DAILY MATCHUPS: Wheeler looks to keep rolling against Scherzer, Nats on Friday

As a way to preview the day's games, the 2021 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.

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Today's schedule overview: All 30 teams are in action on Friday, with every game a nighttime start, and the A's traveling to Coors Field for the lone interleague game. Rain could be an issue for BOS at NYY, and possibly also WAS at PHI.

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Strong Starts (Top tier starts rated >1.0; starts in 0.5-0.9 range also favorable)

  SP   Tm Opp RAT K ERA WHIP WIN L5 PQS
  Freddy Peralta (R) MIL vARI 2.8 3.7 2.7 2.8 2.1 1 5 4 2 4
  Max Scherzer (R) WAS @PHI 2.4 4.1 2.5 3.7 -0.6 4 4 2 4 3
  Zack Wheeler (R) PHI vWAS 2.2 3.5 2.8 3.2 -0.6 5 3 5 4 4
  Blake Snell (L) SD vNYM 1.4 2.6 1.8 1.1 0.0 2 1 4 1 0
  Jonathan Brubaker (R) PIT vMIA 1.3 1.3 1.6 1.5 0.6 1 2 0 2 4
  Ian Anderson (R) ATL vLA 1.2 1.8 1.8 1.2 0.1 2 1 2 3 2
  Hyun-Jin Ryu (L) TOR vHOU 1.1 0.9 1.4 1.7 0.5 2 4 5 3 4
  Shohei Ohtani (R) LAA vSEA 0.9 2.4 0.7 0.3 -0.1 3 3 4 1 3
  Julio Urías (L) LA @ATL 0.7 1.5 0.7 1.9 -1.2 1 5 5 3 1
  Frankie Montas (R) OAK @COL 0.6 1.3 0.6 0.9 -0.5 3 2 2 2 3
  Nathan Eovaldi (R) BOS @NYY 0.6 1.3 0.3 0.8 -0.2 3 2 3 1 4
  Luis Castillo (R) CIN @STL 0.5 0.8 0.8 0.3 -0.2 1 0 2 1 2

It still seems prudent to steer clear of Luis Castillo (RHP, CIN) if possible, as both his surface stats (8.04 ERA, 1.93 WHIP) and skills (12% BB%, 9%K-BB%, 4.96 xERA) grew worse in May. The Cardinals have been a middle-of-the-pack offense, but they are tough to strikeout at home (77% contact), which could further limit Castillo's value on Friday.

 

Judgment Calls (Overall ratings from -0.4 to 0.4)

  SP   Tm Opp RAT K ERA WHIP WIN L5 PQS
  Brad Keller (R) KC vMIN 0.4 0.7 0.9 0.0 -0.1 3 2 1 4 1
  Keegan Akin (L) BAL vCLE 0.4 0.8 0.5 0.7 -0.5 0
  Spencer Turnbull (R) DET @CHW 0.3 1.1 0.7 0.3 -0.9 2 5 5 2 3
  Jonathan Gray (R) COL vOAK 0.3 0.6 0.6 0.5 -0.7 3 3 0 1 1
  Dallas Keuchel (L) CHW vDET 0.3 0.0 1.1 0.4 -0.4 3 0 3 1 0
  Joey Lucchesi (L) NYM @SD 0.2 0.4 0.9 0.6 -1.2 2 3 0 4 2
  Justin Dunn (R) SEA @LAA 0.1 1.3 -0.1 0.1 -1.1 2 2 3 1 4
  Hyeon-jong Yang (L) TEX vTAM 0.0 0.3 0.3 0.1 -0.6 2 2 0 1
  Jean Carlos Mejía (R) CLE @BAL -0.1 -0.7 0.3 0.4 -0.4  
  Josh Fleming (L) TAM @TEX -0.2 -0.9 0.2 0.6 -0.7 1 3 2 4
  Michael King (R) NYY vBOS -0.2 0.0 -0.2 0.6 -1.0 1
  Matt Shoemaker (R) MIN @KC -0.2 0.1 0.2 0.0 -1.1 3 1 2 2 3
  Zack Greinke (R) HOU @TOR -0.2 0.5 -0.1 0.8 -2.0 1 4 5 2 3
  Kwang-Hyun Kim (L) STL vCIN -0.3 -0.6 0.5 0.0 -1.0 2 4 2 2 0

Brad Keller (RHP, KC) has been pitching better of late (3.81 ERA, 3.67 xERA over last 5 GS), but control remains a problem (11% BB% over last 5 GS). He's faced the Twins twice already in 2021, with lackluster results: 4.82 ERA, 1.71 WHIP, 9% K-BB%, 5.20 xERA. And despite MIN's disappointing record, their offense remains a Top 10 unit.

Keegan Akin (LHP, BAL) will be making just his second start of 2021 as he transitions from the bullpen to the rotation. His early skills are looking promising (4.43 xERA, 17% K-BB%), including improved control (5% BB%, 64% FpK). Cleveland has been a bottom-ten lineup (.673 OPS) for most of the season, so Akin could be a decent option for Friday, especially if the win matters less to you.

In addition to his 2.93 ERA and 1.02 WHIP, Spencer Turnbull (RHP, DET) has a bunch of career-best marks right now: 55% GB%, 6% BB%, 64% FpK, 3.65 xERA. The White Sox have been a Top 10 offense, but their lack of power this year, including an 85 PX at home, plays into one of Turnbull's strengths (0.2 HR/9).

Jon Gray (RHP, COL) might have an attractive-looking 2.36 ERA and 0.95 WHIP at home this year, but it has largely been driven by an 18% hit rate in those games. Overall, his skills are as mediocre as ever (4.35 xERA, 10% K-BB%). The A's offense ranks 11th in OPS (.718), but jumps into the Top 10 in away games (.758).

Dallas Keuchel (LHP, CHW) mostly gets by on his 60% ground ball rate, leaving little upside (4.49 xERA), but a home matchup against the lowly Tigers and their .663 OPS, which falls to .625 vs. LHP, could be enough to give him a slight boost.

Joey Lucchesi (LHP, NYM) has pitched better than his lousy surface stats (6.56 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) would lead you to believe, as he's been crushed by a 46% strand rate. His xERA is 3.87, and his 27% K% and 19% K-BB% are at career-best levels. The San Diego offense has been middle-of-the-pack overall (.702 OPS), and has fared worse against lefties (.666 OPS).

Jean Carlos Mejía (RHP, CLE) will be making his first major league start after three relief appearances that led to a 1.91 xERA over 5 IP, and has the good fortune to draw the Orioles and their bottom-ten offense. Given that he hasn't gone over 39 pitches in relief, and his last Triple-A start was on May 12th, he's unlikely to go very deep in this game.

Josh Fleming (LHP, TAM) has worked as a starter and a long reliever, but with pitch counts of 79 and 75 in his last two outings, he should be good for 5-6 innings if all goes well. His 3.97 xERA can be mostly credited to his 58% GB%—his 16% K% is subpar and has earned him the day's worst K rating. The Rangers have been a bottom-ten offense any way you slice this game: overall, at home, and against LHP.

Michael King's (RHP, NYY) 2.82 ERA has been aided by an 81% strand rate; his xERA is 4.30, mostly due to poor command (10% K-BB%). The Red Sox and their Top 10 lineup are as good a candidate as any to start that ERA regression process for King.

Matt Shoemaker (RHP, MIN) has been absolutely obliterated by the Royals in 2021, posting a 15.26 ERA, 2.22 WHIP, and 5.24 xERA over two starts against them. And his overall numbers don't offer much reason to start him today either: 5.90 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 15% K%, 5.27 xERA.

Zack Greinke (RHP, HOU) is showing signs of decline that make him more of a league average starter (19% K%, 14% K-BB%, 4.16 xERA), so the matchup becomes a little more important these days, so a road start against the Blue Jays and their league-leading offense looks pretty iffy, though his overall rating is being dragged down by the day's third-worst Win rating.

The vaunted Reds offense is a completely different animal on the road (.663 OPS) vs. at home (.832) this season, as well as vs LHP (.658), but that alone isn't enough to make Kwang-Hyun Kim (LHP, STL) a good option for Friday, as he's been struggling of late (6% K-BB%, 5.34 xERA over his last 5 GS). 

 

Weak Starts (Overall ratings -0.5 and below)

  SP   Tm Opp RAT K ERA WHIP WIN L5 PQS
  Cody Poteet (R) MIA @PIT -0.6 -0.8 0.0 0.1 -1.7 3 2 4 3
  Jake Arrieta (R) CHC @SF -0.9 -0.1 -0.5 -0.7 -2.5 0 1 0 3 0
  Matt Peacock (R) ARI @MIL -1.1 -0.7 -0.5 -0.1 -2.8 1 3 2

 

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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.