Data in baseball runs deeper and is more comprehensive than any other sport. These are the seven stats I find most relevant to Wednesday’s DFS slate.
1. Shohei Ohtani has a 1.52 FIP this year
Shohei Ohtani’s been better on the mound than at the plate so far this year. He has a 3.08 ERA in five starts, but his ERA estimators are all better than that. He’s struck out 41 batters in 26.1 innings (38% K%) this year. Ohtani gets the Tampa Bay Rays at home here, fresh off being no-hit Tuesday night by Reid Detmers. Ohtani in his career has fared better at home as he has a 2.24 ERA pitching at home compared to 5.01 on the road. He’s my top pitcher on this slate, though with a $8,800 price tag on Draftkings he should be the most popular pitcher on the slate as well.
2. Shane McClanahan has a 36% K% this year
Shane McClanahan’s K% was 26% last year, so this is a marked improvement here for the young left-hander. He struck out just five batters in his last start against the Seattle Mariners, but he’s struck out at least seven batters in all of his other starts. With Rays starters, you have to be wary of them getting pulled around the fifth inning like McClanahan has been in each of his last two starts. However, I could see the Rays possibly pushing McClanahan a little further here, especially if they’re in a close game. The last two nights have been blowout losses for Tampa Bay and McClanahan pitching deeper into the game could help keep them in the game and give their bullpen a bit of a rest after the last two nights. He’s the most expensive pitcher on Draftkings at $10,200, which should at least keep him below Ohtani in rostership percentage.
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3. Brady Singer had a 4.04 FIP last year
Brady Singer hasn’t started a game yet this season, but he’s been OK in the few innings he’s pitched recently. His last appearance in the majors included two scoreless innings in a relief outing and he has a 1.17 ERA at Triple-A this year in just 7.2 innings over two starts. It’s not a whole lot to work with and frankly the lack of innings makes it difficult to project how long Singer might pitch in this game. Still, at $5,000 on DraftKings facing the Rangers, Singer is certainly interesting here. The Rangers have five hitters in their projected lineup with a K% above 24% against right-handed pitching since the start of last year. Since the start of last year, Singer has a 22% K%. He’s a good contrarian option on this slate and he’s really cheap.
4. Joey Wentz had a 14% BB% in 53.1 innings with Double-A last year
Joey Wentz also had a 13% BB% in 19 innings with Triple-A this year. I’m concerned about the walks. Wentz has strikeout stuff as he had a 24% K% at Double-A last year and a 33% K% at Triple-A this year. He’s $5,300 pitching at home against the Oakland Athletics. Wentz is left-handed and the Athletics have some strikeouts in this lineup as six hitters in their projected lineup have at least a 20% K% against left-handed pitching since the beginning of last year. Wentz is an okay value on this slate, but his rostership percentage will be one to keep an eye on leading up to lock because I don’t think he deserves to be on two or three times as many lineups as Singer, who is slightly cheaper.
5. Miles Mikolas has a 1.53 ERA this year
The Orioles beat the Cardinals Tuesday, getting on the board early and often against soft tossing left-handed pitcher Packy Naughton. While Miles Mikolas also lacks premium velocity, he’s right-handed and has had a lot of success already this season. The only left-handed bats to really worry about in the Baltimore lineup are Cedric Mullens and Anthony Santander. Mikolas has limited both righties and lefties to an ISO below .080 this season and has a 20% K% and 3% BB% against right-handed batters this year. The Cardinals are the biggest favorites on the slate at -210 on DraftKings. Mikolas is perhaps a little expensive at $9,100 for the upside he provides, but that should keep his rostership percentage in check compared to the other pitchers in the $9K range like Tylor Megill and Nathan Eovaldi.
6. Spenser Watkins has a 5.93 xFIP since the start of last season
This year, his xFIP is 6.01 despite his 3.22 ERA. He’s been getting out of his starts before getting absolutely hammered like he should, but that shouldn’t continue much longer if at all. Spenser Watkins has allowed three home runs in his last three starts. Since the start of last year, he’s allowed a .318 ISO to right-handed batters, making this an advantageous matchup for the Cardinals’ righty-heavy lineup. The Cardinals have the highest implied team total on the slate at 5.1 and should be a popular stack once again here despite failing in a similar spot Tuesday.
(More: Check out Vlad Sedler's look at the Wednesday starting pitching slate in The Opener.)
7. José Urquidy has a 5.77 xFIP this year
His ERA has been better at 4.56, but José Urquidy’s strikeouts are down this season, and he couldn’t afford to lose anything in that regard. Urquidy had a 21% K% last year and that’s down to 14% this year, making the difference in his K%-BB% 11% compared to 16% last year. That’s a significant difference as we typically like to see at least 15% of separation there from good pitchers. The Twins are an interesting stack on this slate to me because their lineup has a lot of right-handed power and that’s been the way to get to Urquidy. Since the start of last season, he’s allowed a .231 ISO to right-handed batters. Hopefully Byron Buxton returns to the lineup, and even with his $6,200 price tag on DraftKings the Twins are very affordable as no one else is above $4,500. Jose Miranda at $2,600 with eligibility at both corner spots and potentially batting third can make almost anything you want fit in the rest of your lineup.