DAILY MATCHUPS: deGrom, Kershaw, Bieber are Friday's best

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: All 30 teams are in action on Friday, with the Cardinals and Cubs kicking things off with a day game at Wrigley, and the Phillies traveling to Cleveland for the day's lone interleague contest. The weather forecast looks good for all games.

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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
  Jacob deGrom (R) NYM @CIN 3.21 4.43 2.96 4.07 1.39 5 4 2 4 5
  Clayton Kershaw (L) LA vCOL 2.26 2.27 2.01 2.32 2.45 1 4 2 1 3
  Shane Bieber (R) CLE vPHI 2.22 2.97 1.72 2.84 1.36 4 5 5 4 1
  Zack Greinke (R) HOU vLAA 1.49 1.14 1.24 1.94 1.65 2 2 1 4 3
  Dylan Cease (R) CHW @DET 1.47 2.07 1.40 1.22 1.19 3 1 4 1 2
  Charlie Morton (R) TAM vBOS 1.29 2.10 1.09 1.11 0.87 2 0 3 4 1
  J.A. Happ (L) NYY vTOR 0.84 1.42 0.25 0.57 1.10 0 2 3 5 1
  Merrill Kelly (R) ARI @SD 0.82 1.28 0.86 0.62 0.51 1 2 5 1 4
  Mike Foltynewicz (R) ATL vSF 0.79 1.10 0.83 0.89 0.33 4 1 2 4 4
  Luis Castillo (R) CIN vNYM 0.76 2.22 1.39 1.33 -1.89 3 2 2 5 2
  Anibal Sanchez (R) WAS @MIA 0.75 1.26 0.38 0.46 0.89 5 2 0 4 4
  Mike Minor (L) TEX @OAK 0.57 1.35 0.19 0.70 0.03 3 3 5 3 1

Dylan Cease (RHP, CHW) has been a disappointment in his rookie season, but he's been showing signs of progress, as his xERA has been improving every month: 5.16 in July, 4.68 in August, 4.05 in September. The Tigers and their league-worst offense provide Cease's best shot at a good outing, and the last time he faced them, on August 6, he fared pretty well compared to how the rest of his season has gone: 5 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K.

Mike Foltynewicz (RHP, ATL) is on a roll lately, with a 1.52 ERA and 0.91 WHIP over his last 5 GS, but his skills are still lagging behind during that stretch: 2.4 Ctl, 7.3 Dom, 55% FpK, 10% SwK, 4.09 xERA. The Giants have the league's worst OPS so far in September (.619), though for the season, they've generally hit better on the road than at home, with a .742 OPS, 100 PX, and 4.5 runs per game in away matchups.

On the surface, Anibal Sanchez (RHP, WAS) vs. the Marlins seems like a good choice, as he's still sporting a 3.86 ERA on the season, and a 3.31 ERA over 3 GS against MIA. But his full-season xERA is 5.20, and that has swelled to 5.45 in the second half, and thanks to a 6.1 Ctl and 1.3 Cmd, his xERA against the Marlins is 6.01. This one's riskier than it looks.

 

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

  SP   Tm Opp RAT K ERA WHIP WIN L5 PQS
  Devin Smeltzer (L) MIN vKC 0.47 -1.37 0.35 1.48 1.40 4 2 3 1 2
  Tyler Beede (R) SF @ATL 0.07 0.77 0.09 0.25 -0.83 0 2 1 3 5
  Eric Lauer (L) SD vARI 0.07 0.75 0.06 0.35 -0.89 1 1 2 2 0
  Michael Wacha (R) STL @CHC 0.05 -0.26 -0.12 0.18 0.39 2 4 1 1 1
  Felix Hernandez (R) SEA @BAL -0.02 -0.01 -0.22 -0.08 0.23 1 1 2 0 4
  Chase Anderson (R) MIL vPIT -0.04 -0.07 -0.50 -0.53 0.96 3 0 0 2 3
  Jose Quintana (L) CHC vSTL -0.19 -0.31 -0.02 -0.26 -0.18 1 2 1 0 1
  Rick Porcello (R) BOS @TAM -0.25 0.41 -0.34 0.31 -1.37 1 3 1 0 2
  Drew Smyly (L) PHI @CLE -0.30 1.29 -0.26 -0.01 -2.21 0 1 2 5 2
  Mike Fiers (R) OAK vTEX -0.35 -0.32 -0.33 -0.10 -0.64 1 2 0 0 0
  Asher Wojciechowski (R) BAL vSEA -0.42 -0.06 -0.91 0.03 -0.73 1 1 4 1 1
  Jordan Zimmermann (R) DET vCHW -0.45 -0.15 -0.43 0.47 -1.69 2 3 1 0 1

Devin Smeltzer (LHP, MIN) hasn't lasted longer than 4 IP or 62 pitches his last two times out since being recalled on September 1, so this will likely be a shortened start. He did throw 6 shutout IP against the Royals back on August 4, and they are averaging just 3.8 runs per game in September, so perhaps he can last long enough to have a shot at a win.

Tyler Beede (RHP, SF) is enjoying a much-improved second half (4.24 ERA, 4.46 xERA, 3.9 Cmd), but his command against lefties is still a weakness—for the season, he's at 1.5 Cmd vs. LHB, compared to 3.2 vs. RHB, and in the second half, those figures are at 2.2 and 7.6, respectively. The Braves are a Top 10 offense against right-handed pitching, and will likely feature 4-5 lefties and switch-hitters in their lineup.

Eric Lauer's (LHP, SD) home ERA (3.08) is slightly more than half of his awful away ERA (6.27), but his road results have been inflated by bad luck (33% hit rate, 60% strand rate, 16% hr/f). xFIP says he's actually been worse at home (5.00 home, 4.54 away). His numbers against ARI have been legitimately solid though: 4.24 ERA, 0.5 Ctl, 7.4 Dom, 65% FpK, 3.94 xERA over 3 GS.

Michael Wacha (RHP, STL) is sporting a 2.36 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 3.95 xERA over his last 6 GS, one of his best stretches of 2019, though that may simply be because five of those six starts came at home, where he has had better command and has allowed fewer home runs (2.5 Cmd, 1.6 HR/9 at home; 1.6 Cmd, 2.2 HR/9 on the road). So an away start against the Cubs, who average 5.5 runs per game at Wrigley and as of Thursday led the majors in runs scored in September, is going to be a harsh test of Wacha's recent run of success.

Felix Hernandez (RHP, SEA) looks like a shell of his former self lately (5.96 ERA, 5.56 xERA in 5 second half starts), and while a matchup against BAL might hold some promise for a better outcome, the Orioles can be tough at home: .747 OPS, 100 PX, 4.6 runs per game.

Chase Anderson (RHP, MIL) is in the midst of arguably his worst season (4.98 xERA), but he's thrived against the Pirates (3.48 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 1.7 Ctl, 8.3 Dom, 63% FpK, 13% SwK, 3.86 xERA over 4 GS) and also at home (3.68 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 2.7 Ctl, 9.4 Dom).

Jose Quintana (LHP, CHC) has been such a mess lately (7.65 ERA, 1.95 WHIP, 5.9 Dom, 1.6 Cmd, 5.68 xERA over his last 5 GS) that it would probably be best to stay away from this start, and perhaps the remainder of his season.

The same could be said about Rick Porcello (RHP, BOS), except he's been a mess all year (5.27 xERA first half, 5.45 second half). However, there has been a gap between his surface stats and skills against the Rays (6.23 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 1.6 Ctl, 8.3 Dom, 4.29 xERA over 3 GS), and he has been generating more strikeouts in away starts (8.9 Dom), so there are a couple of reasons to justify rolling the dice here.

Drew Smyly (LHP, PHI) has been a pitcher worth owning since joining the Phillies (4.14 ERA, 3.0 Ctl, 9.6 Dom, 60% FpK, 13% SwK over 10 GS), though his horrible performance prior to that with the Rangers (8.42 ERA, 1.91 WHIP, 6.57 xERA) might give pause when he's slated to faced an AL opponent on the road. As of Thursday, CLE was averaging 5.0 runs per game in the month of September.

Mike Fiers (RHP, OAK) left his last start after 39 pitches because of nerve irritation, and while he's been cleared to pitch after an MRI, his September numbers have been the stuff of nightmares: 18.78 ERA, 2.87 WHIP, 7.35 xERA. He's also struggled against TEX this year, with a 7.82 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, and 4.95 xERA over 3 GS. Might be best to sit this one out.

Jordan Zimmermann (RHP, DET) has a 4.18 xERA over his last 5 GS, but half of that was driven by a strong performance in August (3.27 ERA, 3.23 xERA). In three September starts, he's reverted back to being subpar: 6.75 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 5.23 xERA.

 

Weak Starts (Overall ratings -0.51 and below):

  SP   Tm Opp RAT K ERA WHIP WIN L5 PQS
  Jaime Barria (R) LAA @HOU -0.89 0.29 -1.41 -0.30 -2.15 1 1 2 1 2
  Jacob Waguespack (R) TOR @NYY -1.07 0.09 -1.78 -1.04 -1.53 5 0 1 0 0
  Robert Dugger (R) MIA vWAS -1.10 -0.65 -1.25 -1.12 -1.39 0 4 1 1 3
  Eric Skoglund (L) KC @MIN -1.76 -1.38 -2.20 -1.54 -1.90 1 0
  Steven Brault (L) PIT @MIL -1.86 -0.34 -2.47 -3.03 -1.60 2 1 3 0 0
  Peter Lambert (R) COL @LA -1.98 -1.17 -1.73 -1.81 -3.20 0 1 0 1 1

 

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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.