The Senior Circuit is in the spotlight on an ace-filled Wednesday, as four contenders for the National League Cy Young award are atop the rankings. At the other end of the spectrum, there isn't a single pitcher in the automatic avoid tier. This leads to a wide-open DFS slate with very little chalk. Seasonal owners looking for a midweek pitching pick-up are not so lucky, with a thin group of possible spot-starters. No matter what format you play, there's something for you in Wednesday's daily notes.
Since the projected Game Score algorithm was reworked earlier in the season, the number of scores in the 70s are few and far between. Madison Bumgarner earns that rare distinction with a home date against the club that fans more than any other with a lefty on the hill. AT&T Park is host to the series finale between the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres. Adding to the goodness for the 27-year-old southpaw is the fact that over the past month, the Friars sport the third-worst weighted on base average (wOBA) in the league versus left-handers. Bumgarner's first two September starts featured 19 punchouts in 12 innings. Look for another huge strikeout game in his third effort this month.
The Miami Marlins plan to continue to give the ball to Jose Fernandez, so long as they're still in the playoff hunt. Granted, they face an uphill battle with an injury-riddled rotation and sit five games out of the second wild-card spot, but they aren't mathematically eliminated, so the innings limit rumored to be imposed on their prized righty is on hold. Next up for Fernandez is a road affair at Turner Field against an Atlanta Braves club that boasts the sixth-best wOBA in the league against righties the past month. They're the toughest team to fan in that span, so on paper, this is a sneaky tough matchup for Fernandez. Obviously, his seasonal owners need not be worried, but from a DFS points per dollar basis, Bumgarner is the better investment.
Astute readers recognize the asterisk next to Clayton Kershaw's projected Game Score as an author override. Originally, the Los Angeles Dodgers lefty nestled between Bumgarner and Fernandez. However, Kershaw will likely be on a pitch count. Still, 90 or so pitches from Kershaw are better than a full outing from most, right? Maybe, but that isn't better than Fernandez, so he was flip-flipped with the Marlin in the rankings. In his return from the disabled list, Kershaw tossed 66 pitches with 46 strikes in three frames. He whiffed five with no walks, but Miami touched him for five hits and a pair of runs. Kershaw draws the New York Yankees in his follow-up, and the Dodgers close out an interleague set in the Bronx. Normally, Kershaw would be in a great spot, as he holds the platoon edge over the left-handed hitters and experience advantage over the young righties, but the likely pitch limit reduces the impact. Kershaw is capable of ringing up a bunch of hitters in limited innings, so if you play multiple lineups, it can't hurt to have some exposure to the lefty.
Based on the above reasoning, it follows that I like Kershaw more than the next arm on the list, Jon Lester. Truth be told, that's a close call, primarily due to the opposing St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. If it were any other team or if the game were at Wrigley Field, the story would be different, and the increase in Lester's projected Game Score would likely do the work for me. Here's the issue. Over the past month, no one has hit southpaws harder than the Redbirds, who have recorded an impressive .401 wOBA and otherworldly 7 percent home run rate in that span. On the other hand, they've whiffed at a 24 percent clip, so if Lester is on his game, he has the chance to rack up the strikeouts, and that makes him a GPP option.
Michael Pineda remains a huge enigma, displaying outstanding peripherals but recording high pitch counts that force him out of games early. It will be interesting to see who goes deeper into the game: Pineda with no pitch count or his mound foe, Kershaw, on the aforementioned limit. The Yankees righty takes on a Dodgers club that is extremely patient and gets to use a designated hitter. Because Pineda has big strikeout upside, it's worth some exposure, but if you play just one or two lineups, there are better options.
More often than not, Tanner Roark checks in as better for cash than GPP play, and today is no exception, with an NL East tilt against the New York Mets at Nationals Park on the docket. The visitors have revamped the lineup versus right-handers, and it has paid off, but if you need a cash play, Roark is viable.
Carlos Martinez is in a tough spot, as he faces Lester and a dangerous Chicago Cubs offense. However, the St. Louis Cardinals righty will be at home at Busch Stadium, and there's sufficient swing-and-miss in the visitor's lineup to use Martinez as a contrarian GPP selection.
A lot has been written about the huge splits demonstrated by the Baltimore Orioles; they're one of the worst clubs versus lefties and the best against righties. After facing a couple Boston Red Sox southpaws at Fenway Park, the visitors draw right-hander Rick Porcello for the finale. Normally, Porcello is a cash game stalwart, as he routinely hurls seven frames with adequate strikeouts and is the game's only 20-game winner to date. However, the risk of facing the powerful Orioles takes Porcello out of cash game consideration, and for the price, there are better GPP options.
Julio Teheran has a tough draw facing Fernandez, but he should be able to keep the Atlanta Braves in the game against the sliding Marlins offense. Still, for the cost, there's little to support using Teheran in DFS.
It's a very deep solid tier, with eight options still on the board. Of the group, Marco Estrada profiles as the best GPP play, and Hisashi Iwakuma lines up as the top cash-game option. If you'd like additional analysis on them or anything germane to Wednesday's slate, please post your question in the comments section or send a tweet to @ToddZola.
The remaining 12 hurlers fall in the streaming range. We'll start with Sean Manaea making his first start in September, after he spent the first half of the month on the disabled list because of a sore back. There's some risk, as the opposing Kansas City Royals have hit southpaws well lately, but the Oakland Athletics left-hander was throwing well before he got hurt and will enjoy a platoon edge over a couple of the Royals' better hitters.
It might be a little early in the week to chase wins, but if you sneak in a couple now, you might not need to take chances later. Anibal Sanchez is available in 79 percent of ESPN leagues and is in a good spot to pick up a victory with Tyler Duffey and the Minnesota Twins visiting Comerica Park. The visitors have cooled a bit, while Sanchez should get decent run support.
With the caveat that Tim Adleman hasn't tossed more than six frames in his nine starts, he has allowed more than three runs only once. Combine that with the Cincinnati Reds entertaining the Milwaukee Brewers, and Adleman should be safe for some innings and strikeouts against an offense near the top in terms of strikeout rate.
Opposing Adleman is Junior Guerra, another streaming option, but beware the Reds have hit righties hard the past month. Guerra hasn't pitched as well as his 2.96 ERA might indicate, demonstrated by a 3.74 FIP and 4.26 xFIP, but we're getting to the point of the season where we can be less picky.
A couple of late pitching changes have added some risk to the slate. Jhoulys Chacin lands in the automatically avoid range. In addition, as a harbinger for the hitting notes, Derek Holland joins Jeff Hoffman and Rubby De La Rosa re as extremely risky.
Part and parcel to a strong pitching ledger is fewer teams with favorable hitting conditions. In fact, no offense rates higher than 7 on our scale, which is highly unusual. We'll cover the three clubs landing at 7, along with a 6 for good luck.
Chase Field is obviously not Coors Field, but it is pretty sweet for hitters. The Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks hook up in the desert with Jeff Hoffman taking the ball for the guests. The rookie righty has struggled in his four starts. He sports a 5.60 ERA and 1.81 WHIP, which includes his being charged with no earned runs the latest time out, as all seven Padre tallies went in the books as unearned. The Snakes have faced three straight southpaw starters, so Jake Lamb and Socrates Brito will be pleased to face Hoffman. Jean Segura, Paul Goldschmidt and Welington Castillo are all threats, despite lacking the platoon edge.
The Colorado Rockies are the club registering the team total of 6, but that features a 10 rating for lefties against righties, which puts Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez, David Dahl, Raimel Tapia and Daniel Descalso in the spotlight against Rubby De La Rosa.
Joe Musgrove's initial foray in the bigs has been a mixed bag. The biggest issue for the Houston Astros righty has been the long ball. The Texas Rangers have several sluggers capable of taking advantage, led by the rejuvenated Carlos Gomez along with Ian Desmond, Carlos Beltran, Adrian Beltre, Rougned Odor, Jonathan Lucroy and Mitch Moreland.
We'll close out with another unit registering a perfect 10, the right-handed contingent of the Detroit Tigers as it squares off against right-hander Tyler Duffey. Right-on-right matchups often get overlooked, but because Duffey has served up 17 of his 23 homers to righty sticks, Ian Kinsler, Miguel Cabrera, J.D. Martinez and, if his calf allows, Justin Upton are too good to ignore.
Update: The late pitching changes have put a couple more offenses in favorable DFS spots, especially since in both cases a lesser pitcher throwing with the opposite hand is the substitute. Houston Astros righties were likely priced down for Yu Darvish but now draw lesser lefty Derek Holland. Similarly, Seattle Mariners lefty swingers were originally scheduled to face southpaw Tyler Skaggs but will now square off with Jhoulys Chacin followed by some weak bullpen arms.
Most likely to hit a homer: Miguel Cabrera
Based on the previous paragraph, picking a masher from Motown feels right. Cabrera has eclipsed the 30-home run mark for the first time since 2013 and is in a great spot to keep it climbing.
Most likely to steal a base: Jonathan Villar
The Milwaukee Brewers are running away with the team stolen base title, and Villar is largely responsible for that. Why stop now?