Thursday brings us a split slate of baseball, with six games going tonight. Pitching has a couple of big names while the rest will be a challenge to fill that second spot. Let’s jump right into it and as always, you can get me on the ol’ Twitter machine @SBuchanan24.

Game Notes

Biggest Favorites

CHC (-219) vs. CIN – Jake Arrieta – Arrieta is not only the biggest favorite of the night, he’s also the biggest on the entire day. It’s not very difficult to figure out why either. Arrieta has picked up where he left off last season, taking his 1.23 ERA and 0.77 WHIP into tonight’s matchup against the Reds. Even more impressive for Arrieta is his K:BB ratio, which sits at 20:2. The Reds are right in the middle of the league in terms of hitting, but they are a tough team to strikeout. Ranked 28th overall, it still wouldn’t shy me away from taking Arrieta.

KCR (-161) vs. DET – Edinson Volquez – – Volquez is also off to a nice start this season, carrying a 2.04 ERA with a 1.19 WHIP and a K:BB ratio of 17:7. I must say though, I’m a bit surprised by the love Volquez is getting as a favorite, figuring that the Tigers are hitting extremely well out of the gate. They rank 7th in runs scored, 8th in home runs and 5th in OPS. Overall, Volquez is a solid pitcher, and on a slate like tonight, he’s a decent second option. I think it’s just fair to not have your expectations set very high here. Finally, the last reason I’m not thrilled about taking Vasquez is because…

Highest Totals

DET vs KCR – 8.5 runs – He’s in the highest projected run total game of the night. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, it’s hard for me to justify taking a pitcher involved in a game that is projected to score a good amount of runs. Granted, Mike Pelfrey is taking the mound for the Tigers, but don’t be fooled by his early season success. Overall, Pelfrey struggled last season, especially against left-handed batters where he owned a .367 wOBA against them. Both of these teams are perfectly capable of putting numbers on the scoreboard tonight, and I have no reason to believe they won’t.

Weather Concerns

  • 1) CHC vs CIN (Great American Ballpark) – This game will have a chance of rain all throughout the night. Wind can also be a bit of a problem in this one, as it will be blowing from right to left at 11 mph. Watch this game closer to first pitch.
  • 2) DET vs KCR (Kauffman Stadium) – No rain in this one, but we have a strong wind that will be blowing from right to left at 17 mph. Just something to keep in mind if you’re taking any hitters in this one.

Park Factors

Park Factors are ranked on a scale of 1.000. If an offensive category has a rating of 1.000 or above, it favors the hitters. Anything below 1.000 favors the pitchers.

  • Camden Yards – TOR vs BAL -Camden Yards ranked as the number three overall ballpark for hitters in 2015. It featured favorable rankings in runs, home runs and hits.
  • Great American Ballpark – CHC vs. CIN – The Great American Ballpark had favorable ratings for hitters in every offensive category except triples.
  • Worst Ballpark – PIT vs. SDP – Petco Park was ranked 20th overall in favor of hitters in 2015. With only home runs given the positive rating to hitters last season, Petco lived up to the hype of being a pitchers park.
  • Kauffman Stadium – DET vs. KCR – The Royals really don’t have a bad hitters park by any means, but with a short slate of games, it lands here by default. In 2105, Kauffman Stadium had favorable ratings in doubles, triples and walks.

Splits to Start

Pitchers vs. Left Handed Batters

James Shields0.8930.279Rich Hill0.3580.211
Mike Pelfrey0.8340.312Jake Arrieta0.4490.159
Brandon Finnegan0.7650.247Dallas Keuchel0.4610.177

Pitchers vs. Right Handed Batters

Chris Tillman0.8280.271Rich Hill0.4230.138
Mike Pelfrey0.7160.297Jake Arrieta0.5570.207
Luis Severino0.7020.213Marco Estrada0.6260.204

Batter vs. Pitcher Splits

HitterOpposing SPABFP/AB
Jason CastroA.J. Griffin122.83
Jose BautistaChris Tillman392.15
Edwin EncarnacionChris Tillman491.89

  • The amount of BvP on this slate was quite unimpressive, so I looked for the three best I could find. Griffin hasn’t pitched in the majors in quite some time, so hopefully Castro doesn’t forget his 4-12 line with a double, two home runs, and three RBIs.
  • Bautista and Encarnacion have seen Tillman a lot in their divisional matchups. Combined, these two have gone 27-88 with six doubles, six home runs, 11 RBIs and 8 walks.

Lineup Starters

Pitcher to Build Around

Jake Arrieta – CHV vs. CIN – $11,100 – I don’t even care about stating the obvious in this instance, Arrieta is the real deal, and it’s almost insane to go against it. He’s basically matchup proof at this point, and the Reds offense certainly isn’t an offense that worries me. In the early going this season, Arrieta is holding right-handed batters to a minuscule .173 wOBA with a 9 K/9. With an overall 8.1 K/9 and a 0.82 BB/9, Arrieta is someone that just has to be in your lineup. I’d rather beat other teams tonight with my bats rather than the pitching.

Heavy Hitter to Pay For

Edwin Encarnacion – TOR vs BAL (Chris Tillman) – $4,800 – Even with the Blue Jays stumbling out of the gate a bit, it’s inevitable for them to turn things around. Hitting in the friendly confides of Camden Yards could just do the trick. Facing off against RHP Chris Tillman tonight, Encarnacion ended 2015 with a .399 wOBA and a .294 ISO when facing righties. In his career in Camden Yards, Encarnacion has hit 16 home runs with a .961 OPS. Fire him uppppp.

Save Big by Drafting…

Khris Davis OAK vs. NYY (Luis Severino) – $3,200 – I have to admit, it was a bit difficult to find some good value on this slate. I settled on Davis, because he’s a much more valuable hitter on the road than he is at home in Oakland. In a hitter’s park like Yankee Stadium, Davis is far more attractive to me, and he hit right-handed pitching much better than lefties last season. He has a fairly difficult matchup against Severino tonight, but Davis did own a .367 wOBA against righties last season, hitting 21 of his 27 home runs. For cheap money, he’s worth a shot.

Stack Em Up

TOR vs BAL (Chris Tillman) The Toronto Blue Jays that we expected this season have to show up at some point. They have WAY too much talent on that team to be ranked 22nd in the league overall in team batting average. Chris Tillman looked decent in his first two starts this season, but we have to take the opponents into consideration, as they were the Twins and the Rays. With a career wOBA of .317 against lefties and .332 and righties, something has got to give soon with the Blue Jays. I think tonight is the night.