DAILY MATCHUPS: Bumgarner, Verlander are Fri's top picks

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 as identified by 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.

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.

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Today’s schedule overview: April 19th marks the first Friday with all 30 teams in action, though rain might have something to say about that for SF-PIT and ATL-CLE. The Diamondbacks and Cubs at Wrigley Field is the lone day game on the schedule.

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

  SP   Tm Opp   RAT K ERA WHIP WIN L5 PQS
  Justin Verlander HOU @TEX   2.13 2.86 1.43 2.42 1.79 4 0 2 3
  Madison Bumgarner SF @PIT   1.78 1.79 2.04 2.35 0.92 4 1 2 4
  German Marquez COL vPHI   1.28 1.50 1.19 1.29 1.14 2 4 0 5
  Jose Berrios MIN @BAL   1.27 1.63 1.00 1.45 0.99 5 2 2 4
  Ross Stripling LA @MIL   0.89 1.19 0.23 0.95 1.19 4 3 1 4
  Corey Kluber CLE vATL   0.83 1.80 0.64 0.71 0.15 5 1 3 0
  Carlos Rodon CHW @DET   0.81 1.26 1.02 0.71 0.23 4 4 2 3
  Matt Strahm SD vCIN   0.77 1.45 0.51 0.99 0.14 0 2 2
  Caleb Smith MIA vWAS   0.72 1.79 0.48 0.84 -0.22 4 3 3
  Eduardo Rodriguez BOS @TAM   0.66 1.86 0.66 0.30 -0.17 1 0 4
  Marcus Stroman TOR @OAK   0.62 0.15 0.95 0.60 0.77 4 3 3 3
  Anibal Sanchez WAS @MIA   0.61 1.29 0.45 0.59 0.12 1 2 1

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Madison Bumgarner (LHP, SF) has been easing concerns about his 2017-18 skill decline—his 75% FpK through four starts is a career best, and his 5.8 Cmd rate is his highest since 2015. The Pirates present a supbar opponent, with a .679 OPS that has fallen to .613 over the last week, and they have the league's second-worst OPS vs. LHP (.551).

Ross Stripling's (RHP, LA) average fastball velocity (90.0 mph) and strikeouts 6.6 Dom, 10% SwK) are both down through his first four starts, which makes a road start against the hot-hitting Brewers one of the less appealing options in the Strong Start category. He does have the day's second-best Win rating, thanks to the Dodgers' offense and a matchup against a struggling Jhoulys Chacin.

The Reds are struggling to score runs, and a start in PETCO Park is nothing to sneeze at, but Matt Strahm (LHP, SD) brings shaky skills to the table through his first three starts: 5.7 Dom, 1.6 Cmd, 51% FpK, 9% SwK, and a 5.93 xERA. Add in the fact that hitting lefties is the one thing CIN has done well so far, and this one looks pretty risky.

 

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

  SP   Tm Opp   RAT K ERA WHIP WIN L5 PQS
  Adam Wainwright STL vNYM   0.49 0.53 0.37 0.11 0.94 1 4 1
  Merrill Kelly ARI @CHC   0.32 0.68 0.19 0.42 0.00 1 4 2
  Anthony DeSclafani CIN @SD   0.25 0.90 0.00 0.45 -0.36 3 2 0
  Jakob Junis KC @NYY   0.21 0.85 -0.38 0.62 -0.27 2 2 2 2
  Felix Pena LAA vSEA   0.15 0.99 -0.46 0.27 -0.20 1 3 2
  Touki Toussaint ATL @CLE   0.05 1.03 0.13 -0.30 -0.65 0
  Jordan Lyles PIT vSF   0.03 0.38 0.72 0.49 -1.46 2 3
  Wilmer Font TAM vBOS   -0.01 -0.77 0.52 0.60 -0.37 0
  Kyle Hendricks CHC vARI   -0.03 0.22 -0.14 0.30 -0.50 0 1 1
  Jordan Zimmermann DET vCHW   -0.12 0.12 -0.21 0.81 -1.21 4 5 1 0
  CC Sabathia NYY vKC   -0.17 -0.23 -0.35 0.14 -0.23 3
  Marco Gonzales SEA @LAA   -0.36 -0.64 -0.53 -0.17 -0.08 1 2 4 2 2

Adam Wainwright (RHP, STL) has a lot of good in his early skills—his 3.72 xERA, 9.0 Dom, and 98 BPV are some of his best numbers in years—but underneath it all, a 52% FpK and 8% SwK raise a lot of doubts about the sustainability of his performance so far. The Mets have been a middle-of-the-pack offense to date (.791 OPS), but come in with a .354 OBP that's among the league's best, and could exploit Wainwright's control issues.

Merrill Kelly (RHP, ARI) has looked very good in his transition from South Korea's KBO league to MLB, with a 3.63 xERA, 5.7 Cmd, and 129 BPV through three starts. He has had some small-sample issues against LHB (.840 OPS allowed in 25 PA) thus far, and the Cubs regularly trot out 4-5 lefties in their lineup.

Walks (4.7 Ctl) and home runs (46% FB%, 2.7 hr/9, 24% hr/f) have been getting Anthony DeSclafani (RHP, CIN) into trouble early in 2019, and he's given back the FpK gains he made last year (down from 63% to 55%). PETCO Park's -19% LHB HR park factor might benefit him in this start, as he's historically fared worse against left-handed batters (career .847 OPS vs. LHB, .670 vs. RHB).

Jakob Junis (RHP, KC) has pitched better than his 6.14 ERA would lead you to believe—he's been done in by a 40% hit rate and 61% strand rate. Through four starts, he's actually posted some career-best skills: a 3.75 xERA, 9.8 Dom, 4.0 Cmd, 11% SwK, and 135 BPV. On the negative side, he had trouble generating strikeouts against NYY in 2018 (5.4 Dom, 8% SwK), and in two career starts at Yankee Stadium, he's allowed 16 hits and 3 HR over 10.1 IP.

Felix Pena (RHP, LAA) will be trying to exorcise the demons from the worst start of his career when he faces the Mariners Friday night, as on July 29, 2018 vs. SEA, he gave up 7 ER on 6 hits and 2 walks while lasting only 0.1 IP and 33 pitches. So far in 2019, he's throwing fewer first-pitch strikes (down from 62% in 2018 to 54%) and walking more batters (3.6 Ctl), and his 50% fly ball rate could cause problems against a Mariners lineup that is the early MLB leader in home runs in 2019.

Touki Toussaint (RHP, ATL) benefits from getting his start pushed back a day, as he'll draw one of the league's worst offenses in the Indians (.201 BA, .605 OPS). The CLE lineup has also been in the bottom third of the rankings in strikeouts, helping to make Toussaint's K rating his biggest strength for this start.

Jordan Lyles (RHP, PIT) is coming off of a 10-strikeout effort against the Cubs, and certainly the Giants present a weak opponent with an opportunity for more Ks. Lyles's 13% SwK through two starts is encouraging, but that's far too small a sample weighed against his mediocre skill history (career 4.09 xERA) to view this turn as anything more than a speculative opportunity, especially since he's matching up against Bumgarner.

Kyle Hendricks (RHP, CHC) has been legitimately off his game through his first three starts, with a 5.71 xERA, 6.8 Dom, 2.0 Cmd, 59% FpK, and 7% SwK, so a matchup against the Diamondbacks, who have been one of the league's better offenses so far, doesn't look so hot, though the forecast calls for the wind to be blowing in from LF at Wrigley.

Jordan Zimmermann (RHP, DET) posted a 7.11 ERA over 5 GS against CHW in 2018, but that was mainly due to a 36% hit rate and 45% strand rate; his skills were right in line with his overall performance: 4.39 xERA, 6.8 Dom, 9.5 Cmd, 112 BPV. And his first four starts of 2019 have continued his patented mix of low Dom and pinpoint Ctl, though his 48% fly ball rate bears watching, as that would represent a new career high if it sticks around.

C.C. Sabathia (LHP, NYY) was pulled after 5 IP and 62 pitches in his first start of 2019, so odds are he won't be going very deep in this game either. The Royals remain one of the toughest lineups in baseball to strike out, leaving WHIP as C.C.'s only positive sub-score for this start.

Through 5 GS, Marco Gonzales's (LHP, SEA) average fastball velocity (88.1 mph), Dom (5.5), and SwK (6%) are all down from 2018 levels, and he's been allowing a lot more fly balls (40%). His 3.19 ERA has been aided by a 75% strand rate and 5% hr/f—his xERA is 4.83. His only PQS-DOM of 2019 came against the Angels on April 2nd, and with their offense scuffling and Mike Trout working his way back from a groin strain, Gonzales might hold off regression for another day, but this is a risky start.

 

Weak Starts (Overall ratings -0.51 and below):

  SP   Tm Opp   RAT K ERA WHIP WIN L5 PQS
  Aaron Brooks OAK vTOR   -0.53 -0.49 -0.37 0.02 -1.27 4 0 1
  Vincent Velasquez PHI @COL   -0.60 0.29 -0.62 -0.44 -1.64 1 1
  Alex Cobb BAL vMIN   -0.81 -0.69 -0.65 -0.40 -1.49 2
  Jason Vargas NYM @STL   -1.23 -0.90 -1.36 -1.20 -1.46 0 1
  Drew Smyly TEX vHOU   -1.29 -0.07 -1.56 -1.14 -2.39 0 0 3
  Jhoulys Chacin MIL vLA   -1.41 -0.33 -1.97 -1.65 -1.69 3 3 2 0

Vincent Velasquez (RHP, PHI) has a 2.25 ERA through 12 IP, but he's been the beneficiary of a 13% hit rate and 86% strand rate, leaving him with a 4.06 xERA. His strikeouts have been alarmingly low as well (6.0 Dom, 6% SwK) as well. And Coors Field is not the place to start a pitcher who's due for some regression.

 

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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.


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