MATCHUPS: Cole and Kershaw are Thursday'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.


Today’s schedule overview: There are only ten games on the schedule today, with four in the NL, three in the AL, and three interleague matchups. There are no rain issues in the forecast. For the Houston at Cleveland game, wind is predicted to be blowing in from right field at 11 mph.


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

  Gerrit Cole (R) HOU @CLE 2.85 4.19 2.32 3.03 1.87 5 3 3 5 3
  Clayton Kershaw (L) LA vSD 2.66 2.90 2.92 3.22 1.61 3 5 3 4 4
  Zack Wheeler (R) NYM @CHW 1.83 2.22 1.91 2.36 0.82 5 3 5 2 2
  Michael Pineda (R) MIN @MIA 1.49 1.75 1.31 1.67 1.21 4 3 2 2 4
  Jack Flaherty (R) STL vCHC 1.28 2.57 1.08 1.45 0.02 1 4 4 3 3
  Max Fried (L) ATL vCIN 0.68 1.18 0.84 0.47 0.22 3 3 2 3 1
  Anthony DeSclafani (R) CIN @ATL 0.64 1.52 0.26 1.04 -0.25 4 2 2 4 3
  Dylan Cease (R) CHW vNYM 0.60 1.88 0.73 1.12 -1.32 2 2 1 0

Max Fried (LHP, ATL) has been inconsistent, to say the least. He has struggled to a 5.31 ERA in his past five starts, and those include both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-type outings. He held the Brewers in no ER in Milwaukee, while giving up 5 ER to the Marlins in Atlanta. The big issue has been a 27% hr/f rate over the past month. He'll next face the Reds in Atlanta. Cincinnati has been below average on the road, with an OPS ranking 13th in the NL, and they have been exactly league average against LHP. But they lead the NL with an OPS above .800 in July. This one's more of a judgment call than a strong start, dependent upon Fried's ability to keep the ball in the park.

Anthony DeSclafani (RHP, CIN) has two PQS-DOM outings in his past five starts, and he's allowed more than 2 ER only once in that span. In fact, he's allowed more than 2 ER only twice in his past nine starts. He'll next face the Braves under the lights in Atlanta. DeSclafani has been at his best in night games, with a 2.89 ERA, compared to 4.92 in day games. The Braves have hit extremely well at home, with an OPS near .835 that ranks 2nd in the NL. Best sub-scores here are for K's and WHIP, with some risk in the ERA and WIN categories.  


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

  Jon Lester (L) CHC @STL 0.39 1.14 0.75 0.99 -1.31 3 3 3 2 4
  Joey Lucchesi (L) SD @LA 0.37 1.24 1.06 1.28 -2.11 3 3 1 0 3
  Asher Wojciechowski (R) BAL vTOR 0.29 0.78 -0.40 0.85 -0.06 3 2 2 5 4
  Shaun Anderson (R) SF @PHI 0.23 0.79 -0.16 0.36 -0.09 1 2 0 2 2
  Chase Anderson (R) MIL @OAK -0.01 0.02 -0.52 0.30 0.16 2 3 2 3 2
  Andrew Cashner (R) BOS vTAM -0.12 -0.08 -0.22 -0.17 TBD 5 4 0 2 4
  Jake Arrieta (R) PHI vSF -0.26 0.12 -0.39 -0.37 -0.41 2 2 2 1 0

Jon Lester (LHP, CHC) has been excellent over the past month, with a 3.13 ERA, but a 4.33 xERA reveals some good luck and upcoming regression. He'll next face the Cardinals in St. Louis. Lester has struggled on the road, with a 4.42 ERA, but the Cardinals have struggled at home with an OPS right at .700 that ranks 13th in the NL. 

Asher Wojciechowski (RHP, BAL) has hurled two consecutive PQS-DOM outings as he faces Toronto in Baltimore. In a tiny 13.1 IP sample at home, Wojciechowski has allowed 3 ER with an outstanding 19/2 K/BB. The Blue Jays have been below average on the road, where their OPS ranks 11th in the AL. Those things show the upside of this matchup. The downside is Wojciechowski's projected 6.14 ERA/5.04 xERA for the remainder of the season.

Shaun Anderson (RHP, SF) has a 7.71 ERA over the past month, but a 39% H%, 59% S%, and 4.80 xERA say that he's overdue for some good luck. He'll next face the Phillies on the road. Anderson has struggled on the road, with a 5.65 ERA. The Phillies have been slightly above average at home, where their .775 OPS ranks 8th in the NL. This is a risky start.

Chase Anderson (RHP, MIL) has gotten excellent results over the past month with a 2.90 ERA, but a 4.88 xERA says that he's been very lucky as he faces an interleague matchup at Oakland. Anderson has not been at his best on the road, where he has a 4.06 ERA compared to 3.79 in Milwaukee. The A's have been above average at home, with an OPS at .770 that ranks 7th in the AL. 

Andrew Cashner (RHP, BOS) came to the Red Sox on July 13, boasting four consecutive quality starts with a 1.38 ERA and 0.69 WHIP in those outings. Analyst Matt Dodge warned of "looming regression." Since his arrival in Boston, Cashner has made three starts totaling 17.2 IP. He's allowed 12 ER and has a 1.64 WHIP. He'll now take on the Rays in Fenway. Tampa Bay has been average on the road, where their OPS ranks 8th in the AL.

Jake Arrieta (RHP, PHI) has thrown two consecutive PQS-DIS outings, and his last game higher than a PQS-2 came on May 25. He'll next face the charging Giants in Philadelphia. Arrieta has a 4.50 ERA at home, while the Giants have an OPS near .800 that ranks 3rd in the NL for the month of July. This is a risky outing.


Weak Starts (Overall ratings -0.51 and below)

  Jordan Yamamoto (R) MIA vMIN -0.62 0.36 -0.58 -0.55 -1.71 2 3 2 0 1
  Daniel Mengden (R) OAK vMIL -0.62 -0.46 -1.13 -0.21 -0.66 2 0 3 0 3
  Ryan Borucki (L) TOR @BAL -0.63 -0.33 -0.68 -0.55 -0.97 1 0
  Danny Salazar (R) CLE vHOU -0.72 -0.52 -0.18 0.19 -2.37 0

Danny Salazar (RHP, CLE) is expected to make his first start since 2017 as he returns from shoulder surgery. It has been announced that he will be used as a "modified opener" in this start, probably going only 3 or 4 innings. Salazar has an intriguing skills history, and his rehab produced a 2.60 ERA and 28/5 K/BB in 17.1 IP, but this is an extremely tough matchup against Gerrit Cole and the Astros. Houston has the AL's third-best road OPS. This is a matchup to avoid, especially given the innings limit, but Salazar should be on your radar for future starts.



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. 

Click here to subscribe

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