Panda's Bears and Bulls: MLB 8/25 Slate Breakdown
Welcome to Panda’s Bulls and Bears and thanks for clicking on my blog. Today, I’m focusing more on the Bulls, and much less on the Bears. In fact I’m not even going to get to bears today. We’ve got a pretty nice looking 10 game slate with some interesting ways to be different. There’s no reason to continue this intro any further, so let’s move along.
Shane Bieber- I’m pretty certain if the season ended today, Shane Beiber would be your AL Cy Young award winner. He’s been electric with a 43% K-rate, 19% swinging strike rate, and a 1.62 xFIP. The Twins are a scary match-up on paper, but we’re looking at a team who’s projected lineup has a 32% K-rate to RHP’s between 2019 and 2020, which is huge.
Beiber has also already blown through the Twins earlier this season with an 8 inning, 0 runs, 3 hits, and 13 strikeout performance that netted him a tad over 46 DK points. Although we can’t expect a repeat performance, no one on this slate has shown the type of upside Beiber has based on the stats, and even at 10.8K, I would argue he’s underpriced.
Gerrit Cole- Personally, I don’t think you need to play Cole today, but he is more than viable. Depending on ownership (I’m assuming he’ll be higher owned than Beiber, facing the slightly lesser line up, the slightly lesser price, and longer track record) I prefer the pivot to Beiber for the reasons I wrote above. He’s simply been better than Cole this season, although Cole is trending upward with the strikeouts, he’s still sitting with a 3.49 xFIP, 32% K-rate, and 13.6% swinging strike rate, which all pale in comparison to what Beiber is doing. The Braves projected lineup has a 25.7% K-rate between 2019 and 2020, which is also a ways down from the Twins.
The main reason why I’m presenting Cole despite my preference for Beiber, is I think it is very viable today to pair the two of them together. There is no shortage of budget bats at our disposal today.
Budget Bats- The Tigers, Cubs, Padres, and Mariners all have bats that I find to be underpriced, based on their situation.
As solid as Chatwood has been overal, and the upside he’s flashed, it’s still hard to imagine Chatwood as a shutdown pitcher. The Tigers 4.6 implied total tells me there’s some agreement there. Chatwood doesn’t have any significant splits, but we do know he mostly relies on a sinker and ground balls. This specifically puts me on the low ground balls of bare minimum 2K Christian Stewart and Issac Parades and 2.5K Victor Reyes. Stewart has the splits in his favor and enough power to get us a cheap dong. Parades is a legit prospect with a solid bat, who has put points on the board in 5 of his 6 starts so far. Reyes should be hitting lead-off, doesn’t strike out a ton, and has the speed to beat out an infield ground ball, and swipe a bag.
On the other side we have the bottom-half of the Cubs order against an OK, but beatable Spencer Turnbull. Jason Heyward, Victor Caratini, Jason Kipnis, and David Bote are all between 2.4 and 2.9K and have the splits in their favor (Although Bote is RH, he has a higher .ISO to RHP). The Cubs 5 run implied total is also top 5 on the slate.
Marco Gonzales is difficult, as it seems like he always either gets shelled or keeps your stack(s) in check. The trend has continued this year. The Padres are rolling out an improved, above average offense this year and some of these young bats, and veterans too, are still not getting the respect in their prices. If Gonzales has one of his off starts, the Mariners will have to deploy their atrocious bullpen early, and the upside becomes immense. Ty France, Will Myers, Jake Cronenworth are especially too cheap, plus Jurickson Profar who I believe will get going at some point, and Austin Hedges is a fairly cheap catcher, who is capable of getting you a HR. Not to mention, at 3.7K potentially batting leadoff is Trent Grisham who won’t have the splits in his favor, but most likely will when and if they get to the bullpen early.
Last, but not necessarily least, the Mariners, who have a fairly difficult date with Chris Paddack. I think Paddack’s reputation is probably a bit more positive than the reality. He’s good, up and coming, has K ability, but he hasn’t been lights out, and continues to give up tons of hard contact. This probably isn’t the best idea, but a one-off of any of any of their 3K and lower hitters is viable to me. With J.P. Crawford probably batting lead-off, the consistency of Sam Haggerty thus far or the power of Evan White making the most sense. 3.8K for Kyle Seager isn’t too bad either.
These may not be the most exciting options, but these guys in my opinion are all viable fillers who can get you points that allow you to put Bieber and Cole together, while also being able to get up to some more expensive stacks.
OK, so you don’t like those options and don’t want to pair Bieber and Cole. I understand. Now what?
Sean Manaea- Manaea is trending upwards and has a meeting with the Texas Rangers. If you’ve been playing MLB DFS for any length of time you know this, the Rangers strike out an absurd amount against left-handed pitching. Today’s projected Rangers lineup has a 35.4% K-rate. Combine that with the Rangers 3.7 run implied total, Manaea’s raw talent and 26% K-rate between 2019 and 2020, we have a great pivot off the likely to be much higher owned Paddack.
German Marquez- The numbers are there, despite getting blown up by the Astros in Coors field last time out. He still has a sub 4 xFIP and mid 20’s K-rate. This is still the guy who showed flashes of dominance at times last season and so far this season against the Giants and A’s. The Diamondbacks are a below average offense against RHP and Marquez could easily cruise here. Like Manaea he is also a great pivot off Paddack, and either of these guys could outscore him at a fraction of the ownership.
Cardinals- Matt Harvey is back, and there’s no reason to believe he’s going to be any better this time around. The only thing Harvey really has going for him is an above average ground ball rate to RHB’s, but the Cards are full of fly ball hitters. You can really stack this line up any which way you want, but Harvey’s .234 ISO allowed to LHB’s between 2018 and 2019 and 43% HC allowed puts Wong, Edman, and Carpenter to the top of the list, while Paul Goldschmidt, Paul DeJong, and Yadier Molina are nice options to round out the stack. Also would like Tyler O’Neil quite a bit if he cracks the line up.
Athletics- Kyle Gibson isn’t a bad pitcher. He’s fine, but this is a potential match-up nightmare for him. Gibson has relatively neutral splits with a slight lean to reverse splits, against this right-handed heavy line up. Gibson has a .172 ISO and 40% HC allowed to RHB’s, where he falls back on his above average ground ball rate, but like the Cards, the A’s are full of fly ball hitters. The whole top half of the line up could crush him here, and if they are able to get to Gibson early, the Rangers pen is very beatable. The upside here is huge, and I wouldn’t expect the A’s to be too highly owned at all.
White Sox- My next favorite stack is the White Sox. They have crushed LHP this year with a team .314 ISO, .994 OPS, .412 wOBA, and 168 wRC+. Those are massive numbers. Once they crush Brault out of the game, the Pirates have the 6th worst bullpen ERA in baseball. OK, let’s step back. Brault has actually been OK this year. In fact in 4 starts, he’s thrown 12 innings of shutout baseball. He’s done it though with a .200 BABIP, a 5.7% swinging strike rate and 17% walk rate to RHB’s, hence the 4.98 xFIP, but a 3.00 ERA. Basically, there’s no reason to believe Brault is suddenly a better pitcher. There’s nothing like taking the mound against one of the best offenses in baseball to bring on some regression.
As, you can probably tell, I’m not interested in eating what I assume will be SP2 Paddack chalk. Yes, the match up is great, the talent is there, but the track record isn’t. He spiked some monster games last year and has had some tough match-ups this year, but just below and just above him are two pitchers in strong spots who have every ability to score more points. I can’t say I will have zero exposure, but I’ll be what I believe will be well underweight, and I’d fully fade if only making a few line ups.
I like Giolito, but feel like we can get similar production from Manaea and Marquez for much less. Luis Castillo and Brandon Woodruff are solid, but just haven’t shown the upside to warrant their prices much yet this year.
The Cubs, Indians, Yankees, and Dodgers are all stackable to varying degrees tonight. I don’t think Cueto has been anywhere near bad enough, to warrant the levels of ownership I believe the Dodgers will have.
That’s about where I’ll wrap it up.
Thanks for reading.