DAILY MATCHUPS: Cole looks to continue incredible run

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.

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Today’s schedule overview: 28 of the 30 teams are in action on Friday, with PHI and BOS getting a day off before they start an interleague series on Saturday. The Pirates and Cubs have a day game at Wrigley Field, and the rest of the schedule is nighttime starts. Rain could be an issue for MIN-CLE and BAL-DET, so keep an eye on those forecasts as first pitch draws closer.

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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
  Gerrit Cole (R) HOU @KC 4.71 5.10 4.45 4.99 4.31 3 5 4 3 4
  Max Scherzer (R) WAS vATL 2.25 3.36 1.63 2.51 1.48 3 1 2 3 3
  Luis Castillo (R) CIN @ARI 1.98 2.18 2.18 1.81 1.75 1 3 2 2 5
  Clayton Kershaw (L) LA @NYM 1.91 1.98 2.35 2.49 0.80 5 1 4 2 1
  Andrew Heaney (L) LAA vTAM 1.58 2.61 1.53 2.34 -0.18 4 4 4 0 3
  Charlie Morton (R) TAM @LAA 1.42 2.53 1.45 1.53 0.17 5 2 0 3 4
  Jake Odorizzi (R) MIN @CLE 1.14 2.08 0.53 1.30 0.64 3 3 4 2 4
  Masahiro Tanaka (R) NYY @TOR 0.79 0.82 0.86 1.49 TBD 2 2 5 1 0
  Aaron Brooks (R) BAL @DET 0.57 0.60 0.51 0.90 0.25 1 1 4 1 1
  Noah Syndergaard (R) NYM vLA 0.51 1.40 0.82 1.51 -1.69 4 4 2 5 2
  Sandy Alcantara (R) MIA @SF 0.51 1.18 0.78 0.30 -0.22 2 5 2 3 5

Andrew Heaney (LHP, LAA) is in the midst of a breakout second half, posting a 3.40 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 2.0 Ctl, 11.2 Dom, 67% FpK, 15% SwK, and 3.58 xERA over his last 8 GS. He has the day's third-highest K rating for his home start against the Rays, who come into the matchup hitting pretty well as of late, with an .815 OPS over the first 10 games of September (through Wednesday).

After a finger injury slowed him down in July, Jake Odorizzi (RHP, MIN) has gotten back on track lately, with a 12.0 Dom, 5.1 Cmd, 15% SwK, and 3.35 xERA over his last 5 GS, though a 58% FpK says control could still be an issue. Walks have been a bit of a problem for him against CLE this year (4.0 Ctl in 4 GS), but the rest of his numbers against the Indians have been very good: 1.61 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 11.7 Dom, 15% SwK, 3.61 xERA. Odorizzi's strikeout rate and command haven't been as sharp in road starts this year (8.9 Dom, 2.6 Cmd).

Sandy Alcantara (RHP, MIA) is on a nice run, with a 2.77 ERA and 0.98 WHIP over his last 7 GS, but that performance hasn't come with skill support (3.3 Ctl, 7.8 Dom, 4.26 xERA), and he has still been shakier on the road (4.5 Ctl, 6.9 Dom over 4 GS during that stretch). That said, the Giants' offense has been terrible at home (.651 OPS, 79 PX, .242 xBA, 3.4 runs per game) and sport a .198 BA and .552 OPS through their first 11 games of September, so Alcantara could be worth a look here.

 

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

  SP   Tm Opp RAT K ERA WHIP WIN L5 PQS
  Chris Bassitt (R) OAK @TEX 0.38 0.53 -0.26 0.38 0.87 5 0 3 0 3
  Tyler Beede (R) SF vMIA 0.32 0.45 0.74 0.35 -0.28 2 0 2 1 3
  Adam Wainwright (R) STL vMIL 0.27 0.31 0.53 0.44 -0.21 3 0 1 3 4
  Joey Lucchesi (L) SD @COL 0.24 0.80 -0.09 -0.28 0.51 1 2 1 1 3
  Yusei Kikuchi (L) SEA vCHW 0.16 -0.03 0.03 0.03 0.59 1 5 0 1 1
  Adrian Houser (R) MIL @STL 0.15 0.34 0.48 0.06 -0.29 3 3 1 3 3
  Jon Lester (L) CHC vPIT 0.14 0.70 -0.17 -0.03 0.04 2 0 1 2 1
  Jeff Hoffman (R) COL vSD -0.13 0.27 -0.27 -0.13 -0.38 2 1 1 1 3
  Jordan Zimmermann (R) DET vBAL -0.19 -0.55 -0.15 0.69 -0.75 4 2 3 1 0
  Aaron Civale (R) CLE vMIN -0.49 -0.30 -0.68 0.17 -1.14 1 3 4 1 1

Chris Bassitt (RHP, OAK) has improved his control and command in the second half (1.7 Ctl, 4.8 Cmd, 65% FpK over 11 GS), and while his 3.45 ERA during that time has been aided by a 78% strand rate, his 4.24 xERA and 120 BPV represent some of the best work of his career. However, home runs have been an issue in away starts (1.8 HR/9), even in the second half, and the Rangers remain a tougher lineup to face at home (.782 OPS, 109 PX, 5.1 runs per game). Plus, 12 of his 19 HR allowed have been vs. LHB, and TEX has plenty of lefty power.

Tyler Beede's (RHP, SF) second-half improvements have been losing a little shine lately, as his strikeout rate has started to slide (7.9 Dom, 9% SwK, 5.00 xERA over last 5 GS), though for the season, he's been better at home (4.65 ERA, 9.5 Dom, 3.7 Cmd over 7 GS). And the Marlins still own the league's worst OPS (.670), and that number has been even worse on the road (.651 OPS, .236 xBA, 3.4 runs per game).

A 3.92 ERA since July 1st may have some owners thinking Adam Wainwright (RHP, STL) has turned things around, but his 4.62 xERA during that period begs to differ, as his skills have been stagnant (3.4 Ctl, 7.8 Dom over 12 GS). He's enjoyed a lot of success at home (2.43 ERA), but be wary of this start against the Brewers, as they've had his number this year (4.91 ERA, 1.77 WHIP, 4.9 Ctl, 5.5 Dom, 51% FpK, 5% SwK, 6.29 xERA over 3 GS) and are 8-2 through their first 10 games of September.

A 5.43 ERA and 1.5 HR/9 in 15 road starts is probably reason enough to stay away from Joey Lucchesi (LHP, SD) at Coors Field; he also owns a 4.62 xERA vs. COL over three starts this season. But if you're feeling lucky, the Rockies' offense has been awful so far in September, with a .201 BA and .616 OPS through their first 9 games.

Any way you want to slice it, Yusei Kikuchi (LHP, SEA) is having a rough first season in the U.S. For the season? A 5.17 xERA. In the second half? A 5.14 xERA. Over his last 5 GS? A 5.05 xERA. So even a home start against the White Sox is risky, especially since CHW sports an .805 OPS through the first 10 games of September.

Since rejoining the MIL rotation on July 30th, Adrian Houser (RHP, MIL) has a 2.81 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 2.6 Ctl, 9.7 Dom, and a 3.36 xERA over 8 GS. He's faced the Cardinals twice during that stretch with good results (1.74 ERA), but so-so skills (3.5 Ctl, 7.0 Dom, PQS-3 and PQS-1). And the STL offense has been a bit of a mess so far in September (.235 BA, .691 OPS through 11 games). So it's perhaps fitting that Houser is in the middle of the Judgment Call rankings.

Since August 1st, Jon Lester (LHP, CHC) hasn't thrown a single PQS-DOM start and has posted a 6.91 ERA and 1.95 WHIP over 8 GS, with a 5.18 xERA that confirms he's been as unrosterable as he's looked. And while he's enjoyed some success against the Pirates this year (1.84 ERA over 3 GS), that's been driven by a 95% strand rate in those games; his xERA vs. PIT is 4.83.

Jeff Hoffman's (RHP, COL) 2019 season (7.06 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, 5.10 xERA over 11 GS) hasn't gone any better than his previous stints in the majors (career 5.42 xERA), and he has struggled to generate strikeouts at Coors Field (7.7 Dom over 6 GS, compared to 11.6 on the road). The Padres, with a subpar 71% contact rate, will put that to the test, but what little K upside there might be here is heavily outweighed by downside risk.

Jordan Zimmermann (RHP, DET) has reduced his walks in the second half (1.3 Ctl, 66% FpK) and improved his overall skills (5.0 Cmd, 4.73 xERA, 103 BPV over 11 GS) enough to make him worthy of consideration for a home start against the Orioles, who own a lousy .683 OPS, 83 PX, and .240 xBA on the road while averaging 3.8 runs per game.

Aaron Civale (RHP, CLE) has built his 1.93 ERA with the help of an 83% strand rate and miniscule 4% hr/f; his xERA is 4.44, which means regression could kick in at any time. Likewise, while he sports a 1.64 ERA and 0.91 WHIP over 2 GS against MIN this year, his xERA is 4.81. He might be catching the Twins at the right time, as injuries have limited them to a .684 OPS through their first 10 games of September, but this is still a very risky start.

 

Weak Starts (Overall ratings -0.51 and below):

  SP   Tm Opp RAT K ERA WHIP WIN L5 PQS
  Brock Burke (L) TEX vOAK -0.55 0.04 -0.74 -0.92 -0.58 2 3 1 0
  Steven Brault (L) PIT @CHC -0.57 -0.12 -0.57 -1.05 -0.54 4 2 1 3 0
  Mike Leake (R) ARI vCIN -0.61 -0.72 -0.19 0.71 -2.25 1 1 3 1 2
  Michael Soroka (R) ATL @WAS -0.63 -0.15 -0.56 0.19 -1.98 1 5 1 2 2
  Dylan Covey (R) CHW @SEA -1.09 -0.49 -1.20 -1.79 -0.88 2 1 2 0 0
  Danny Duffy (L) KC vHOU -1.55 0.01 -0.80 -0.73 -4.69 4 1 1 3 3

 

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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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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.