DAILY MATCHUPS: Cole, Scherzer, Marquez top Thursday choices

As a way to preview the day's games, the 2019 Daily Matchups column will provide a list of all SP scheduled to start that day. The Daily Matchups column works hand-in-hand with the HQ Pitcher Matchup tool (also available as an 8-day scan). It will group the day's SP into strong starts, judgment calls, or weak starts and will provide an analysis of the most noteworthy SP along the way. Tips on how to best use these SP tools can be found in this 2019 GM's OFFICE column.

For additional DFS coverage collected in one place, see our Daily Dashboard page. Also reference our three-year ballpark factorsteam indicator pages, and SP Buyers Guide columns to help you optimize your SP utilization.


Today’s schedule overview: There are only ten games on the schedule, four in each league, plus interleague contests with the Indians at the Mets and the Blue Jays at the Dodgers. In addition, the Royals/Red Sox game that was suspended on August 7 following a two hour rain delay, with a 4-4 tie after nine innings, will be resumed. No rain issues are forecast. In Chicago, wind is forecast to be blowing in from left field at 11 mph for the Rangers/White Sox game. 


Strong Starts (Top tier starts rated >1.0; starts in 0.50-0.99 range also favorable):

  Gerrit Cole (R) HOU vDET 2.99 3.92 2.34 2.87 2.82 3 5 3 3 3
  Max Scherzer (R) WAS @PIT 2.19 2.73 1.55 2.43 2.05 5 5 4 5 3
  German Marquez (R) COL @STL 1.96 2.06 2.02 2.54 1.23 4 4 1 4 2
  Noah Syndergaard (R) NYM vCLE 1.39 1.79 1.18 1.53 1.04 3 5 4 2 4
  Ryan Yarbrough (L) TAM @BAL 1.39 1.31 1.04 1.88 1.34 4 2 4 5 5
  Kenta Maeda (R) LA vTOR 1.36 2.15 0.72 1.28 1.28 3 2 1 5 2
  Michael Soroka (R) ATL vMIA 0.85 0.50 0.68 0.78 1.45 3 2 3 5 1
  Kyle Hendricks (R) CHC vSF 0.62 0.42 0.39 1.20 0.47 3 4 3 0 3

German Marquez (RHP, COL) has been an ace on the road, with a 3.52 ERA, and a disaster in Coors Field, with a 6.26 ERA, and 7 of his 8 PQS-DOM performances have come on the road. He now faces the Cardinals in Busch Stadium. The Cardinals have struggled at home, with a .711 OPS that ranks 13th in the NL. For this start,  Marquez has ratings of 2.00 or higher for K, ERA, and WHIP, plus a solid win score. 

Ryan Yarborough (LHP, TAM) has assumed a traditional starter role with the recent injuries to Blake Snell and Yonny Chirinos, and he has delivered two consecutive PQS-5 outings and allowed no ER in his last 15 IP over those two starts. He'll next faces the Orioles in Baltimore. Yarborough faced the Orioles in Camden Yards on July 14 and allowed 2 H and 1 ER with a 6/0 k/bb over 6 IP. The Orioles have struggled against LHP with a .711 OPS that ranks 14th in the league.

Kyle Hendricks (RHP, CHC) has been an ace in Wrigley Field, where he has a 1.98 ERA over 10 starts, and it's at home that he'll face the Giants. San Francisco has been solid on the road, with a .762 OPS that ranks 4th in the NL, and they have an .840 OPS in their previous six games heading into Wednesday night, so it's a tough matchup. This is truly a borderline strong start/judgment call.


Judgment Calls (Overall ratings from -0.50 to 0.50):

  Masahiro Tanaka (R) NYY @OAK 0.44 0.51 0.22 0.60 0.44 0 1 0 4 2
  Ariel Jurado (R) TEX @CHW 0.28 -0.17 0.45 0.52 0.32 5 0 3 1 0
  Miles Mikolas (R) STL vCOL -0.07 0.16 0.32 0.97 -1.73 4 2 5 1 1
  Jeff Samardzija (R) SF @CHC -0.17 0.49 -0.60 0.39 -0.97 2 4 2 4 1
  Tanner Roark (R) OAK vNYY -0.39 0.21 -0.74 -0.09 -0.94 3 1 3 4 1

Masahiro Tanaka (RHP, NYY) had two terrible starts on July 25 and August 5 at Boston and Baltimore, in which he allowed 17 ER in 8.7 IP, but he seems to have made a correction in his past two outings, as he's allowed only 2 ER in 14.3 IP. Can he be trusted in a start at Oakland? Oakland has been league-average at home, with a .770 OPS that ranks 7th in the AL. This will be the first time Tanaka has faced the A's since 2017, so there is no recent history to guide us. This one has both considerable upside and considerable downside potential.

Ariel Jurado (RHP, TEX) has struggled recently, with three PQS-DIS outings in his past four starts and a 7.46 ERA since July 1. For the season, 44% of his starts have been PQS-DIS. He now faces the White Sox in Chicago. Jurado threw a PQS-1 against the White Sox in Texas on June 21, allowing 4 ER in 6 IP. The one upside in this start is that Chicago has struggled at home, with only a .708 OPS that ranks 13th in the AL. With his pedestrian 6.6 Dom and weak 2.3 Cmd, Jurado has little to recommend him here. 

Jeff Samardzija (RHP, SF) was cited by analyst Stephen Nickrand on July 20 as showing "more skills growth in 2019 than any other pitcher in the game," and he has played an important part in the Giants' revival, with a 2.36 ERA over the past month. That ERA has been backed by a 91 BPV, but a 21% H%, 85% S%, and 4.23 xERA also point to some good luck and some coming regression. He next faces the Cubs in Wrigley Field. The Cubs have hit well in Wrigley with an OPS over .800 that ranks 5th in the NL.

Miles Mikolas (RHP, STL) has been at his best at home with a 2.43 ERA, and it's at home that he'll face the Rockies. Colorado has not hit well on the road, with the league's second worst road OPS at .677, but the Rockies have an OPS almost 100 points higher against RHP. Mikolas' excellent control leads to a strong WHIP sub-score, but the matchup against German Marquez creates a large negative win score. This one is a definite judgment call.

Tanner Roark (RHP, OAK) has pitched quite well in his three starts since moving to the AL, allowing only 5 ER in 17.7 IP with a 103 BPV. His 4.24 xERA in those starts says he's due for some regression, and the regression could easily come against the Yankees in Oakland. New York has been the AL's 2nd best road team, with an .850 OPS, and they have pounded RHP to the tune of a .831 OPS. This is a high risk outing.


Weak Starts (Overall ratings -0.51 and below)

  Aaron Civale (R) CLE @NYM -0.52 -0.42 -0.49 0.37 -1.54 3 4 4 1
  Steven Brault (L) PIT vWAS -0.75 0.28 -0.44 -1.00 -1.83 2 2 4 0 4
  Ross Detwiler (L) CHW vTEX -0.86 -0.78 -0.96 -0.44 -1.26 0 0 3 1 0
  Trent Thornton (R) TOR @LA -0.95 0.00 -1.47 -0.53 -1.78 1 2 0 4 1
  Asher Wojciechowski (R) BAL vTAM -1.01 0.45 -1.52 -0.91 -2.05 4 1 1 2 0
  Sandy Alcantara (R) MIA @ATL -1.37 -0.04 -1.83 -1.65 -1.95 2 1 2 5 2
  Jordan Zimmermann (R) DET @HOU -1.56 -0.51 -1.97 -0.42 -3.32 2 1 1 2 4

Aaron Civale (RHP, CLE) has a sparkling 1.50 ERA in his four starts for the Indians, with a 104 BPV to support it, so why the negative rating for this matchup in Citi Field against the Mets? First, Civale's ERA has been driven by not allowing any homers in his first 24 IP in the majors, and his 4.12 xERA points to regression. Second, the Mets at home are a tough matchup. They have a home OPS above .780, and they have been scorching over the past week, with an OPS over .900.

Steven Brault (LHP, PIT) has pitched well at home, with a 3.72 ERA and PQS-4 performances against the Brewers and the Cubs in his past two outings. But this matchup against the Nationals presents a difficult challenge. Washington has pounded LHP with a .828 OPS that ranks 2nd in the NL, and the Nationals have been on fire over the past week with a 1.106 OPS heading into Wednesday night's game. And Brault will be facing Max Scherzer, lowering Brault's chance for a win. 


There are roughly 150 starting pitchers in MLB rotations at any given time. For different league sizes, we can estimate the number of SP in the useable pool, and then determine the overall ratings that correspond to worst, 25th percentile, median, and 75th percentile SP.

                               Overall SP Rating
                   SP       by SP league percentile
League size       Pool*     .00    .25    .50    .75
==============    =====    ====   ====   ====   =====
12-team “only”     120     -.73   -.22   +.22   +.74
10-team “only”     110     -.54   -.11   +.30   +.79
20-team mixed      110     -.54   -.11   +.30   +.79
15-team mixed      105     -.46   -.05   +.34   +.82
12-team mixed       80     -.07   +.22   +.55   +.97
10-team mixed       60     +.22   +.46   +.74   +1.12

So if you’re in a 12-team “only” league, the median start should have a rating of about 0.2. The 120th start is around -0.7. In a shallower, 15-team mixed, the median start is 0.34 and a top pitcher +0.82.


EDITOR'S NOTE ON DEADLINES AND ACCURACY: The writer deadline on these articles is noon before the publish day, with a goal to have the column available for subscribers by 10pm ET that evening. There will be instances when weather, managerial decisions, or other factors will take place after the piece is published that will affect the accuracy of the above information. In those instances, we strive to manually update the article by mid-morning at the latest. However, the HQ Pitcher Matchup Tool page is updated automatically and may have the correct data (scheduled starter, all the same component scores in a sortable chart) sooner than this column. Thanks for your understanding. 

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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.