Corey Kluber (CLE)
Kluber is often at the top of the food chain on days that he pitches and today is no different. He’s the clear-cut top option for me considering the floor and upside he brings to the table day in and day out. The Orioles strike more than any other team in baseball against righties (28 percent) and own one of the lowest team ISO’s and team wOBA’s against righties along with a minuscule seven percent walk rate. Kluber’s metrics are off the charts. He’s pitched into the at least the seventh inning in each of his four starts (6.2, 8, 7, 8 innings respectively) and has 33 strikeouts while only walking six. Aiding his 10.01 K/9 and 30.3 percent K rate is his 11.2 swinging strike rate and 29.5 percent O-swing rate. When opponents have been making contact against Kluber, 43 percent of the time that contact has resulted in a groundball. Expect a dominant performance by the Indians’ ace this afternoon.
Luis Severino (NYY)
The “1B” option for me today is Severino taking on the Blue Jays. The Jays lineup is dangerous at times with solid team wOBA and ISO numbers, however, they are striking out 24 percent of their at-bats against righties. Severino has been electric thus far in 2018 with a 10.50 K/9, 30 percent K rate and just an eight percent walk rate. He hasn’t allowed a home run and has generated a 49.1 percent ground ball rate. With a 31 percent O-swing percentage and 12.7 percent swinging strike rate, Severino figures to be economical and pitch deep into this game against a Jays team who outside of Justin Smoak lack any consistent firepower.
Mid Tier and Value Options
Lance McCullers (HOU)
The knock on McCullers is that he doesn’t pitch deep enough into games, he wastes too many pitches, and that he gets into trouble with walks. McCullers will look to take advantage of a somewhat impatient White Sox team sees around 3.9 pitches per plate appearance as a team and walk just 7.9 percent of the time as a team against right-handed pitching. Some of McCullers’ numbers are staggering and quite frankly among some of the best starting pitchers in baseball. He has a ridiculous 14.57 K/9 and 37.4 percent K rate, third-highest among starters behind only Max Scherzer and Gerrit Cole. His O-swing percentage is an outrageous 33.2 percent and his swinging strike rate comes in at 14.5 percent, 10th-highest amongst starters. He’s allowing a hard-contact rate of 34.8 percent, which is a bit higher than we’d like to see but that number is negated by his league-leading 65 percent ground ball rate. After three sub-par performances, including one on opening day in which he was pulled early because AJ Hinch is… well, he’s AJ Hinch. He was rolling in that game going 5.1 innings with 10 strikeouts and just one walk. His last start was about as good as it gets as he dominated the Mariners in Seattle going seven innings, allowing just one run (a first-inning solo home run), while striking out 11 and walking just one. If you’re looking to drop down from Kluber or Severino’s hefty price tags today, McCullers is your best bet.
Luis Castillo (CIN)
Castillo is one of the bright up and coming pitchers in the game and one of the few bright spots for the dumpster fire Reds. Don’t let his surface numbers fool you, this kid is good. Very good. He rocks a 50 percent ground ball rate, a low 29 percent hard contact rate, and a solid 21.9 percent K rate. His O-swing percentage of 33.8 and swinging strike rate of 15.2 percent are among the best in the league amongst starting pitchers. The righty has dealt with a lot of bad luck thus far in his first four starts posting an unsustainable .281 BABIP which is due to regress steadily moving forward. For reference, Castillo’s BABIP last season was .241. With the Cardinals offense not showing any signs of consistency against righties with a 23.7 percent K rate and the 10th-lowest team ISO at .156, Castillo shapes up as a top-level value play on FanDuel and great SP2 option on DK.
Mike Foltynewicz (ATL)
Folty has been great in three of his four starts this season, two against the Phillies and one against the Nationals. The Mets have a ton of strikeouts in their lineups among their regulars which will heighten Folty’s 10.97 K/9 and 28.9 K rate. Jay Bruce (21.8 percent K rate), Todd Frazier (20.6 percent), Amed Rosario (29.4 percent), Michael Conforto (25 percent), Yoenis Cespedes (37 percent), and Jose Lobaton (43.8 percent) highlight the Mets’ struggles with making contact. Folty’s walk rate is a bit high at 10 percent, but he’s been able to negate that to a degree with a 47 percent ground ball rate which is up from last years 39.4 percent due in part to Folty’s increased use of his slider which he’s throwing 26.3 percent of the time.
David Price (BOS)
Price has seen his salary drop to $7,900 on FD but is still priced way up there at $9,400 on DK. I prefer him on FD today against the A’s who are a fearsome offense but do have some trouble with left-handed pitching. As a team, they have a 24.3 percent K rate against southpaws and just a combined .124 ISO. Price has started off well this season after a disaster of a year in 2017. He hasn’t been the dominant ace that we’ve seen in the past, but he’s working his way in the right direction. He has a good park in his favor and has a 21 percent K rate to go along with a respectable 43 percent ground ball rate. Price has had success pitching in Oakland posting a 3.02 ERA, striking out 41 batters, and allowing just two home runs in 47.2 innings pitched there.
Fade of the Day
Patrick Corbin (ARI)
As good as Corbin has been this season, some of his performance is a bit flawed. The positive points are his 12.48 K/9 and his 56 percent ground ball rate. However, he’s allowing a 31 percent hard-hit rate, the same as he did last season but he’s been incredibly lucky allowing just a .214 BABIP where last year he was at .326. Having Corbin as a fade is NOT to say that he will have a bad start because I simply don’t see that as being the case. He’ll be fine, but considering where his salary is at on both sites and the plethora of arms in his range, I’m not willing to go here today against a Padres lineup that looks a whole lot better with Wil Myers back in the fold and an offense that hasn’t been mowed down much by lefties this season.
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