I really wanted to recommend Max Scherzer right off the top today, but I can’t bring myself to do it. He costs $20,513 in DraftStreet budget, nearly 21% of your total budget, and I just can’t tell you, the reader, to invest a fifth of your purse on one player. Even if the Jays are possibly without Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind, and even if they did play Munenori Kawasaki at designated hitter yesterday. Can’t do it.
You can get away with a $15k pitcher if you’re frugal elsewhere. But when you get up to the $20k level, you’re basically forced to start, say, a P.J. Walters in the other SP slot just so you can employ actual batters in your line up.
And at 20% of your budget, a guy like Scherzer (or Matt Harvey, who comes in at $250 less against the Diamondbacks) would have to get at minimum eight fantasy points to just return 20% of your expected points (and that’s in a double-up format where your goal is 40 points, not maximizing necessarily).
To get to eight points, a pitcher probably needs to go at least seven innings with seven strikeouts, allowing for two earned runs, five hits and a walk. That’s a pretty darn good line to be set as the break-even point on a player. There have only been 156 instances all season (about 6.4% of all pitcher starts) where a starter has allowed six base runners or less with three earned runs or less and seven innings and strikeouts each.
I just can’t justify setting the break-even point at the 94th percentile of pitching performances. Even if Scherzer mows down the Jays for 12 strikeouts tomorrow, I won’t regret not going all-in on such a hard-to-profit proposition.
The Daily Five
Roberto Hernandez – $8,757
He’ll be Faust0 Carm0na on Wednesday. The 4.98 ERA isn’t great but it has a slightly better 4.50 ERA underneath it, plus a 3.46 xFIP if he could ever get the long ball under control. But he gets strikeouts, doesn’t walk anybody and is good for six innings, which is all you can ask from the fifth cheapest pitcher on the docket. He also gets the Astros, who have the second lowest wOBA against righties in baseball at .284, plus the league’s highest strikeout rate against them at 25%.
Randall Delgado – $10,198
You’ll be watching Matt Harvey anyway, so why not give the former Braves prospect a look? The Mets have a 22.4% strikeout rate against northpaws and just a 2.95 wOBA, making them almost as safe as the Astros. Delgado has a similar profile to Hernandez, with an appreciable K-rate and a tiny walk rate but with some gopheritis. The Mets are a friendly play for such a pitcher.
Travis Hafner – $7,641
It’s P.J. Walters, so I’d love to load up on Yankees. However, Robinson Cano and Zoilo Almonte come at a steep price, Brett Gardner is unlikely to steal (the Twins do a great job controlling the running game) and nobody else is any good of late. Even though Walters has reverse splits this year, he’s been equally friendly to all hitters for his career. Pronk’s got the right batted ball profile this year and his pop hasn’t deteriorated as much as you might think (.209 ISO), so give him a shot.
Alex Gordon – $6,068
Scott Kazmir has been death to lefties this year, so I understand if you want to avoid Gordon (or even Hosmer, who is also close to split-neutral). But Alex Gordon has destroyed lefties so far this year and most of his career split came from his pre-success years. Gordon is fine against lefties, but his price is driven down by the lefty-lefty match-up. Is Scott Kazmir really the guy you want to avoid in daily leagues when dialing up Gordon leaves you an extra couple grand elsewhere?
Joey Votto – $8,002
The Reds draws Barry Zito, who, while he’s improved in this regard, gives up too many fly balls to trust at Great American Ballpark. Votto’s price is depressed because of the lefty-lefty thing, but Zito isn’t a pitcher who shows much of a platoon split over the past few years, bouncing between favouring each side. Votto, meanwhile, is Joey Votto and is up at a price point below the average DraftStreet player. They shouldn’t make it this easy.
Bonus pick: Kyle Blanks is a nice choice, too, that I realized after writing. Righty, Fenway, Lester.
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