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Diamond Data — 7 Stats to Know for MLB DFS Thursday (5/5)

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Data in baseball runs deeper and is more comprehensive than any other sport. These are the seven stats I find most relevant to Wednesday’s MLB DFS slate. 

 

1. Tarik Skubal has allowed a .241 ISO to right-handed batters since the start of last year

The Houston Astros offense hasn’t totally clicked yet this season, as they find themselves 21st in all of baseball in runs scored, but this is their bread-and-butter matchup: Facing a left-handed pitcher at home. Tarik Skubal hasn’t allowed a home run in four starts this year, but he allowed 35 home runs last year and has allowed a .241 ISO to right-handed batters since the beginning of last season. Alex Bregman has a .255 career ISO against left-handed pitching. Yordan Alvarez (.220), Yuli Gurriel (.208), Kyle Tucker (.264) and Chas McCormick (.202) all have ISOs above .200 against left-handed pitching since the beginning of last year. Plus Jeremy Peña is always in play. Stack the Astros. 

2. Spenser Watkins has a 6.02 xFIP this season

His xFIP was 5.90 last year. This year his BB% and K% are both 10%. It’s not looking good out there for Spenser Watkins. The one positive for him would be that the Orioles moved the fences back in left field at their home ballpark. He hasn’t allowed a home run in two home starts this year and has a 1.02 HR/9 this year. His HR/9 was 2.30 last year, though, so he seems due to give up some home runs here. Watkins has allowed a .316 ISO to right-handed batters since the start of last year. Byron Buxton has a .352 ISO against right-handed pitchers since the start of last year. Buxton is the best play on the slate by quite a bit from a raw points perspective. 

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3. Aaron Nola has a 56% GB% this year

There’s a lot of noise in these early season stats, but I think Aaron Nola getting ground balls at this high rate after five starts is notable. Otherwise, it’s been typical Nola so far this season. He’s pitched pretty well but has a 3.89 ERA because he’s been hurt by the long ball with five home runs allowed. His 23% HR/FB% is due to regress to the mean and his xFIP is 2.49. It’s kind of wild Nola has allowed so many home runs while also keeping the ball on the ground. Anyway, he’s the best pitching play on the slate. 

4. Robbie Ray has a 20% K% this year

That’s down considerably from last season (32% K%) and his career 29% K%. He struck out eight batters in his last start, but he also walked four. The control issues are also still there for him as he has a 9% BB% this year (career 10% BB%). Robbie Ray is definitely still in play for me on this slate against Tampa Bay at home, but he’s expensive at $8,800 on DraftKings compared to some of the other options and I think paying down might be the move. 

 

5. José Urquidy has allowed a .238 ISO to right-handed hitters since the start of last year

The Detroit Tigers are 29th in all of baseball in runs scored and have very little right-handed power outside of shortstop Javier Báez, who has a .220 ISO against right-handed pitchers since the start of last season. If José Urquidy can just take care of Báez, he should do fine here. He’s a solid pitcher with a 20% K% and 5% BB% since the start of last year. The Astros are also one of the bigger favorites on this slate playing at home at -165. 

6. Nick Martinez’ xERA is 6.64 this year

Nick Martinez also has a 13% BB% this year. Somehow he made it through five innings against the Reds on the road without allowing a home run in his last start, but this is a pitcher I want to stack against every time out. On the Marlins I would focus on the top of the order hitters in Jazz Chisholm Jr., Jesús Aguilar and Jorge Soler. After that I think Avisaíl García makes a lot of sense to include in your stacks at $3,900 on Draftkings. 

(More: Check out Jake Kucheck’s look at the Thursday starting pitching slate in The Opener.)

7. Jesús Luzardo has a 31% K% against right-handed batters this year

Jesús Luzardo had a 22% K% against all hitters last year, so this marks a significant change. The San Diego Padres have a decent number of left-handed bats, but they figure to go mostly right-handed here against Luzardo here, not that that will be a problem for him. I think Luzardo could be a good contrarian option on this slate as he’s kind of priced in no man’s land at $8,500 on Draftkings and I like playing him with a Marlins stack because he should get some run support and cruise to a win here. 

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