We have almost the entire league in action tonight but the pitching options leave something to be desired. We have a couple of ace options but at least one is not in the best possible spot tonight and we’ll need to discuss if we want to take the risk. Let’s talk about that choice and a whole lot more in the Starting Rotation 7.2 to lay our foundation for green screens tonight!
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There’s an old saying that matchups make the fights and that is the main reason Lynn is the first man in for me. It also helps he’s under $10,000. We’ll get to Mad Max in a moment but even with the strides the Detroit offense is making, Lynn has the better spot. His last start was shortened by rain and he went three scoreless innings with four strikeouts and two walks. Now that doesn’t mean the spot tonight is perfect. The Tigers are projected to roll out five lefties and that does hurt Lynn a little bit. His wOBA against that side of the plate is .272, the xFIP is 4.74, and the K rate drops significantly to 22.5%. The changeup is one of the main culprits as Lynn only has two strikeouts with it and the .308 batting average is a huge jump from his fastball-style pitches.
Lance Lynn, Wicked 88mph Cutter. ✂️ pic.twitter.com/0ARibBiVQS— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 26, 2021
Lance Lynn, Wicked 88mph Cutter. ✂️ pic.twitter.com/0ARibBiVQS
Having said all this, Lynn is elite against righty hitters with a 34.6% K rate and there are still four righties in the Detroit lineup. The Tigers are also still hovering around the league lead for K rate alongside the Cubs. Lynn’s swinging-strike rate is 12.6% which is the best rate of his entire career. In the three innings last time out, the spin rates weren’t suspect for Lynn at all so there’s not a whole lot to dislike here.
Attacking the Dodgers is not typically high on our list (and can still go haywire as Kevin Gausman reminded us) but Scherzer is far from your typical pitcher. Scherzer sees a sharp difference in pitch type depending on what side of the plate he faces. When it’s a righty in the box, he’s mostly a four-seam/slider pitcher. It’s interesting because the K rate is slightly lower to the right side and the HR/9 is 1.72. The FB/SL combo has given up nine of 12 homers so far and Mad Max has been better to the left side of the plate thus far. His change and cutter is the combo he turns to instead of the slider to lefties, and those pitches have a .164 and .263 wOBA on the year.
Max Scherzer, 95mph Fastball and 89mph Cutter, Overlay pic.twitter.com/g9HLAjmoFk— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 26, 2021
Max Scherzer, 95mph Fastball and 89mph Cutter, Overlay pic.twitter.com/g9HLAjmoFk
On the season, the Dodgers only whiff 22.1% of the time and reside in the top 10 of just about every offensive category we value. It’s undeniably a tough spot for Scherzer but he has a 16.7% swinging-strike rate, 32.3% CSW, and an overall 35.4% K rate. All of those metrics are inside the top-seven for pitchers this season, it’s just about the risk of the matchup and paying full price for him.
The price is a touch high for my liking but McCullers has the talent to back it up. He’s got both sides of the plate below a .290 wOBA, both sides whiff over 24% of the time, and the FIP is under 4.00 to each side as well. What’s intriguing about this spot is the Cleveland offense will likely have five lefties in the lineup. The pitch types for McCullers flip and he uses the curve/changeup combo as his two main pitches.
Lance McCullers, Filthy 86mph Knuckle Curve. 😷 pic.twitter.com/GSzEzwBpmf— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 12, 2021
Lance McCullers, Filthy 86mph Knuckle Curve. 😷 pic.twitter.com/GSzEzwBpmf
Teams are hitting under .210 against both pitches, the wOBA is under .260, and the whiff rate is at least 34.2%. The fly-ball rate to the lefties is also just 27% so the lineup does work towards what McCullers does well. Cleveland sits at a K rate of 22.8% on the season but that isn’t an extreme concern here for me. It’s better to see the Cleveland offense is bottom-nine to the curve and change.
I need to note that we don’t have a pitch count yet for Gray. He’s coming off the IL and had a rehab start with 53 pitches thrown. That should tentatively line him up for around 75 and at this price, that might be all we need. Chicago is now leading the league in K rate to righty hitters and Gray is rocking a 30.1% K rate, just 0.5% away from his career-best. The swinging-strike rate has stayed right where it always is at 11.2% and the CSW is 32%. Gray has only given up a 23.3% hard-hit rate through his 50 IP and the xFIP is just 3.30. The Cubs could put out a lineup that’s a massive help for Gray as well.
Sonny Gray, Dirty 83mph Curveball. 😨 pic.twitter.com/LsvMi6b9gm— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 28, 2021
Sonny Gray, Dirty 83mph Curveball. 😨 pic.twitter.com/LsvMi6b9gm
On the season, lefties only have a .266 wOBA, 2.90 xFIP, and a 32.7% K rate. Righties have had much more success with a .354 wOBA (and a .344 BABIP) but the xFIP does come up to 3.77 to that side. The Cubs are projected to have five lefties and the pitcher spot tonight. Even if Gray only faces the lineup twice, he has an upside of seven strikeouts or more. At that salary, it’s tough to overlook but let’s see if we get a pitch count before we get too crazy.
The last time out Gilbert was Rotation Special but he’s being upgraded tonight. We’re seeing a shift in how he pitches and it’s been a huge difference in his results. He threw 19.1 innings in June to the tune of a 2.04 ERA, .238 wOBA, and a 30.3% K rate. In his short time on the mound the last start, he whiffed three in just 28 pitches through two innings. When a prospect of Gilbert’s pedigree starts to take off, we need to take notice as we have with Tarik Skubal and Casey Mize. As a quick aside, I’ve been driving the Casey Mize bus lately but his price is outrageous tonight. Back to Gilbert, he’s starting to trust his slider and change up more. The change especially has been used more often and it has a whiff rate of over 72%.
Of course, that is high and we shouldn’t expect that to stick but it illustrates how nasty that pitch is. The fact Texas is dead last against it is very encouraging as well, not to mention a top 10 K rate of 25% to righties. Gilbert also cut his hard-hit rate to just 27.9% over the course of June and Texas is just 14th. Gilbert is WAY too cheap for how he’s been pitching and things certainly look like they’re coming together for the young righty.
Starting Rotation 7.2 Honorable Mention
Pablo Lopez – Three of the last four have been over 26 DK points and the Phillies whiff 24.9% of the time against righty pitching. His K rate went through the roof in June at 31.8% but we always have some concerns when he’s on the road. That’s normally not a big weight for us but Lopez has always had issues on the road. This season, the ERA is 2.01 at home and it’s 4.10 on the road. The WHIP jumps from 0.97 to 1.23 and the xFIP goes from 3.08 to 3.88. I would reserve him for GPP only and understand the risk with him.
Taijuan Walker – There is an upside to chase at just $8,000 (remember a few weeks ago when this guy was over $10,000? Wild times) but there are some flaws with him. I was looking for a full write-up but the K rate to righties is 23.5% and the wOBA is .269. Neither of those are terrible numbers and the FIP is just 2.95, but I was hoping Walker would have been better against righties than lefties. The Yanks are starting to hit a little better as well, sitting 11th or higher in our offensive categories through June.
Kyle Gibson – You had better not expect another 30+ DK point explosion but Seattle does whiff an awful lot, sitting third at 26.2%. Gibson has been better to the left side of the plate with a .245 wOBA but he also sees the K rate dip to 17.7% and the xFIP is at 4.11. The price is a bit too high for me considering the Seattle lineup does have some power potential and should roll five lefties.
Starting Rotation 7.2 Primary Stack
There’s really not much of a reason to not go directly back to Houston tonight. We love the fact that they’re on the road so you know you get all nine innings from their offense. Sam Hentges has struggled mightily this year and has a .433 wOBA to righties along with a hard-hit rate of 36%. Even though the xFIP is surprisingly solid at 4.66, his K rate is under 23%. He throws a fastball 44% to righty hitters and it is getting demolished with a .561 wOBA and a .311 ISO. Jose Altuve, Yuli Gurriel, and Carlos Correa all wreck fastballs with ISO’s over .300. Don’t sleep on lefty Yordan Alvarez either. He leads the team with a .531 ISO on 40 BBE to go with a .553 wOBA and a hard-hit rate of 67.5%.
I can hear everyone asking how to fit four high-priced bats, even if you use Gilbert as a pitching option tonight. Let’s swing out West where the Orioles “pitching staff” takes on the Angels. LA just happens to have two extremely cheap, non-household names in Phil Gosselin and Jose Rojas that smash lefty pitching (lefty Keegan Akin is starting for Baltimore). Both these hitters have an ISO of at least .150 and a wOBA of at least .379. Rojas carries more pop at a .290 ISO while Gosselin is at a .476 wOBA. If Yordan Alvarez isn’t your speed, sub in Shohei Ohtani who has a .402 ISO against lefties and then gets Baltimore’s relief staff. Even though Anthony Rendon hasn’t hit lefties well this year, he’s cheap and the career track record is too long for his salary.
Starting Rotation 7.2 Secondary Stacks
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