DAILY MATCHUPS: Gray headlines a shallow Monday 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.

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Today's schedule overview: There are eight games on tap today; including two in the AL and six in the NL. The first contest has a start time of 3:10 p.m. EDT, with the remaining seven games beginning at 7:05 p.m. or later. With only two "Strong Start" candidates today, the pool of starters is rather volatile at large. The OAK at KC matchup is the lone contest with a significant chance of being delayed or postponed. Be sure to check the latest forecast prior to setting your lineup(s).

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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
  Sonny Gray (R) CIN @MIA 1.95 2.39 2.08 1.49 1.82 1 4 3 4 3
  Homer Bailey (R) OAK @KC 0.55 0.35 0.62 0.68 0.54 4 3 0 5 2

Homer Bailey (RHP, OAK) has posted a 5.68 ERA and 1.34 WHIP with 35 K and 9 BB over 38 IP (7 GS) with the Athletics thus far. He’s faced a myriad of difficult matchups during that time, but in August (4 GS) he’s compiled a 3.86 ERA (4.36 xERA, 105 BPV) and 1.07 WHIP. He’s among the league leaders in splitter usage (25%), which has yielded a .178 oBA and a 19% SwK. The Royals rank 26th in wRC+ against RHP, but they do a decent job of making contact (78% ct, top-10). Kauffman Stadium is one of the best “pitchers parks” in baseball, and Bailey has posted a 2.3 Ctl (63% FpK) in the 2H. He may not have any tremendous rating today, but Bailey is in line for a successful outing.  

 

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

  SP   Tm Opp RAT K ERA WHIP WIN L5 PQS
  Joe Musgrove (R) PIT @PHI 0.49 0.44 -0.14 0.78 0.87 2 2 2 5 0
  Dustin May (R) LA @SD 0.44 0.46 0.13 0.79 0.37 2 3 4
  Adam Wainwright (R) STL @MIL 0.25 0.96 -0.08 -0.16 0.28 3 1 2 3 0
  J.A. Happ (L) NYY @SEA 0.24 0.76 -0.24 0.01 0.44 0 0 1 2 0
  Tyler Beede (R) SF vARI 0.19 0.45 0.22 -0.14 0.23 0 0 3 2 0
  Gio Gonzalez (L) MIL vSTL -0.03 0.98 -0.37 -0.25 -0.46 4 2 1 1 3
  Eric Lauer (L) SD vLA -0.23 -0.17 -0.35 0.21 -0.60 1 3 0 0 1
  Pablo Lopez (R) MIA vCIN -0.60 -1.23 0.21 0.53 -1.91 0 3 4 4 3
  Brad Keller (R) KC vOAK -0.43 0.33 -0.43 -0.57 -1.04 3 4 1 3 2
  Jason Vargas (L) PHI vPIT -0.44 -0.32 -0.55 -0.33 -0.54 1 4 2 1 0

Joe Musgrove (RHP, PIT) registered a PQS-4 at home against PHI on July 20, but will head out on the road this time around. For the season he’s compiled a 4.02 ERA in “away” outings (5.35 ERA at home), however, he’s registered a 0/50% DOM/DIS over his last six GS on the road. The Phillies offense has struggled of late, and sit below average against RHP. With that said, Musgrove’s ERA rating is negative at least in part based on his .816 oOPS allowed to LHB, and Citizens Bank Park’s 25% boost to LHB HR. His 4.3 Cmd (12% SwK, 65% FpK) in the 2H helps his K and WHIP grades, but his 1.9 hr/9 (19% hr/f) and recent history on the road brings his projected results down a peg.

Dustin May (RHP, LA) returns to the Dodgers rotation after making just one relief appearance since being shifted to the bullpen (four ER in two IP against ATL on Aug. 18). He’ll take on a lackluster Padres offense who’s generated the second-worst production over the last week and sit in the bottom tier against RHP. May’s 63% FpK and 1.4 Ctl helps contribute to a solid WHIP rating—his best score in any category—and the Padres 27% K against RHP helps fuel a positive K grade as well (10% SwK, 7.1 Dom). May’s mediocre ERA rating is understandable given his volatility, but he’s a decent bet due to the matchup and his baseline skills to date (111 BPV).

Adam Wainwright (RHP, STL) takes on a hot Brewers offense after delivering a PQS-0 against them last Wednesday, and a PQS-2 on April 24. Both of those outings were at home, where he’s posted a 2.67 ERA (6.64 ERA on the road). He’s tallied four PQS-DIS over his last eight GS on the road, with zero PQS-DOM performances, and a 1.9 hr/9 on the road to LHB (24% boost to LHB HR in Miller Park). Wainwright’s K score is solid for today, but in his two starts against the Brewers he’s only generated a 5/5 K:BB in 11 IP. The MIL offense owns a 25% K against RHP this season (22nd), but despite having a 9.2 Dom over nine GS in the 2H, Wainwright’s 8% SwK and previous strikeout totals against the Brewers makes his strikeout upside rather unfavorable.

J.A. Happ (LHP, NYY) will attempt to improve his results on the road (5.62 ERA, four PQS-DIS in last five GS on the road) as he takes on a SEA offense that’s been raking over the last week (second in wRC+). Happ’s 2.5 Cmd and 2.2 hr/9 in away starts doesn’t bode well against a Mariners club that fares slightly better against LHP (.782 OPS). With that said, his K score is his lone positive grade outside of the Wins category; and the Mariners have struggled with ct% against LHP for the season (25%, 27th). Happ’s 10% SwK (7.9 Dom) in the 2H demonstrates somewhat limited upside. When you bake in his results on the road in tandem with a 4.91 xERA, 59 BPV, and 11/55% DOM/DIS in the 2H, you end up with a highly volatile starter with limited upside.

Tyler Beede (RHP, SF) has a 9.18 ERA and 1.98 WHIP over four GS in August, but his 40% H, 62% S, and 3.8 hr/9 during that time tells us that things aren’t as bad as they seem (4.79 xERA, 105 BPV). His home/road splits for the season don’t seem too significant (4.49 xFIP at home, 5.24 xFIP on the road), but he’s tallied three-straight PQS-DIS on the road versus four-straight PQS-DEC or better at home (one PQS-DOM). The ARI offense struggles against RHP, but sit among the league leaders in RPG on the road (5.5 RPG). Beede’s lone positive grade comes in the K category; as he’s generated a 13% SwK and 8.4 Dom in the 2H. In two GS against the Diamondbacks (one at home, one on the road) he’s registered a pair of PQS-1 outings, with a 6/6 K:BB. Beede’s outlook is always better at home, but a 1.8 hr/9 continues to be worrisome despite slightly better skills when pitching at Oracle Park.

Gio Gonzalez (LHP, MIL) receives negative ratings across the board in every category with the exception of strikeouts. In six GS in the 2H he’s posted an 8.6 Dom with a 13% SwK, but the Cardinals do a solid job of making contact against LHP (10th). In that same timeframe he’s compiled a 4.13 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 4.8 Ctl (47% FpK), 1.6 hr/9 and 17% hr/f. He’s been getting lucky in H% (25) and S% (76), helping lead to a 5.08 xERA and 38 BPV. His lone outing against the Cardinals (last Tuesday) resulted in a PQS-3; but the STL offense has remained in the top third in wRC+ over the last week, while faring better against LHP for the season. There’s a large ERA amount of risk here; Gonzalez has allowed a 1.8 hr/9 with a 4.26 ERA at home (40/40% DOM/DIS). He’s allowed three or more walks in three straight outings, and his FpK/Ctl (cited above) tells us things will likely not improve much anytime soon.

Eric Lauer (LHP, SD) looks to put a stop to his three-game PQS-DIS streak as he takes on a Dodgers team that he’s been rather successful against this season over three GS (2.65 ERA, 4.25 xERA, 0.82 WHIP, 5.7 Cmd, two PQS-DEC, PQS-4). The LA offense has been slightly above average over the last week, and fare worse against LHP (.775 OPS) versus RHP (.835 OPS). Lauer’s been more successful at home (3.10 ERA) compared to on the road (5.93 ERA), but his ERA rating remains negative as he’s yielded 15 ER over his last 20 IP at home (four GS). His SwK (10%) and Dom (8.6) have improved in the 2H, but this is still a rather unfavorable spot despite his past success against LA.

Pablo Lopez (RHP, MIA) makes his first MLB start since June 15 against a Cincinnati team that has trouble making contact against RHP and struggles on the road against RHP. After struggling in his first three minor league rehab outings, Lopez has rebounded over his last two GS (2 ER, 10 K, 3 BB, 9.1 IP). Lopez also owns massive home/road splits; posting a 2.13 ERA at Marlins Park versus a 6.82 ERA on the road. His hr/9 is 0.2 at home, and his Cmd is 6.0 versus 2.8 on the road. Four of his seven GS at home have led to PQS-DOM results, and when you factor in the CIN struggles on the road, there’s good chance for positive results. Lopez could be facing a PC limit, but he could still be serviceable.    

Brad Keller (RHP, KC) has a 2.75 ERA (4.38 xERA), 1.17 WHIP and 85 BPV over nine GS in the 2H (33/22% DOM/DIS). His lone positive score comes in the K category; he’s compiled an improved 7.9 Dom over four GS this month with a 9% SwK. The Athletics offense does a great gob of making contact, so expectations should be tempered in that particular category. Keller’s outlook is slightly more optimistic at home (3.60 ERA, 54% GB, 2.3 Cmd, 0.8 hr/9, .207 oBA), but the OAK offense is markedly better on the road (5.3 RPG). Keller has made significant gains with his Ctl in the 2H (2.6 Ctl, 61% FpK, 4.3 Ctl, 56% FpK in 1H) and he owns a solid GB-tilt as well (51% GB). When you consider that he’s logged four PQS-3 and one PQS-5 over his last five turns at home, it brings more confidence to the table.

Jason Vargas (LHP, PHI) takes on a sputtering PIT offense that struggles on the road and rank dead last in wRC+ against LHP this season (70). Vargas himself has compiled a 3.91 ERA (5.78 xERA), 1.26 WHIP, 1.2 Cmd and 25/50% DOM/DIS over four GS with the Phillies thus far. His ratings are negative in every category today; which is a troubled sign given the optimal matchup. He’s yielded a home run in each of his outings at Citizens Bank Park, and currently owns a 1.6 hr/9 in the 2H as well. He’s a risk in Ctl (3.5 Ctl, 58% FpK in 2H), there’s little Dom upside (6.2 Dom in 2H), and Citizens Bank Park is one of the friendliest venues for hitters in the league (25/24% boost in LHB/RHB HR). The opponent may be favorable, but Vargas is far from safe.

 

Weak Starts (Overall ratings -0.51 and below):

  SP   Tm Opp RAT K ERA WHIP WIN L5 PQS
  Alex Young (L) ARI @SF -0.53 -0.75 -0.44 -0.54 -0.39 0 4 0 0 1
  Julio Teheran (R) ATL @COL -0.58 0.61 -1.78 -1.48 0.34 3 3 4 0 5
  Matthew Wisler (R) SEA vNYY -1.17 -2.67 -1.23 0.15 -0.92 2 2 1 2 1
  Timothy Melville (R) COL vATL -1.77 -1.08 -2.82 -2.33 -0.84 2

Alex Young (LHP, ARI) has logged four PQS-DIS in his last five GS overall, including one against today’s opponent (SF). This time he’ll head to Oracle Park, which offers 40/26% suppression to LHB/RHB HR. His 63% FpK in the 2H should yield better Ctl results (3.1), and his 12% SwK has only generated a 6.5 Dom as well. The SF offense is inept against LHP at home, and Young’s 4.73 xERA in August says that he’s been better than his 6.20 ERA would indicate. The matchup is strong; but as we saw in his PQS-DIS against SF on Aug. 15, there’s a low floor.

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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 10 p.m. 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.