DAILY MATCHUPS: Verlander, DeGrom, and Bieber earn Friday's top spots

As a way to preview the day's games, the 2020 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.

Beginning-of-season note on our matchup tool: These scores do not use prior-year data for the first month of the season. This algorithm relies on projected data for now, and will incorporate in-season data immediately. There is one limitation with using projected data: the strikeout sub-component is running too low. That will wash out quickly as each SP makes their 2nd and 3rd start of the season. It may not even prove to be inaccurate, since SP tend to not pitch as deep into games early in the year, and typically don't get to peak velocity in their first few starts. But if you notice that the Strikeout sub-score is running negative for most pitchers, this will correct soon.​

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Today’s schedule overview: 28 of the 30 teams are in action on Friday, with interleague matchups between the Tigers and Reds and the Rockies and Rangers, and one lone afternoon start between the Braves and Mets. The weather forecast looks good for all games, though hot, humid conditions might have the roof closed for the debut of new Globe Life Field in Texas.

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

  SP   Tm Opp RAT K ERA WHIP WIN L5 PQS
  Justin Verlander (R) HOU vSEA 1.38 0.35 1.77 2.01 1.39 0
  Jacob deGrom (R) NYM vATL 1.28 0.02 2.21 1.87 1.00 0
  Shane Bieber (R) CLE vKC 1.18 -0.36 1.80 1.71 1.57 0
  Charlie Morton (R) TAM vTOR 0.88 -0.12 2.03 1.22 0.37 0
  Ross Stripling (R) LA vSF 0.84 -0.78 1.56 1.16 1.43 0
  Lucas Giolito (R) CHW vMIN 0.75 0.01 1.40 1.13 0.46 0
  Brandon Woodruff (R) MIL @CHC 0.66 -0.60 1.59 0.95 0.70 0
  Aaron Nola (R) PHI vMIA 0.52 -0.56 1.20 0.45 0.99 0

Brandon Woodruff (RHP, MIL) earns the first Opening Day nod of his career after a breakout season in 2019, one that saw him post career-bests in Ctl, Dom, SwK, and velocity. In the 2020 Baseball Forecaster, we suggested he could be a "near-ace" this season. However, left-handed hitters remained an area of difficulty for him last year (.763 OPS allowed), and his opponent for today, the Cubs, will likely have six lefties in their lineup.

 

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

  SP   Tm Opp RAT K ERA WHIP WIN L5 PQS
  Jack Flaherty (R) STL vPIT 0.42 -0.46 1.20 0.76 0.18 0
  Lance Lynn (R) TEX vCOL 0.34 -0.46 1.12 0.69 -0.01 0
  Chris Paddack (R) SD vARI 0.28 -0.74 0.96 0.90 0.01 0
  Andrew Heaney (L) LAA @OAK 0.22 -0.54 0.83 0.73 -0.16 0
  Matt Boyd (L) DET @CIN 0.16 -0.32 0.67 0.80 -0.50 0
  Hyun-Jin Ryu (L) TOR @TAM 0.15 -0.98 1.40 1.06 -0.87 0
  Sonny Gray (R) CIN vDET 0.08 -0.73 0.97 0.06 0.00 0
  German Marquez (R) COL @TEX -0.05 -1.07 0.84 0.53 -0.49 0
  Madison Bumgarner (L) ARI @SD -0.10 -1.07 0.64 0.56 -0.51 0
  Frankie Montas (R) OAK vLAA -0.11 -1.01 0.72 0.21 -0.34 0
  Nathan Eovaldi (R) BOS vBAL -0.15 -1.18 0.43 -0.34 0.51 0
  Jose Berrios (R) MIN @CHW -0.21 -0.83 0.57 0.39 -0.96 0
  Joe Musgrove (R) PIT @STL -0.24 -1.34 0.69 0.37 -0.68 0
  Michael Soroka (R) ATL @NYM -0.42 -1.35 0.87 0.31 -1.50 0
  Kyle Hendricks (R) CHC vMIL -0.46 -1.41 0.49 0.29 -1.20 0

Jack Flaherty (RHP, STL) just misses the Strong Start cut-off, and there's reason to think he belongs there for his home turn against PIT: he's coming off of a dominant second half of 2019 (1.22 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 11.1 Dom, 4.9 Cmd, 15.2% SwK, 3.17 xERA over 17 GS), and the Pirates will be without Gregory Polanco, who's out after testing positive for COVID-19, making their already-subpar lineup even weaker.

Increased velocity and changes to his pitch mix led Lance Lynn (RHP, TEX) to a career-high 10.6 Dom and 4.2 Cmd in 2019, and he really cranked up the strikeouts in the second half (11.5 Dom, 14.1% SwK). The Rockies typically fare worse when hitting on the road (.678 OPS in away games in 2019, compared to .884 at home), though the unknown factor here is whether new Globe Life Field will lean more hitter or pitcher-friendly.

Chris Paddack (RHP, SD) fared very well at home in 2019 (3.06 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 9.9 Dom, 6.8 Cmd over 11 GS), and especially well against the Diamondbacks (1.08 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 10.8 Dom, 6.7 Cmd over 3 GS), though ARI has added Starling Marte and Kole Calhoun to their lineup this season.

Andrew Heaney (LHP, LAA) didn't have a very impressive 2019 on the surface (4.91 ERA, 1.29 WHIP), but he sported an 11.1 Dom, 3.9 Cmd, and 14.5% SwK, and over 11 second-half starts, he posted a 3.83 xERA. However, there are two notes of caution heading into this start against the A's: Heaney was dealing with some back stiffness less than a week ago (always a concern given his long injury history), and OAK owned an .810 OPS vs. LHP in 2019.

Matt Boyd (LHP, DET) posted multiple career bests in 2019 (11.6 Dom, 4.8 Cmd, 14.8% SwK, 3.90 xERA), though a late-season collapse (6.46 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 3.0 HR/9 over his last 9 GS) dragged down his overall stats. Given that his 185 IP was also a career high, he might have simply been tired down the stretch, so a short season could benefit him; unfortunately, Cincinnati's homer-friendly park (+16% LHB HR, +18% RHB HR) isn't a welcoming place for a pitcher with a career 46% fly ball rate, especially with the Reds adding Mike Moustakas and Nick Castellanos to their lineup.

One question hanging over Hyun-Jin Ryu (LHP, TOR) as he changes teams in 2020 is how he will fare away from Dodger Stadium, as he posted fairly sizable home/away splits over 2017-19: a 2.19 ERA, 1.7 Ctl, 9.1 Dom, and 1.0 HR/9 at home, and a 3.32 ERA, 2.2 Ctl, 7.7 Dom, and 1.2 HR/9 in away games. For this first start, he draws a pitcher-friendly park in Tampa and a Rays lineup that will likely be without Austin Meadows and Randy Arozarena.

Sonny Gray (RHP, CIN) looks to build off of his resurgent performance in 2019 (career-best 10.5 Dom and 124 BPV), and draws a solid-but-unspectacular DET lineup that leans pretty right-handed. Gray owned a 4.0 Cmd rate at home in 2019, compared to 2.4 on the road.

German Marquez's (RHP, COL) second-half collapse in 2019 (5.68 ERA over 10 GS) was driven by a 58% strand rate and 26% HR/F; his 3.69 second-half xERA was a near-match for his 3.68 mark in the first half, and he upped his Cmd rate to 6.9 in the second half. And overall, he fared much better on the road, posting a 3.67 ERA and 0.94 WHIP over 15 GS.

Madison Bumgarner (LHP, ARI) gets to launch his new stint with the Diamondbacks in a pitcher-friendly park against a familiar opponent in the Padres, though they had his number a bit in 2019 (1.7 HR/9 over 4 GS). The Padres were tougher against LHP in 2019 (.760 OPS), and have since added Jurickson Profar (.809 OPS vs. LHP since 2017) and Tommy Pham (.929 OPS vs. LHP since 2017) to their lineup.

With a breakout season cut short by a PED suspension, Frankie Montas (RHP, OAK) is a bit of a wild card in 2020, though he'll catch a break in his first start, with Anthony Rendon out for the Angels. Even in a shortened season, Montas faced LAA four times in 2019, posting a 3.27 ERA, though his xERA was 4.21, as he got some help from a 22% hit rate and 75% strand rate.

Nathan Eovaldi (RHP, BOS) was a mess in 2019 (5.99 ERA, 4.7 Ctl, 2.0 Cmd, 4.89 xERA), but he gets to ease into 2020 by facing the Orioles, who seem likely to have one of the league's weakest lineups this season.

Jose Berrios (RHP, MIN) fared very well against the White Sox in 2019 (2.88 ERA, 8.7 Dom, 6.6 Cmd, 3.90 xERA over 5 GS), and while Chicago looks to have a much-improved lineup in 2020, they'll be without Nomar Mazara and will only have had Yoan Moncada in camp for a week after he tested positive for COVID-19.

Joe Musgrove (RHP, PIT) posted a career-high 8.3 Dom amidst an inconsistent 2019 season, but he fared quite poorly against the Cardinals (10.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, 6.0 Ctl, 6.14 xERA over 4 GS).

Mike Soroka (RHP, ATL) hopes to build off of an impressive rookie season (2.68 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 3.5 Cmd, 3.87 xERA), though he struggled a bit against left-handed batters (.750 OPS allowed, 2.3 Cmd), and he could see as many as five lefties when facing the Mets on Friday.

Kyle Hendricks (RHP, CHC) just barely makes the Judgment Call cut-off, and while his 3.46 ERA in 2019 was right in line with his career performance, he got help from a 10% HR/F, and his 4.26 xERA was the lowest of his career. However, he was very good at Wrigley in 2019 (2.04 ERA, 0.87 WHIP over 14 GS).

 

Weak Starts (Overall ratings -0.51 and below):

  SP   Tm Opp RAT K ERA WHIP WIN L5 PQS
  Marco Gonzales (L) SEA @HOU -1.05 -1.70 -0.24 -0.38 -1.89 0
  Tommy Milone (L) BAL @BOS -1.05 -2.06 -0.61 -0.50 -1.01 0
  Sandy Alcantara (R) MIA @PHI -1.13 -1.61 -0.40 -1.00 -1.49 0
  Danny Duffy (L) KC @CLE -1.14 -1.35 -0.47 -0.68 -2.07 0
  Jeff Samardzija (R) SF @LA -1.20 -1.63 -0.59 -0.65 -1.93 0

 

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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.

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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.