Wednesday brings us an 11-game main slate and viable pitching options at every pricing tier. We have some familiar names at the top, including a couple of superstars who’ve underwhelmed recently, but is now the time to get in on them? Let’s dig in. Questions about the slate? Find me on Twitter, @RyNoonan.
Top 5 Pitchers
|5||Masahiro Tanaka||Yankees||Blue Jays||$10,400|
1) Jon Lester – Cubs vs. Dodgers – $9,900 – – This will be Jon Lester’s 11th start this season, and just his second where he will be priced under $10,000. He hasn’t been quite as sharp this season as he was in his NL debut last year, but he still has elite swing-and-miss stuff and the Dodgers’ offense is scuffling against southpaws. Their .296 wOBA and 86 wRC+ isn’t something that we should avoid on Wednesday’s slate, and bodes well for Lester.
2) Max Scherzer – Nationals vs. Phillies – $13,200 – – The Phillies aren’t good, we know this. They’re among the bottom three in the league in wOBA, wRC+, and isolated power against right-handed pitching. They also strike out enough to allow Scherzer to reach his double-digit-K upside. The low ISO for the Phillies is an important stat that benefits Scherzer since he’s struggled with the long ball this season.
3) Chris Archer – Rays vs. Royals – $8,300 – – Another supposed ‘ace’ who’s struggled with home runs this season is Chris Archer. He’s been sporadic at best this season, and his command issues have led to a lot of hard-hit fly balls so far this season. The good news for Archer is that he’s still missing a ton of bats, his velocity looks to be fully back to 2015 levels, and his Wednesday night opponent has an isolated power rate that is closer to the Phillies than you’d expect.
Editor’s Note: Felix Hernandez has been scratched from his start tonight. James Paxton will start in his place.
4) Felix Hernandez – Mariners vs. Padres – $11,000 – – While I believe that $11,000 is a ridiculously high asking price for current-form Felix Hernandez, I have to take the entire package into context here. First, Felix has been exceptional at home throughout his career, and his opponent on Wednesday leaves a lot to be desired. The Padres have the league’s worst wOBA and wRC+ against right-handed pitching, and their 24.3% strikeout rate helps Hernandez’s cause considering his strike outs are down drastically this season. I don’t love the price, but you have to love the matchup.
5) Masahiro Tanaka – Yankees vs. Blue Jays – $10,400 – – Masahiro Tanaka is the diet version of Max Scherzer. Both have extraordinary stuff and miss a ton of bats, but both have trouble with home runs at times. The encouraging thing for Tanaka is his extreme ground ball rate (55%) helps mitigate that concern a little bit, and he’s been strong against right-handed bats since the start of 2015, allowing just a .275 wOBA against them. That’s worth noting since the Jays are right-handed heavy, especially in terms of power threats.
|7||Aaron Sanchez||Blue Jays||Yankees||$8,500|
6) Matt Shoemaker – Angels vs. Tigers – $7,100 – – Perhaps we’re seeing a correlation between the increased use of Matt Shoemaker’s split-finger fastball and his return to major league relevancy. After an excellent rookie debut in 2014, Shoemaker has been a human pinata, making trips to both the bullpen and the minor leagues along the way. After another minor league stint in early May, the Maker of Shoes is back and we need to take note. His swinging-strike rate is up to 13.2% on the season and he’s racked up 25 strikeouts in his last two starts. His fly ball tendencies could be a problem against a strong Tigers lineup, but their 23.1% strikeout rate against right-handers offers Shoemaker enough upside at just $7,100.
7) Aaron Sanchez – Blue Jays vs. Yankees – $8,500 – – If the Yankees are to do any damage against Aaron Sanchez on Wednesday, it’ll need to come from their left-handed bats. Sanchez has been flat out dominant against right-handed bats since the start of 2015, holding them to a wOBA of just .228. The Yankees enter play with an 86 wRC+ against RHP, and if Sanchez is able to keep his walks in check he’ll likely have a nice evening.
8) Mike Bolsinger – Dodgers vs. Cubs – $5,000 – – I don’t like the matchup here but you have to consider Mike Bolsinger because of his price. He’s priced like an outfielder, and misses enough bats to crawl into double-digit fantasy points for just $5,000. I wouldn’t feel good about it, but I don’t think it’s a terrible play because of the pricing.
“The Astros enter play with a huge 26.6 percent K-rate, something that pairs well on paper with Ray’s 10.4 K/9”
9) Robbie Ray – Diamondbacks vs. Astros – $8,900 – – I’d like to see Robbie Ray work deeper into games, but his strikeout upside against the free-swinging Astros is good enough to present some tournament upside here. The Astros enter play with a huge 26.6 percent K-rate, something that pairs well on paper with Ray’s 10.4 K/9. If he’s able to show strong command of his fastball early, he’ll likely have a solid day.
10) Michael Fulmer – Tigers vs. Angels – $7,500 – – Michael Fulmer’s underlying stats are much better than his 3.97 ERA would indicate, and he’s missing bats at an elite level so far this season. The sample size isn’t huge, but it’s worth noting. The problem here is that the Angels have the lowest strikeout rate in the league against right-handed pitching (15.7%), something that caps Fulmer’s upside on Wednesday.