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Starting Rotation 5.4

Starting Rotation 5.4

We have a giant slate on our hands tonight but the good news is one pitching spot is locked down. The challenge is going to be filling out the rest of the lineup and finding secondary starting pitchers with the best pitcher on the planet on the mound tonight. Let’s get right into the Starting Rotation 5.4 and figure out what other paths we can take to find the green screens tonight! 

Starting Rotation 5.4 – Main Targets 

Cardinals Ranks vs Pitch Types – FB – 23rd SL – 10th CH – 3rd

Until deGrom is priced at a salary that actually hurts building a lineup, he’s a free square. The last time he was on the main slate, he was $10,900 and roughly about 90% in cash games and I believe around 55-60% in GPP. DK raised his price $200 after another 27.1 DK point game against the Red Sox. It can be hard to quantify just how good deGrom is in words and this chart from baseballsavant.com helps put it into visuals –

deGrom is first in K rate at an astounding 48%, first in swinging-strike rate by almost 4% and is the only starter over 20%, and the FIP/xFIP combo is under 1.50. He doesn’t even throw the slider that much!

There’s just nothing to pick at and we are witnessing one of the best in the game shove every time he takes the mound. Even on a monster slate, deGrom should be in the vast majority of lineups. He’s legitimately capable of nearly 60 DK points by himself. 

Trevor Bauer ($10,700 DK)

Cubs Ranks vs Pitch Types – FB – 15th CT – 11th SL – 11th CB – 11th

We will likely have an opportunity to use double aces if that’s the route we choose. On a large slate, we can find value bats but the potential of Bauer against the Cubs is not as easy to replicate. The HR/9 is a touch high at 1.58 but Bauer is also eighth in K rate across the majors. The WHIP is only 0.68 and the CSW is 32.3%, all aligning for Bauer to take advantage of a Chicago lineup that whiffs 26.7% of the time to righties, sixth-most in the league. Another aspect that could help Bauer’s fly ball tendencies (he’s pushing 50%) is the Cubs sitting 10th in ground ball rate on the year. They also have the sixth-worst hard-hit rate as a team. 

The three main offerings outside of the four-seam all have a whiff rate of at least 35.1% for Bauer and his four-seam leads in strikeouts so far with 17 of 51. He’s a very balanced pitcher in how he gets things accomplished. Both sides of the plate are under a .230 wOBA on the year and righties are carrying a 41.3% K rate. Chicago could throw out five or six righties and the lineup could work to Bauer’s favor, on top of being the other ace on the slate. 

J.A. Happ ($8,600 DK/$7,900 FD) 

Rangers Ranks vs Pitch Types – FB – 17th SL – 5th CH – 27th

If we learned anything last night, the field is happy to attack the Rangers even if the pitcher has not pitched well leading up to that start. That’s not exactly the case for Happ, as he does have a 1.96 ERA. It’s absolutely a concern to see a 4.02 FIP and 5.42 xFIP, and the K rate is 14.9%. Having said that, Happ gets an offense that is ninth in K rate at 25.9% and is 26th or worse in OBP, OPS, slug, wOBA, and wRC+ to southpaws. Happ has generated a 25.4% hard-hit rate and is also under 10% in barrel rate. Again, there are reasons to be cautious here but there’s plenty of rewards to be had. 

What could really benefit Happ is if the Rangers play a normal lineup since that would include four lefty hitters. Happ has owned that side of the plate so far (albeit through only 16 batters faced) with a .098 wOBA and four strikeouts. The four-seam needs to do the lifting as it has a 24.7% whiff rate and all other pitches are below 14%. It’s encouraging to see the Rangers slightly below-average against that pitch. He also induces a 54.5% ground ball rate to that side of the plate. I wonder if he’s going to be chalky, and if he is we can eat the chalk in cash. I may not be super interested in GPP as I’m not sure there’s a ceiling here to be had at the salary. 

Nick Pivetta ($7,900 DK/$8,300 FD)

Tigers Ranks vs Pitch Types – FB – 29th SL – 22nd CB – 25th

I think this may be the first time Pivetta has made the main section of the article, but that’s what the Tigers do for pitchers at this point. Only Texas strikes out more to right-handed pitching and they’re up to 29%. Pivetta sits at a respectable 24% K rate and the walk rate is generally a big concern at 16.3% (yikes). Detroit helps that metric as well since they only walk 7.3% of the time, 27th in baseball. Pivetta also generates a hard-hit rate of just 27.9% and the barrel rate is under 5%, both encouraging signs. He’s not quite as good as he’s pitched with a 4% HR/FB rate (the career mark is 17.4%) but this might not be the game where regression comes for him. A hitter has to make contact to hit a home run. 

I’m not sure Pivetta could have a better matchup via the splits, either. He’s faced 49 hitters on the left side of the plate and he’s allowed a whopping .103 average, .203 wOBA, zero home runs, 28.6% K rate, and a 3.03 FIP. Detroit’s typical lineup has five or six lefties in it and all three of Pivetta’s pitch types sit under a .280 wOBA allowed. I believe the price is right on both sites and he’s in the running for that SP2 spot on DK. 

Huascar Ynoa ($8,200 DK/$8,000 FD) 

Nationals Ranks vs Pitch Types – SL – 24th FB – 10th

Aside from one poor start against the Cubs, Ynoa has been excellent and the metrics would tell us this could be mostly real. The ERA is under 3.00, as is the xFIP and it’s not like the 3.66 FIP is anything terrible. His K rate is 32.7% which would be top 15 if he qualified. The WHIP is only 0.91 and he’s generating a 46.2% ground ball rate. The swinging-strike rate has taken a very nice leap forward to 14.6% and that’s in large part to his best pitch to this point – the slider.

Only nine qualified starters have a higher FanGraphs rating on said pitch and the fact it’s the lead pitch for Ynoa makes it even more impressive. He’s only allowed a .163 average, .210 wOBA, and it’s responsible for 25 of his 34 strikeouts with a 41.7% whiff rate. The Nationals only have on hitter above a 0.4 rating against the slider this year in Starlin Castro. RHH look dangerous against Ynoa with a .343 wOBA and a 2.81 HR/9. Before we get too carried away there, righties have a 35.8% HR/FB ratio right now, which simply doesn’t belong. Ynoa whiffs that side of the plate at a 34.4% rate and has a 2.54 xFIP. With that metric including a 10.5% home run rate on fly balls, it’s super encouraging for Ynoa.

Shane McClanahan ($7,000 DK)

Angels Ranks vs Pitch Types – FB – 19th SL – 4th CH – 12th

I want to be clear that this is a DK-only option in my eyes, this play is very risky, and the workload restrictions are real. There’s a good chance that McClanahan won’t go past 70-75 pitches, at a guesstimate. I will admit I’m absolutely enthralled by his stuff, and how can you not be? Prepare for some serious GIF work – 

Alright, I’m all finished. Sorry, but those are SO FUN to watch. I believe that the Angels are not the most terrifying matchup to lefties. Let’s look at this season and last season since Anthony Rendon missed some time this year. 

*Note – Rendon fouled a ball off his knee late last night, and I would suspect he’s not active for this game. Hopefully, he’s alright but it would certainly help McClanahan. 

2021/2020 Average – 22nd/17th 

2021/20 OBP – 24th/17th 

21/20 Slugging – 18th/13th 

21/20 OPS – 20th/15th 

21/20 wOBA – 21st/15th 

21/20 ISO – 11th/10th 

21/20 wRC+ – 19th/13th 

They are almost certainly better than they’ve shown this year, and they only whiff 20.4% of the time. Here’s the interesting fact, though – McClanahan just faced a better offense. That’s right, the Oakland A’s are better in every single category ahead of the Angels. They strike out more but the flame-throwing lefty from the Rays generated 15 swings and misses on 59 pitches his first start. He also suffered from a .444 BABIP, which will obviously not continue. You have to be encouraged by no walks in the first start and a 50% ground ball rate on top of that. This isn’t super fair and it’s clearly not an apples-to-apples comparison, but McClanahan’s swings and misses amounted to a 23.7% rate. That’s a Jacob deGOAT level rate. It speaks to how evil that stuff is. I’m always willing to side with a talented pitcher, even in a tougher spot. 

Kyle Gibson ($7,200 DK)

Twins Ranks vs Pitch Types – FB – 3rd SL – 25th CT – 18th CH -7th CB – 8th

After his disaster first start of the year, Gibson has put his foot down and been very good. He’s given up a total of three earned runs over 33 IP and the FIP is under 2.60. He’s yet to give up a home run and it helps to have a 53.1% ground ball rate, especially against the Twins. They rank eighth in ground ball rate so even though they only strike out 22.2% of the time to righties, I still think Gibson is in play. He’s not going to overpower you but the 12.8% swinging-strike rate is actually pretty solid. Gibson has also seen the swing rate increase this year from 41.4% last year to 46.8% this season. 

It seems that the cutter has been a very big addition to the arsenal. He’s throwing it 15.6% of the time and it’s generated a 43.3% whiff rate, while the sinker and the slider have both take big leaps this year in the whiff rate department as well. The slider is at 46.3% after 37.9% last year and the sinker went from 11.4% to 20.9%. They both have slightly more movement than last year but nothing too crazy. Gibson also sports great splits as neither side of the plate is over a .277 wOBA. Righty hitters do have the higher number but they also have a .327 BABIP and both sides are right about a 2.50 FIP. His K rate jumps up to 24% to RHH as well, so this spot can still work out for Gibson. 

Starting Rotation 5.4 – In Play 

Aaron Nola – He’s been a little tilting so far to roster with an incredible game of 48 DK points and then four starts that didn’t go higher than 18.5 DK. With his salary right next to Bauer, I’d take the “safety” Bauer represents. Nola has a K rate of 25.8% but the Brewers matchup certainly helps that along since they whiff 26.8% of the time. Milwaukee is dead last against the curve as well, which helps Nola as he throws that pitch 27.8% of the time. The Crew welcomed back Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich last night, so they are getting healthier. Nola is also a little worse to lefties with a .284 wOBA but the number of times the Brewers rack up the whiffs keeps him well in play. I just prefer Bauer at virtually the same price. 

Adbert Alzolay – On paper, I’d likely pass but this game is the second set of a doubleheader so I’d want to see the lineup before deciding. Azlolay has had a solid 21 IP so far with a 3.78/3.51 FIP/xFIP combo. The K rate is very interesting at 28.4% with a 0.90 WHIP, not to mention a hard-hit rate under 28% and a swinging-strike rate of 14.3%. He’s using the slider 47.2% of the time which is a massive jump from 2020. It was only thrown 6.7% of the time last year but in 2021, it has 17 of 23 strikeouts, a .146 wOBA, and a 40.5% whiff rate.

That’s Freddie Freeman up there swinging a wet noodle at the slider. The Dodgers are ninth against the slider as a team and I’m not sure we need to go here, but he’s in pitching purgatory until we see a lineup.

Johan Oviedo – The 23-year old has been impressive so far through just 9.2 IP, with a 29.7% K rate, a 3.42 FIP/3.17 xFIP combo, and a 0.93 WHIP. The ground ball rate is 50% and the hard-hit rate is 27.3%, a great thing to see with strikeout upside. The swinging-strike rate is an eye-popping 17.9% which would be fourth in the majors over a larger sample size. The righty sits at 96 MPH on his fastball but the strikeout star to this point is the slider with six of 11 strikeouts. It possesses a 54.2% whiff rate and just a .225 wOBA. The Mets are just 20th against that pitch and Oviedo whiffs both sides of the plate at least 27.3%. Color me intrigued. 

Starting Rotation 5.4 – Out of Play

Zach Greinke – Some may have him in play, and that’s up to you but I won’t find myself playing him tonight. He’s just a pitcher I can’t ever get ahold of. The K rate is under 19% and the swinging-strike rate is under 9%. He’s sporting a 1.74 HR/9 to the right side of the plate and a 4.51 FIP. Even though we’ve attacked the Yankee bats with righty pitchers multiple times so far this season, I won’t have a share of Greinke. Call it my anti-Greinke bias if you like. 

Domingo German – He’s honestly a fine option, but just not one that I’ll chase. The K rate is 21.6% which isn’t anything special and the Astros have the lowest K rate in the majors to RHP at 19.9%. He’s using a mix of a curve/four-seam/changeup and Houston is a mixed bag against the mix. They are top-five against the fastball while average to below-average to the other two. The most troubling aspect of German’s profile is the splits, as RHH have a .349 wOBA, 2.70 HR/9, and a 5.01 FIP. That’s not what you’re looking for facing a team that is projected for six righties. 

Cole Irvin – He’s leaning on the fastball about 60% of the time and that really feels like an issue against the Jays. They are fifth in wRC+, wOBA, slugging, and in the top 10 in all our offensive categories. Irvin doesn’t look like a gas can with a FIP/xFIP combo under 4.00 and he’s been legitimately good to righty hitters. They only have a .290 wOBA so maybe we dampen the Jays stacks but I can’t pitch Irvin here. 

Eric Lauer – The strikeouts have never really been there for the lefty, as his career rate is 20.5%. His swinging-strike rate is under 9% but it has to be noted that Philly has not shown up to lefty pitching so far. They are no higher than 14th in any category and ISO is the only one they are above average. The K rate is the third-worst at 29.8% and they are 26th against fastballs, which is the pitch Lauer threw over 60% of the time his first start. You can build a case but it’s not a player that I’m terribly interested in. 

Mike Minor – I thought hard about putting Minor into the “In Play” category but there are too many metrics that I can’t get by. For starters, the FIP is over 5.00 to match the ERA. Then we look at the HR/9 and it’s 2.10, which is scary. The K rate is intriguing at 24.1% but Cleveland may not help much, as they whiff just 20.2% of the time. The pitch mix does look like it presents a path to success, as Cleveland is 25th or worse to four-seams and sliders. Those makeup almost 65% of the mix for Minor. He’s interesting to an extent but just not enough to warrant risking in my eyes. 

Joe Ross – He offers some variation of a fastball over 58% of the time and that’s not ideal against the Braves. The 2.11 HR/9 is problematic and that’s coming with a ground ball rate over 45%. What really makes life tough is Ross is worse to righties with a .369 wOBA, .850+ OPS, 5.85 FIP, and only a 16.7% K rate. Atlanta should roll out five or six righty hitters and that’s enough for me to avoid this spot. 

Jorge Lopez – We don’t need to spend a ton of time on a pitcher that has a 2.49 HR/9, 6.29 FIP, 9.2% walk rate, and a wOBA of at least .339 to each side of the plate, do we?

Mitch Keller – I don’t know what happened to Keller making the leap to the majors, but it has simply not worked out to this point. He’s using the four-seam/slider combo about 78% of the time, and both pitches have a wOBA over .365 given up. The slider has just gotten destroyed with a .826 slug and a .532 wOBA. The 14.1% walk rate is sky high and the K rate isn’t anything special at 20.7%, which contributes to an appalling 1.98 WHIP. Both sides of the plate are over .400 for their wOBA and as a team, the Padres are sixth against the slider. Trent Grisham and Wil Myers especially are worth a look, as they are both top 15 against the slider this year. 

Justin Dunn – I have to admit, I’m tempted. Dunn has a four-seam/curve/slider mix and all three pitches are over a 22% whiff rate. Baltimore is 10th in K rate to righties, which jives well with an 18.2% K rate from Dunn. Sadly, his xFIP to each side of the plate is above 6.00 and the walk rate of 14.8% just doesn’t make sense on a slate this size. His fly ball tendencies (52.6%) are always a threat to come back and bite him, and Baltimore happens to have the highest fly ball rate in the majors to righties. I’m out for all of those reasons. 

Michael Fulmer – I’m not really making it a habit to go after Boston and I don’t think we need to change for Fulmer. Credit to him, he’s sporting a 23.5% K rate and a 47.5% ground ball rate. The issue is even if (and it’s a large if) things go well, he’s pitched fewer than five innings every time but once and only has three starts on the year. Fulmer also sees the K rate drop to the right side and they have a 1.80 HR/9. Boston is top 12 against the slider, and that is the most-used pitch for Fulmer. 

Anthony Kay – We already touched on the A’s being a good offensive team to lefties and Kay isn’t exactly a good one. Through a career of 38.1 IP, he has a 21.5% K rate, 10.7% walk rate, and a 4.64 FIP. He’s faced 13 righties so far this season and they have a .330 wOBA and a .770 OPS. The xFIP is actually amazing at 1.70 but it’s important to remember the small sample and steer clear of lefties taking on Oakland. 

Sam Hentges – Cleveland will let the big lefty draw his first career start and that leaves us in a difficult spot to project him. He’s barely pitched above A+ ball and only posted a 21.4% K rate in 128.2 IP in AA. The hard-hit rate in his 5.2 IP in the majors is over 42% and the swinging-strike rate is under 10%. He comes without the hype of Daniel Lynch last night and is barely in the top 30 prospects for Cleveland. That’s still an accomplishment, it’s just comparing the two lefty starters. He’s yet to throw more than 53 pitches so I would suspect 75 is about the limit. With RHH sporting a wOBA over .450 early, I’ll take the wait and see approach. 

Thank you for reading my Starting Rotation 5.4 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!

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