MLB Sim Sports Picks for 4/6/20 on FanDuel
Even in the virtual world, it can sometimes be hard to find an ace.
Tonight's nine-game simulated slate on FanDuel has plenty of "solid" pitchers, but there's nobody who stands out as being a must-have stud. Given that these results are based on the real-world talent of the pitchers, that's clearly relevant as we fill out our fake lineups.
Here's the full list of starters, sorted by their FanDuel salaries. The individual pitcher numbers are exclusively from their appearances as a starter, meaning we'll be dealing with small samples out of Andrew Suarez, Tyler Chatwood, Sean Manaea, Julio Urias, and Joe Ross. The opposing strikeout rates are based on what each team's current active roster did against pitchers of that handedness in 2019.
|Pitcher||Salary||Opponent||SIERA||Strikeout %||Walk %||Opp. K%|
Nobody with a respectable sample had a strikeout rate higher than 26.9%, and the best skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) was from Hyun-jin Ryu at 3.77. There are no free squares here.
With that in mind, which players should we target before fake first pitch at 7:05 pm Eastern? Let's dive in.
Normally, when there's no clear-cut stud, you have an incentive to spend down. You want to spend up when doing so provides you with a clear advantage over the field, and that's less true here than in other scenarios.
But we're still rolling with Aaron Nola ($9,800) in the top spot.
Nola's peripherals are strong with the highest strikeout rate among the relevant samples, and he backed it up with quality enough results in the form of a 3.87 ERA. Assuming the simulator accounts for more than just single-year results, Nola's ERA has been 3.54, 2.37, and 3.87 the past three years, respectively, which should position him for success.
Nola's matchup also stands out as he gets a date with a Toronto Blue Jays roster that struck out 25.2% of the time against righties last year. His salary isn't prohibitive at $9,800, so even if he's not a bona fide ace, Nola does still grade out as the ideal option.
Given the lack of cheaper options with strikeout upside, Eduardo Rodriguez ($8,800) and Chris Paddack ($8,700) seem to be the optimal alternatives to Nola. Both carry lower floors due to their opponents, but they possess the necessary upside to rival Nola.
Rodriguez gets the Tampa Bay Rays, who struck out 27.1% of the time when facing lefties. Rodriguez had an acceptable 24.8% strikeout rate to begin with, meaning he should be able to get some whiffs, as long as things don't blow up too quickly.
Paddack's pitch count will be based on what happened last year when the San Diego Padres had him on a shorter leash, which is what lowers his appeal slightly. Still, his 26.9% strikeout rate as a starter is tied with Nola's, and the Atlanta Braves weren't a low-strikeout team. He's likely third on the list behind Nola and Rodriguez but is a route we can take.
With the lack of aces at pitcher, our stacking options are more plentiful. We just have to keep in mind that park factors are something included in the simulations.
The Arizona Diamondbacks get one of the best matchups on the board with Andrew Suarez working for the opposition, but they're playing that game in San Francisco. That's a big park-factor downgrade for them and lowers the appeal in what would otherwise be an attractive option.
Instead, we may want to may want to check out the Boston Red Sox. They're without Mookie Betts, but they've still got J.D. Martinez ($4,200), Xander Bogaerts ($3,700), and Michael Chavis ($3,000) around to bully southpaws like Ryan Yarbrough. The Red Sox's active roster -- minus Betts -- had a 112 wRC+ against lefties in 2019.
They also give us a value route in Christian Vazquez ($2,500) to help us climb up to Nola. Vazquez is $2,500 and batting sixth, and he brings a .272 isolated slugging percentage against lefties from last year to the table. We may not be able to get in all the studs, but the Red Sox are in a good position here.
There's a lot to like about Mitch Keller for 2020 given the changes in the Pittsburgh Pirates' coaching staff and the nastiness he showed at the end of the season. But the simulation is likely going to look at his 7.13 ERA and be less optimistic, allowing us to stack up the Chicago Cubs.
Unlike the Red Sox, the top-end Cubs are pretty easy to afford with Anthony Rizzo ($3,600), Kris Bryant ($3,400), and Javier Baez ($3,600) all checking in with mid-tier salaries. Ian Happ ($2,700) is coming off a rough 2019, but with him slated to bat leadoff for a value salary, we can top-load this lineup and still be able to afford Nola.
If you need additional value to help get the Red Sox's or Cubs' studs, the Detroit Tigers are weirdly in play. Thanks to the offseason additions of C.J. Cron ($2,700) and Jonathan Schoop ($2,800), their active-roster wRC+ against lefties is up to 98, which might be enough to knock Mike Montgomery around a bit.
Cron, specifically, bludgeoned lefties with a .310 isolated slugging percentage, and Miguel Cabrera ($2,600) -- despite a disappointing overall season -- did have a .216 isolated slugging percentage with the platoon advantage. It may not be the most exciting option at first glance, but with an improved lineup and a great matchup, you could do worse than the Tigers.
The author of this article has no involvement with the MLB Sim Sports simulations powered by numberFire and has no knowledge of the results of tonight’s contest.