Before we get rolling, just wanted to say a huge thank you to Brian for covering pitching Monday. He’s a pretty cool dude and came in very clutch for me, and it’s much appreciated. Tonight brings us no less than four ace pitchers and about six more that are either on the verge or at least their own team’s ace. That makes for a fun time for me and I’m not sure I’ll be spending down too much tonight. Let’s get to work for the Starting Rotation 5.25 and see who we’re going to target for us to find those green screens once again!
I’m not particularly concerned with the injury at this point since deGrom tortured the St. Louis minor league team with no setbacks. If the Mets were concerned at all, they wouldn’t be letting him pitch and there’s no reason for us to fade him. He leads the majors in just about everything we could ask for, including a 46.1% K rate and a 21.6% swinging-strike rate. All three of his pitches boast a 36.6% whiff rate or higher.
Jacob deGrom out here throwing 102 MPH in Low-A ball 🤣🔥(via @GoPBCardinals)pic.twitter.com/nTScTw660t— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) May 21, 2021
Jacob deGrom out here throwing 102 MPH in Low-A ball 🤣🔥(via @GoPBCardinals)pic.twitter.com/nTScTw660t
His 0.68 ERA is backed up with a 1.08 FIP and a 1.77 xFIP, so there’s not even that much concern there. Unsurprisingly, Colorado is much worse on the road with a 26.1% K rate and the 30th ranking in OPS, ISO, wOBA, and wRC+. There just isn’t much left to be said here. I suppose since he only threw 41 pitches, he could be somewhat limited but I’m not playing it like that tonight. Play him and let’s move on.
Regardless of what offense he’s facing, the DK salary of $9,100 is flat-out absurd. I’m assuming deGrom (rightly) gets all the attention which could leave Burns much lower in popularity than he should be. Yes, the Padres are a tough matchup and they just don’t strike out at 20.1% but Burnes has been a different animal this year. His K rate is just under 45% so far this season and the ground ball rate when teams aren’t striking out is 51.3%. What’s pretty interesting with that metric is the Padres are quietly fourth in ground ball rate at 46.6%. His hard-hit rate is also down at 21.8% and teams just can’t get the barrel to the ball that much at a 6.4%.
Corbin Burnes, Filthy 88mph Slider. Bend the Knee 👑h/t @ReviewngTheBrew pic.twitter.com/GNX9uY85FY— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 20, 2021
Corbin Burnes, Filthy 88mph Slider. Bend the Knee 👑h/t @ReviewngTheBrew pic.twitter.com/GNX9uY85FY
The cutter for Burnes continues to be just other-worldly with a .179 average, .212 wOBA, 33.5% whiff rate, and 35 of 67 strikeouts. The slider, curve, and change are all over a 58% whiff rate on top of that and helps explain why the K rate is so high. If he comes in much less popular than deGrom, I’m not willing to say he’s a “pivot” in the normal sense because deGrom is the main play on this slate. However, in MME formats you can take some chances and it could open the door for a double ace approach that is (possibly, possibly not with the ridiculous salary) contrarian on this slate.
If Burnes isn’t the most disrespected pitcher at his salary, Gausman may well be next in line. He’s started nine games and hit at least 20 DK in eight of them and is averaging over 25 per contest. On the last main slate he pitched, he was priced at $7,800 and scored 27.1 DK. His past two starts haven’t been on the main slates but he’s scored over 30, so naturally, DK moved his price down to $7,200. You may not know it by the attention he gets, but Gausman is rocking a 29.6% K rate and a 1.66 ERA. The FIP/xFIP combo is 2.48 and 3.21 so that’s not crazy high to cause a ton of concern. He is also 12th in the swinging-strike rate at 14.8% and 31.4%, respectively.
Kevin Gausman, Sick 86mph Splitter. 🤒9th K thru 5. pic.twitter.com/dnh25dbhlC— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 14, 2021
Kevin Gausman, Sick 86mph Splitter. 🤒9th K thru 5. pic.twitter.com/dnh25dbhlC
The four-seam is ranked as a top-five fastball in the majors and the 7.8 rating for his splitter is tops by a whopping 5.6. Granted, it’s not a common pitch but the splitter has been phenomenal. It has 44 strikeouts out of 67 (the four-seam has all of the other ones), a .165 wOBA, and a 47.5% whiff rate. It’s interesting to see him be slightly worse to lefties at a .233 wOBA since he leans on that main two pitches almost all the time to lefties. It also tells us that Gausman has been elite when that’s the worst side. Lefties whiff 33.9% of the time and Gausman should face seven if Arizona plays a normal lineup.
We’ve said for a while that there’s an ace in Giolito, even if that version was hiding for a few starts. Well, it came out and shoved for eight innings and 39 DK points last start and the price does not match the potential upside. To be clear, I will play Burnes for $400 more most of the way, but if the field goes that same route Giolito could get lost in the shuffle. If we’re talking about this year’s splits, Giolito could face some issues as righties have a .349 wOBA and .822 OPS this season. However, that might be a little misleading as the xFIP is 3.44 because his HR/9 is 2.63. That tends to happen when the HR/FB rate is 25.9%, and not likely to continue.
Lucas Giolito, Elevated Changeups. 👌👌👌 pic.twitter.com/oQROMzE1oD— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 19, 2021
Lucas Giolito, Elevated Changeups. 👌👌👌 pic.twitter.com/oQROMzE1oD
One of the largest culprits of the up and down nature of Giolito’s season so far is the four-seam. In 2020, it finished at a 29% whiff rate, .260 wOBA, and a .201 average with 48 of 97 strikeouts. This year has seen it come down to an 18.9% whiff rate, .321 wOBA, .208 average with 16 of 61 strikeouts. Additionally, he’s already given up three home runs on it compared to four last season. Seeing St. Louis rank so low against that pitch is encouraging for Giolito, especially if he’s not popular.
Is the spot horrible on paper? No doubt. Not only do the Astros destroy the slider as a team, but they are in the top-five in every offensive category aside from ISO with just a 16.9% K rate. Normally, I won’t even give lefties against Houston a second glance. Clayton Kershaw is not the normal everyday lefty and his salary is an inexplicable $8,000 on DK. His K rate of 29% is the best it has been since 2017 and the HR/9 is also the best since 2016, so there is a very clear path to success here even if it’s filled with danger.
Clayton Kershaw. Pitcher on Pitcher Crime. 🚨🚓Peacock's reaction. 😂🤣 pic.twitter.com/5QVutwcxKI— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 20, 2021
Clayton Kershaw. Pitcher on Pitcher Crime. 🚨🚓Peacock's reaction. 😂🤣 pic.twitter.com/5QVutwcxKI
Houston is by far the best team against the slider but Kershaw’s has been just video game level good this year. Despite throwing it as his main pitch, it has generated a 45.4% whiff rate, .249 wOBA, and a .189 average with 51 of his 65 strikeouts. The .311 wOBA to righties is skewed a little bit by the home runs, which seem to be unlucky so far. Kershaw has a 2.98 xFIP and a 30.2% K rate to righties while suffering through a .333 BABIP. There is really no reason for him to be priced so low. There is a great chance he goes out and does Kershaw things and if folks don’t play him, they question why they didn’t go after an $8,000 Kershaw.
Honorable Mention – Max Scherzer, Joe Musgrove, Rich Hill, Cole Irvin, Kyle Freeland for the bold
Starting Rotation 5.25 Stacking Options
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