Today we have a large full day slate of 13 games and there are some interesting spots that we can attack. The early slate is looking like it could be pretty high scoring, so I like a few stacks there and pitchers are going to be difficult to pinpoint. With that said, lets dive into today’s top plays.
The early slate is kind of a disaster when it comes to pitching, so no one is truly safe, yes that includes Carlos Carrasco and Jose Fernandez. As of when this is being published, I don’t see a Red Sox or Tigers lineup, but I can safely assume they’re what we saw yesterday.
The top pitcher early is going to be Jose Fernandez ($11,700) and it comes with massive strikeout upside. During his career, Jose Fernandez has been absolutely dominant at home, posting a 27.7% strikeout rate in 2015. The Tigers finished 2015 with just an 18.5% strikeout rate against right-handed pitchers, but they did add Justin Upton, who strikes out quite a bit. In each of his three years in MLB, Fernandez has a swinging strike rate greater than 10%. His stuff is filthy. For his career, Fernandez has allowed a .205 wOBA to right-handed hitters and .286 to left-handed hitters. In his brief time last year, Fernandez allowed a sub-.200 wOBA to right-handed hitters. That is just disgusting. The Marlins are a -148 favorite in this contest, so the win probability is pretty decent. Fernandez is expensive, and will most likely be chalk, but he may fall into a Kershaw type status on this slate. He has 10+ strikeout upside and is a Vegas favorite at home. He is good in all formats.
Carlos Carrasco ($10,000) is the other top-tier pitcher on the early slate and most believe this will be his breakout season. In Vegas, Carrasco comes in as a -137 favorite against the Red Sox, but he will have to deal with a lineup that gave Corey Kluber some trouble yesterday. It does look like there is a chance of rain, so this could come with some risk. It is also the late game of the early slate, so there won’t be a pivot opportunity if there is rain. If it holds, you’ll get him at a low percentage, but again, RISKY. The Red Sox finished last year with just a .297 wOBA when on the road, so that works in the favor of Carrasco. Last year Carrasco pitched worse at home in terms of strikeouts and wOBA than on the road, and that may be because of Progressive Field being 2nd in run environment. In the early slate, I am fading Carrasco because of the huge risk with rain. In an all-day format, it could be okay because of the opportunity to pivot. Just watch the weather.
My surprise guy early is going to be J.A. Happ ($7,700), who will get the Rays lineup. Yesterday I touted the Rays as my sneaky stack, and that didn’t go too well. Today, J.A Happ will face a lineup that includes 8 right-handed hitters. Smart move by the Rays, but this slate isn’t deep with pitching options, and Happ has a pretty good defense behind him. Happ saw a boost in strikeout rate on the road last season, so that is a plus for him. He also comes into this contest as a favorite—in large part to his offense. I think he is worth a GPP shot in the early slate.
As we move to the late slate, Stephen Strasburg comes in as the top play at $11,200. Strasburg will face the Atlanta Braves in pitcher friendly Turner Field. The Vegas line for this game is the most favorable of the day at -199. The Braves finished last year with a .298 wOBA at home, which is not good. Along with that, they have a higher strikeout rate against right-handed pitchers at 20.4%. While Strasburg had a higher strikeout rate at home last season, he still managed to finish with a 28.6% strikeout rate on the road. With those Vegas odds, the strikeout upside, a park upgrade and facing on of the worst teams in baseball, Strasburg is safe in all formats.
Michael Pineda ($9,100) comes in today as one of my favorite options that may just be skipped over on the night slate. Pineda is facing the Astros, and people tend to shy away from facing them. I totally get that with their power lineup. However, lets not overlook the fact that they are swing happy. The Astros finished last year with a 22.3% strikeout rate versus right-handed pitching. Pineda also saw a boost in his strikeout rate when pitching at Yankee Stadium (22.4% home to 22.4% road). His wOBA splits to left and right handed hitters are pretty similar, so no major platoon effect here. The Vegas line slightly favors the Yankees at home at -128 with a 7 over/under. Pineda finished 2015 with a 3.09 SIERA and 3.34 FIP. I still believe he is underrated and does possess strikeout upside in this matchup.
The Baltimore Orioles come in as one of my favorite stacks today. The Orioles will face Kyle Gibson, who will face a loaded Orioles offense that posted a .337 wOBA at home last season. Along with that, the Orioles has a .331 team wOBA against right-handed pitchers last season. This game has an 8.5 over/under and Gibson isn’t a strikeout pitcher (16.6% road K-rate in 2015). Last year Gibson allowed just a .309 wOBA to lefties, which is much better than you’d think. However, Gibson did finish 2015 with a 4.15 ERA on the road. The Orioles have a shot to lock and load against Gibson and are one of my favorite stacks today.
The Nationals are going to face Bud Norris and this is a juicy matchup, even in Atlanta. While the Nationals don’t get the park boost, they will get to face a pitcher with a 4.17 SIERA and 5.04 FIP last season. Those totals are both really bad. Along with that, Norris allowed a wOBA greater than .375 to both left and right-handed hitters. To go even further, Norris allowed 15 home runs in just 83 innings pitched last season (9 to lefties and 6 to righties).As a starter last year, Norris allowed a .306/.369/.553 slash line to his opponents with a .393 wOBA in 55.2 innings. He isn’t a good pitcher. I’d stack the Nationals against him, even with the downgrade in park factor.
Early reports have the wind blowing out in Texas, which is gold for high scoring. As we know, Texas played as the fifth highest run environment last season. Wade Miley and Colby Lewis will face off their today, and neither of these two is a top-tier pitcher. Even with Miley switching parks, he still finished last year with a .341 wOBA on the road. That won’t play well in Texas today. Both pitchers in this matchup also have a strikeout percentage under 20%. The over/under is set to 9.5 for a season, and it is that neither pitcher is good. A full-game stack is a good option for this game, especially in the early slate where pitching isn’t great.
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