Panda's Bears and Bulls: MLB 9/2 Slate Breakdown

When I do these blogs, or even when I don’t and I’m researching the slate, I make notes, as I move along going game by game. They’re not specific notes. Just something general like, “Cubs LHB’s.” Then when I’m done, I go back over the notes to really see what the slate looks like. How many offenses did I write down, how many pitchers, did I find anything cheap? Then I try to build a couple line ups with what jumped out at me, to see how difficult it was or wasn’t.

I mention this, because when I was done doing my routine this morning, this is what I have for pitchers:

Max is OK, but Phillies tough, not massive K’s.
McKenzie ?
Javier ?
Buehler

That’s it. I hate the pitching on this slate. Wheeler doesn’t have any upside. Hendricks is too expensive and little upside. Musgrove is in a tough spot fresh off the IL. Morton off the IL against the Yankees? Nah. Erlin and a guy who hates ham and kicks pigs? No. Turnbull is due for massive regression and pricey. Junis is in a tough spot. Berrios is in a tough spot. No way I’m using Lopez against the Twins or Allard against the Astros or Teheran against the Padres.

So…

I’m not even going to go massively in depth here. Max Scherzer and Walker Buehler are your aces of the slate. They’re good to go. You don’t really need the stats. I’m not going to break down the numbers. Max has the better K-rate, while Buehler has the better match up. Max is more expensive on both sites, so I slightly lean Buehler, although him coming off the IL with a blister on his pitching hand is a concern. He threw a 30 pitch bullpen session and was fine, so I’m willing to trust it. He threw 92 pitches in his last start 2 weeks ago, so I’m not expecting him to be held back much, if at all.

I wrote a question mark next to Triston McKenzie, because we just don’t have the info we need to make a fully confident decision one way or the other. We knew in his first start that he was cheap, a legitimate big league pitching prospect and had a favorable matchup against a high strikeout Tigers team. It was a huge success. 6 innings and 10 K’s and looked dominant. Then next game he scuffled a bit, getting to 84 pitches in 4 innings. The K’s weren’t there, he had a couple walks, but he still only gave up 2 runs, but due to the lack of K’s and innings his fantasy return was poor.

Now he gets the Royals. They don’t strikeout as often as the Tigers, but they do strikeout more than the Cardinals, and they walk less too. So, I’m expecting a slightly more favorable time for McKenzie here.

Considering all are options, I’m removing the question mark from McKenzie.

We don’t have much to go on with Cristian Javier either. This is his 8th appearance of the season and 7th start. He’s sitting on a 4.82 xFIP, 25% K-rate, a low low, yes doubly low 33% GB rate, and manageable 33% HC rate. That solid K-rate comes with only an 8% swinging strike rate, which doesn’t fully line up, but this is a guy who regularly had a double digit K/9 in the minors, so we’ll trust the K numbers.

That K-rate shoots up to 37% against RHB’s, and the hard contact goes down to an even lower 27%. So, if the Rangers had no LHB’s, I’d be loading up on Javier.

The problem is they do have LHB’s. That’s a problem, because these are the numbers against LHB’s:

.382 wOBA, .283 ISO, 16% K-rate, 34% GB rate, and 36% HC.

Not that good. Of course we’re dealing with small samples here, but those numbers are a little alarming. Fortunately for Javier, the Texas LHB’s have been struggling, primarily Choo and Gallo. Neither has gotten much going this season.

It’s worth pointing out, as I did with Valdez yesterday, the Rangers are abysmal against RHP. They’re 29th in team ISO, 29th in wRC+, and 29th in wOBA.

I despise the DK price on Javier, while I feel like he’s appropriately priced on FD. Either way, I’m removing the question mark from him too, although at 9.3K it seems like you may as well just try to find the salary to get up to Max or Buehler.

What did I miss?

Well, if you followed along, there were four names I was conflicted on and didn’t make note of when I did my original scan over the slate that I’ll circle back to:

Adrian Houser
Dinelson Lamet
Jordan Montgomery
Zac Gallen

I’m going to start with Lamet. The stats are there. Based on just his stats, he’d be in play.

4.17 xFIP. Ok, not bad, not great. 33% K-rate. Very nice. K’s are king in DFS. That K-rate goes up to 38% against RHB’s, and he’s facing a team full of RHB’s. That’s where the fun stops.

Lamet has a 2.35 ERA. So, we’re looking at a decent gap between his ERA and xFIP. His SIERA is at 3.55, right in the middle, sort of, but closer to the xFIP then the ERA.

Lament has a .220 BABIP allowed, where league average usually hovers around .300. He’s also giving up a whooping 45% HC on the year, which goes up to 51% against RHB’s. That’s considerably higher than his 38% HC allowed last year, so maybe it’s just sample size.

The thing is though, if he continues to give up hard contact at that rate, he’s going to run into problems, especially when the BABIP gods have been so favorable to him so far.

The Angels as a team strikeout the 7th fewest times to RHP, which hurts Lamet’s upside some. They’re 12th in ISO. 7th in wRC+, and 9th in wOBA, so this isn’t a pushover match up.

Do you really want to pay this high of a price for Lamet in this match up, when Max and Buehler are right there? I’m very hesitant to, which is why I left him off my initial scan list, and after diving in deeper to the numbers, I find myself validating my initial thoughts to a degree. It’s hard to ignore that K-rate though, and ultimately I may decide to scatter in some Lamet, when I don’t quite have the salary to get to Max or Buehler and really don’t want to drop down a bat.

I’m going back to my original thoughts on Adrian Houser. He seems to be priced up for the match up, but how good is the match up, and how good is Houser, anyway?

Let’s start with the obvious, the Tigers strikeout more than any team in the league against RHP, at a 28% clip. Houser himself has an OK 23% K-rate between this season and last season. That’s really all we’re buying though. Draftkings wants us to pay 8.5K for a guy who has one game with double digit DK points in his last 4 starts, and one strong start of 24.95 DK points. That’s ridiculous to me. To top it off, the Tigers offense is not bad at all. It’s league average at worst. We’ve seen them blow up good pitchers. We’ve seen them hang crooked numbers. I can’t pay that price for him, and even on FD, where he’s much cheaper, I just don’t see the upside.

OK, let’s look at Jordan Montgomery. First off all, Montgomery used to be a pretty decent prospect, and technically still is. He missed basically all of last season with Tommy John surgery. If nothing else, the one thing he really has going for himself is command. I feel like I’m writing a ton and could write all day, so at some point I need to wrangle it in or we’ll never reach the end. Like McKenzie and Javier we don’t have much sample size. The numbers for Montgomery are good so far, but he lacks the K’s. Fortunately he gets a slight boost here with the Ray’s 26% K-rate against LHP. I view him basically the same as Adrian Houser, but on DK it comes with a 1K discount. I’m not going to sell anyone on Montgomery, but I like him enough that I will use him sparingly as an SP2 on this slate on DK, and hope he can get me 12-15 points.

That brings us to Zac Gallen. I’ve stated before I have zero hesitation in taking elite pitchers against elite offenses. The question is, is Zac Gallen elite enough to use against the Dodgers? Or maybe more importantly, is Gallen elite enough, to use on this particular slate against the Dodgers? Well, let’s see. I’m guessing to use just this years numbers despite the sample size. With young pitchers, who we expect to take leaps every year, I’ll put more clout on this years numbers than anything from last season. Anyway, here they are:

3.85 xFIP: Strong, but not elite.
27.6% K-rate: Good, but not near the primo DFS aces.
35% HC allowed: Decent.
45% GB rate: Solid.

OK, so we’re looking at a pretty solid pitcher. You all knew that though. Going further, his splits are important here. The Dodgers will be throwing out as many as 6 LHB’s tonight, and they’re some pretty good ones. You may have heard of them.

Gallen against LHB’s this year (this adds up to an equivalent of 22 innings pitched):

.261 wOBA: Really good
3.81 xFIP: Nice. Better than his season total.
23% K-rate: Some dropoff here, but expected. Still OK.
36.8% HC: Manageable.
47% GB rate: So, he actually gets more ground balls against lefties. That’s good.
.104 ISO: Very nice.

OK, so now we’ve confirmed we have a pretty good pitcher, who has pretty decent splits against the Dodgers most dangerous side of the plate.

It’s also worth noting that Gallen drew a start against the Dodgers earlier this year and pitched 6 innings of 2 run, 5 hit ball with 9 K’s.That’s pretty good too!

The concern with Gallen is somewhat similar to Lamet, in that he’s not that far off in pricing from Max and Buehler, and he doesn’t have the same K upside as either of them, and he doesn’t have the same K upside as Lamet either and he’s staring at the toughest matchup of all.

So, on a slate where Max Scherzer and Walker Buehler are our back bones, I’ve confirmed my interest in Cristian Javier and Triston McKenzie, at least enough to warrant some exposure, as we have to use somebody. I’ve also convinced myself of a smidge of Jordan Montgomery, and maybe some Dinelson Lamet, too.

I see no reason to stretch ourselves any further. Even if MME’ing, you don’t need to have a large pool. Last night I made 70 line ups and only used the pitchers I recommended yesterday which were Nola (yay), Valdez (yay), Plesac (yay), Anderson (yay), Lindblom (boo). You could even just lock in Max and Buehler and find the bats to make it work. It doesn’t matter.

I’m not opposed to adding Gallen to the fold, and ultimately as I get to building, I might just find myself with not quite enough salary to get to Max, Buehler or Lamet depending on the build, and throw him here and there to be different, but I really don’t believe his upside is something we can’t miss out on.

OK. Well, we got pitchers out of the way.

This is where we, I, all of us stand. I’m going to leave the blog here for now. I’ll leave my vague hitter notes I was going to comb through here and build upon.

It’s very similar to yesterday’s list, and if you read yesterday’s blog, you’ll have a pretty good idea why I like these spots, because they’re virtually the same today.

Anyway, I need to take 5, and hopefully I’ll come back and write up something more specific for each of these spots, and do a quick recap on things, but either way at least you get to see the offenses I’m looking at targeting.

Thanks for reading!

Cubs LHB’s

Cheap Pirates could be good fillers

Jay Bruce

Some TB RHB’s, not full stack-

BOS RHB

ATL

Tribe

Astros

Twins

Padres

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