Panda's Bears and Bulls: MLB 9/5 Slate Breakdown
Welcome to another edition of Panda’s Bears and Bulls. Hopefully you all had successful nights last night. Mine was incredibly tilting by my standards.
I don’t get tilted when a guy I fade goes off or I bubble the cashline, or my heaviest owned player goes 0’fer or leaves a game early with an injury. These things happen and are part of the game. You get conditioned to it.
Anyone who read my breakdown yesterday knows who I pushed. 6 pitchers and 5 offenses. Within those groups were Darvish, Kikuchi, Dodgers and Diamondbacks. That’s really not a big pool. I made 50 line ups, and cashed only 5, as I was heavier on Carrasco and Dunning than the aforementioned two, and had too many failing Phillies and Mets. I invested $750, and only got $150 back, and where the tilt comes in, is seeing the winning line up in the Relay Throw was a simple suggested 4×4 Diamondbacks and Dodgers line up with Darvish and Kikuchi.
To know I had the right idea in my somewhat limited pool and still lost significantly, that gets me titled.
That also brings me back to my point I made yesterday. It doesn’t matter how many line ups you make, spreading yourself thin and trying to cover as many bases as you can is not, at least in my opinion, a winning solution. Condense your pool, narrow it as much as absolutely possible and make as many variations of that limited pool as you can. Even though I had the right idea(s), I still couldn’t nail anything down in my 50 entries. Maybe if I made 150, I’d have split 1st, maybe not even then.
Anyway, we’ll move on to today’s slate. We’ve got a big Saturday night slate with 12 games to comb through on DK, and it’s 11 on FD, who wisely didn’t bother with the double header of the Astros and Angels game. Sidenote, quick reminder on DK, even though they’ll also remind you, that game is only scheduled to go 7 innings so hitter upside is slightly limited.
Yesterday’s blog was an immense undertaking. I hate to set precedents and seem like a disappointment going forward, but I have to find ways to make cuts on my time, while also giving statistical and theory analysis that I’m proud of. So, bear with me as I try to find the proper balance we can all feel good about. Please let me know in the comments how things went today, as I don’t want to sacrifice too much.
OK, rambling over. Bears! Bulls! Let’s go!
We’ll start with pitching again.
Maeda is probably the safest combination of upside and floor when taking into account price and opponent on this slate, which is saying something.
Maeda has been steady and getting a longer leash much more consistently then he ever did in LA.
Through 7 starts here’s the stats:
3.01 xFIP, 30% K-rate, 4.4% BB rate, 49.5% GB rate, and an incredibly low 22% HC rate.
You can put these numbers against any pitcher on this slate, and he’s priced the 3rd highest on both sites. Although they are all priced pretty close. Actually let’s just cut to it and look at our 3 aces on this slate and their numbers for this season. Lucas Giolito, Gerrit Cole, and Maeda.
Maeda: 3.01 xFIP, 30% K-rate, 4.4% BB rate, 49.5% GB rate, 22% HC rate.
Giolito: 3.24 xFIP, 34.4% K-rate, 9.4% BB rate, 46% GB rate, 41.5% HC rate.
Cole: 3.66 xFIP, 32% K-rate, 6.4% BB rate, 38% GB rate, 43% HC rate.
If all these pitchers were priced the same, I’d still possibly lean Maeda, as his lower hard contact and walks, helps fill the gap a bit in the lesser K-rate. Maeda also gets the Tigers and their projected lineups 25.3% K-rate. They also have the lowest implied total currently at 3.3 runs.
Let’s look at Giolito’s numbers again really quick:
3.24 xFIP, 34.4% K-rate, 9.4% BB rate, 46% GB rate, 41.5% HC rate.
The Royals numbers against RHP are worse than the Tigers, but their projected starting lineup has a lower 22.6% K-rate against RHP. Obviously 2.7% is insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but it all adds up.
I’d argue fairly easily, Giolito’s K rate gives him a higher ceiling than Maeda. It’s also worth noting Maeda only has one start over 100 pitches, and mostly is in the 6 inning 80-90 pitch range. While Giolito is between 94-110, which increases his ceiling a bit as well. When you’re rocking a 34% K-rate an extra inning of work can yield several more points.
This is what I wrote about Gerrit Cole before his last start on 8/31:
“”(player-popup #gerrit-cole)Gerrit Cole”:/players/gerrit-cole-15859 has yet to have a truly great start this season, from a fantasy perspective, but you can feel it brewing. The K’s are building, as he’s up to a 33% K-rate on the season now after striking out 37 in his last 23 1/3 innings, or last 4 starts. The problem, especially over the last 2, is the HR’s, giving up 5 in 11 ⅔. LHB’s have especially been able to get to him, with a .313 ISO and 42% HC in 70 total plate appearances on the year. One has to assume though those numbers will level out some, just like his strikeouts are creeping back up to previous season levels.”
Well, the home runs were still a problem and the numbers didn’t level out, they got worse. He gave up a home run to BVP hero Ji-Man Choi in the 1st, then a HR to Kevin Kiermaier in the 2nd, and now his ISO allowed to LHB’s is up to .342 from .313.
Let’s look at his overall numbers again though:
Cole: 3.66 xFIP, 32% K-rate, 6.4% BB rate, 38% GB rate, 43% HC rate.
These are still pretty solid numbers. I still believe that Cole will have a breakout fantasy performance sooner than later. The O’s are basically an average offense against RHP and outside of Anthony Santander, who is listed as day-to-day and may not even play, don’t really have any LHB’s of consequence here. The only knock against Cole as far as the spot is, the O’s projected lineups K-rate against RHP is only 19.1% on the season. That’s pretty low, especially compared to the Royals and Tigers.
It’s also worth noting Cole has regularly been above 100 pitches.
OK, so let’s recap here for a minute. These are the clear cut three aces of the slate. I like all 3 and will have exposure to all 3. Any one of them could outscore the other tonight and I wouldn’t be surprised. Looking at the numbers though, the match up, the prices, I rank them as I wrote them for safety: It’s Maeda 1st, Giolito 2nd, and Cole 3rd. For pure GPP upside, while weighing safety it’s Giolito, Cole, Maeda in that order.
Now with the top dogs out of the way, I want to take a minute to address the next tier. Whether you’re on FD or DK, Max Fried, Brandon Woodruff, and Aaron Civale are your next three highest priced pitchers and priced anywhere from 8.7K to 9.7K depending on the site. I feel slightly like I’m taking the easy road just putting myself as neutral on these three, and really in my gut I’m bearish on them, but I didn’t feel right just ignoring them in this breakdown.
Let’s look at their numbers really quick:
Woodruff: 3.66 xFIP, 28% K-rate, 7% BB rate, 49.5% GB rate, 36.7% HC rate
Civale: 3.51 xFIP, 23.5% K-rate, 3.3% BB rate, 40.7% GB rate, 47.5% HC rate
Fried: 3.76 xFIP, 24.7% K-rate, 8% BB rate, 55% GB rate, 39.6% HC rate
Outside of Woodruff, none of them have a K-rate within 5% of the aces I mentioned above. On DK the price gap between Civale and Fried and the top 3 is just too close to bother with in my opinion. Fried doesn’t have the upside of the top group despite being only between $400 and $800 from them on DK. On FD the gap is wider, but he’s $200 more than Woodruff and his higher K-rate and otherwise similar numbers leave no reason really to go with him over Woodruff then to just diversify.
I want to take a second to mention that neither of these guys have any kind of noticeable significant splits, worth pointing out, which is why I haven’t bothered to do so.
So, for the sake of time let my recap this quick:
On DK, I have no interest in Max Fried or Aaron Civale and they’re bears for me. Their prices are just too high for what they offer compared to the top tier. “(player-popup #brandon-woodruff)Brandon Woodruff”:/players/brandon-woodruff-37152’s K-rate is high enough and overall numbers strong enough that the 1.4 to 1.8K price gap keeps me at least slightly interested enough I’m not ruling him out.
On FD, it’s the same, but really more about the upsides then price. If you don’t want to sacrifice bats for the big aces, Woodruff is a decent consolation.
OK, let’s just run through these pitchers, I know I have zero interest in real quick and see what we have left.
Max Friend, Aaron Civale, Keegan Akin, Kris Bubic, Brandon Bielak, Griffin Canning, Trevor Williams, Anthony DeSclafani, Erick Fedde, Kyle Gibson, Ryan Weber, German Marquez, Tony Gonsolin, Chase Anderson and Madison Bumgarner.
Alright, it feels good to get that out of the way.
Now what’s left? Some more bulls.
Let’s get the obvious thing out of the way first: The Rangers strikeout in bunches to LHP. Make that bushels. Their projected starting lineup has a 36.4% K-rate against LHP, between this season and last.
Yeah, I ripped that from yesterday’s write up.
Sheffield probably wasn’t flying under anyone’s radar, and after what Kikuchi did last night, he definitely won’t be.
Let’s look at the numbers for Sheff between this year and last:
4.74 xFIP, 22% K-rate, 10.7% BB rate, 53.7% GB rate, 33% HC rate.
Nothing exciting. For what it’s worth here is what Kikuchi’s numbers were going into last night:
3.52 xFIP, 25.7% K-rate, 9.5% BB rate, 50% GB rate, and 38% HC.
Nothing significantly different.
Sheff also already has a 6 inning, 1 run, 6 hit, 5 K performance against these Rangers this year.
I don’t think you really need to go here on FD, but on DK at 7.6K, there’s enough safety and upside in the match up and his price that definitely makes a solid SP2 option.
I’m really bullish on Seth Lugo here on DK. On FD you don’t need to go this cheap, but on DK at 5.6K, he’s just too cheap for what the numbers show.
First, let’s just ignore the numbers this year and look at the larger 2018 and 19 numbers:
3.63 xFIP, 28.6% K-rate, 6% BB rate, 45% GB rate, 31.5% HC rate.
Now, let’s look at the even better small sample size 2020 numbers:
2.27 xFIP, 35.4% K-rate, 6.2% BB rate, 44.4% GB rate, 40.7% HC rate.
Really in all these numbers there’s nothing significant in the splits between LH and RH bats other than less hard contact to right handed bats.
This is where the catch is, basically all these numbers are from working out of the bullpen.
We can’t expect him to fully maintain these kinds of numbers as a starter, but the initial returns are solid. His last 2 outings, both starts:
Against MIA: 3 innings, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks 5 K’s, 39 pitches 16.75 DK points
Against NYY: 3 ⅔ innings, 4 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 7 K’s, 60 pitches, 16.65 DK points
I think it’s safe to project him for 70-75 pitches. At his price we should be more than happy with a 16+ DK point outing, and with the great possibility of a higher pitch count, that seems pretty feasible. The Phillies are not an easy match up, and their projected lineups 21% K-rate against RHP isn’t something to get excited about, but when you factor in price and his match up, there’s a lot to like. The Phils having an only 4 run implied total suggests he’s getting some respect from the markets too.
OK, now let’s circle back to the names I did not list in any section yet:
Again, I don’t think you need to go here to any of these guys on FD. On DK though these guys could all be worthwhile pivots from Sheffield or Lugo, but I’ll ultimately be either very light with or without entirely tonight.
Skubal and Howard are in the same spot. Young highly regarded prospects who are trying to get adjusted to the big leagues. Neither has been especially successful yet, but they have the skill sets to do it. Howard has the longer leash it appears with 91 pitches in his last outing, while Skubal has topped out at 70.
I want to take a minute to point this out though real quick. The Twins against left-handed pitching has been one of the most fraudulent things in DFS baseball this year. They have been AWFUL against LHP. They’re tied for the league worst .111 ISO. That’s just sad. So, there’s some reason to believe this isn’t that tough of a match up right now.
Howard’s numbers are actually a little worse than Skubals, but on the surface he’s been a bit more successful, and is getting better with each start.
Trevor Cahill is making his 3rd straight start against the Diamondbacks, which should be more of a benefit to the Diamondbacks then Cahill. He’s mainly here, because although he has a limited sample of 14 ⅓ innings, he’s sitting on a 30% K-rate. This is above where we would normally find him though, and the 10.1% swinging strike rate suggests it’s most likely fraudulent.
Again, I didn’t want to dive deep into these guys, but they’re viable to some degree if making enough line ups, as what if, pivots from Lugo or Sheffield.
OK, now let’s recap this all again with my pitcher pool:
These 5 will without question be my highest owned pitchers tonight, and other than for definitive salary cap reasons, or a couple hedges off Sheffield or Lugo, this is where I’m focused. Outside of these 5, I might have some Woodruff if I absolutely can’t get to the true aces, or have enough salary and then it doesn’t really make sense to go to Sheffield and leave money on the table. Then I might just have a couple random shares of SKubal, Howard, but probably not Cahill.
Alright, we’re finally ready for some bats. I’m going to start with some bears first, because it’ll feel like I’m accomplishing a lot by just knocking a bunch of stuff out of the way first.
Orioles, Tigers, Royals, Rockies, Indians, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Angels, Astros.
Nice. It feels good to remove 10 pieces of the slate so quickly.
You know what, let’s throw in the Rangers!
Make that 11. Feeling even better. Now I’m ready for some BULLS!
Do I always write up the White Sox? Maybe, but can you blame me?
Let’s look at the numbers for Kris Bubic first:
4.55 xFIP, 21% K-rate, 9.4% BB rate, 47.7% GB rate, 46% HC
Not awful, but the hard contact is noticeable. When looking at the splits, the K’s actually down to LHB’s, and hard contact goes up, but sample size.
Let me take a quick minute to point this out, if you didn’t know, Bubic just turned 23, and is the 4th highest rated Royals prospect at fangraphs and is 113th overall. So, the kid projects well. He also never pitched above high A ball before this season. So we’re not looking at a gas can, as much as a young kid feeling his way through the big leagues.
Now, let’s look at the White Sox offense against LHP, brace yourself:
ISO: .270 (23 points higher than the next team).
wOBA: .401 (29 points higher than the next team).
OPS: .954 (67 points higher than the next team).
wRC+: 159 (29 points higher than the next team).
This team just mashes LHP.
It’s worth noting Bubic has made two starts against the Sox already, if 1st career start and last one. Here they are:
1st start: 4 innings, 2 runs, 3 K’s, 3 hits, 1 walk
2nd start: 5 ⅓ innings, 2 runs, 8 K’s, 6 hits, 2 walks
Actually not bad.
You just can’t ignore those Sox numbers though against LHP. Plus, they’ve now seen Bubic a couple times. This to me is just a blow up waiting to happen. Maybe I’ll be wrong, but I’m going call this a 3rd times the charm scenario.
You can play any of these White Sox. That’s how good they’ve been against LHP. Anderson, Encarnacion, and Jimenez all have ISO’s over .300 this year against LHP. With Abreu, Robert, and McCann hovering around .250, and all have hard contact rates over 40%.
The Jays get Ryan Weber and whoever is there in that 4th worst 5.63 ERA Red Sox bullpen.
Let’s look at Weber’s numbers first, we’ll include last season too, to get a better sample size:
5.05 xFIP, 14% K-rate, 6% BB, 49.6% GB, 36% HC
So, other than the ground ball rate, not much to fear there.
His lefty righty splits are fairly significant. Against LHB’s:
.375 wOBA, .263 ISO, 12.6% K’s, 44% GB’s, 38% HC
Now, against RHB’s:
.314 wOBA, .153 ISO, 15% K’s, 54.5% GB’’s, 33% HC
Now, I want to be very clear that I wouldn’t avoid RHB’s here, but clearly the left-handed ones should be our priority.
That really just leaves us with Cavan Biggio and his .232 ISO and 41% HC against RHP and Rowdy Tellez and his .228 ISO and 41% HC against RHP.
Villar and Shaw are fine, but those 2 are your building blocks for stacks, in my opinion.
Grichuk, Hernandez, and Gurriel are next in line with their .221, .254, and .219 ISO’s against RHP, respectively.
The reality is, if things go right with the Jays, Weber won’t last more than 3 innings, then it’s just the Red Sox hodge podge bullpen the rest of the way, where the Jays can continue to pile on runs.
I really like the Reds here as a semi-sneaky stack tonight. Trevor Williams is average at best. Let’s look at the numbers between this year and last:
5.22 xFIP, 18% K’s, 7% BB’s, 39% GB’s, 33.5% HC
The Reds have a pretty decent implied 5.1 total. The Pirates have a below average bullpen.
We also have BVP in our favor:
Winker: 6-8, 1 2B
Castellanos: 5-14, 4 2B’s
Votto: 11-28, 3 2B’s
Barnhart: 5-13, 1 2B’s
So, nothing to get over excited about, no HR’s, but definitely successful.
Castellanos, Winker, Suarez, and Moustakas, also all have ISO’s over .235 against RHP.
So, there’s multiple things to like here, and I wouldn’t expect any ownership to fall here at all.
Another semi-sneaky stack I like is the Reds opponents, the Pirates.
DeSclafani has been especially awful this year:
6.65 xFIP, 14% K’s, 11% BB’s, 41% GB’s, 42% HC
He’s also had pretty significant splits over his career struggling mightily with LHB’s. Here’s the numbers from this year and last:
.345 wOBA, .218 ISO, 21% K’s, 11% BB’s, 35.7% GB’s, and 44.5% HC.
They’re even worse this year.
Let me be very clear. The Pirates are not a high quality team against RHP, but when a pitcher has been this bad you must take notice. The Reds 5.36 bullpen ERA is also 5th worst in the league.
My focus here is clearly the LHB’s of Frazier, Polanco, Moran, Reynolds, and Bell. I’m not going to bother going over there numbers against RHP, as they’re not great and that’s not really why we’re going here. We’re going here, because they’re OK, and DeSclafani has been terrible.
The Braves are mashing RHP.
They’re 3rd in ISO, 2nd in wRC+, wOBA, and OPS.
Here’s Fedde’s numbers between this year and last:
5.34 xFIP, 11% K’s, 9.6% BB’s, 53% GB’s, 38.5% HC
Not good. As I’ve said before, I don’t put much weight on ground balls when a team doesn’t hit many ground balls. Historically Fedde has been pretty splits neutral, while this season he’s been worse against RHB’s. Really you can play anyone here. The Braves numbers are just sick 1-8.
When you bottom out at a .210 ISO (Swanson) and 33% HC (Riley) you’re stacked. Like, I said, you can play any of them .
Alright. Those are my top 5 Bull offenses tonight. The Yankees just missed the cut of the top 5 for me tonight, but I do really like the Yankees.
Let’s just quick go over what I haven’t included in my Bulls list or Bears list. We’ll call it:
Yankees: They’re right there. I may personally end up with as many Yankees as any of these top 5 when all is said and done. Akin isn’t a bad prospect. He was actually really good in his last start against the Blue Jays. That’s my only hesitancy. I suspect they’ll be one of the higher owned stacks of the night, and I’m just not sold on Akin being bad or Yankees being a must have stack. O’s bullpen also continues to be decent.
Twins: Skubal is a wildcard tonight, and him struggling or doing well is possible. I wouldn’t be surprised either way. I’ll go back to that Twins .111 ISO against LHP, and point out they’ve struggled there this year.
Mets: I put the Mets right there behind the Yankees as stacks that just miss the cut, but as I build will probably have some exposure to. Howard continues to be a wildcard as a young arm and this could go either way. The Phils pen is sitting on a 6.65 ERA, so if they chase Howard early, it could be open season.
Red Sox: Chase Anderson has been pretty good this year, but it’s limited. Historically he’s been an average or worse reverse splits RHP with low K’s and a decent amount of hard contact. Ultimately, the Sox lineup just isn’t that good past the known names, and I don’t expect they’d be needed tonight with the other options we have .
Mariners: I like the Mariners some too as a sneaky strack, and if DeSclafani hadn’t been so awful so far, I’d probably have slid them in over the Pirates as a sneaky stack. Gibson’s xFIP is fine, and K-rate average but the 50% HC is crazy, and ISO allowed to both sides of the plate is .235+.
Dodgers: The Dodgers are talented enough to beat up anyone. Marquez outside of Coors is good enough to shut down any offense. I don’t blame anyone for wanting to stack the Dodgers, but tonight they’re not for me.
Giants: Bumgarner faces his old team fresh off the IL with a back issue. He hasn’t pitched in nearly a month and most likely will be limited. His first two starts were fine, but last two were awful and maybe related to the back, especially his last start. We really don’t know what we’re going to get. If he’s healthy he probably pitches well while he lasts. When we have plenty of other spots to like, and then find a somewhat shaky unknown, that could be good, I’d rather just avoid it, and stick to what I’m confident will be good.
Diamondbacks: I touched on Cahill in my cheap neutral pitcher section. This is really a 50/50 spot and wouldn’t be surprised either way. If Cahill struggles, the Giants 5.64 xFIP is second worst in the league. You have to draw lines though and there’s more dangerous offenses tonight in my opinion.
OK, so I wanted to do a “less is more” type approach today, but instead went with more is more.
In case you forgot, pitchers: Maeda, Giolito, Cole, Sheffield, Lugo are the top 5, and I may scatter to Skubal, Cahill, and Howard.
My top 5 BULL offenses are:
White Sox, Braves, Reds, Pirates, Blue Jays.
If and when I stray from these, it’s to my, I can’t play everybody, but if I could favorites, the Yankeers, Mets, and Mariners, with maybe just a sprinkle of maybe they’ll finally hit LHP Twins.
That’s a wrap for this edition of Bulls and Bears. I hope you got through it and found it helpful. Thanks for checking it out and good luck to you all tonight.