Panda's Bears and Bulls: MLB 9/7 Slate Breakdown

We’re getting a potentially extensive Labor Day version of Bears and Bulls today. With only 6 games on the slate, and deciding to get an early start, I’m going to go game by game and will be throwing the kitchen sink at this write up. I hope you all like stats.

To make things easier, all stats will just be from this season unless otherwise noted.

So, enough with the intro, and onto the games.

TBR @ WAS

Charlie Morton :

4.52 xFIP, 24.4% K’s, 7% BB’s, 38.6% GB’s, 51% HC

Nationals vs RHP :

.157 ISO (22nd), .320 wOBA (17th), .411 SLG (19th), 96 wRC+ (20th), 20.6 K%

Let’s get one thing cleared out of the way 1st. Charlie Morton left a start early against the Yankees on 8/9 with a shoulder issue. He was placed on the IL with right shoulder inflammation, and came back on 9/2 for a start against the Yankees again, and threw 36 pitches. It would be extremely unlikely that Morton throws more than 60 pitches here, in my opinion. For that reason alone, I have no interest in going here. Morton doesn’t come with any real discount here to think he can give us a proper return on his salary.

Now, looking above, you can see overall the Nats haven’t been that good against RHP.

We’re going on small samples here, but between a rough first start against the Jays, and the start he left early, there were two pretty solid starts from Morton that are more representative of what he showed last year. He also looked sharp in his return with 2 innings of 0 run, 0 hit, 4K ball. Let’s look at last years numbers real quick:

3.30 xFIP, 30.4% K’s, 7.2% BB’s, 47.1% GB’s, 35.2% HC.

Ultimately, I’d expect his numbers to fall somewhere in the middle. Morton doesn’t have noticeable splits, but he actually struck out LHB’s at a higher rate last season, with a slight increase in hard contact, and slight drop in ground balls.

Assuming we can expect 60 pitches from Morton, I want to emphasize this is just my educated guess, we’re only looking at probably 4 innings. Taking over after Morton will be the 7th best,3.84 ERA of the Rays bullpen. So, it’s probably not going to get much easier for the Nationals.

So, once we roll the abilities of Charlie Morton, the bullpen backing him, and the quality of the Nats offense against RHP, I don’t have much interest here. If Juan Soto is out, I’d have even less interest, as that will negatively affect all of the bats around him.

It’s certainly worth noting, on DK Victor Robles is down to 2.1K, and if he’s leading off, he’s good value and again, if Soto plays he’s a decent contrarian bat to pay up for. Outside of that, I have no issue skipping over this offense.

Max Scherzer :

3.40 xFIP, 32.4% K’s, 8.5% BB’s, 38.3% GB’s, 44.7% HC

Rays vs RHP :

.189 ISO (10th), .330 wOBA (9th), .433 SLG (12th), 111 wRC+ (7th), 24.2 K%

This side of things is much more difficult to decipher. As solid as the xFIP and K-rate has been for Max so far, the hard contact is kind of high. That’s really just the surface of it though. He’s been struggling with LHB’s going back to last year, and it continues this year.

Let’s look at Max’s numbers specifically vs. LHB’s, so you can see the trend:

2018: .264 wOBA, .150 ISO, 26.2% HC
2019: .321 wOBA, .190 ISO, 38.5% HC
2020: .370 wOBA, .205 ISO, 46.9% HC

That’s pretty significant leaps, and the 2020 numbers, quite frankly, are just bad.

This is especially relevant, because 1, The Rays can throw as many as 7 LHB’s against Max tonight, and 2, as you see above the Rays are basically in the top third in the league against RHP.

The Ray have some very strong left-handed bats against RHP, 2019-20 combined:

Brandon Lowe .263 ISO, 41.2% HC
Ji-Man Choi .207 ISO, 44.8% HC
Austin Meadows .265 ISO, 43.5% HC
Yoshitomo Tsutsugo .239 ISO, 37.3% HC

The positive for Max is, the Rays projected lineup still K’s at a decent 23.3% rate, and Lowe, Meadows and Choi are 3 of the highest strikeout bats in the lineup.

Let me make this very clear here, Max is still the highest upside arm on the slate. I wouldn’t recommend fading him entirely if multi-entering, but there’s still reason for pause, and not to go overboard. As we move along, we’ll find there’s some potentially better point-per-dollar arms ahead with good upside.

On the other side, I really like what I’m guessing will be a contrarian Rays stack or at least plucking some one-offs or 2-man groups, especially with the 4 I mention above.

BULLS: Victor Robles (if leading off DK only), Max Scherzer
NEUTRAL: Juan Soto, Rays stacks or one offs (Choi, Lowe, Meadows, Tsutsugo)
BEARS: Charlie Morton (only because of expected pitch count), All other Nat’s bats.

KCR @ CLE

Brad Keller :

4.87 xFIP, 20.7% K’s, 10.8% BB’s, 41.1% GB’s, 42.5% HC

Indians vs RHP

.147 ISO (25th), .312 wOBA (22nd), .375 SLG (26th), 91 wRC+ (22nd) 24.2% K’s

I feel like this spot could really go either way.

First, let’s point out how ugly those Indians numbers are against RHP. Carlos Santana, Francisco Lindor, and Jose Ramirez have all struggled, by their previous standards against RHP this season.

Brad Keller is average as average gets and he’s been pitching over his head so far. That 4.87 xFIP is coming with 1.93 ERA that doesn’t add up. 10.8% BB’s and an unsustainable .230 BABIP are going to get to him eventually.

Basically we’re looking at a big pile of mediocrity all around.

In his last start Keller faced these Indians and went 6 1/3, allowing 1 run, 3 hits, 1 BB, and 4 K’s. Knowing he has regression coming, can he realistically stave off that regression two starts in a row against the same team?

OK, let’s get one thing out of the way, Brad Keller is pointless to use and overpriced on FD.

Let’s get the next thing out of the way. I could type in circles about this spot all day trying to dig something up, but we don’t have time for that. On DK, I’m 100% neutral on this spot.

The Indians legit struggles could easily lead to a quality start for Keller. At 6.7K on DK, he is viable as an SP2, but will not come highly recommended by me.

At the same time, Cleveland has a tendency to blow up. It seems like they always score 10+ runs or 2 runs max, at least when I stack them. Also, as we glide through this slate, we’ll find that truly great stack spots are lacking. If making limited line ups, I’d be very comfortable fading this spot, but as you continue to build and if you’re doing 20 max or even more, it’s hard to not get at least a couple Indians stacks in there.

The most obvious sides to build around (numbers are against RHP and include last seasons, as this is the type of production we’re hoping for) are:

Carlos Santana .204 ISO, 38.8% HC
Francisco Lindor .248 ISO, 42.6%
Jose Ramirez .222 ISO, 41.8% HC
Franmil Reyes .273 ISO, 49.8%
Tyler Naquin .201 ISO, 45.9%

Obviously you can mix and match other pieces, but these are your standouts.

Zach Plesac :

3.04 xFIP, 30.3% K’s, 2% BB’s, 41.8% GB’s, 40.3% HC

Royals vs RHP :

.159 ISO (21st), .298 wOBA (27th), .387 SLG (24th), 84 wRC+ (26th), 24.2% K’s

I’m not going to waste much time here. The Royals numbers against RHP, as you can see, are bad. Plesac’s numbers are quite good. The Royals have a 3.3 implied run total, which is the lowest on the board. Plesac on DK is incredibly underpriced at 7.6K and only the 7th most expensive pitcher on a slate with only 12. Ridiculous. On FD Plesac is the 3rd most expensive pitcher and not as much of a lock, but still a quality play if looking to diversify.

BULLS: Zach Plesac (DK)
NEUTRAL: Brad Keller (DK), Indians stacks, Zach Plesac (FD)
BEARS: Brad Keller (FD), Royals stacks

NYY @ TOR

Jordan Montgomery :

3.89 xFIP, 20.2% K’s, 3.7% BB’s. 40.9% GB’s, 33.3% HC

Blue Jays vs LHP :

.176 ISO (15th), .327 wOBA (15th), .439 SLG (12th), 107 wRC+ (14th) 22.1% K’s

Montgomery is not a bad pitcher, despite not being able to make it out of the 1st in his last start against the Rays. The numbers above are decent, and not something we’re looking for when stacking against normally. The Jays also will be without Teoscar Hernandez tonight with a rib injury, so they’ll have a fairly significant hole in the middle of their line up. Those stats above for the Jays against LHP are nothing special and they’ll be even worse without him.

Let’s take a further look into Montgomery’s numbers, specifically against RHB’s:

.387 wOBA, .288 ISO, 30.6% GB’s, and 34.7% HC.

Now those are beatable numbers.

The problem is, outside of Randal Grichuk (.341 ISO, 44% HC), and Vladimir Guerrero Jr (.359 ISO, 45.5% HC) the Jays don’t have much in the way of RHB’s to get excited about. Lourdes Gurriel has a .169 ISO and 28% HC against LHP on the year, but it’s worth noting last season he was at a .367 ISO and 44.4% HC. So these 3 are definitely our building blocks.

Danny Jansen had .207 ISO and 40% HC against LHP last season, while Rowdy Tellez had a .243 ISO and 45.6% HC. So they’re worthwhile too.

Once you get past these 5, there’s not a lot to see. You can round out stacks however best fits your builds, but anything else takes a little leap of faith.

Hyun-jin Ryu :

3.17 xFIP, 27.6% K’s, 6.9% BB’s, 54% GB’s, 36.3% HC

Yankees vs LHP :

.175 ISO (16th), .300 wOBA (20th), .387 SLG (21st) , 88 wRC+ (20th) 24.3% K’s

Ryu has been excellent for the Jays this season, especially after a couple rough starts early, as you can see in the numbers above.

The Yankees have been pretty average against LHP this year, as most of their best bats have been in and out of their line up all season.

They got Gleyber Torres (.252 ISO, 42% HC vs LHP) back yesterday, which should help, and Clint Frazier (.250 ISO, 34% HC vs. LHP) has been stepping up, but there’s still holes in this line up. I shouldn’t ignore Gary Sanchez, DJ LeMahieu, Luke Voit and their .259, .244, and .235 ISO’s against LHP, respectively.

Ryu though has things in his favor too. A 51% GB rate, 29.7% K-rate, only 22.8% fly balls and a .103 ISO allowed to RHB’s. He also had a .84 HR/9 last year and that’s down to .63 this season, so it’s not like it’s easy to get it out against him.

This is a slightly neutral spot for both sides and I’m not afraid to admit I have a little bit of fear of these Yankees bats, and they’re sitting on a 4.6 implied total, which is fairly high with the numbers Ryu has been compiling. If I had to choose I’d give a slight edge to Ryu.

On FD he’s priced only $800 lower than Plesac who has the much safer match up and higher K-rate, and $500 more than Lamet, who himself has a higher K-rate and safer match up, so unless just trying to diversify it doesn’t make a ton of sense of go here.

On DK, it’s basically the same situation, except he’s $300 cheaper than Lamet and $900 more than Plesac, so although I’ll be making enough line ups, that I’ll have some shares there, but it’s mostly to diversify slightly.

BULLS: Randal Grichuk, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Lourdes Gurriel
NEUTRAL: Danny Jansen, Rowdy Tellez, Hyun-jin Ryu, Yankees RH power bats
BEARS: Jordan Montgomery

ARZ @ SFG

Zac Gallen :

3.80 xFIP, 27.8% K’s, 7.7% BB’s, 46.3% GB’s, 35% HC

Giants vs RHP :

.169 ISO (18th), .331 wOBA (8th), .439 SLG (9th), 110 wRC+ (8th), 22.3% K’s

We’ve got some pretty respectable numbers on both sides here. There’s a couple things that make me nervous here about Gallen though.

First, although that 3.80 xFIP is solid, he’s sitting on a 1.80 ERA and unsustainable .224 BABIP, so some regression is probably coming eventually. He’s also already pitched twice against the Giants this season, successfully (6 IP, 1 ER, 3 hits, 6K’s and 7 IP, 1 ER, 5 hits, 5 K’s), so what better team to tag him up a bit then one who has already seen him twice?

Now, this isn’t a ringing endorsement for the Giants bats, but more so questioning if Gallen is worth our time tonight.

The Giants projected starting lineup has a low 19.7% K-rate, which is about as low as it gets tonight. Gallen has a lower K-rate then several of our pitching options tonight.

On DK and FD he’s the 2nd most expensive pitcher with Plesac, Ryu, and Lamet all cheaper. He’s only $400 cheaper than Max on FD, which is just kind of ridiculous really. On DK the gap is more significant, I just can’t recommend Gallen over these other arms.

So, to sum it up, it’s not that I think that Gallen is a bad play, I just don’t fully trust him at his price with what our other options are.

I also respect Gallen enough that I’m not interested in loading up here on Giants bats. There’s plenty of paths to Gallen regressing some, and the Giants bats being irrelevant.

Kevin Gausman :

3.09 xFIP, 31% K’s, 5.3% BB’s, 40.4% GB’s, 44% HC

Diamondbacks vs RHP :

.147 ISO (26th), .304 wOBA (24th), .383 SLG (25th), 87 wRC+ (25th), 20.6% K’s

Kevin Gausman keeps dealing and is getting no respect on his price, especially on DK. In fact even after a solid 5 IP, 5K, 2ER outing in Coors last week, his price went down. What?

I expect Gausman to be chalky, but this is ridiculous. Look at those numbers above. 3.09 xFIP, and 31% K’s. The 14.8% swinging strike rate proves this isn’t just some magic trick either. Look at those Diamondbacks numbers against RHP.

I’m too stunned to continue. I’m buying up Gausman and have no interest in the Diamondbacks tonight. Even at 7.7K on FD, if you need the savings down the upper tier, he’s more than viable.

BULLS: Kevin Gausman
NEUTRAL: Zach Gallen
BEARS: Giants bats, Diamondback bats.

HOU @ OAK

Cristian Javier :

4.95 xFIP, 23.4% K’s, 9% BB’s, 33% GB’s, 34% HC

Athletics vs RHP :

.180 ISO (11th), .320 wOBA (18th), .406 SLG (20th), 105 wRC+ (12th), 25.7% K’s

OK, Javier has a 3.35 ERA, with a 4.95 xFIP and a ridiculous .167 BABIP allowed. He’s also sitting on a 1.91 HR/9.

At some point this guy is going to get tagged. His struggles against LHB’s are much more significant, where the K% goes down to 17, the ISO allowed is at .236, and the HC% goes up to 39.7%.

If you can’t tell, I like the A’s tonight. We can start with the LHB’s:

Matt Olson vs RHP: .250 ISO and 46% HC
Tommy La Stella vs RHP: .225 ISO and 43% HC
Robbie Grossman vs RHP: .289 ISO and 35% HC

Even though Javier is respectable against RHB’s we may as well throw some in to round out our stacks. Did I mention the Astros pen has struggled this year allowing a 7th worst 4.95 xFIP?

Ramon Laureano, Stephen Piscotty, and Mark Canha have all had respectable levels of success against RHP.

The only real knock is these bats are expensive, but maybe that’ll keep ownership down.

Frankie Montas :

5.32 xFIP, 22.3% K’s, 12.2% BB’s, 38.5% GB’s, 34.4% HC

Astros vs RHP :

.161 ISO (20th), .315 wOBA (21st), .406 SLG (21st), 101 wRC+ (18th), 20.5% K’s

Outside of a couple great starts, including against these Astros, Frankie Montas has struggled greatly this season, as the numbers show.

The Astros have struggled at times themselves with Alex Bregman missing significant time, and Jose Altuve to some extent as well. Dusty Baker did say he hoped to have Bregman back today, and Bregman has declared himself 100% healthy, so we’ll see if he cracks the line up. If he does it’ll be a big boost to the line up.

I don’t trust Montas here at all. The numbers show the Astros have been beatable, but Montas hasn’t shown anything to give us major confidence either, and with the other pitchers we have available to us today it just makes no sense to go here.

As for the Astros bats, I have some mild interest, but they’re not a top stack for me here. Even if Montas does struggle, the A’s bullpen is elite with a 4th best 4.01 xFIP and a ridiculous league leading 2.20 ERA.

Montas has a higher .ISO allowed to LHB’s, but more hard contact to RHB’s, otherwise he’s pretty splits neutral, so I’m more interested in the Astros who hit RHP well than worry specifically about splits.

That leaves me looking at:

George Springer .224 ISO, 40.4% HC
Michael Brantley .183 ISO, 40% HC
Kyle Tucker .287 ISO, 47% HC

It’s worth noting the ISO of Carlos Correra is down to .128 this year from .307 last year, but the hard contact is still up at 43.9%.

BULLS: Matt Olson, Tommy La Stella, Robbie Grossman
NEUTRAL: Other A’s bats, George Springer, Michael Brantley, Kyle Tucker
BEARS: Cristian Javier, Frankie Montas

COL @ SDP

Kyle Freeland :

4.15 xFIP, 15.1% K’s, 5.9% BB’s, 56.6% GB’s, 41.4% HC

Padres vs LHP :

.206 ISO (8th), .344 wOBA (8th), .471 SLG (8th),117 wRC+ (9th), 21.4% K’s

Kyle Freeland is having a bit of a bounce back year, but there’s still some holes here. Most notably the hard contact and low, low K rate.

The number one thing Freeland has going for him is the high ground ball rate, but if you’ve read these write ups before you know what I’m going to say…

A pitchers ground ball rate doesn’t mean as much, when the line up he’s facing has low ground ball rates. Oh, let me point that the Rockies have the 2nd worst bullpen ERA at 6.78.

So, yeah I really like the Padres tonight.

Let’s look at these numbers against LHP

Fernando Tatis Jr .295 ISO, 56.3% HC
Eric Hosmer .211 ISO, 51.6% HC
Manny Machado .277 ISO, 43% HC
Jurickson Profar .209 ISO, 34.2% HC
Wil Myers .429 ISO, 62.5% HC

Well also may throw in Austin Nola and his .176 ISO and 60.7% HC.

Geez.

It should be no surprise these guys are BULLS and have the highest implied run total on the board.

Dinelson Lamet :

4.23 xFIP, 31.7% K’s, 8.3% BB’s, 30.8% GB’s, 44.2% HC

Rockies vs RHP :

.168 ISO (19th), .312 wOBA (23rd), .416 SLG (16th), 78 wRC+ (27th), 22.6% K’s

Lamet is still due for some regression. That 4.23 xFIP comes with a 2.62 ERA, unsustainable .223 BABIP allowed, and as you see above a healthy amount of hard contact. He’s worked his way through some respectable, but disappointing fantasy results outings against the M’s and Angels in his last two starts.

Lament feels safe here. That K-rate is going to keep him in play, and we know the Rockies don’t really hit well outside of Coors. I don’t love Lamet here though and on FD, I’d almost rather just drop down to Gausman, but he does feel safer than Ryu and the upside is there. On DK, I think I’d rather just drop down to Plesac and, or Gausman and there’s fairly equal positives and negatives between him and Ryu.

So, with all that said, I’m actually going to go neutral on Lamet.

Lament has pretty neutral splits and with that regression coming, I don’t hate getting a tiny bit of Rockies exposure. Especially knowing that outside of probably the Royals, these will be some of the lowest owned bats on the slate.

Trevor Story, Nola Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, Samuel Hilliard, and Garrett Hampson all have ISO’s over .200 and HC rates above 40% against RHP. Well, except Arenado who is at 34.5%.

I wouldn’t go crazy, but Hampson and HIlliard are especially cheap.

BULLS: Padres stacks,
NEUTRAL: Dinelson Lamet, Trevor Stroy, Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, Samuel Hilliard, Garrett Hampson
BEARS: Kyle Freeland

RECAP:

OK, one thing that stood out as I was going through this slate, is all the solid pitching, and with only 6 games that hurts the amount of bats we can use. Originally I was Neutral on the Indians, but seeing how few Bulls bats I’ve presented, I’ve upped the Indians offense to Bulls. So if you’ve been reading along and noticed they were neutral originally, well, no more!

Pitcher ranks:

Max
Plesac
Gausman
Ryu
Lamet
Gallen

That’s how I rank them. I’m probably completely off Keller on DK now, with expected added Indians exposure. Also, Gausman being $600 cheaper, he just doesn’t make a lot of sense. Could he outscore Gausman? Of course, but I’m playing with what I think will happen, not just what could maybe might happen.

Full Stacks:

Padres
A’s
Jays
Indians

Mini Stacks or One-offs:

Rays LH power
Yankees RH power
Rockies
Astros

Good luck all and thanks for reading!

About the Author

Comments

  • ifthethunder

    “Yes, the MLB thread is always slow, yes it’s slowed even further by NBA running congruent with it. Yes, it’s a holiday.”

    And yes, I’m ready for NHL and NBA to be over. But I’m still trying to get DK achievements for them. And yes, I’m not even sure (given recent events) that I can.

    That’s life, and here we are. Thanks for the blog, Panda!
    ~

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