DAILY MATCHUPS: Clevinger leads short Thursday slate

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 nine games today, with four in the AL, three in the NL, and interleague contests featurng the Mariners at the Pirates and the Giants at the Red Sox. No rain is forecast. In Atlanta, wind is forecast to be blowing in from left field at 11 mph.


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

  Michael Clevinger (R) CLE vDET 2.66 3.68 2.15 2.87 1.93 4 5 3 4 4
  Jack Flaherty (R) STL @CHC 1.52 2.80 0.96 1.82 0.49 4 3 5 5 3
  Aaron Nola (R) PHI @ATL 1.23 2.53 1.18 0.93 0.27 5 5 1 1 5
  Eduardo Rodriguez (L) BOS vSF 1.13 1.95 1.30 1.07 0.20 5 2 4 3 5
  Jordan Lyles (R) MIL vSD 0.92 1.09 0.64 1.12 0.84 3 2 2 2 1
  Andrew Heaney (L) LAA @NYY 0.92 1.97 0.18 1.63 -0.09 4 4 0 3 1
  Madison Bumgarner (L) SF @BOS 0.74 1.06 0.78 1.80 -0.70 3 4 0 3 3
  Kyle Gibson (R) MIN vKC 0.68 0.74 0.60 0.60 0.76 1 3 2 2 1

Eduardo Rodriguez (LHP, BOS) has come on strong for the Red Sox over the past month, producing a 1.15 ERA over his past six starts. A 3.21 xERA and 91% S% say that he's been very lucky, but a 141 BPV says that he's also been very good. He'll next face the Giants in Fenway Park. Rodriguez has been at his best in Fenway, with a 3.13 ERA. The Giants have been average on the road, with a .743 OPS, but they have struggled against LHP, with a .716 OPS that ranks 13th in the NL. 

Jordan Lyles (RHP, MIL) has produced excellent results over the past month, with a 2.81 ERA in his past six starts, but a 5.10 xERA says that he's been very lucky. He'll hope to keep that luck going as he faces the Padres at home. Lyles has been excellent is six Miller Park starts, with a 2.67 ERA. The Padres have been above-average on the road, with a .754 OPS that ranks 7th. This start carries some risk.

Kyle Gibson (RHP, MIN) has struggled over the past month with a 7.54 ERA, but a 4.02 xERA and 125 BPV says that he's been very unlucky. A 42% H% and 64% S% have tanked his results. He next faces the Royals in Target Field. Gibson has not been at his best in Target Field, where he has a 5.02 ERA, but the Royals have struggled on the road with a .707 OPS. Gibson has pitched well in three starts against the Royals, yielding a 3.26 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in 19 IP. 


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

  Michael Soroka (R) ATL vPHI 0.41 0.66 0.56 1.19 -0.77 5 1 2 2 2
  Yusei Kikuchi (L) SEA @PIT 0.34 -0.32 0.17 0.41 1.10 5 0 1 1 0
  J.A. Happ (L) NYY vLAA 0.23 1.13 -0.03 0.23 -0.41 0 2 3 5 1
  Kyle Hendricks (R) CHC vSTL 0.11 0.66 0.02 0.76 -0.99 5 1 4 3 1

Madison Bumgarner (LHP, SF) draws a tough matchup as he faces the Red Sox in Fenway Park. Bumgarner has struggled on the road with a 5.06 ERA, while the Red Sox have been the AL's second-best home team, with a .845 OPS. They have not been quite as good against LHP, with a .782 OPS that ranks 5th in the AL. Bumgarner's sub-scores in K and WHIP are high enough for a strong start, but a negative Win score drops this start into judgment call territory. 

Michael Soroka (RHP, ATL) has a tough matchup against the Phillies in Atlanta. Soroka has been at his worst in Sun Trust Park, with a 4.18 ERA, compared to 1.35 on the road. The Phillies have produced a .721 OPS on the road that ranks 12th in the NL. Soroka has faced the Phillies once in Atlanta this season, and allowed 4 ER in 4.7 IP. (He fared better against them in Philadelphia, where he held them to 1 ER in 4.7 IP.)

Yusei Kikuchi (LHP, SEA) has thrown four consecutive PQS-DIS games as he faces the Pirates in Pittsburgh. The Pirates have been below-average at home, where they have a .747 OPS that is 11th in the NL, and they have really struggled against LHP, with a .686 OPS that leads only Miami in the league. Still, Kikuchi has a 5.03 ERA on the road, making this start a real toss-up in spite of the Pirates' batting struggles.

J. A. Happ (LHP, NYY) is nursing tendinitis in his right bicep, but is expected to be able to make this start against the Angels in Yankee Stadium. Happ has been at his worst at home, with a 5.12 ERA and a .292 opponent's BA. An Angels lineup missing Mike Trout is much less formidable than usual, and the Angels have struggled over the past week without him, producing only a .665 OPS. After a difficult August in which he had a 7.30 ERA, Happ has been much better in September, only allowing 2 ER in 17 IP. 

Kyle Hendricks (RHP, CHC) has a 2.76 ERA over the past month, supported by a 132 BPV, as he faces the Cardinals at home, where he owns a 1.75 ERA and 0.82 WHIP for the season. He's faced the Cardinals three times this year and is 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA and 0.83 WHIP, though his xERA against them is 4.03. The worst of Hendricks's sub-scores is the negative Win score, and that has pushed down the overall rating. 


Weak Starts (Overall ratings -0.51 and below)

  Joey Lucchesi (L) SD @MIL -0.53 0.32 -0.86 -0.62 -0.97 2 1 1 3 0
  Aaron Brooks (R) BAL vTOR -0.59 -0.45 -1.08 -0.83 TBD 1 4 1 1 1
  Jordan Zimmermann (R) DET @CLE -0.85 -0.64 -0.54 0.21 -2.43 2 3 1 0 1
  Michael Montgomery (L) KC @MIN -1.02 -0.48 -0.78 -1.01 -1.81 0 4 3 0 0
  Steven Brault (L) PIT vSEA -1.68 -0.38 -1.88 -2.86 -1.60 2 1 3 0 0

Joey Lucchesi (LHP, SD) has thrown four PQS-DIS games in his past six starts, making him high-risk as he faces the Brewers in Milwaukee. The Brewers have been tough at home, with a .790 OPS that ranks 6th in the NL, and they have been average against LHP, with a .771 OPS that ranks 9th. Lucchesi has fared poorly on the road, where he has a 6.19 ERA (compared to 2.64 in San Diego). 

Aaron Brooks (RHP, BAL) has been at his worst in night games, with a 6.94 ERA, and it's under the lights that he'll face the Blue Jays in Toronto. Brooks also has a 6.00 ERA at home, although the Blue Jays have been below average on the road, where their .720 OPS ranks 10th. Brooks has produced a decent 4.63 ERA over the past month, but a 5.58 ERA says that he's been lucky. This is clearly a start to avoid.


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.