A light schedule to start the baseball week leaves a limited amount of options on the mound. In addition, the pitcher throwing on Monday with easily the highest strikeout rate faces the highest-scoring offense of the day. Regardless, there are a select few plays that stand above the rest, and should allow for a nice combination of pitchers and hitters due to some depressed pricing.
Currently, we are using xFIP and wOBA simply to compare one pitcher’s performance against another – especially against opposite-handed hitters. We aren’t using these numbers for calculation. To help with some calculations, we have assumed that each hitter and pitcher has played at least one game. Each pitcher was assigned an innings total relative to his average projection.
Check the starting lineups and weather reports prior to making any plays, as these change without notice.
Projected Low-Scoring Games
Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals – The potential of both the Cubs and Max Scherzer on a given night often make them a risk for a quick hiccup. Monday brings an ideal matchup, where two powerhouses will go head-to-head. Historically, Kyle Hendricks does not have the numbers to match up with Scherzer, but the preseason ‘breakout’ candidate from Chicago is currently enjoying a 2.90 ERA. Both Hendricks and Scherzer should shine on Monday night and, considering the lack of options, could easily be paired together in a two-pitcher lineup.
Targets: Kyle Hendricks and Max Scherzer
Projected High-Scoring Games
Detroit Tigers at Chicago White Sox – After James Shields’ disastrous debut with the Chicago White Sox, it will be relatively easy to load up on Tigers’ bats in a hitter-friendly ballpark. While Shields likely won’t shut down the Tigers, it is unwise to take the small sample size of one start and project it further. Buy some hitters from Detroit, but exercise caution. The focus, instead, should be on Chicago’s lineup against left-handed Matt Boyd. The 25-year-old will be making his fourth start of the season, but the 16th of his career. Despite a current ERA of 3.38, his career mark is a cringe-worthy 6.41. After back-to-back games in which the White Sox tallied a single run, the potential for an explosion is incredibly high.
Targets: Chicago White Sox Hitters, then Detroit Tigers Hitters
Jerad Eickhoff – Jerad Eickhoff has been a favorite of this column since the start of the season, and his 3.68 ERA and decent strikeout rate has held up. His potential, as always, is somewhat limited by the success of his team – specifically the lack of run support – but he faces a Toronto lineup that continues to strike out at a surprisingly high rate – although it has crept lower, of late. Certainly a high risk-reward play due to Toronto’s power, Eickhoff has the potential to surprise on Monday night.
San Diego Padres Hitters – Rarely does a shift from the hitter-haven of Colorado to the historically pitcher-friendly ballpark of San Diego result in a recommendation for hitters. It does, however, present a noticeable discount on a night where options are rather limited. Most importantly, San Diego has not acted as much as a pitcher’s park as perception would hint, and it actually boosts left-handed hitter’s power. This may be negated against the southpaw Wei-Yin Chen, but the Padres’ bats should still be able to take advantage of his 4.56 ERA.
Ricky Nolasco and Minnesota Twins Hitters– Everything about Minnesota continues to be an absolute disaster, and Ricky Nolasco’s inconsistency is not without blame. He does, however, face an Angels team that had similar offensive woes in the early portion of 2016. The ballpark gives Nolasco a boost, and the Twins’ lineup should find success against Jered Weaver and his 5.56 ERA – 6.37 ERA over his last six starts.