MLB Pitching Primer: Thursday, July 26th
Everything in the sport of baseball comes down to the hitter-versus-pitcher matchup – which makes pitching the most important element of MLB DFS play. Without an understanding of the best pitching plays on the day, your DFS efforts will be sunk! Each day, the Pitching Primer will provide you with some of the top pitching plays on the day – taking a close look at the “why” behind these picks, and helping you to identify pitchers others might overlook.
Thursday, July 26th
Welcome to Thursday! We have a bit of a larger Thursday night slate than normal with nine games this evening, but with Stephen Strasburg getting scratched, we don’t have any strong aces going. Sometimes those can be the most fun slates, with ownership spread out among various pitchers rather than the slate coming down to a make-or-break decision on whether to fade the top ace.
Let’s take a look at the pitchers taking the hill tonight and see if we can find an edge.
Arms To Trust
Sonny Gray vs Kansas City Royals
Sonny Gray gets my nod as the most trustworthy pitcher tonight, but that may say more about the slate tonight than any of Gray’s numbers so far this year. Gray’s 5.34 ERA and 1.49 WHIP this season look mediocre at best, but they look a little better when considering his 4.37 SIERA, and his recovery since posting a 6.69 ERA and 1.93 WHIP during the first month of the season.
Gray’s appeal tonight comes in his strong -280 odds of a Yankees win tonight, by far the best odds on the slate, and the Royals low 3.8 implied run total. The Royals don’t strike out much, which limits Gray’s upside somewhat, but they rank 29th in the league in runs scored per game, and 28th in both slugging percentage and wOBA against right-handed pitching this season. Gray is priced as only the sixth-most expensive pitcher on FanDuel, the fifth-most expensive on DraftKings, and fourth-most on FantasyDraft, giving him a good shot of being the top point-per-dollar option on the board this evening.
Tyler Mahle vs Philadelphia Phillies
Mahle has shown some of the inconsistency we would expect from a young pitcher, giving up 11 earned runs over 8 innings in his last two starts combined, but he still has a decent 4.32 ERA (4.48 SIERA) and 8.55 K/9 on the year. He has also flashed some strong strikeout upside, putting up double digit strikeouts in starts against the Brewers and Braves earlier this season. Tonight he takes on a Phillies team that leads the majors in K% against right-handed pitching, while ranking 16th in wOBA.
Mahle is a solid -130 favorite tonight facing Phillies prospect Ranger Suarez, and while he carries the risk of getting blown up against the Phillies offense, he also carries nice upside for tournaments priced at only $6,700 on FanDuel, $6,000 on DraftKings, and $12,100 on FantasyDraft.
Nick Kingham vs New York Mets
Kingham is in a similar situation compared to Sonny Gray tonight, with both pitchers carrying a 8.53 K/9 on the year, and Kingham taking on a Mets team that has a weak overall offense that ranks 24th in wOBA against right-handers this year, but that also limits its strikeouts ranking 17th in K% versus righties. Kingham is also a strong -150 favorite in his matchup, and the Mets have a low 3.7 implied run total, although Kingham’s odds for a win are nowhere near as strong as Gray’s.
My preference for Gray tonight comes mostly in price, with Kingham priced as the second-most expensive pitcher on FanDuel and DraftKings, and third-most expensive on FantasyDraft. I will still likely put Kingham into the mix if mass-entering for tournaments tonight.
Tommy Milone at Miami Marlins
Milone is another pitcher where his appeal comes from situation rather than overwhelming statistics. The veteran left-hander has put up a respectable 4.19 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 9.27 K/9 at AAA this season, however he had issues getting right-handed batters out at the major-league level last season, giving up a .673 slugging percentage and .441 wOBA to right-handed hitters in 2017.
Milone is favored in his game tonight, however, and he is facing a Marlins team that ranks 27th in runs scored per game and 28th in wOBA against left-handed pitching this season. Perhaps most importantly, Milone is minimum-priced at $4,000 on DraftKings and $8,000 on FantasyDraft, although he does not appear to be available on FanDuel.
Dereck Rodriguez vs Milwaukee Brewers
Rodriguez has shown very well so far in his rookie season, with a 5-1 record and 2.72 ERA, but there are some red flags to be aware of. His 4.25 SIERA is substantially higher than his ERA, and he has limited strikeout upside with a 7.13 K/9. He is pitching in his pitcher-friendly home ballpark tonight, where he has a 2.28 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in four starts, and as a slight favorite he will likely work his way into my tournament mix this evening. He makes a better play on DraftKings and FantasyDraft, where he is the sixth-most expensive pitcher on the board, compared to FanDuel where he ranks third in price.
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