WATCH: MLB PITCHING DUEL
Tonight’s 12-game MLB slate brings some interesting pitching options to consider. I break down my top-5 below.
1. Chris Sale – BOS vs. PIT – $11,200
Chris Sale was the Red Sox’s big offseason acquisition, and he will be making his debut tonight. Sale was sixth amongst MLB starting pitchers with an average of 23.12 DKFP per start last season. Rostering him provides a ton of stability, as he scored at least 18 DKFP in 24 of his 32 starts last season. Sale stands to benefit from playing with a better team this year. Not only will the Red Sox’s offense help Sale get more wins, but the Red Sox also have a better defense than the White Sox. Last year the Red Sox were ranked 14th in baseball in defensive runs saved and the White Sox were ranked 24th. Better defense should be able to help Sale prevent some more runs.
2. Rich Hill – LAD vs. SD – $10,800
The Padres’ offense may have been able to tee off a bit last night on Maeda, but this is no reason to avoid trying to pick on them tonight. Last year the Padres had a .315 .wOBA against left-handed pitching, which was 20th in baseball. They also lead the league strikeouts against left-handed pitching by striking out 25.3 percent of the time. Rich Hill struck out 29 percent of the hitters he faced last season, which is the best strikeout percentage of any starter on today’s slate. In Hill’s lone start against San Diego las year, he picked up the win by pitching six scoreless innings with eight strikeouts, which was good for 31.7 DKFP.
3. Jacob deGrom – NYM vs. ATL – $10,600
DeGrom doesn’t have quite the same upside as the first two pitchers on this list, but he does make for a pretty safe option in cash games. The Braves were ranked 26th in baseball with a .308 .wOBA against right-handed pitching. The Braves were also tied for the worst record in the National league with just 68 wins, which makes a win relatively likely for deGrom. Last year deGrom was nearly unhittable at home, in 13 starts he posted a 2.11 ERA and struck out 10.33 hitters per 9 innings.
4. Michael Pineda – NYY @ TB – $8,400
For his price tag, Pineda has a massive amount of upside. Pineda had at least 7 strikeouts in 16 of his 32 starts last season. Overall Pineda had a career-best 10.61 strikeouts per 9 innings. There is also an argument to be made that Pineda had a ton of tough breaks last season. He had a .339 BABIP (measures how often a ball in play goes for a hit) last season, which is much higher than his career average .300 BABIP. This lead to a massive difference between Pineda’s peripheral numbers and his actual ERA. He had a 3.8 FIP (measures what a player’s ERA would look like over a given period of time if the pitcher were to have experienced league average results on balls in play and league average timing), but he finished the year with a career-worst 4.82 ERA. If Pineda’s results normalize, he should be able to have a big bounce-back year. He should also be helped by the Rays’ offense which struck out the third most against right-handed pitching in 2016.
5. Garrett Richards – LAA @ OAK – $7,100
In 2014 Richards appeared to be an ace in the making. He went 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA, which was matched by his 2.6 FIP. Every since then he has run into a series of health issues. Last year was mostly a lost season for Richards and he was only able to pitch 34 1/3 innings after coming back from knee surgery. However, he was still effective with a 2.34 ERA. What was most promising to me was that his fastball velocity reminded intact. His average fastball speed in 2016 was 95.7 MPH, which is in line with his career average of 95.5 MPH. This shows to me that Richards does not have any lingering effects of being injured. Richards is still just 28 years old, so he has plenty of time to get his career back on track. He should benefit from pitching in Oakland tonight. The A’s have a below average offense and their stadium was the third most friendly pitcher’s park last season.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is gehrenberg) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.