Monday bring us a nine game slate that will feature a couple of the top names in pitching tonight. Who are some of the best options for tonight? I break it down and hopefully guide you in the right direction. As always, you can get me on the ol’ Twitter machine @SBuchanan24.
Top 5 Pitchers
1) *Clayton Kershaw – LAD vs. CIN – $14,000 – I mean, do I really need to explain anymore why Kershaw is and will be the top option on a slate? The man is pitching out of his mind, and today should be no different. Even with the Reds hitting left-handed pitchers well, owning a .332 wOBA with a .429 SLG and a 18.3 K%, Kershaw has been blowing through every lineup he’s seen this season. At home, Kershaw has been almost unstoppable, holding opposing hitters to a .167 wOBA with a 12.1 K/9. He’s expensive, but should be worth every penny.
2) Johnny Cueto – SFG vs. SDP – $12,600 – Again, I’ll let the numbers do the talking here. Cueto has faced the Padres twice thus far this season, including his last start. He’s fortunate enough to get them a third time here tonight. In his prior two starts, Cueto has pitched two complete games, owning a 0.50 ERA with a 0.77 WHIP and a 9.5 K/9. As a $1,400 saving over Kershaw, Cueto is certainly not a bad pivot off of him. I imagine both of these pitchers will be extremely popular tonight and it will be the bats that will make or differentiate these lineups.
3) Vince Velasquez – PHI vs DET – $11,800 – I like Velasquez a bit more than I did yesterday after hearing Miguel Cabrera could be missing some time due to a knee injury. If that’s the case, this will boost Velasquez immensely going against this Tigers lineup. The Tigers own a .338 wOBA on the season against righties, but that number includes Cabrera. When it comes to strikeouts, the Tigers are one of the highest in the league with a 23.4 K%. Velasquez is holding opposing teams to a .269 wOBA on the season with an 8.6 K/9. Overall, Velasquez owns a K/9 of 11, which makes him all the more enticing. A weaker Tigers lineup could certainly fall victim to Vince here tonight.
4) Gio Gonzalez – WAS vs. NYM – $9,900 – Gonzalez is making back-to-back starts against the Mets, as he faced them his last time out. That last start went about as good as you could ask for, as he went 6.1 innings allowing one run on five hits with a 5:1 K:BB ratio. Gonzalez has been fantastic this season, pitching almost lights out at home. He owns a 1.16 ERA at Nationals Park without giving up a home run and 9.2 K/9. The Mets are near the bottom of the league in hitting against lefties, making Gonzalez a fine play for today.
5) Rich Hill – OAK vs. SEA – $9,500 – I just don’t get it. When will the regression for Rich Hill begin? I keep thinking it’s coming, and he proves me wrong every single start. He’s been fantastic every step of the way, owning a 10.6 K/9 over nine starts. He’s having some issues with his control, owning a 3.8 BB/9, but he’s been getting out of these jams overall. Facing a SEA team that is around the league average in wOBA against lefties at .322 and a 20.4 K%, Hill is a nice salary saver in a plus matchup, pitching at Safeco Field. That regression is going to come one of these days, but I’ll continue to ride this streak until the bitter end.
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6) John Lackey – CHC vs. STL – $9,400 – I’m not sure what to make of Lackey tonight to be honest. For one, he had his best start of the season against this same Cardinals team in April. In that start, Lackey went seven innings allowing no runs on four hits with an 11:1 K:BB ratio. Since then, he’s essentially traded a good start for a bad one. On top of that, Lackey has performed much better at home than he has on the road. I’m not sure I’m totally convinced that Lackey can do what he did to this Cardinals team that is second in the league in wOBA against righties at .362 with a 19.6 K%. But out of respect for what he HAS done, I’ll land Lackey in the sixth spot for today. I just think we have a few safer options before him.
7) Drew Pomeranz – SDP vs. SFG – $8,500 – Pomeranz has been solid almost this entire season. He comes into this start against the Giants with a 1.96 ERA with a 1.07 WHIP and a K/9 of 10.6. The problem I have with this start is that the Giants are hitting lefties at a decent clip, a .323 wOBA and they own the second lowest K% in the league at 17.6%. Not exactly enticing numbers. On the plus side, Pomeranz is only $8,500, which on slate like today feels quite cheap. He’s also pitching in AT&T Park, which is one of the best pitcher’s park in the league. He’s an attractive option but will be limited with what he can accomplish in this one.
8) Wei-Yin Chen – MIA vs. TBR – $9,000 – Chen is on my short list of pitchers I have a REALLY hard time trusting. However, Chen isn’t a terrible option tonight. He’s averaging 25.7 FPPG over his last two starts and has a decent matchup against the Rays tonight. As a team, the Rays are hitting lefties well with a .343 wOBA and a .468 SLG%, but they also own a 23.1 K%, ranked 10th. Chen is all over the place with his strikeouts, going from zero against the Phillies one night to 12 against the Brewers his next start. Chen is up and down, but he could potentially make something happen.
9) Brandon Finnegan – CIN vs. LAD – $5,900 – Finnegan will most likely be a solid starting pitcher as time goes on, I just don’t think we’ve reached that yet. Nonetheless, he’s only $5,900 tonight and faces a Dodgers offense that is scuffling big time. The Dodgers own a .306 wOBA against lefties this season with a 20.4 K%. Finnegan has been decent with his strikeouts, owning a K/9 of 7 thus far, and he could honestly be a sneaky option tonight. Just realize you’ll probably be getting what you pay for, a score in the mid-teens and most likely without a W.
10) Taijuan Walker – SEA vs. OAK – $8,100 – I don’t hate this start for Walker at all to be honest. What worries me is that he isn’t going very deep into games, which really kills his upside. Pitching at Safeco Field this season, Walker is averaging 18.5 FPPG with a 9.7 K/9 compared to his 6.2 on the road. This A’s offense is one of the worst against righties, with a .297 wOBA and a .383 SLG. If Walker can go deeper into games, he would be a much better option. I just can’t trust he can do so.