Panda's Bears and Bulls: MLB 9/1 Slate Breakdown

With today being a bigger 11 game slate, we’re going to avoid going game by game. Instead, I’ll really zero in on the best spots I see on the board. We’ll start with the bats, move to the pitchers, then try to wrap it all together in a bow at the end.

CUBS:

Throughout his career Chad Kuhl has had distinct traditional splits struggling heavily with LHB’s. Allowing a .239 ISO and 53% HC this year. In 2018, before missing 2019 with an elbow injury, he allowed a .253 ISO and 42% HC. That’s from a total of 245 plate appearances between these two seasons, so we’re not dealing with a super small sample either.

Needless to say, I’m zeroing in on these LH Cubbies.

Ian Happ – .354 ISO, .413 wOBA, 36% HC
Anthony Rizzo – .254 ISO, .406 wOBA, 41% HC
Kyle Schwarber – .300 ISO, .374 wOBA, 44% HC
Jason Heyward – .223 ISO, .372 wOBA, 37% HC
Jason Kipnis – ..203 ISO, .321 wOBA, 39% HC

Those stats above are their numbers versus RHP between 2019 and 2020.

It’s also worth noting and shouldn’t be a surprise that the Cubs are 3rd in .ISO against RHP, and rank in the top 10 in pretty much every other offensive category. On the other side, the Pirates bullpen ranks 8th worse in xFIP, and 9th worse in ERA.

If building multiple stacks, of course you can mix and match and work in Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Willson Contreras who have no issues hitting RHP themselves.

BRAVES:

The Braves get to tee off against Ryan Weber and the Red Sox’s 5.39 ERA bullpen tonight. Weber has been atrocious against LHB’s (.276 ISO, .388 wOBA allowed in 2019 and 20) and he’s nothing special against RHB’s, other than a high ground ball rate, but the Braves RHB’s themselves have low ground ball rates somewhat negating the one thing Weber has going for himself. Weber also has a terribly low 15% K-rate against RHB’s also, which should benefit the high K bats of Danny Swanson, Austin Riley and Adam Duvall.

The Braves as a team rank top 5 in essentially every offensive category against RHP, so it’s no surprise, outside of Coors, the Braves have the highest implied total on the board.

We’ll certainly want to start with the LHB’s of Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis, then build out from there with any of the RHB’s that fit our builds. Ronald Acuna, if he’s in the lineup would obviously stand out, with Swanson and Ozuna next in line. Really though you can’t go wrong with anyone that is in the starting line up.

METS:

Asher Wojciechowski is an extreme flyball pitcher, who basically lives and dies by the home run. He’s especially volatile at home, where he gave up 2.52 HR/9 last season and so far this year has already given up 6 HR’s in 13 ⅔ innings pitched in Camden. He’s worse against LHBs with a .287 ISO and 39% HC allowed last year and .240 ISO and 45% HC allowed this year. The numbers against RHB’s aren’t anything to hang your hat on either, with a .300 ISO allowed and 37.5% HC this year, but a lower .191 ISO and 33% HC allowed last year. Basically, we can comfortably take hitters from either side of the plate, but the LHB are the preference. Luckily that works in the Mets favor as they have multiple threats hitting from the left side.

Between this season and last, against RHP:

Brandon Nimmo – .188 ISO, .348 wOBA, 34.5% HC
Michael Conforto – .257 ISO, .390 wOBA, 39.6% HC
Robinson Cano – .215 ISO, .355 wOBA, 43.2% HC
Jeff McNeil – .219 ISO, .386 wOBA, 38.5% HC
Dominic Smith – .297 ISO, .393 wOBA, 39.3% HC

Throw in the big bat in the middle, Pete Alonso and his .291 ISO and 40% HC, the Mets have no shortage of threats to take Wojciechowski deep and help pile on runs.

INDIANS:

So, the Royals are giving Matt Harvey another try. Yay for us. For the sake of time, I won’t go too deep into this one. All of us know when we see Matt Harvey starting, his opponent is stackable. That hasn’t changed this season in the limited sample of 2 starts. The LHB’s/switch hitters of the Indians are the preference, starting with the obvious quartet of Ramirez, Lindor, Santana, and Reyes.

ASTROS:

So, the Rangers are giving Jordan Lyles another try. Yay for us. The Rangers are hoping by throwing an opener in there first that’ll help Lyles. I have my doubts. Lyles has bounced back and forth year to year between struggling with LHB’s and RHB’s, and this year has fallen on RHB’s.

Between last season and this season we’re looking at a 5.01 xFIP, .247 ISO and 40% HC to LHB and .190 ISO with 37% HC to RHB. This season alone we’re looking at 6.88 xFIP and a .370 ISO and 42% HC allowed to RHB’s.
Basically, we can take hitters for any side of the plate here. Even if Garcia pitches well, the Astros will still get to Lyles and once they chase Lyles the Rangers bullpen has the 7th worse xFIP and 10th worse ERA.

It’s worth noting the Astros have been below average against RHP this season ranking 20th in wOBA and 21st in ISO and having Bregman out isn’t helping. The matchup is just too good though and the talent is there. I’m more likely to stick to smaller 3 man stacks or one-offs though.

I’m most likely to start with the red hot Kyle Tucker who has double digit DK points in 8 of his last 10 games. Also a .289 ISO against RHP this year and a whopping 48% HC rate. From there is the too cheap Michael Brantly and his 46% HC rate against RHP. After that you can take shots at any of the Astros, with George Springer being your best bet for big production.

GIANTS

Jon Gray has been scuffling a bit this year. His velocity is down, as well as his strikeouts. His xFIP is up to 5.67 and the hard contact is up to 46%. He’s well known, at least to me as being one of the more volatile pitchers in DFS and you really have to prepare for any result when stacking against him, but when he’s off your stacks upside is immense, as not only do you get to pile on runs against him, the Rockies usually always bad bullpen awaits. This season specifically they have the 3rd worst bullpen ERA at 6.01. Yikes.

Historically Gray’s struggles are mostly to LHB’s and that’s no different this year with a .197 ISO allowed and a low 33% GB rate. Luckily the Giants have no shortage of usable LHB’s to stack up. The most obvious spots to start are with Mike Yastrzemski and Brandon Belt and their .265 and .284 ISO’s against RHP respectively.

From there we can branch out to Alex Dickerson and Brandon Crawford who are posting eye popping numbers (Dickerson with a .154 ISO and 38% HC and Crawford with a .173 ISO and 39% HC against RHP).

Obviously you can branch out even further from the LHB’s and play any of the RHB’s as well.

PITCHERS:

Ian Anderson:

Anderson is a legit high end prospect ranked 2nd in the Braves organization and 43rd in all of baseball at fangraphs. He made his debut on 8/26 against the Yankees and pitched 6 innings of 1 hit, 1 run ball with just 2 walks and 6 K’s. Sure, the Yankees were depleted, but frankly this Red Sox lineup is fairly depleted at this point too. We don’t have to expect him to repeat that performance here, as he’s just too cheap on DK at 6.8K. On FD he’s much more expensive at 9K, which kind of shows the discount I believe we are getting here on DK. He’s a fantastic pivot from the likely to be much more popular Lindblom or you can even use them together to basically unlock any stack you want.

Josh Lindblom:

Speaking of Lindblom, he’s been very solid for the Brewers since coming back to the states after a stint in the KBO. Coming into tonight’s game against the Tigers he’s bringing a 3.77 xFIP and 31% K-rate. The issue has been the hard contact sitting at 48% and some struggles with LHB’s. Fortunately, the Tigers don’t have any LHB’s that we have to be overly fearful of. Reyes, Candelario, Goodrum, and Stewart are capable, but not world beaters,and Goodrum hits lefties better anyway. And as a whole this Tigers offense isn’t as bad as one might think on paper, but they’re much, much better against LHP. Frankly, he’s just too cheap here for his upside with that K-rate against these Tigers whose projected lineup has struck out 27% of time against RHP.

Zach Plesac:

Plesac is back from exile, after breaking team covid protocols. He hasn’t pitched with the big club since August 8th, but any concerns about pitch counts are somewhat cooled by Clevinger being allowed to throw 86 pitches in his return. In his 3 starts before being barred from the team he threw 95, 103, and 98 pitches, so we know the workload can be there. Obviously we have no guarantees, but Plesac is good enough, and so is the match up, that I feel like I can plug him into line ups with some confidence.

He was serviceable last season, but came out this year on fire, with a 3.00 xFIP, and 31% K-rate, while keeping hard contact down to a respectable 35%.The Royals implied total of 3.8 runs is also 3rd lowest on the board, with only the Diamondbacks and Rangers projected for less, so he’s definitely getting the respect there.

Framber Valdez:

Valdez has been up and down with the Astros the last couple seasons, with one major flaw. Control. A 14% + BB rate just doesn’t get done, although he had an OK K-rate and did a decent job of limiting hard contact, but when you’re constantly having to go deep into counts and giving out free pases, you’re not going to be able to succeed.

Enter 2020. Valdez through 38 innings has that BB rate down to a very strong 5.8%, with the strikeouts up to an even better 26%. WIth that has come some harder contact up to 38%, from 30%, but these are the sacrifices you make. You’d rather your opponent hit the ball hard to someone, then just get a free trip to 1st base. Even with the harder contact, teams aren’t exactly smashing the ball here, as he’s only given up 2 HR’s in his 6 starts. That’s obviously helped by his elite 61% GB rate. Oh, and he’s facing the Rangers and their 29th worse team ISO against RHP. Even if some of those control issues were to show up here, the Rangers walk less than any team in baseball.

Valdez is without question way too cheap and the best point-per-dollar pitcher on the slate, and will without question be the highest owned, but this should definitely be good chalk.

Aaron Nola:

I’m not sure we even need to use Nola today, as we have a really nice mid-tier with upside to work with, while also some expensive bats that deserve our use today. There are plenty of decent cheap bats though, along with worthwhile SP2’s on the cheap end, like Anderson and Lindblom above, that it’s not hard to fit Nola at all really.

Nola has taken his game to a whole other level so far this year, with a 2.15 xFIP and 35% K-rate, with a 54% GB Rate. This Nationals offense can be dangerous, but I’ve never had an issue playing aces against any offense, and Nola has been pitching like a true ace.

Like I wrote in my initial paragraph though, I’m just not sure he makes sense today, when Valdez and Plesac have been flashing similar upside and we have the two cheaper options in Lindblom and Anderson who are in positions to do quite well today too.

RECAP:

Alright, well like I wrote in the intro, these are my absolute favorite spots to go to tonight. These are not the only good spots.

You can definitely take a chance on the Rockies against Gausman, who has been extremely sharp this year, but did give up 4 ER’s in Coors earlier this season in 5 innings. The Giants bullpen isn’t very good either.

You can roll with some Brewers against the continuing struggles of Michael Fulmer and his return from Tommy John surgery.

The White Sox and Twins lineups are strong, especially the White Sox, and who knows what to expect from Michael Pineda is his return from suspension. If you do decide to roll out some Sox, keep in mind Pineda has historically been a reverse splits pitcher.

The O’s also look like a strong stack.

Basically, we’re looking at a long list of potential offenses that could explode tonight and narrowing down a list is extremely difficult, but what I wrote up above is where I landed.

I really have no interest in any pitcher other than the ones I wrote up here though.

Whichever direction you choose to go, I wish you good luck, and thanks for reading!

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