Wednesday features a clash of former Cy Young Award winners in Seattle who are trending in opposite directions. Let's dig right into the daily notes for everything you need to know when setting your lineups with this full slate of games.
Back where he belongs? The numbers point in that direction as Justin Verlander has been outstanding since July 1, boasting a 1.85 ERA and 0.88 WHIP and fully supported by 57 whiffs to only eight walks in those 48 1/3 innings. To be fair, the Detroit Tigers veteran was pretty good before that arbitrary cut-off as well. The right-hander will be challenged by a formidable Seattle Mariners squad that has hit righties at an above-average clip, though it has scuffled for much of the past month. Verlander will cost, but he's the only elite option on the board in play for DFS, so long as you don't mind a road matchup with a former ace, Felix Hernandez.
It's no longer necessary to avoid using pitchers against the Kansas City Royals for fear of a low strikeout total, as the defending World Series champions have fallen on hard times, including a 23 percent strikeout rate when a lefty is on the hill for the past month. That's good news for Jose Quintana as he takes the hill in Kauffman Stadium. The Chicago White Sox southpaw has been consistently solid all season, almost always profiling as a DFS cash-game anchor. With an 8.0 K/9, he misses ample bats to take advantage of the Royals' reduced contact and can be deployed for GPP action as well.
An uncharacteristically high home run rate, fueled by a 16 percent home run per fly mark that's well above average, has bloated Scott Kazmir's ERA. Sure, there were some meatballs that fed into that, but there's also some bad luck as well. Kazmir draws the Philadelphia Phillies in a home affair that sets him up as one of the best plays on the board. The visitors tote the second-lowest home run rate versus lefties into Dodger Stadium while providing increased strikeout potential.
Conveniently ignore a disaster in Motown the last day of July, and Dallas Keuchel has tossed nine straight quality starts, registering an impressive 2.27 ERA with a tidy 1.03 WHIP. But of course we can't simply dismiss what happened when the Tigers laid a seven-spot on the Houston Astros lefty. A lower strikeout rate in tandem with a spike in free passes has rendered Keuchel more susceptible to the occasional blowup outing, especially when contrasted to last year's Cy Young campaign. Next up is the Minnesota Twins, one of the better teams in the league since July 1, sporting a productive .370 weighted on-base average (wOBA) versus lefties in that span. There's not a whole lot here to recommend for cash or GPP play, so fading Keuchel, in spite of a nice run that includes a complete game effort his last time out, is the sage play.
Confession time: Drew Pomeranz originally checked in with a projected game score of 58, second highest on the docket. The reason for the projection is two-fold. First, the southpaw has not pitched especially well since joining the Boston Red Sox while the formula is still drawing from the first-half success he enjoyed in the Senior Circuit. Second, the opposing New York Yankees have hit left-handers well the past month with a paltry 17 percent strikeout rate. Like Keuchel, Pomeranz is best left on the DFS sidelines.
Enough about which players not to use -- let's highlight a southpaw who sets up nicely for tournament action in which strikeouts are paramount. The Arizona Diamondbacks are sending Robbie Ray and his 11.3 K/9 to the Citi Field hill to take on the New York Mets. Ray can be nasty when he keeps the ball in the yard, which unfortunately has been an issue this season. That said, he'll hold the platoon advantage over the hosts' better power hitters, who'll be without Yoenis Cespedes.
Confession time, the sequel: J.A. Happ's original projected game score landed him in the streaming section, in large part because of a strikeout rate a few ticks below league average. However, with the Tampa Bay Rays and their 25 percent whiff rate against lefties heading north of the border, Happ's in a great spot to tack on a few extra punchouts and be in play for all styles of DFS action.
We'll close out the solid tier with another risky, but potentially fruitful, option. But before that, here's your daily reminder that I'll be checking the comments and monitoring my Twitter account @ToddZola for any questions pertaining to the day's schedule. So far this season, Blake Snell has surrendered just a pair of homers in 55 frames. Some of that is a fortuitous home run per fly ball pace, but batted-ball data suggests good pitching is also contributing. To wit, Snell is allowing more soft contact and less hard contact than the average pitcher. The Toronto Blue Jays will meet Snell at the corner of regression and skills for a tilt at Rogers Centre. There's enough swing-and-miss in the hosts' game to use Snell for tournaments, but that also could send his home run rate higher in a hurry. Not to mention, Snell will be opposed by Happ.
Seventeen of Wednesday's starters fall in the streaming range. However, there's a group of solid arms that barely made it. I'm starting Jeff Samardzija, Anthony DeSclafani, Jaime Garcia and Gio Gonzalez, with Garcia in play for DFS as he'll face a Cincinnati Reds lineup that offers increased strikeout potential.
Here are the better options with an ownership below 50 percent in ESPN leagues:
The old adage preaches good pitching will beat good hitting. But what happens when mediocre pitching meets pedestrian hitting? Ryan Vogelsong is worth a pickup to find out when the Pittsburgh Pirates welcome the San Diego Padres into PNC Park.
David Phelps makes his second start since entering the Miami Marlins' rotation, with his initial outing coming last week at Coors Field, where he held the Rockies scoreless in 4 1/3 innings. Facing the San Francisco Giants at Marlins Stadium won't be easy, but he appears stretched out enough to go five or six frames and should be able to escape serious damage.
Checking out the pitcher scheduled as it aligns with the Astros has become a Pavlovian-type ritual. Ervin Santana is Wednesday's winner and thus becomes the standard high-risk, high-reward option as the Astros continue to fan against right-handers at an elevated pace. However, their offensive prowess in that scenario has waned the past month, recording a rather vapid .295 wOBA. This makes Santana an option for DFS as well as a spot starter in seasonal leagues in which punchouts are needed.
Jeremy Hellickson's ESPN ownership is slowly increasing as he continues to get the job done, though at 38 percent it's still well below the threshold we set for inclusion on the space. Next up is the Los Angeles Dodgers for a road affair. The Phillies righty has routinely pitched at least six stanzas, rarely allowing more than three earned runs.
Chase Anderson's 2016 campaign has been disappointing. It's not like he profiled to be anything more than a back-end innings eater, but still, coming into the season it was expected Anderson would pitch well enough for the Milwaukee Brewers to be used in select spots. Well, those spots have been few and far between, but with a date against the Atlanta Braves on tap, the righty is in play for this Miller Park affair.
We have a trio of risky hurlers registering a game score in the "avoid" range, and I can't see a reason to override that. Joining Martin Perez, Ross Detwiler and Yovani Gallardo on the fantasy bench is Jorge De La Rosa. There are instances where using De La Rosa on the road can pay dividends. Facing the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park isn't one of them.
As implied by the pitchers to avoid, run scoring should be high at a couple of American League East venues. We'll get to those in a minute. Let's start with the slate's contrarian option, the Washington Nationals squaring off with Cleveland Indians' soft-tossing righty, Josh Tomlin. Tomlin is the type to thwart stacks, which is why this is contrarian. The Nationals' offense was on a roll until it ran into the tough Giants staff, but it should fare better against Tomlin and his 1.9 HR/9. Before locking Bryce Harper, check the lineups, as a sore neck had him on the sidelines the past couple of games. Daniel Murphy remains a stud with a righty on the hill, joined by Anthony Rendon, who's been hitting cleanup in Harper's stead. Adding to the contrarian nature of this call is most of the hitters don't have the platoon edge, like Rendon, as well as Wilson Ramos and Jayson Werth.
The home-and-home series between the Colorado Rockies and Texas Rangers shifts to Arlington, where offense is favored, though not as much as in Denver. The home team faces southpaw Jorge De La Rosa, putting right-handers Adrian Beltre, Ian Desmond and Jonathan Lucroy at the top of the list. Cheaper options include Ryan Rua and Delino DeShields. The travelers draw lefty Martin Perez, so their right-handed contingent also benefits. Nolan Arenado, Mark Reynolds, DJ LeMahieu and Ryan Raburn lead the way for the Rockies.
O.co Coliseum doesn't generally see many points, but with Yovani Gallardo facing Ross Detwiler, the scoreboard operator should be busier than normal. The Baltimore Orioles will face the recently summoned southpaw Detwiler to fill a void in the injury-riddled Athletics rotation. The guests are largely right-handed so this could get ugly. Adam Jones, Jonathan Schoop, Manny Machado and Mark Trumbo are in line to do most of the damage with Steve Pearce and Nolan Reimold in the mix. The home team will counter with Max Muncy, Stephen Vogt and Yonder Alonso having the platoon edge over the righty slants of Gallardo.
Most likely to hit a homer: Manny Machado
It's hard to imagine Detwiler keeping the ball in the yard. Every Oriole is in scoring position when they step into the batter's box, but let's call on Machado to stay hot in August.
Most likely to swipe a bag: Travis Jankowski
Jankowski has a very good chance of getting on against Ryan Vogelsong, and if he does, the Pirates' backstops are easy to run on, so he's the choice.