pitch mix from 2020 and his four-seam continues to do the heavy lifting as far as strikeouts, with eight of the 13 so far. Overall, the K rate is virtually identical at 31% and the walk rate has dipped a little as well. The four-seam is tied for third in FanGraphs rating with some dude named Jacob deGrom. Seems like good company to keep.
Thru 5 IP, Brandon Woodruff has 7 K'sHe's thrown 46 pitches pic.twitter.com/9y3Fn0cdsS— Alex Fast (@AlexFast8) April 7, 2021
Thru 5 IP, Brandon Woodruff has 7 K'sHe's thrown 46 pitches pic.twitter.com/9y3Fn0cdsS
It’s actually fairly striking how Woodruff looks identical to 2020 in many metrics. The CSW and swinging-strike rate are within 0.5% of each other and he’s still slightly worse in wOBA to the right side of the plate. He might give up a higher wOBA but the K rate makes up for it at 38.9% through two starts. There is not any reason for Woodruff to be this cheap. He did just see the Cubs but so did Peralta. That offense is mostly lost at this point, sitting no higher than 27th in slugging, OPS, ISO, wOBA, and wRC+. That goes along with them being dead last in average and OBP. The fact they struggle against the fastball so far just adds to Woodruff’s appeal on top of everything else.
Honorable Mention – Luis Castillo (how is he possibly this cheap), Stephen Strasburg
Dylan Bundy ($8,800 DK/$9,000 FD)
It shapes up that Bundy could be in the same spot Alex Cobb was last night. No, it’s not because they both pitch for the same team but Bundy is that same weird salary range that may leave him forgotten. Much like Cobb, I think that’s a mistake and the four-seam/slider combo is super fun. They have combined for 11 of the 16 strikeouts Bundy has on the season and the slider has a whiff rate of 36%. Bundy is only allowing a 23.3% hard-hit rate in the early going with a 1% gain in the CSW and swinging strike rates as well.
Dylan Bundy, Wicked Breaking Balls. 🤢 pic.twitter.com/nIUQsmPBTR— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 6, 2021
Dylan Bundy, Wicked Breaking Balls. 🤢 pic.twitter.com/nIUQsmPBTR
What I really love about Bundy in this spot is he’s a good deal better to the right side of the plate. Last season the wOBA was .230 with a 33.3% K rate and a 0.32 HR/9. Through 29 hitters this season, Bundy is sporting a .254 wOBA, 37.9% K rate, and a 2.43 xFIP. With the Royals whiffing at the second-highest rate to righties so far, this could turn into an elite spot for Bundy. All of the power for the Royals is on the right side and it’s directly in Bundy’s wheelhouse.
John Means ($7,800 DK/$8,300 FD)
This looks to be a strength-on-strength matchup, as Means needs his changeup to fare well on the mound. What’s interesting is Ty France and Dylan Moore really carry the M’s rating against the change. Taking those two hitters and a bench hitter away from their rating would leave them around 15th. Means has all of his strikeouts on this duo of pitches and both are over 30% in whiff rate. With the pitch data not looking as scary once we dig in, the spot gets more intriguing. Also, your FanGraphs rating only matters so much against this –
John Means, Nasty 83mph Changeup. 👌 pic.twitter.com/wUaErQc9cO— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 8, 2021
John Means, Nasty 83mph Changeup. 👌 pic.twitter.com/wUaErQc9cO
I think the K rate is on the way up from the 20.3% it stands at now. Last year it was over 23% and the CSW/swinging strike rate are both up 2% and 3% so far. The fly ball rate is high at 51.5% but Seattle is 16th in fly-ball rate against lefties. They are also striking out 29.5% of the time so far, which leans this matchup more towards Means. Seattle is also hitting just .143, has a .026 ISO, and a .456 OPS which are all in the bottom-five against LHP. Means will not get a lot of attention (and comes with risk) but he could rival any other pitcher in fantasy points tonight.
Kevin Gausman ($6,800 DK)
I wouldn’t be interested in Gausman at all on FD but he’s a very cheap SP2 for DK. This is another spot that might not make the most sense on paper, but we have to remember that the Reds destroyed Pirates’ pitching and that skewed the numbers. Gausman hasn’t been quite as good as last year since the K rate is only around 22% in two starts. Last year it was over 32% and it’s hard not to notice the swinging strike rate is just 10.8%. That’s 4.2% down from 2020 but yet, the CSW is only down 0.9%. Gausman is down about 1 MPH on the four-seam and splitter but the fastball is still inside the top-eight in FanGraphs pitch value. The splitter is the best in the majors but that’s not a heavy usage pitch.
Gausman is under a .255 wOBA to both sides of the plate so far and the biggest nitpick in the splits is the 14.9% K rate to lefties. That was not an issue last season as the LHH whiffed at a 31.5% rate so if you believe that Gausman isn’t that far off from last year, there’s plenty of upside at this price tag. Pitching in San Fran is a major upgrade from Cincinnati and I can’t see the Reds continuing to strike out at just a 20.3% rate. Last season it was a 25.6% rate and the offense isn’t that drastically different.
Max Fried ($6,500 DK/$7,600 FD)
Fried got smacked against the Nationals but the start before that, he went 94 pitches deep and whiffed eight Phillies. His 9.00 ERA looks far out of whack with his 3.58 FIP and 3.25 xFIP and the .565 BABIP (!!) is a fairly large culprit. The K rate looks stout at 28.2% and the CSW/swinging strike rates have both come up from last season by 4% and 3%, supporting his newfound K appeal. The hard-hit rate looks great at just 20.8% and Fried has seen both the four-seam and curve generate a whiff rate over 30% this season. His curve is the leading whiff pitch so that soothes some fears about the Marlins being excellent against the curve.
Miami only has 56 plate appearances against southpaws this year but has walked just 3.6% of the time. That’s dead last so the 21.4% K rate looks a little better. That should help Fried as well since his K rate is a touch high at 7.7%. The Marlins are also 26th in hard-hit rate against lefties and Fried is just way too cheap for this spot.
Honorable Mention – Hyun Jin Ryu, Jack Flaherty, Ryan Yarbrough
Gas Can of the Slate – I’m a big Pablo Lopez fan but until he can prove that he can pitch outside of Miami, I’m interested when he’s on the road. Taking on Atlanta is never easy and it’s worse when you have a career 6.11 ERA, .338 wOBA, and a 1.60 HR/9 on the road across 95.2 IP. The first two players in the stack are no strangers to DFS in Ronald Acuna and Freddie Freeman. Acuna is making an early case for possibly the best player in baseball and has a .531 ISO and .571 wOBA while Freeman has a .360 ISO. Both players are under 18% for their K rate and both are the top hitters against the changeup. Those are the two main pitchers for Lopez and he could be in trouble here.
Atlanta has been below average to start but we’re talking around 30 plate appearances. Dial it back to last year and Marcell Ozuna, Travis d’Arnaud, Dansby Swanson, and Ozzie Albies all had a wOBA over .360 and an ISO over .240. All six hitters occupied six of the top nine spots on the Braves against the fastball and change in 2020 as well. There’s not a lot of gas cans on this slate but the Braves look fantastic.
Record – 7-6
Thank you for reading my Starting Rotation 4.13 and make sure you follow me on Twitter at @bucn4life! Be sure to sign up for an ALL ACCESS GOLD ACCOUNT account here at Win Daily Sports. Gain access to our Projection Models and jump into our Discord where we will have our experts talking plays across every sport and slate!
At WIN DAILY®, our motto is to “change your game and change your life.” Sure, we want to help you win that big DFS tournament. But we want you to have a greater enjoyment of Daily Fantasy Sports while you are doing it. Along the way, you also may learn some life lessons and gain some perspectives you may have never considered before.