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Pitchers with the highest optimal probabilities: Max Scherzer, Carlos Rodon
Max Scherzer takes the crown as the top pitcher on our optimal board for tonight’s slate as he prepares to face the Philadelphia Phillies. Scherzer has put together another dominant campaign for the Mets with a sub-2.00 ERA and a strikeout percentage of roughly 32%. He features a 0.90 WHIP along with his allowed HR/9 being at the second lowest point of his career. There is a minor concern as his expected ERA and FIP rise to about 3.00, and his allowed Barrel% is considerably high at nearly 10%, but at the end of the day, this is still Scherzer, so he has earned some level of trust.
The Phils have had a great last two weeks as they enter their most pivotal series to date this year. They have won 12 of their last 14 games and have ranked in the top four in ISO, wOBA, and wRC+ while having the third lowest K% over the past two weeks. Tonight will be the Phillies’ fourth time facing Scherzer this season, and they have faired better than most. Scherzer has only allowed three or more runs three times this season; two of those three occasions were against the Phillies. Given that the Phillies see the ball reasonably well from him and their recent surge, this could be a fade scenario given the high expected ownership of nearly 50% and a salary of $10,900 on DraftKings. Keep a look out for Kyle Schwarber’s availability as the day unfolds as he is a key piece of the Phillies’ machine who went down to injury last night.
Carlos Rodon joins Scherzer near the top of the optimal board ahead of his game against the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight. Rodon has put together a strong season atop the Giants’ rotation, including a nearly 31% strikeout rate and a sub-3.00 ERA. His expected ERA and FIP are both better than Scherzer. Rodon has done an exceptional job limiting power as he has the fifth-best allowed HR/9 among all qualified pitchers. His best start of the season came against the Pirates, where he went eight scoreless innings while only allowing two hits and tallying eight strikeouts.
The Pirates have no resemblance to a good baseball team and have struggled offensively throughout the season. Over the past two weeks, they have ranked in the bottom six in ISO, wOBA, and wRC+ and have the second lowest Barrel% at 4.1%. In comparing both Scherzer and Rodon, both have comparable optimal probabilities and expected ownership, while Rodon is only $300 cheaper on DraftKings. Rodon gets to face a much weaker offense while Scherzer will face one of baseball’s hottest teams. Even though expecting regression from Max Scherzer might be getting nit-picky, his expected ERA and FIP both have a concerning increase over his actuals, and that Barrel% of his is way too high for a pitcher of his caliber. Siding with Rodon, who gets to face a team he has already dominated this season, feels to be the safer play, with both Scherzer and Rodon having fairly similar ceilings.