Wednesday brought us some day baseball, but the meat and potatoes of the schedule is tonight’s 12-game main slate. Prices seem to be up across the board, but we have a few viable options in each pricing tier, giving us multiple ways to go about lineup construction for Wednesday night. Let’s dig in.
Top 5 Pitchers
|1||David Price||Red Sox||Royals||$10,600|
1) David Price – Red Sox vs. Royals – $10,500 – Dustin Pedroia has done many things well this season, but perhaps his greatest accomplishment in 2016 is fixing David Price. After reviewing some of his own previous at bats against Price, Pedroia noticed a change in Price’s front leg lift and the position of his hands. This subtle change helped Price get back on track during his last start, and he should be ‘all systems go’ moving forward. The 6.00 ERA may scare some away, but his 2.35 DRA (deserved run average) and 68 cFIP (contextual FIP) from Baseball Prospectus tell us that this is still an elite starting pitcher.
2) Johnny Cueto – Giants vs. Padres – $11,900 – The safest play on the slate is Johnny Cueto on the road against the Padres. He’s priced like a double digit strikeout pitcher, but he doesn’t possess the consistent strikeout upside that most nearly-$12,000 starting pitchers have. His 8.3 K/9 is good enough though, and the Padres help out with their 25.4% K-rate against right-handed pitching. The Padres are only projected for an implied-team total of 3.1 runs.
“The Braves’ ineptitude makes just about every starting pitcher viable”
3) Francisco Liriano – Pirates vs. Braves – $10,400 – The only implied-team total lower than the Padres 3.1 runs is that of the Braves who project for just 3.0 runs on Wednesday. The Braves’ ineptitude makes just about every starting pitcher viable, and we’ve all been transfixed by the upside of Francisco Liriano at one time or another. I think he will be very popular on Wednesday, and I understand it, but there is a strong case for fading him in tournaments.
4) John Lackey – Cubs vs. Brewers – $10,900 – John Lackey might be pitching as well now as he has at any other time in his career. He’s getting an insane amount of run support, but he’s putting in work himself. His 8.75 K/9 is up compared to his rate over the past few seasons, and it’s backed up by his 12.2% swinging-strike rate. At $10,900 he’s a bit rich for my blood, but he’s a sizable favorite (-183) and the Brewers are striking out at a ton (25.4%).
5) Taijuan Walker – Mariners vs. Orioles – $7,100 – Taijuan Walker has a difficult matchup against right-handed mashing Baltimore, but he’s pitching well this season. His command has been excellent, limiting walks while maintaining his above-average strikeout rate of 9.0 K/9. He’s underpriced on this slate, but the question is whether or not you want to back a pitcher taking on the Orioles at home.
6) Drew Pomeranz – Padres vs. Giants – $8,900 – The answer to the first question that you may be asking, “Is Drew Pomeranz legit?” is yes. Perhaps not 1.80 ERA-legit, but his DRA is 2.67 and his cFIP is 78 meaning that he’s going to continue to pitch well moving forward. His strikeout upside is through the roof, but his opponent, the Giants, strike out just 17.5% of the time against lefties, one of the lowest marks in the league. Perhaps that curtails a bit of his upside, but with a 12.7% swinging-strike rate and an 11.5 K/9, you can still expect a solid outing from Pomeranz at $8,900.
7) Chris Tillman – Orioles vs. Mariners – $9,700 – Chris Tillman is my favorite tournament play of the day. He’s extremely expensive and overpriced based on what we’ve seen from him over the past few seasons, but the former top prospect has finally started putting it together. His 2.58 ERA is backed up by his 3.20 DRA, with the difference being tied to his unsustainably-low 2.1% HR/FB ratio. A 3.20 DRA and 85 cFIP is much different than the $6,000 starter who we used to target in bad matchups. He’s missing bats, and his 27.2% soft contact rate is the best on the slate. You can spend up to be contrarian here.
“. . . but the former top prospect has finally started putting it together”
8) Gio Gonzalez – Nationals vs. Mets – $9,300 – The Mets are a vastly different club against left-handed pitching, so Gio Gonzalez is very much in play here. They’re striking out at an astronomical 27.9% of the time against southpaws with a 95 wRC+ and .310 wOBA. Gio can be tough to stomach at times, but he’s been solid in 2016 due to his depressed walk rate and elite ground ball-inducing skills.
9) Julio Teheran – Braves vs. Pirates – $8,400 – Few pitchers have the extreme handedness splits that Julio Teheran has. Since the beginning of 2015, Teheran has really struggled against lefties with a .382 wOBA, while dominating righties to the tune of a .251 wOBA. This matters because the Pirates can be extremely right-handed, with their primary starting lineup consisting of seven right-handed bats. Teheran doesn’t have elite tournament upside due to a fairly pedestrian strikeout rate, but he could be cash game viable.
10) Nathan Eovaldi – Yankees vs. Diamondbacks – $6,800 – Nate Eovaldi has pitched a bit better than his ERA would indicate, but his consistently high hard-hit contact rate continues to be an issue. His HR/FB ratio is high, but that’ll happen when you give up a ton of hard hit balls. When he’s on, Eovaldi throws gas, misses bats and gets a 50% ground ball rate, all things that play well in the desert air of Arizona.