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Pitchers with the highest optimal probabilities: Max Scherzer, Carlos Rodon
Max Scherzer sits atop of the pitcher optimal board for tonight’s slate as he’ll face off against the Atlanta Braves. The Mets desperately need a vintage-Scherzer outing since they have dropped their last two games to their division rival while being outscored 18-1. In that time, their two starting pitchers combined for only four innings on the mound, so their bullpen is certainly gassed, and they could use seven innings of Scherzer tonight. Scherzer’s excellence does not need to be elaborated on, as his commanding strikeout production has not disappeared while he has the lowest HR/9 rate right now compared to any point in his career.
Atlanta has featured one of the best lineups all year, and their front office secured another foundational piece, Michael Harris II, to a team-friendly long-term contract. It’s been incredible to watch the front office fleece their own players. The team ranks in the top four in ISO, wOBA, and wRC+ over the past two weeks, which is in their usual range. Tonight will be Atlanta’s third time facing Scherzer this season. The righthander won the first two matchups given his combined 14 innings of dominance, where he only allowed a single run to go with 20 strikeouts. Atlanta’s eight-game winning streak and recent two-game surge paired with Scherzer being priced north of $11,000 on DraftKings have opened up a small leverage spot for Scherzer backers. This play could go either way, as fading this red-hot Atlanta team is difficult right now. Still, getting any leverage on Scherzer, especially against a lineup he already got the better of, is a value play we do not usually see.
Carlos Rodon is right behind Scherzer on the optimal pitcher board, matched up against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Rodon has put together a strong year in a season of underachieving for San Francisco, with his expected ERA and FIP sitting around 3.00. His strikeout production has not faded as it is sitting around 31% for the season and he has done well limiting the long ball. His HardHit% is slightly higher than expected, but given the low Barrel% this year, we do not view his low HR/9 rate as a fluke.
The Diamondbacks don’t offer too much offensively, but they have been better than their record suggests recently. Over the past two weeks, the D-Backs have been outside the top ten in ISO, wOBA, and wRC+ while striking out at the third lowest rate in baseball at 16.3%. That strikeout number doesn’t look too great for Rodon as we rely on high strikeout production for him to match his salary, and to make things worse, Rodon was horrible in two starts against Arizona already. Rodon surrendered nine runs over a combined 11 innings pitched, but he did register 17 strikeouts which didn’t matter given all the runs he surrendered. Rodon is priced at $10,800, and given his recent struggles against Arizona paired with their lineup’s recent production, it might be better off to fade Rodon in this spot. At that price tag, we look for as little risk as possible, and there are too many question marks around Rodon.