Data in baseball runs deeper and is more comprehensive than in any other sport. These are the seven stats I find most relevant to Friday’s DFS slate.
1. Apple TV games: 10.62 runs per game… all other games: 8.19
Conspiracies are running wild regarding the possibility that MLB is sending juiced balls to the Apple TV games (two every Friday). This is just an eight-game sample, and therefore tells us nothing from a purely statistical standpoint, but this would sadly be very much in character of Rob Manfred’s MLB.
Diving a little deeper, the run totals are primarily boosted in these games as a whole because of last week’s games. The Yankees hung 12 runs on the Royals with four homers and the Nationals beat San Francisco 14-4 in SF as the teams combined for three home runs.
Again, this falls well short of any kind of scientific standard of evidence, but any possibility of truth to this conspiracy would make stacking these games a +EV strategy. The two Apple TV games Friday are:
2. Shane Bieber’s 2022 CSW is just 28.1%, 4.8 percentage points below his baseline
(Editor's note: It is noted below that this game is a weather risk. It has now been postponed.)
The Strikeout Model loves Shane Bieber Friday. At an extremely affordable $8,700, he’s the top projected pitcher across the board. The question is, how much should this decreased CSW scare us? His fastball velocity is down for the second consecutive year (this time all the way to 91.4 mph, from a 2020 average of 94.3) and he’s getting barreled at a 13.9% rate, which compares quite unfavorably to his baseline rate of 7.7%.
The only good news for him is that his SIERA is still elite at 3.17, thanks in large part to his diminutive 5.3% walk rate.
I think we want to play the rostership game here. Fade him if he’s chalky, play him if he’s not. Then again, the weather could eliminate this decision point, as there’s a decent chance this game gets postponed.
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3. The Tigers have an MLB-worst .086 baseline ISO
Their baseline wRC+ and wOBAs aren’t much better, at 81.3 and .275, respectively. They also strike out a decent amount at 24.8%. All of this sets up well for Luis García, resulting in a DK-point projection of 18.4.
The model loves Sandy Alcantara as a contrarian pivot off García, but García is definitely worthy of a “good chalk” label. There’s also nothing stopping us from playing them together.
4. Vince Velasquez has been barreled at 15.1% this season, resulting in 1.59 HR/9
Historically, Vince Velasquez has really struggled with power prevention, with his ISO allowed reaching an absurd .274 a season ago. Let’s take a look at his batted ball trends:
The statcast data trio of barrel rate, average exit velocity, and hard hit rate paints the picture that he’s continued to regress as a pitcher and has simply benefited from the dead balls and humidors. This Red Sox lineup could have a field day against him, especially if suspicions about the juiced ball in Apple TV games have real merit.
5. The Red Sox bullpen allows the highest average exit velocity in the majors
In fact, here’s their Statcast data in comparison to the other bullpens on the slate:
Bright green all the way across is not what you want to see, unless of course you’re considering stacking against them. While the matchup is bad for both offenses in the Mariners and Rays game, both offenses in the battle of the Sox have positive outlooks even before accounting for the possibility of a juiced ball. If we do get the juiced ball, this game could absolutely explode given the Red Sox matchup vs. Velasquez and the White Sox matchup vs this Boston bullpen.
6. Beau Brieske has a 5.39 SIERA and 17.8% CSW in two starts
As if those numbers aren’t bad enough, he’s also getting barreled 16.7% of the time and now has to face the Astros. So far, Beau Brieske has been reverse-split, which makes sense considering the fact that his changeup is his best off-speed pitch. However, have no fear using Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker, as both crush the fastball-changeup combination. Yordan Alvarez-Kyle Tucker-Jeremy Peña is probably my favorite three-man stack on the slate, especially if you don’t buy into the Apple TV conspiracy.
(More: Check out Vlad Sedler's look at the Friday starting pitching slate in The Opener.)
7. In Jarren Duran’s last 75 AAA games (all of 2021 and 2022), he has 18 HRs, 23 SBs, an ISO over .250, a wOBA over .400, and a wRC+ over 150
Jarren Duran is expected to be in Friday’s lineup for Boston, in which case he’d be a core play for me. In fact, the Red Sox have numerous cheap bats that ooze upside, so tune into FTN MLB Live with David Jones and me to find out exactly which Red Sox I want to prioritize.