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Pitchers with the highest optimal probabilities: Robbie Ray, Dylan Cease
Robbie Ray enters tonight’s main slate as the top pitcher on our optimal board ahead of his matchup against the Los Angeles Angels. Ray has had an alright season in his first year in Seattle with some potential upside going forward as his expected ERA and FIP dip down to the 3.50-range from his actuals. The real upside we could see from him comes with his strikeout production, as his rate sits at 27.5%, and he has the ninth most strikeouts in baseball. He has already faced the Angels once this season, where he performed exceptionally well as he tallied double-digit strikeouts over seven innings while only allowing a single run.
A lot has been made about the Angels’ collapse, and that narrative only furthers after they managed to hit seven home runs in a game and still lose. They haven’t been that bad lately as they are in the middle of the pack in wOBA and wRC+ over the past two weeks with a top ten ISO ranking that certainly saw a significant boost given their performance last night. Most notably, they have only struck out about 22% of the time during that stretch, which is a big relief for them as there were a solid few weeks of them striking out about 30% of their at-bats. Ray is going to be reasonably affordable on DraftKings at $8,900 and is expected to see comparable ownership to our optimal probabilities, so there is value there given the reasonable ownership and Ray’s recent success against them. Beware, though, as the Angels’ offense is not as dead as they were a few weeks back.
Dylan Cease joins Ray at the top of the optimal board as he’ll face off against the Texas Rangers tonight. Over the past two months, Cease has been nothing short of phenomenal. Over a combined 63 innings through 11 starts, Cease has only allowed four earned runs en route to a 0.57 ERA. His strikeout production provides us a high upside play as he has a strikeout percentage near the top of the league at 33.3%. Ray doesn’t have the longevity of some of baseball’s other aces. Still, he can give you six dominant innings with several strikeouts, which he has done several times over the past two months and could be enough to turn optimal on most slates.
The Rangers don’t do anything too special offensively as they are a league-average offense and have been the same over the past two weeks. They strike out at a high rate which will give Cease an even higher upside than he already has. Part of the reason Cease does not have the greatest longevity is partly due to surrendering too many walks. There could be the potential for that to be limited tonight as the Rangers have a top three highest Swing% in baseball and the highest zone-swing% as well, giving us reason to believe that there is the possibility that Cease could see more batters and go deeper into the game. Cease is not expected to be too grossly owned as we currently have him for about a 30% projection on DraftKings. However, there is value to be had with this play, given Cease’s recent stretch of dominance and the possibility of the Rangers allowing him to go deeper into the game.