This would be a good day to consider the “Studs-and-Duds” strategy with your arms, mainly since there are no overpowering middling options that just absolutely jump out to me. This seems to be a theme with my last two pitcher rankings pieces, although there are still some decent values out there. The “Cream of the Crop” section is quite solid on this lovely Wednesday, so be prepared to spend a few extra bucks at the position to land a guy like Gerrit Cole or Chris Sale. Just hope that everyone else isn’t as prepared as you are to spend the big bucks. Good luck on Wednesday! Tweet me at your own risk: @TheRolyPolyBoy

Rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings MLB salaries for that day. The ordering is not based on highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by value of each pitcher.

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Cream of the Crop

1) Chris Sale @ Minnesota Twins ($12,600) – At some point you have to figure that Sale will slow down, but I don’t expect the Twins to stop him. Over Sale’s last six games, he’s hit double-digit strikeouts averaging 12.5 over each start. Plus, Sale has netted DFS owners 38.9 FPPG over the same period. Sort of puts things into perspective, eh? Even though you have to spend a mint to lock in Sale, he’s my No. 1 option on Wednesday – hands down.

2) Gerrit Cole vs. Cincinnati Reds ($10,500) – Cole has won his last six decisions, averaged 25.2 FPPG over his last 10 starts and has an incredibly low 1.78 ERA on the year. Argument could be made that Cole is having a Cy Young-season, although Max Scherzer certainly belongs in the conversation. Cole is my second favorite pitcher of the day, and I have no concerns over the $10.5 K price tag.

3) Jaime Garcia @ Miami Marlins ($8,800) – Opponents are only hitting .211 against Garcia to this point, while he’s kept the ball in the park for the most part only allowing two homers in six starts. Garcia draws the Marlins, who rank 24th in the league in runs scored and have issues with the long ball. What’s been Garcia’s success? He’s an extreme groundball pitcher with most of his putouts being grounders (66.1 GB%) or strikeouts, with a flyball out as a true rarity. Garcia makes my Top 5 on Wednesday.

4) Lance McCullers @ Los Angeles Angels ($7,700) – Since he got the call-up to the Big Leagues, McCullers has still only allowed ONE home run over seven games started; however, there has to be a minor concern with McCuller’s walk totals over his last two starts (7 BB given up), although the young rookie can certainly make owners forget about the walks with his ability to strike out hitters (46 K in 40.1 IP). McCullers has a decent shot of shutting down the Angels, who only have a .688 OPS as a team this season. Look for McCullers to stay on top of his out pitch, which is his magnificent curveball. Consider McCullers a slight value on Wednesday at $7.7 K.

5) Kendall Graveman @ Texas Rangers ($5,600) – Normally I don’t like suggesting pitchers that are headed into Texas to play the Rangers, but Graveman has been performing well averaging 23 FPPG over his last three starts. He is striking out hitters and keeping the walks at a minimum, while averaging over 7 IP a start over those three games. Graveman is a good value-risk play considering his current streak of starts. The funny thing? Graveman is 0-2 with a one no-decision over those three starts.

Middle of the Pack

6) Cole Hamels @ New York Yankees ($10,300) – The current Yankees hitters have hit 10 HR against Hamels over his career, although that’s in 225 total at-bats. A little perspective for you, right? Hamels tears up left handed hitters, only giving up nine hits all season in 21.1 innings for a .127 batting average against, so we’ll see the Yankees try to load the lineup with righties. Even so, Hamels won’t be an easy pitcher to face for the Yanks. I trust in Hamels, although he just misses the “Cream of the Crop” section.

7) Jordan Zimmermann vs. Atlanta Braves ($7,800) – Zimmermann is a different pitcher at home, where he’s got a 2.75 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in eight starts, compared to a 5.40 ERA and 1.61 WHIP on the road in six starts. The splits are quite drastic and I think we’re catching Zimmermann at a good time salary-wise. You’ve got a good mid-range play with huge upside in Zimmermann.

8) Nathan Karns vs. Toronto Blue Jays ($6,700) – Well, at least those monster Toronto bats have slowed down some, right? Well, maybe not. Still, Karns is an under-the-radar play for me, showing he can play with the big boys. Karns’ has averaged just a smidge over 20 FPPG over his last two starts, and you have to dig his K/9 rate (8.20) in 2015. For the salary, Karns is a nice risk even facing those Blue Jays’ bats.

9) Roenis Elias vs. Kansas City Royals ($7,400) – If not for a couple of stinkers this year, Elias would snag a few more DFS owners each start. If you’re like me, you’re worried about the 4.6 fantasy nights, or, worse yet, the negative-9.7 nights (6/14 @ HOU). The Royals rank as one of the worst in the league in home runs, but they do manage to score runs and get on base. In other words, the Royals can nickel-and-dime a pitcher into a rough night. The matchup worries me a bit with Elias.

10) David Hale vs. Arizona Diamondbacks ($4,800) – You gotta love what Hale gives you for $4.8 K. Dude has been shockingly good, from a DraftKings DFS perspective, netting a 14.6 FPPG average this season in five starts. Not bad for the price tag, and if you can get that average total in a “Studs-and-Duds” pairing with Chris Sale, for instance, then cha-ching! Hale is a good risk in the right circumstances, with the right pitching pairing or superstar hitting lineup. Respect to Hale and his K rate, although be warned: he does give up the long ball (7 HR in 30.2 IP over five starts this season).

11) Shelby Miller @ Washington Nationals ($8,400) – I’m not a fan of Miller going into Washington with the way he’s been pitching lately. Earlier in the year, Miller was much more efficient with his pitches as he went deep into games, but lately he is having issues, only averaging 5.75 IP over his last four starts. Miller’s strikeouts are down, and walks are up. Be careful with Miller, although I know you’re tempted.

12) Ian Kennedy @ San Francisco Giants ($8,100) – Kennedy has had a miserable run of things until recently, where he’s allowed only 2 ER over his last 13 IP. The price on Kennedy is a tad high for my tastes though, so he gets dropped in my rankings because of it; however, there is good news for Kennedy, as the Giants’ hitters are only hitting .239 against him in 251 at-bats. Even better? Kennedy has only given up two homers in those at-bats. Kennedy isn’t a bad arm to roster, just not the best value out there.

13) Wandy Rodriguez vs. Oakland Athletics ($6,000) – Rodriguez has pitched admirably for the Rangers, but his level of risk is too great even considering his salary. It’s not that I wouldn’t use Wandy, but it would have to be a lineup that I consider high-risk anyway. Meaning: a lineup that I wouldn’t normally expect to pay off, but that it could payoff big because of it’s high-risk contrarian choices.

14) Justin Verlander @ Cleveland Indians ($8,000) – Verlander needs to establish some consistency before I pay this kind of salary for him. In two games this season, since returning from injury, Verlander has given up 4 HR to hitters, while allowing 8 ER. Let him show you something before forking out the dough, even though his fastball seems to be humming (95 MPH). Verlander will get better, but it won’t be this start.

15) Carlos Carrasco vs. Detroit Tigers ($9,100) – Carrasco has lost some of the consistency he had a couple of weeks ago, so he’s not as playable as he was, especially at this price tag. Surprisingly, Carrasco has been much worse at home than on the road, thanks to a 5.06 ERA, which has ballooned due to his inability to keep runners off the basepaths (.295 BAA in Cleveland). I would shy away from Carrasco with the Tigers coming into town.

16) Mat Latos vs. St. Louis Cardinals ($7,100) – Another pitcher where the home/road splits are significant, with Latos miserable at home in six starts with a 7.90 ERA, while in five starts on the road he’s got a 2.89 ERA. Can I explain the vast variance? I’d like to think I can, but Latos has just been far too hittable in Miami, allowing 36 hits in 27.1 IP. Ugh. Plus, the Cardinals are one of the better hitting teams in the league. I’m passing on Latos.

17) Mike Bolsinger @ Chicago Cubs ($7,000) – Bolsinger has certainly fallen from his early-season successes, with 14 free passes given up in his last five starts. Maybe that’s not a horrible figure, but it’s not great either. I’m wishy-washy on Bolsinger, who is only averaging 11.3 FPPG on the road. I can’t find a reason to sell him into your lineup at $7 K.

18) Clay Buchholz vs. Baltimore Orioles ($7,200) – Two superb 35-plus point fantasy nights have falsely pumped up Buchholz’ FPPG average, but realistically I only expect a low-teen fantasy night out of Buchholz. Anything more than that is gravy. Buchholz just isn’t a favorite of mine, with hitters like Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones having good success against the Boston righty. I don’t have a ton of confidence here.

19) Phil Hughes vs. Chicago White Sox ($7,200) – Hughes doesn’t have much of a strikeout pitch this season. His K/9 rate shows a noticeable slip in 2015, compared to his previous three-season average. Hughes went from a 7.74 K/9 rate to 5.46 so far this season. Will he get better? It’s tough to say since hitters only have a .296 BABIP against Hughes, so there is reason for concern.

Rest of the Field

20) Kyle Hendricks vs. Los Angeles Dodgers ($6,600) – I’m indifferent towards Hendricks as a whole, but facing the Dodger bats pushes me way away. Like, way, way away. The wind, as of this writing, is blowing out to left-center field at 8 MPH in Wrigley, but don’t be surprised if that jumps up. Stay away.

21) Ryan Vogelsong vs. San Diego Padres ($6,200) – This may be your last chance to roster Vogelsong, with Jake Peavy due back soon. I guess the Giants could bump another starter, like Tim Lincecum, but that seems unlikely. Vogelsong has pitched better than not since claiming a starter’s role after Peavy went down, but he hasn’t done enough to hold the job without uncertain question. Vogelsong is a dangerous play, even coming off a 6.2 IP showing with zero runs allowed against the Mariners. The wind is blowing straight out to center field at 13 MPH (as of this writing), which obviously bodes well for all hitters on Wednesday.

22) Bartolo Colon @ Milwaukee Brewers ($6,900) – Inconsistency is Colon’s name these days, but that’s expected at this point in his career. The long ball has hurt Colon, giving up 13 dingers this season in 14 starts – not a good ratio. The home runs alone get Colon knocked down quite a bit in my rankings, but when you add that into his inconsistencies? You get a risky, risky play.

23) Jimmy Nelson vs. New York Mets ($6,100) – One good start out of his last four outings? You can do better than Nelson, who has given up 21 hits over his last two contests.  He’s in line to improve, or get better, whatever, but the Mets aren’t the team for Nelson to be getting right against.

24) Ivan Nova vs. Philadelphia Phillies ($7,000) – Nova gets a bit of a lucky draw facing the Phillies’ bats on Wednesday, so if you’re the brave type of DFS owner and don’t mind slotting a guy in after more than a year away from the Majors, then go for it. Me? I usually don’t throw pitchers right out in the first start after coming off Tommy John surgery, even facing bats as low as the Phillies.

25) Danny Duffy @ Seattle Mariners ($6,000) – Duffy’s shoulder injury is supposed to be a non-issue, but, again, I’m never thrilled about trotting a pitcher out there coming off the DL. Duffy has missed more than six weeks of play and was quite awful in his few starts before landing on the DL. Maybe it was because of the injury? It seems likely, although why risk things on Duffy?

26) Marco Estrada @ Tampa Bay Rays ($6,300) – Remember when Estrada was the trendy, popular pitcher that everyone knew was going to be a solid MLB starter? Sort of reminds me of another Brewers pitcher of yesteryear, Dave Bush, who never did bust out. Estrada will never be the wonder-boy arm we wanted to see, although he does offer some surprising value at home in Toronto. But, yeah, this game is in Tampa Bay, where the AL East 1st place Tampa Bay Rays reside. Estrada is going to need a big night to shut down the Rays, where he struggles on the road with a 9.9 FPPG average. I’m just not prepared to play into that risk.

27) Matt Shoemaker vs. Houston Astros ($7,400) – Current Astros’ hitters have tuned Shoemaker up pretty well, smacking a .390 AVG, 6 HR and 12 RBI in only 41 at-bats. Not good for Shoemaker, plus, you can find other options in this price range that will make you happier. Shoemaker’s strand rate, or LOB%, has really suffered this season compared to 2014, going from 75% to 65%. Yuck.

28) Bud Norris @ Boston Red Sox ($5,400) – Norris will only get better, moving forward and not in Boston. There’s no reason at all to stick Norris into your lineup. Even if you’re playing a “Studs-and-Duds” lineup with your pitchers, you can find a much better “Dud” than Norris.

29) Mike Leake @ Pittsburgh Pirates ($6,800) – Leake might be the most Jekyll-and-Hyde pitcher in the league this season, one that is an extreme matchup play.  But, he’s another pitcher that can’t keep the ball in the park (13 HR in 14 GS in 2015). Inconsistency, poor K/9 rate and too many homers given up keep Leake out of my lineups.

30) Allen Webster @ Colorado Rockies ($5,200) – This is a disaster waiting to happen. Sorry, but if you’re risking your lineup on Webster you deserve to take a beating; however, I will apologize in advance if you DO decide to roster Webster and you make me look like a fool. I have always had a liking for Webster, coming up through the Dodgers farm system, even before he was moved to the Red Sox, but smart DFS’ers will need to see more from the youngster before slotting him in facing the Rockies at Coors Field.

 

Tweet me at your own risk @TheRolyPolyBoy.