Several aces take the hill on Wednesday's full 15-game MLB slate, but are any of them worth using? We take a closer look at each of them and go over the best options on the mound and at the plate.
Corey Kluber's projected Game Score trails Chris Sale's by a point, but he gets top honors because of his matchup, as the Cleveland Indians and the Minnesota Twins continue a set in Progressive Field. That said, despite their recent losing ways, the Twins are still scoring runs. It's their pitching that has been suspect. In fact, Kluber gets the edge over Sale because he has a home game with Pat Dean as his mound opponent.
Just when it seems Sale's days of high strikeouts are history, he strings together five outings with 46 whiffs in 38⅔ innings. The return to dominance will be put to the test when the Chicago White Sox go into Comerica Park against the Detroit Tigers, who have the second-fewest strikeouts against left-handers in the past month. That, combined with drawing Justin Verlander as his mound foe, drops Sale behind Kluber in terms of DFS potential. That said, neither Sale nor Kluber profile as great DFS investments, especially in tournaments.
Verlander has a home date with the Pale Hose. Though the importance of the win in DFS varies in accordance with the format and site, Verlander profiles as the top cash game option on the docket. The White Sox are below average versus righties, giving Verlander a good chance of tossing seven frames for the 17th time in 28 outings.
David Phelps was a popular GPP pick last Friday night, and things were going swimmingly for three frames, until the San Diego Padres knocked him out in the fourth. Next up for the Miami Marlins' right-hander is a road affair in Citi Field against the New York Mets, who don't offer the same strikeout upside as the Friars. However, Phelps is still in play for GPP action.
Gio Gonzalez, on the other hand, sets up nicely for GPP deployment with a date in Citizens Bank Park against the strikeout-prone Philadelphia Phillies. The hosts sport one of the league's lowest weighted on-base average (wOBA) versus southpaws in tandem with a generous strikeout clip in this scenario.
Steven Wright had an odd return from the disabled list last week, really struggling early before getting it together and ending on a strong note with five scoreless frames. Next up for the Boston Red Sox knuckleball artist are the Tampa Bay Rays in Fenway Park. Normally, the opposition's strikeout rate is paramount to the analysis, but it might not be as applicable in this case. Wright has not faced the Rays, though R.A. Dickey has started three games against them with mixed success. As usual with knuckleballers, you either believe or you don't. Ownership on Wright is usually low, so he's a contrarian option, though some might see the Rays high whiff rate and go for it.
Felix Hernandez and Drew Smyly have been pitching well, but both are saddled with challenging road affairs. Hernandez leads the Seattle Mariners into Arlington, and Smyly and the Tampa Bay Rays draw the Red Sox. Consider them only as contrarian options.
We'll close out the solid section with the guy who fell one out short of a no-hitter in a 133-pitch effort: Giants lefty Matt Moore. Most will avoid him based on the high pitch count and because he faces the Diamondbacks, who hit lefties well in their hitter-friendly venue. However, the Snakes fan at a 23 percent pace versus southpaws, so this could be a chance to get Moore with low ownership.
New York Yankees rookie Luis Cessa has tossed consecutive six-inning efforts, each with five strikeouts and one walk. The Kansas City Royals are hitting better over the second half, but if you need a mid-week boost, Cessa should be safe to use without putting ratios in jeopardy.
Matt Wisler was a very popular acquisition in seasonal formats after stifling the Diamondbacks last time out. As someone who always seems to time Wisler's good and bad outings wrong, I snickered at the pickups. However, considering Wisler will take on the meek San Diego Padres and their 25 percent strikeout rate against righties, I can sign off on using the Atlanta Braves righty Wednesday. Not only that, since lefties give Wisler the most trouble and the Friars aren't especially strong from that side of the plate, I can see using Wisler in GPP play as opposed to stacking against him.
Bartolo Colon usually hovers near but doesn't surpass the 50 percent cut-off we use to highlight possible spot starters. He is at 40 percent heading into his meeting with the Miami Marlins in the Big Apple, and it should be higher.
St. Louis Cardinals rookie righty Luke Weaver might not go deep into the contest with the Milwaukee Brewers in Miller Park, but if you need some whiffs, Weaver's 9.6 K/9 meshes well with the host's 25 percent strikeout clip versus righties.
Ricky Nolasco is a below average hurler, but he doesn't beat himself with walks. When he's working at home in Angels Stadium, the runs-suppressing venue has him in play, especially against the below-average attack of the Cincinnati Reds.
Four arms with very risky matchups land in the avoid tier based on the projected Game Score of 45 or below. If you need some help gauging the risk of someone you're interested that isn't covered in today's notes, please ask in the comment section below or send a tweet to @ToddZola.
Maybe if Twins lefty Pat Dean were facing the Indians at home he'd be worth the risk, but he is a risk by the lake. The Tribe has assembled a solid lineup with platoons and switch-hitters that are effective against all pitchers.
Colorado Rockies rookie Jeff Hoffman's minor league numbers hinted he could be effective, even in Coors Field, and he might prove that correct. However, for now he still needs to prove it and is thus best left on the bench against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
On the other end of that matchup is Dodgers righty Ross Stripling. Although he has done a good job keeping the ball in the yard, he's too risky against the lefty-heavy Rockies lineup in Coors Field.
As hinted in the end of the pitching notes, there's a plethora of places to look for hitting. You'll want some exposure to Coors Field while filling in the blanks elsewhere. With Dodgers righty Stripling on the hill, Charlie Blackmon, David Dahl and Carlos Gonzalez are elevated for the home team with Gerardo Parra and Daniel Descalso in the mix. On the other side, Chase Utley, Corey Seager, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Reddick and Andrew Toles all enjoy the platoon bump over Hoffman.
The non-Coors stack with the highest exposure will probably be the right-handed contingent of the Houston Astros facing Oakland Athletics fill-in southpaw Ross Detwiler. George Springer, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Evan Gattis and Yulieski Gurriel make up one of the most daunting top six in the league.
Part of the allure of the Indians' lineup are three switch-hitters in play against all pitchers, namely Carlos Santana, Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez. With mediocre southpaw Dean on the hill, add Rajai Davis, Mike Napoli and Brandon Guyer to the list.
Matt Garza has had issues with lefties, so while the St. Louis Cardinals are predominantly right-handed, finding a spot for Matt Carpenter or Brandon Moss gets some exposure. Though, if you want to be even more of a contrarian, try incorporating the likes of Jedd Gyorko, Stephen Piscotty and Jhonny Peralta from the right side as their ownership will be low on a slate with so many great options.
Lastly, the Cubs are in play against almost every pitcher, let alone Vogelsong on the Wrigley Field rubber. Anthony Rizzo will be popular but as with the right-handed Redbirds, Kris Bryant and Addison Russell might have lower exposure than normal because they lack the platoon edge.
Most likely to hit a homer: Carlos Correa
The bigger challenge might be pegging which Astro hits more than one. Correa might not get multiple, but he has a good chance at knocking one out of Minute Maid Park.
Most likely to steal a base: Travis Jankowski
The Padres run as soon as they get off the bus. Look for Jankowski to continue to pile up the pilfers.