Wednesday opens with a marquee showdown between the Astros and A’s. Although by far the most important matchup of the four afternoon games, it’s also a difficult one for DFS gamers to navigate. Dallas Keuchel and Trevor Cahill represent the day’s best starting pitchers in a vacuum, but they’re each facing a tough lineup. Both hurlers are also not bad enough to judiciously target those top hitters.
The nine-game evening tilt offers more variety and better pitching values. Yet it shuns David Price‘s 6:35 p.m. ET start against Miami, so there are no aces to play in either contest.
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Afternoon SP: Michael Fulmer ($14,900) at Kansas City Royals
Michael Fulmer returned from the disabled list to blank the White Sox over 4.2 frames on Friday. He accrued four strikeouts and saw his average fastball velocity climb to 96.5 mph. Catcher James McCann told The Athletic’s Max Bultman that it was “the best I’ve seen him all year.” He gets another feeble AL Central in the Royals and should get a longer leash than this 77-pitch comeback. Also, the afternoon alternatives are pretty bad.
Honorable Mentions: Joey Lucchesi ($14,400) vs. SEA; Erasmo Ramirez ($12,900) at SD
Evening SP: CC Sabathia ($16,700) vs. Chicago White Sox
There are more interesting evening options. I would have highlighted Zack Godley if not for yielding 11 runs in his last two starts and seven in two separate outings against the Giants. Generously priced after a rough trip to Coors, Miles Mikolas ($15,400) is a solid low-floor option. CC Sabathia is pricier than both of those pitchers, but no team strikes out more against southpaws than the White Sox (26.5 %). While skeptics will dismiss a 3.30 ERA because of his 4.24 FIP, he has generated his best swinging-strike (10.7%) and contact (77.1%) rates since 2014. His .299 xwOBA is the lowest of the evening’s slate’s starters, so trust the 38-year-old to churn out a strong start.
Honorable Mentions: Zack Godley ($16,900) at SF; Miles Mikolas ($15,400) at PIT
IF/OF Nicholas Castellanos ($8,900) at Kansas City Royals (LHP Danny Duffy)
Nicholas Castellanos is batting .408/.458/.633 against lefties. You may be thinking, “Oh, it looks like he made a typo and meant .308 for his batting average.” Nope. He’s also swinging a strong bat (.301/.356/.484) in August. For what it’s worth, I singled him out before realizing he has already staked Danny Duffy to a .528 slugging % in 38 plate appearances. The Royals lefty has relinquished a .346 wOBA to righties during a Jekyll and Hyde season, so it’s reasonable to expect more of the same.
Honorable Mentions: Rhys Hoskins ($8,900) vs. WAS (Gio Gonzalez); David Peralta ($8,700) at SF (Dereck Rodriguez)
IF Max Kepler ($8,400) at Cleveland Indians (RHP Adam Plutko)
Freddie Freeman at $8,700 is a gimme for the evening slate, so I decided to highlight a less obvious choice in Max Kepler. While supporters may wait forever for a true breakout, he’s slugging .491 with 10 homers since the start of July. The opposing Adam Plutko has posted a 5.09 ERA, 5.59 FIP, and 54.3 % fly-ball rate. Kepler, who carries career highs in fly-ball (45.2%) and hard-hit (39.1%) rates, is a strong candidate to go yard. So is Eddie Rosario, who merits a close look at $9,700.
Honorable Mentions: Freddie Freeman ($8,700) vs. TB (Diego Castillo); Michael Conforto ($8,300) at CHC (Alec Mills)
Value: IF/OF Trey Mancini ($7,500) at Toronto Blue Jays (Ryan Borucki)
This pick takes an extreme short view. Trey Mancini has gone 8-for-15 with four doubles, a triple, and two home runs in his last four games. That’s not enough to erase an underwhelming season, but he hasn’t seen the typical salary spike because of putrid results (.279 wOBA) against lefties. Righties are hitting .290/.358/.328 against Ryan Borucki, so take a cheap chance on the Baltimore outfielder staying hot at the Rogers Centre.
Honorable Mentions: Jay Bruce ($7,400) at CHC (Mills); Jose Martinez ($7,300) at PIT (Trevor Williams); Luis Urias ($5,600) vs. SEA (Ramirez)
Lineup Stack: Chicago Cubs vs. New York Mets (LHP Jason Vargas)
Jason Vargas is coming off his best outing as a Met on Friday, when he held the Nationals scoreless over six frames with a season-high eight strikeouts. That gem lowered his ERA all the way to 6.96! Righties are now only hitting a robust .309/.369/.566 against the soft-tossing southpaw.
- Javier Baez ($10,200): The obvious and expensive name, Baez boasts a .604 slugging % against lefties. He has also collected 16 hits (three doubles and homers each) during an ongoing nine-game hitting streak.
- David Bote ($8,500): You’re paying a premium for the matchup and Bote’s lefty raking (.428 wOBA) in a minuscule 42 plate appearances. Those factors should nevertheless at least earn him a start batting higher than ninth.
- Wilson Contreras ($7,400): He hasn’t homered since August 1, but Contreras has still fared well against lefites (.372 wOBA) during an underwhelming season.
- Albert Almora Jr. ($7,300): FantasyDraft rarely lets platoon gems go for a discount, so this price probably has more to do with his second-half slump. He’s still batting .343/.383/.486 versus southpaws and could temporarily take the leadoff duties away from Daniel Murphy.
Honorable Mentions: Twins and Indians (Plutko); Braves vs. Rays (Castillo)