Panda's Bears and Bulls: MLB 8/14 Slate Breakdown

I started writing this blog, but then today ended up being a busier day than I had expected. Then as I go to pick up where I left off, I find out Jacob DeGrom was scratched and having to rethink things has turned this into a bit of a mess. Oh, and now Montas is scratched, and there are some weather issues to look out for.

I had gone too far though to turn back, so we’re going to tread forward with something, something that hopefully is much better than nothing.

It’s turned into a bit of a disjointed mess, but we’re all smart people. We’ll figure it out.


-The two aces (Gerrit Cole and Clayton Kershaw).

We’ve fallen on a day where multiple teams have their aces going, which means we have several above average pitchers at different price points available to us. There is safety and upside in these two, but all have their share of issues today (mainly their opponent), and quite frankly the next tier of pitchers are all in better spots.

Kershaw’s K-rate is below multiple other cheaper options, and he’s facing a fairly dangerous Angels offense, at least at the top of the order.

Cole’s K-rate is down below 30% this year so far, and although these aren’t your dad’s Red Sox, they’re still a middle of the road offense with some pop.

The most likely scenario for all of these two is to finish in that 25-35 DK point range, but I believe the options are deep enough today we can find that elsewhere for significantly less, which will be quite helpful as there are several expensive offenses to stack in extraordinary spots.

***This section was a lot better and more purposeful when DeGrom was in, but with him scratched it’s quite underwhelming now.


-The Next Tier: (Jesus Luzardo, Sonny Gray, Brandon Woodruff, Aaron Civale, Dinelson Lamet).

All five of these arms are priced between 8.2K and 9.6K and offer significant upside to match or exceed that aces above at a significant discount. The vast majority of my builds will include two pitchers from this group. The only downside to this approach is, I believe this will be the opinion of the majority, especially with DeGrom now out. The ace group, which I am bearish on, will probably be under owned from where they’d be on a different slate, but that’s OK. Even if we can project the duo above for a combined 30%, to me that’s 30% of line ups built differently, and possibly wrong in my opinion for approaching this slate.

Brandon Woodruff comes into Wrigley with the wind blowing in and a 29% K-rate. He has a higher K-rate on the season than Cole or Kershaw, and the Cubs strikeout more frequently than the Red Sox or Angels.

Sonny Gray has been phenomenal so far this year with 2 30+ DK point performances and a 36% K-rate, building off his stellar previous season. The Pirates don’t strike out a lot, but they don’t offer much to fear in their line up either. We’ll chalk yesterday up to variance, and Gray is a significantly better pitcher than DeSclafani.

Aaron Civale is busting out and despite facing the White Sox twice and Twins once, he’s still rocking a 2.84 ERA and 2.27 xFIP with a 31% K-rate. Now he gets the basically middle of the road Tigers offense who have struck out at a higher clip than any team in baseball this season.

Dinelson Lamet has already carved up the D-Backs twice this season, so maybe they’re due to get to him, but I have my doubts. The Diamondbacks arguably have an average to below average line up and will now have to deal with the Coors hangover. Lamet has no significant splits and a K-rate over 30% to both sides of the plate, so I have little to no concern that they can throw as many 6 LHB’s at him.

Originally I had written up Montas, but he’s been scratched. For the sake of time, I’ll write this: I like Jesus Luzardo the same as Montas, and he’s even a few hundred cheaper. I’m just as happy to play him. Luzardo is a quality young pitcher with plenty of upside.


All the arms will get the X from me.

The Red Sox bullpen, Merrill Kelly, Walter Lockett, Ivan Nova, Kyle Wright, Jake Odorizzi, Whatever the Royals are doing, Tyler Chatwood, Ryan Castellani, Lance Lynn, Yusei Kikuchi, Patrick Sandoval.


All these line ups are pretty easy for me to fade or X out on this slate.

Pirates, Red Sox, Tigers, Royals, Diamondbacks, Giants, Cubs, Brewers, Mariners, Angels,


Mets Bats VS. Spencer Howard and Spencer Howard vs. Mets Bats

Spencer Howard draws the start today for the Phils, and this isn’t a Kyle Hart situation like yesterday. Howard is one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball and is priced at the absolute bare minimum.

This is his 2nd career start, and in the first one he had some issues, but that’s fully understandable for a big league debut. It’s not like his opponent, the Braves, are a pushover either.

Due to the nature of the slate, with the expensive offenses we’ll get to in a bit, and Cole up top Howard is going to garner a ton of ownership, which is pretty scary for an unknown.

Plenty of great pitchers struggle their first few starts, until they adjust and get comfortable. It’s fully expected. This Mets offense, although maybe not as dangerous as Atlanta, isn’t a pushover either. There’s some big bats in this line up with favorable splits in a power park.

Behind Howard, is a bullpen off to a terrible start. If things go off the rails a bit for Howard here, the Mets could put up some crooked numbers.

So, why am I neutral? I have zero reason to trust Howard, but at minimum price the upside is obvious. He’s going to be chalk, which is always a scary situation. If he gets you 20 DK points and you’re way under that chalk it can set you back. Although with MLB there’s so many different ways to accumulate points, and your lineups will be significantly different if you don’t have him.

My gut lean, and I’m usually more often a contrarian player, unless something is just too juicy to ignore, is to go light on Howard and heavier on unowned Mets bats.


Rangers, Astros, Yankees, Phillies, Twins, Indians.

These are the stacks I want. These are not cheap stacks. There’s nothing sneaky here. For the sake of time (about 2 ½ hours until lock as I write this sentence, right here) I’ll keep these quick:

The Rangers get Coors, and a mediocre right handed prospect in Castellani. Behind him is a pretty average pen. In AAA last year Castellani gave up 14 HR’s in 43 innings.

The Astros get the lefty Kikuci, who has been nothing less or more than average in his career. The Astros have no shortage of high .ISO bats against LHP. After Kikuchi is the Mariners pen and their 5.80 xFIP and 6.78 ERA.

The Yankees get the BoSox skeleton crew and are tied for the highest implied total on the slate, not named the Rangers.

Phillies now get Walter Lockett off the scrap heap. Lockett’s been roughed up at the big league level so far in his career, and has shown reverse splits, so feel free to load up on those RHB’s.

The Twins will see Ian Kennedy then Jakob Junis. There’s pitchers much worse in the world than Junis, but there’s pitchers a whole lot better too. The Twins are stacked as we all know, and you can stack them up any slate. Anytime they’re facing an average to below average pitcher I’d like to be above the field on my exposure.

The Indians get Ivan Nova who has spent his entire career getting burnt by LHB’s, and the Indians have plenty, and some elite ones too. The top 4 of Hernandez, Ramirez, Lindor, and Santana are the obvious, and you can pile it up on with Reyes or another lefty on the cheap like Naquin.


Everything else. If I didn’t mention it, I’m indifferent. Want to stack the Marlins against Kyle Wright, I totally get it. Want to use a cheap Pablo Lopez? Go for it. Cueto? OK. You want to stacks the Rockies against Lynn, or use Lynn in Coors, I get it. Valdez? Kuhl? Reds? Dodgers? Do as you please. I can’t say I won’t have any of this in my line ups, as I’m open to it, but my bulls are my bulls and that’s where the mass amount of my ownership will be.

Thanks for sticking with it and getting this far!

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