Data in baseball runs deeper and is more comprehensive than any other sport. These are the seven stats I find most relevant to Tuesday’s DFS slate. 


1. Justin Verlander’s xFIP is 4.05 this year 

Despite a sparkling 1.93 ERA this season, it’s quite clear Justin Verlander has been a little lucky in his first five starts of the season. Verlander has allowed just a .192 BABIP (.280 career BABIP) and 92% strand rate (75% career strand rate). Those numbers are going to regress at some point. On the 12-game DraftKings slate, he’s the most expensive pitcher and on the road facing a formidable Minnesota Twins lineup. I’m typically all over Verlander, but I don’t think you have to play him here, especially if he’s going to be popular. 

2. Mike Clevinger threw 95 pitches in his first start of the season

Mike Clevinger got a late start to the season as he recovers from a knee injury. Still, he threw a good number of pitches and struck out four batters in his first start on the road against the Cleveland Guardians, his former team. I expect Clevinger to show more in this start at home against the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs beat the Padres Monday as they have some sneaky power against left-handed pitching, but Clevinger is right-handed and five batters in the Cubs projected lineup have at least a 25% K% against right-handed pitchers since the start of 2021. Clevinger is also pretty cheap at $6,900 on Draftkings. He’s my favorite value pitcher on the slate. 

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3. Aaron Nola has a 52% ground ball percentage this year

The main difference with Aaron Nola this year has been the ground balls. Last year, Nola had a 3.44 xFIP, 30% K%, 4% BB%, and 42% GB%. This year, Nola has a 3.22 xFIP, 31% K%, 4% BB% and 52%. Maybe the ground balls will regress towards last year’s number, but he has a 48% GB% for his career. Anyway, Nola is mostly the same pitcher from last year, which is still very good. He’s the top pitcher on this slate for me and at $8,900 on Draftkings he’s quite a bit cheaper than some of the other top options. 

4. Jesús Luzardo has a 33% K% this year

Jesús Luzardo had a rough first start to the season, but since then he’s had three starts with at least 19.9 DraftKings points and is now averaging over 20 Draftkings points on the season. Facing a weak Arizona Diamondbacks lineup on the road is also a good matchup for Luzardo. The only issue here is that Luzardo is expensive at $9,100 on Draftkings, but that should keep his rostership down. He makes for an interesting pivot away from the likely Verlander and Nola chalk. 


5. Seven Phillies in their projected lineup have a K% above 22% against left-handed pitching since the start of last year

Robbie Ray hasn’t been great this year — his xFIP is 5.04 and his K% is down to 20%. However, Ray was awesome last year (32% K%), and he owns a 28% K% for his career. The strikeouts should come back unless we are actually witnessing a skill decline with Ray. It’s too early to assume that and in falling back on his career baselines, Ray is going to project well in this matchup at home against the Phillies, who strike out a ton against lefties. He’s also nicely priced at $8,300 on DraftKings. 

6. Kyle Bradish has allowed a .300 ISO to right-handed batters this year

It’s only been two starts, but that’s not what you want to see especially going into a matchup with the St. Louis Cardinals on the road. The Cardinals lineup skews heavily right-handed and pitching on the road won’t give Kyle Bradish the benefit of the deep left field fence the Orioles have at their home ballpark now. The prices are also really nice on some of the Cardinals here, especially Tyler O'Neill ($4,100), Juan Yepez ($2,500) and Harrison Bader ($3,600). Stack the Cardinals. 

(More: Check out Vlad Sedler's look at the Tuesday starting pitching slate in The Opener.)

7. Madison Bumgarner’s xFIP is 6.09 this year

Since the start of last season, Madison Bumgarner has allowed a .196 ISO to right-handed batters. While the Marlins aren’t my favorite offense to stack necessarily, I was interested in them Monday, and while for the most part they didn’t come through, their prices are even cheaper today. Right-handed hitters Garrett Cooper, Jorge Soler and Avisaíl García each have ISOs above .195 against left-handed pitchers since the start of last year and should be hitting in the 3-4-5 spots in the order here. The Marlins are my favorite value stack on the slate.