You never know what you'll see. Normally, that's a broadcaster's go-to when something odd happens during a ballgame. On Wednesday, it pertains to the schedule. Not only are there a pair of seven-inning twin bills, the respective clubs will flip-flop serving as the home and away teams. To help limit confusion, the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies will play a pair in the City of Brotherly Love while the Baltimore Orioles and Miami Marlins will meet about 100 miles down Route 95 South in Camden Yards.
Starting batters in doubleheaders poses a conundrum. Normally, it's a no-brainer since you're almost assured of one game with a chance at more. Now, there's risk if the batter only plays one, as he's in danger of receiving three, or perhaps even just two chances if he hits lower in the order and the home team wins the game.
Here are Wednesday's picks to click, with everyone available in at least half of all ESPN leagues.
Sean Newcomb (L), rostered in 10% of ESPN leagues, Atlanta Braves vs. Toronto Blue Jays: Newcomb is coming off a rough outing against the Mets in which he lasted just 4⅓ innings, allowing a generous six earned runs on six hits, two of which left the yard. If last season's Statcast numbers are an indication, the young lefty is due for an uptick. His fastball velocity is above average while the spin rate on his curve is 92nd percentile. The Blue Jays tote one of the least patient lineups in the league, something a veteran signal-caller like Tyler Flowers can exploit.
Alex Cobb (R), 7%, Baltimore Orioles vs. Miami Marlins: Let's address the elephant in the room. Matchups should consider variables such as strikeout potential and run prevention. However, while the Marlins returned to action on Tuesday, their timing can't be right after such a long layoff. That said, Cobb was likely going to get the nod, regardless. The oft-injured veteran opened his season with a dominating effort against the Red Sox before a sluggish outing against the Rays. Still, it appears Cobb's changeup is close to pre-injury form, boding well for the rest of the season.
Randy Dobnak (R), 4%, Minnesota Twins at Pittsburgh Pirates: Dobnak has been filling in admirably for Jake Odorizzi, allowing just one earned run in nine frames. With Rich Hill sidelined, Dobnak remains in the rotation, drawing a middling Pirates offense in pitcher-friendly PNC Park.
Asher Wojciechowski (R), 1%, Baltimore Orioles at Miami Marlins: While Cobb deserves a start on his merits, Wojciechowski benefits from facing a lineup not at 100 percent. The 31-year-old right-hander's first outing was a mixed bag as he fanned seven Yankees in five innings. However, he also surrendered three long balls. Remember, even though Baltimore is the away team, the contest will be played in Camden Yards.
The pair of doubleheaders avails several opportunities to capture a save or two. Aroldis Chapman remains out for the Yankees, leaving Zack Britton to close things out. Britton is available in only the shallowest of leagues, though Adam Ottavino is likely ripe for the taking and a good speculative option. Even better are Cole Sulser and Brandon Kintzler, closer of the Orioles and Marlins, respectively. Susler is particularly intriguing if the Marlins being rusty narrative comes to fruition.
For the latest team-by-team closer situations, please consult our Closer Chart.
Projected game scores
Catcher -- Travis d'Arnaud (R), 38%, Atlanta Braves vs. Toronto Blue Jays (LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu): It's reached the point d'Arnaud is automatic with a lefty on the hill. The slugging backstop usually hits fifth or sixth, higher than most catchers deployed for a spot start.
First base -- Brandon Belt (L), 5%, San Francisco Giants at Colorado Rockies (RHP Jon Gray): Belt has lofted a career 44% fly balls mark. In many cases, this fuels a high home run total. At Oracle Park, it's been a detriment, leading to outs and a low average. However, fly balls are a good thing in Coors Field.
Second base -- David Bote (R), 3%, Chicago Cubs at Kansas City Royals (LHP Kris Bubic): Bote and Jason Kipnis have been a productive keystone duo in the early going. While it doesn't appear to be a strict platoon, Bote should get the nod with a southpaw on the hill. Bubic is a good pitching prospect, but the 22-year-old southpaw debuted in the majors without having thrown a pitch above High-A ball.
Third base -- Marwin Gonzalez (S), 13%, Minnesota Twins at Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Trevor Williams): It used to be Gonzalez was a great pathway to a piece of a productive Astros lineup. The idea is the same, but the uniform is different. The Twins also move Gonzalez around so while it's not a sure thing, he's likely to be in the lineup.
Shortstop -- Jon Berti (R), 12%, Miami Marlins at Baltimore Orioles (RHP Alex Cobb): As mentioned, it best be almost definite a guy will play both ends of a doubleheader. Berti's ability to play almost anywhere makes him a good bet to at least appear in both games, with a decent chance to do some running.
Corner infield -- Renato Nunez (R), 49%, Baltimore Orioles at Miami Marlins (Undecided): The argument for Nunez playing both ends is weaker, but as the primary designated hitter, he has a good chance of playing in the opener and nightcap. The other attraction is the Marlins pitching is probably going to be subpar and Nunez has the power to take advantage, even in a shortened game.
Middle infield -- Kevin Newman (R), 42%, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Minnesota Twins (RHP Randy Dobnak): Newman is off to a slow start, though he's been snakebitten by a .192 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) through Monday's games. His 15% strikeout rate is still excellent. The batted balls will find holes soon enough.
Outfield -- Hunter Renfroe (R), 49%, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox (LHP Martin Perez): Other than a two-homer game against the Braves, Renfroe's bat has been quiet. That said, he historically hits left-handed pitching with authority and there's a reason Perez is tied for the lowest-ranked pitcher on the slate -- he's not very good.
Outfield -- Aaron Hicks (S), 39%, New York Yankees at Philadelphia Phillies (RHP Zack Wheeler): Here's the last batter chosen in one of the doubleheaders. A switch-hitter has obvious advantages, as does being the best center fielder on the roster.
Outfield -- Robbie Grossman (S), 2%, Oakland Athletics vs. Texas Rangers (RHP Kyle Gibson): Oakland is known for its platoons and riding the hot hand. Grossman has cooled off, but is still a threat, especially in points or on-base leagues.
Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's past history (three years' worth as well as past 21 days) as well as ballpark factors. "LH" and "RH" ratings account only for left- and right-handed batters, respectively. Weighted on-base average (wOBA) is the primary statistic used in the calculation. Ratings range from 1-10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. So, for example, a 10 is a must-start rating, while a 1 should be avoided (if possible); a 1-2 is poor, 3-4 is fair, 5-6 is average, 7-8 is very good and 9-10 is excellent. A "*" means that the pitcher lacks requisite career major league data to produce an accurate hitter rating; these are the author's ratings.