DAILY MATCHUPS: Buehler, Darvish head thin Thursday list

As a way to preview the day's games, the 2019 Daily Matchups column will provide a list of all SP scheduled to start that day. The Daily Matchups column works hand-in-hand with the HQ Pitcher Matchup tool (also available as an 8-day scan). It will group the day's SP into strong starts, judgment calls, or weak starts and will provide an analysis of the most noteworthy SP along the way. Tips on how to best use these SP tools can be found in this 2019 GM's OFFICE column.

For additional DFS coverage collected in one place, see our Daily Dashboard page. Also reference our three-year ballpark factorsteam indicator pages, and SP Buyers Guide columns to help you optimize your SP utilization.


Today’s schedule overview: There are only ten games on the schedule today, with five in each league. There are no weather issues in the forecast.


Strong Starts (Top tier starts rated >1.0; starts in 0.50-0.99 range also favorable):

  Walker Buehler (R) LA @MIA 3.39 3.60 3.35 3.53 3.08 2 5 1 4 3
  Yu Darvish (R) CHC @PHI 2.34 2.62 2.08 2.55 2.10 4 2 2 2 3
  Sonny Gray (R) CIN vSTL 1.44 2.21 1.05 1.22 1.26 3 4 1 4 3
  Aaron Sanchez (R) HOU @OAK 0.85 1.14 0.76 0.32 1.17 1 3 3 4 3
  Marcus Stroman (R) NYM @ATL 0.63 0.89 0.55 0.37 0.71 3 5 5 1 2

Aaron Sanchez (RHP, HOU) has made two starts since the Astros pitching staff began working their magic on him, and has allowed 3 H and 1 ER in 11 IP. He now faces the A's in Oakland. While pitching for the Blue Jays, Sanchez made two starts against Oakland and allowed 1 ER in 9 IP. The A's have been solid at home, with an OPS just above league average that ranks 7th. 


Judgment Calls (Overall ratings from -0.50 to 0.50):

  Spencer Turnbull (R) DET vSEA 0.45 0.87 0.56 0.34 0.02 2 0 2 3 2
  Andrew Heaney (L) LAA vCHW 0.40 0.73 0.07 0.55 0.25 1 2 2 2 3
  Tommy Milone (L) SEA @DET 0.32 0.15 0.22 1.24 -0.33 4 3 2 2 2
  Jeff Samardzija (R) SF @ARI 0.17 0.44 -0.01 0.65 -0.39 2 2 4 2 4
  Drew Smyly (L) PHI vCHC 0.06 1.50 0.10 0.60 -1.96 0 4 5 3 0
  Caleb Smith (L) MIA vLA 0.01 1.92 0.28 0.98 -3.13 2 5 4 0 1
  Alex Young (L) ARI vSF -0.06 -0.22 0.09 0.06 -0.17 2 2 0 4 0
  Reynaldo Lopez (R) CHW @LAA -0.16 1.40 -0.63 -0.21 -1.20 5 4 2 1 3
  Devin Smeltzer (L) MIN @TEX -0.28 -0.57 -1.22 0.02 0.67 4 2 3 1
  Julio Teheran (R) ATL vNYM -0.40 0.75 -0.77 -0.36 -1.21 4 4 3 3 4

Spencer Turnbull (RHP, DET) has a solid 3.68 ERA for the season, but he has struggled at home, with a 4.08 ERA. This is a home matchup against the Mariners. Seattle has been above average on the road, with a .766 OPS that ranks 6th in the AL, but the Mariners have struggled with an OPS below .600 in their past five games heading into Wednesday. This one's a true judgment call.

Andrew Heaney (LHP, LAA) was solid in his return from the injured list on August 10, as he allowed only 1 ER in 3.7 IP to the Red Sox, and he next faces the White Sox in Los Angeles. Heaney has displayed elite skills, with a 102 BPV for the season, but results have lagged behind his skills. Heaney has struggled at home, with a 5.13 ERA. The White Sox have struggled on the road, with a .709 OPS that ranks 13th in the AL. They have been somewhat better against LHP, with a .756 OPS that ranks 8th. 

Tommy Milone (LHP, SEA) has struggled over the past month, with a 7.40 ERA in his past five starts, but a corrective could be on the horizon as faces the Tigers in Detroit. Milone has been the victim of some bad luck, with an xERA of 5.18 and a 60% S%. He has been at his best on the road, where he has 3.90 ERA, and this is a cushy matchup. The Tigers are the AL's worst home team, with an OPS of only .666 that ranks last in the AL, and they have struggled against LHP, with an OPS barely above .700 that ranks 14th.

Jeff Samardzija (RHP, SF) has played an important part in the Giants' revival, with a 2.27 ERA over the past month. That ERA has been backed by a 115 BPV, but a 20% H%, 88% S%, and 3.96 xERA also point to some good luck and some coming regression. He next faces the Diamondbacks on the road. In two starts in Arizona this season, Samardzija has allowed 8 ER in 11.3 IP, with a BPV of 1. Arizona has been below average at home, with an OPS below .750 that ranks 11th in the NL.

Drew Smyly (RHP, PHI) has done a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde act since signing with the Phillies. In his first two starts, he allowed 1 ER in 13 IP. In his next two, he was blasted for 9 ER in 10.7 IP. He next faces the Cubs in Philadelphia. The Cubs have been one of the NL's hottest teams over the past week, with a .861 OPS, and they have been excellent on the road, where their OPS ranks 3rd in the NL. With a high 1.65 WHIP, Smyly has produced his best results when he's kept the ball in the park. Citizens Bank Park is a home run haven for both right-handed and left-handed batters, and the Cubs rank 2nd in the NL in homers on the road. This is a high-risk outing. 

Caleb Smith's (LHP, MIA) performance has shown some signs of erosion in his seven starts since the beginning of July, with his ERA rising from 3.41 to 4.20, Cmd dropping from 4.1 to 2.8, and BPV down from 135 to 91. He's coming off a difficult outing at home against the Braves in which he allowed 6 ER in 4.7 IP. Things don't get easier as he faces the Dodgers in Miami. Smith has pitched well at home with a 3.46 ERA, but the Dodgers have been the NL's second-best road team, with a .784 OPS, and they have been exactly league-average against LHP, although they have produced only a .684 OPS over their past five games.

Alex Young (LHP, ARI) opened his major league career with a strong start against the Giants in San Francisco, in which he limited them to 1 ER in 5 IP. He'll now face them again in Arizona. Young has been solid in Chase Field, allowing 6 ER in 16 IP with a 17/7 K/BB. The Giants have struggled against LHP, with an OPS below .690 that ranks 14th in the NL, but they have been above average on the road, where their OPS ranks 6th. 

Reynaldo Lopez (RHP, CWS) has surged over the past month, producing a 2.13 ERA in his past six starts, but a 4.37 xERA, 82% S%, and 3% hr/f say that regression is coming. That regression could easily appear against the Angels in Los Angeles. Lopez has a 5.31 ERA in his 11 road starts. The Angels have been solid at home, where their .780 OPS ranks 6th. But the Angels have struggled over the past week, with an OPS of only .638.

Devin Smeltzer (LHP, MIN) is listed as the starter against the Rangers at Texas. Smeltzer has made six appearances in his brief career. Two of these against the Indians were disasters, in which he allowed 11 ER in 10.7 IP. In the other four, he allowed only 2 ER in 21.3 IP. One of these came against Texas, when he went 4.3 IP and allowed 1 ER. The Rangers have hit well at home, with an OPS over .800 that ranks 5th in the AL. Against LHP they have a .756 OPS that ranks 7th. Small sample size makes this one a real judgment call. 

Julio Teheran (RHP, ATL) has three PQS-DOM outings in his past five starts as he faces the Mets in Atlanta. Teheran has pitched well at home, with a 2.52 ERA, and the Mets have not been especially fearsome on the road, where their .746 OPS is near league average. So why the low rating for this matchup? In two June starts against the Mets, Teheran allowed 8 ER in 7.3 IP, and the Mets have pounded LHP with an OPS above .800. In one April start against them, Teheran held the Mets to 1 ER in 6 IP, so there is some upside here, but there is also plenty of risk.


Weak Starts (Overall ratings -0.51 and below)

  Michael Wacha (R) STL @CIN -0.78 -0.02 -1.00 -0.34 -1.76 1 3 2 0 0
  Mike Fiers (R) OAK vHOU -0.89 -0.12 -1.24 -0.54 -1.67 3 2 2 2 5
  Adam Plutko (R) CLE @NYY -1.24 -0.96 -3.10 -0.90 TBD 0 3 0 3 1
  Pedro Payano (R) TEX vMIN -1.72 -0.75 -2.53 -2.58 -1.02 0 1 0



There are roughly 150 starting pitchers in MLB rotations at any given time. For different league sizes, we can estimate the number of SP in the useable pool, and then determine the overall ratings that correspond to worst, 25th percentile, median, and 75th percentile SP.

                               Overall SP Rating
                   SP       by SP league percentile
League size       Pool*     .00    .25    .50    .75
==============    =====    ====   ====   ====   =====
12-team “only”     120     -.73   -.22   +.22   +.74
10-team “only”     110     -.54   -.11   +.30   +.79
20-team mixed      110     -.54   -.11   +.30   +.79
15-team mixed      105     -.46   -.05   +.34   +.82
12-team mixed       80     -.07   +.22   +.55   +.97
10-team mixed       60     +.22   +.46   +.74   +1.12

So if you’re in a 12-team “only” league, the median start should have a rating of about 0.2. The 120th start is around -0.7. In a shallower, 15-team mixed, the median start is 0.34 and a top pitcher +0.82.


EDITOR'S NOTE ON DEADLINES AND ACCURACY: The writer deadline on these articles is noon before the publish day, with a goal to have the column available for subscribers by 10pm ET that evening. There will be instances when weather, managerial decisions, or other factors will take place after the piece is published that will affect the accuracy of the above information. In those instances, we strive to manually update the article by mid-morning at the latest. However, the HQ Pitcher Matchup Tool page is updated automatically and may have the correct data (scheduled starter, all the same component scores in a sortable chart) sooner than this column. Thanks for your understanding. 

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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.