A full Wednesday of baseball supplies two FantasyDraft slates, but few lock-down aces. These recommendations focus on the evening’s 10-game tilt.
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Jack Flaherty has made three of his six starts against the Pirates, the third-hardest team to strike out. The rookie still has submitted 36 strikeouts in 34.1 innings on the strength of a 13-K gem against the Phillies. He also sports a 2.62 ERA and .296 xwOBA heading into Wednesday’s home start against the Marlins, who are still stuck at the bottom of MLB’s home-run and wOBA leaderboards. The matchup makes him a costly option, but still cheaper than Lance McCullers ($20,500) and Shohei Ohtani ($19,700).
Honorable Mention: Mike Foltynewicz ($22,400) at SD (afternoon)
This will either end in euphory or agony. There’s no compromise from Jon Gray, MLB’s ultimate Jekyll or Hyde starter. After allowing 19 combined runs in three starts, he rebounded to shield the next three opponents to one score. He has since reverted to ugly form, watching 13 competitors cross home plate in 13 innings. This volatility is reflected in his metrics. A 5.68 ERA is obviously awful, but a 3.15 FIP and 3.33 SIERA inspire hope. It’s not as simple as avoiding Coors; his erratic nature has produced a 4.36 ERA on the road. The only thing he has done consistently is pitch below predictive ERA numbers, so we can’t excuse the discrepancy as bad luck. Yet he still flaunts a higher upside than anyone else available at this price point. The Reds are also a manageable foe, so Gray is an especially intriguing tournament flier.
The Rockies are not playing at Coors, but facing Sal Romano at Great American Ball Park is almost as good. The rookie has allowed a symmetric 6.00 ERA in 60 innings, and he’s not fooling anyone with a 5.7 % swinging-strike rate. Lefties in particular have dismantled him to a .333/.412/.546 slash line. Dr. Evil could set the price on Charlie Blackmon if this game took place in Colorado, but the outfielder instead costs a fairly reasonable $10,200. Almost certainly a small-sample glitch rather than a new feature, he has smashed 11 of his 12 home runs on the road while posting a mundane .350 wOBA at home. While Coors transforms Blackmon into a superstar, a golden matchup away from the high altitudes can’t be ignored.
Before his annual second-half tear, Brian Dozier relishes the start of summer with a career .375 wOBA in June. So far, so good. He has set the table for another hot month by going 7-for-16 with two doubles, a triple, and a home run in four games. That still leaves him with a tame .247/.322/.433 line and one homer against lefties, but let’s trust his career success (.374 wOBA) heading into a savory matchup against Hector Santiago, who has conversely coughed up a .374 wOBA this season. Although he has fared worse against same-handed hitters (.418 wOBA), the southpaw has still surrendered a .542 slugging % to righties. Dozier is a steal at $8,000.
Dear White Sox, please play Daniel Palka. This pick requires careful monitoring, as a returning Matt Davidson could force them to play the defensively challenged Palka in the outfield. It’s a terrifying truth for the rebuilding team, but we just want to see someone sock a few dingers. The 26-year-old neophyte has netted a .555 slugging % in 115 plate appearances. He also boasts a 94.2 mph average exit velocity with 13 barrels. He’s rarely cheated at the plate, and Jake Odorizzi has generously dispensed two home runs in each of his last two starts. Opposing lefties have punctuated a .543 slugging % by taking the 28-year-old righty deep eight times. Let Trayce Thompson watch his brother play in the NBA Finals so Palka can awkwardly patrol right field, but make up for his shortcomings at the plate on Wednesday.
As much as I hate siding against Big Sexy, Bartolo Colon has ceded 21 hits and 15 runs (six homers) in his last three outings. This will read as sarcasm, but four walks over 15.1 innings is genuinely a lot for baseball’s sage veteran, who had previously issued four free passes in 51 prior frames. He has also struggled mightily at Texas, surrendering 10 long balls (four each to the Yankees and Red Sox) in seven home starts. While hardly perceived as an offensive dynamo, the A’s possess a .318 wOBA against righties that ties the Astros and Dodgers. Dustin Fowler ($8,200), who led off on Sunday, has already delivered three homers and four steals in 21 games. Revived from a cold start, Matt Olson ($8,400) has clobbered four homers in the past five games while reaching base in 18 of his last 21 contests. Batting .227/.314/.362 before that stretch, he has strengthened his slash line to .256/.337/.475. Khris Davis ($9,500) generates more power against righties, and a slumping Matt Joyce still warrants a look at $6,500 if back in the lineup.
Honorable Mentions: Braves at Padres (Diaz); Indians vs. Brewers (Chase Anderson); Rockies at Reds (Romano)