Wednesday may not contain the massive amount of aces that Tuesday's slate did, but Todd Zola advises focusing on a trio of elite pitchers for tonight's slate of games. Here we go.
This slate seems so anticlimactic after Tuesday's parade of aces. There are a trio that qualify, beginning with Francisco Liriano. The Pittsburgh Pirates southpaw is a tweener in that his ranking is match-up driven. It doesn't get any better than the toothless Atlanta Braves in PNC Park. Not only is Liriano at home in a pitcher's park, he's facing a club that fans at a generous 26 percent clip against lefties in tandem with an anemic 0.248 weighted on base average (wOBA). Still, even with the soft opponent, Liriano is a better DFS GPP play than cash option due to an elevated 5.2 BB/9 and 1.8 HR/9. The walks tend to cut his outings short, which is detrimental for cash reliability.
Johnny Cueto, on the other hand, is in an ideal spot for cash play. The San Francisco Giants right-hander's match-up is almost as favorable as the opposing San Diego Padres sport a healthy 25 percent strikeout rate and non-daunting 0.281 wOBA against righties. The contest is a road affair so Cueto loses the home field bump but Petco Park helps mitigate that. Furthering Cueto's cause is a penchant for going deep in to ballgames as he's failed to pitch at least seven frames only once in eight outings.
David Price rounds out the elite troika as he'll take the hill in Kauffman Stadium in the nightcap of a twin bill between the Boston Red Sox and Kansas City Royals. It's only one start but after tweaking his delivery, the results are favorable as Price averaged 94 miles per hour (mph) on his heater last time out versus the Houston Astros, compared to 91-92 previously. He's been carrying an excellent strikeout rate all season but exhibited the ability to dial it up when necessary, hitting 96 at times thus putting away more hitters with runners on base. The Royals don't whiff as much as the Astros but they're also not as potent. Comparatively, Liriano is a better GPP option while Cueto is a better cash choice. However, Price lines up as a swerve for both if you're looking for a contrarian play.
The mystery that is Rich Hill continues to confound. He's still throwing his fastball-curveball combination about 90 percent of the time though this season he's using a slider as the occasional third pitch as opposed to the change-up he employed last season. What's really remarkable is according to Pitch-FX data, his 90 mph heater is more effective than his curveball, suggesting he's still able to keep hitters off balance. Maybe this wanes as Hill passes through the league but for now, ride the wave. The Texas Rangers will be getting their first look at the Oakland Athletics southpaw as they visit O. Co. Coliseum. Hill's 4.1 BB/9 is a concern, putting the lefty more in line for GPP duty than cash play.
On the surface, Gio Gonzalez is having a stellar campaign, boasting a sparkling 1.93 ERA to go along with a 1.12 WHIP. However, a 4.12 xFIP suggests Gonzalez is due an ERA correction once his current 4.3 home run per flay ball percent regresses towards his career mark of 8 percent (which itself is well below average). It's also worrisome that Gonzalez fastball velocity is down two mph from last season. This puts him in the sell category if you can afford to spare pitching in seasonal formats. For this start against the New York Mets in Citi Field, the Washington Nationals southpaw is an intriguing tournament play. The home team fans at a bloated 27 percent pace against left-handers.
Though his match-up against the San Francisco Giants doesn't like up well for DFS purposes, Drew Pomeranz is an arm you want to acquire in seasonal leagues. It won't be easy as he's sporting an eye-popping 1.80 ERA, but this could mean his owner is looking to sell high. Obviously, like Gonzalez, Pomeranz's ERA is due a correction but it's all about the landing point. Presently, Pomeranz is carrying an 11.5 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9. If he can drop the walks without losing too many whiffs, a strong argument can be made for Pomeranz over Gonzalez for the rest of the season.
After surrendering a whopping 25 earned runs over his first 34 2/3rd innings this season, Justin Verlander has allowed just one his past two games, covering 15 frames. He's in a great spot to keep the roll going with a home date versus the Minnesota Twins on the ledger. The guests are fanning at an above average 23 percent clip against right-handers while toting a pedestrian 0.312 wOBA.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Milwaukee Brewers are hitting right-handers well as evidenced by a 0.337 wOBA in that scenario. On the other hand, they're whiffing at an elevated 26 percent clip against righties rendering John Lackey a viable GPP option as the Chicago Cubs visit Miller Park to take on the Milwaukee Brewers.
There's a plethora of arms that fall in the streaming class as defined by our projected Game Score as 20 are within the range of 46-52. Here's a look at the top options.
At some point a righty is going to incur the wrath of the potentially powerful Toronto Blue Jays attack but until then, above average right-handers like Jake Odorizzi are in play, even though the Tampa Bay Rays are on the road, visiting hitter friendly Rogers Centre. The hosts check in with a rather tepid 0.316 wOBA in tandem with an above average 23 percent strikeout rate versus righties. Odorizzi totes a 7.3 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 north of the border.
Brandon Finnegan has undergone the standard trials and tribulations of a young hurler, unfortunately with more valleys than peaks as of late. Despite facing the Cleveland Indians in Progressive Field, thus having to deal with a designated hitter, the Cincinnati Reds southpaw is in play for a spot start as the Tribe is weak against lefties as demonstrated by a 0.291 wOBA and 22 percent strike out rate in these conditions.
Though he's struggled at home so far this season, R.A. Dickey generally pitches will in the Rogers Centre so he's viable against the Tampa Bay Rays. Strikeout rates may not be as telling versus knuckleball artists but for the record, the visitors are punching out at a 26 percent pace against righties.
Mike Clevinger will be making his Major League debut for the Cleveland Indians. The 25-year old right-hander is off to a decent, but not overwhelming start at Triple-A Columbus, fanning 36 but walking 17 in 35 2/3rd innings. The opposing Cincinnati Reds don't pose too much of a threat, checking in with a 0.299 wOBA and 23 percent strikeout rate against righties. The weak offense combined with the unfamiliarity factor render Clevinger a streaming option.
Chris Tillman has tossed at least six stanzas his last five outings, fanning 36 over those 33 frames, though with a rather high 15 free passes. Still, he's worth a start at home against the Seattle Mariners.
There are several borderline calls including Ricky Nolasco visiting Detroit, Mat Latos facing Houston, Martin Perez at Oakland, Jimmy Nelson against the Cubs and Nathan Eovaldi in the desert to square off with the Diamondbacks. The only automatic sit is Chris Rusin in Busch Stadium against the St. Louis Cardinals.
This lines up as a slate to look for individual hitters or a pair of teammates in a good spot as there aren't many places to land for a traditional DFS tournament stack. The hitting ratings give the nod to the Detroit Tigers with Ricky Nolasco taking the hill in Comerica Park. While the Minnesota Twins right-hander is hittable, he doesn't hurt himself with walks and carries a strikeout rate of 7.5 K/9, good enough to be dangerous. His troubles are with the long ball, being equally philanthropic to lefty and righty swingers. Ian Kinsler, J.D. Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Nick Castellanos are the primary targets with Justin Upton a tournament dart considering how much his price has dropped.
The way the Boston Red Sox are swinging the bat, they're in play against Ian Kennedy under the lights. Keep an eye on the lineup since Boston will likely get everyone some action as they and the Kansas Cit Royals are playing a pair of games on Wednesday. It's fairly certain David Ortiz, Travis Shaw, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Brock Holt will be playing as they'll have the platoon edge over the Royals righty.
The St. Louis Cardinals sport a below average strikeout rate versus southpaws so they lack the normal oomph desired for a stack but they can keep the line moving with right-handers Stephen Piscotty, Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina and Almedys Diaz the chief beneficiaries.
Jeremy Hellickson has been hard to figure out, especially at home in Citizens Bank Park. The Miami Marlins lefty swinging Christian Yelich and Justin Bour are an intriguing duo in case the lesser version of Hellickson shows up.
Most likely to hit a home run: Kauffann Stadium isn't the best venue for a power hitter but that won't stop David Ortiz from taking Ian Kennedy out of the park.
Most likely to steal a base: Jimmy Nelson is notoriously poor at controlling the running game so look for Jason Heyward to take advantage,