What do you do when two pitchers square off? A lot depends on context, of course, but on Thursday two great pitchers square off in a favorable environment. Adam Wainwright takes on Matt Harvey in new York, where it’s expected to be just 64-degrees and with a 17 MPH wind blowing in to third base.
Two good pitchers, both in a friendly environment, but there’s, at most, one win up for grabs. In a daily format like Fangraphs The Game, this doesn’t matter as much, since you’re playing for the long haul and peripheral stats rule the day. But in a daily one-and-done format like DraftStreet, finding that elusive victory is important – they’re worth 1.5 points versus -0.75 for a loss. That 2.25-point swing is equivalent to three extra strikeouts.
So what do you do? You could double-down on the match up and hope to secure 0.75 points (a win and a loss), but I’d only recommend that if the set-up is too extreme to pass on.
Really, you want to identify who you think will win, if not, who sets up better for strikeouts. Matt Harvey, I love you, but it’s tough to see you and your 24-36 Mets upsetting Adam Wainwright and his 42-23 Cardinals.
The Daily Five
Adam Wainwright – $20,080
Sure it’s an exorbitant price, but you’re paying top dollar for perhaps the best pitcher in baseball so far, taking on one of the worst offenses in a fine environmental set up. Did you realize there’s a 1.75 FIP underlying Wainwright’s 2.34 ERA? It’s batty how good he’s been now that he’s gone from “good strikeout pitcher with good control and a good batted ball profile” to “good strikeout pitcher who walks less than J.P. Arencibia and has a good batted ball profile.” If you need further convincing, the Metshave a .291 wOBA as a team and are the league’s third most strikeout-prone offense.
Ryan Zimmerman – $7,563
It’s Jeff Francis, a lefty, in Coors Field, at 89-degree heat, with a mild wind blowing out to left field. Pick your righty on the Nationals, really. I went with Zimmerman because he has a friendlier price tag than The Rated R Superstar and I recommended Ian Desmond yesterday, but you could just as easily plug in any of them depending on your budget and preference. This won’t, nay, can’t be pretty.
David Murphy – $5,128
There’s a similar story here, with no Rangers really being a poor choice. Esmil Rogers has been a pleasant surprise for my Toronto Blue Jays, posting a 1.97 FIP through 7.1 innings as a starter. It doesn’t even fail the eye test too glaringly, as Rogers has legitimately looked decent. But going once through the order is favorable. Even if he did hold the Rangers to a single run over four frames in his last outing, I don’t trust that to happen again. Murphy, a lefty with some appreciable pop, should get the start and benefit from 91-degree weather with a light wind in from right which, if we believe a commenter from yesterday, helps push balls out to right-center.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia – $9,292
I like Kevin Gausman in the long term, but right now he’s just not doing a great job keeping the ball to the edges of the plate, leading to a 94% contact rate on pitchers in the zone. We know that Salty can take the ball for a ride, and hitting from the left side he’ll hope the 19 MPH wind blowing to the right field foul pole doesn’t pull any potential dingers foul. Scattered storms are possible but they seem like a potential delay rather than a cancellation concern.
D.J. LeMahieu -$6,840
LeMahieu can get on base and he can run. Ross Detwiler is off to a nice start, but one that probably isn’t quite sustainable. No, LeMahieu is unlikely to use the favorable park and temperature to hit one out, but he is a likely candidate to take advantage of Washington’s poor running game control. The Nats have allowed the 11th most stolen bases, not extreme, but they’ve caught fewer runners than all but one other team, throwing out just 13% of would-be thieves. LeMahieu is yet to be caught, and I expect that to continue.
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