MLB DFS: Patrick Sandoval, Brandon Woodruff Top Leverage Pitchers for Friday

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Pitchers seeing the most leverage: Patrick Sandoval, Brandon Woodruff

Patrick Sandoval is looking to be the pitcher with the most positive leverage of any arm on tonight’s slate as he goes up against the Texas Rangers. Sandoval has had a July to forget thus far. In four starts, he tallied a 7.11 ERA and four straight losses. If we ignore July, Sandoval had a 2.63 ERA through June as a reliable piece of the Angels’ pitching staff, leaving us with the hopes of a turnaround on the horizon. Even considering his recent struggles, he has limited power exceptionally well throughout the season with a 0.43 allowed HR/9, the best in baseball among all pitchers with a minimum of 80 innings pitched.

The Rangers offer nothing concerning at the plate, bringing average production and above-average power in July. Longevity is often a concern for Sandoval as he typically racks up his pitch count in a hurry, but the Rangers might help him keep it under control as they have the second highest Swing% in baseball this season. Sandoval looks to be an affordable option, projecting to see nearly a three-to-one ratio in optimal probability to ownership. Backing Sandoval here against an unintimidating offense that could allow for extended innings for Sandoval is a high upside play.

Brandon Woodruff also finds himself in a leverage situation as he faces the Boston Red Sox. Longevity concerns also ring true for Woodruff as they did for Sandoval since Woodruff has not eclipsed the six-inning mark yet this season. When Woodruff is priced at over $10000 on a loaded slate with no late-inning value available, it is almost sure to see him getting leverage. In that condensed time, we know we’re getting a great pitcher that posts strong xERA and xFIP numbers with elite strikeout production at 30%-plus. The usual question we are left with is whether or not Woodruff can turn optimal in six innings or less since that is all we have to work with. 

The Red Sox have not had a great two weeks as they have bottom five wOBA and wRC+ rankings during that stretch. They hold a top ten ISO ranking, giving us the sense that they could be in for more production, but the likelihood of that coming against a dominant pitcher like Woodruff is low. The key stat line that Woodruff needs to hit to have a chance at turning optimal is the full six innings of work with only a run given up ideally and about eight strikeouts. A lot needs to go right for Woodruff since it’s basically a lock that he doesn’t see the seventh inning, so if the price comes too much, avoiding him is understandable.