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What you need to know for Wednesday's MLB Games
By Todd Zola
As is the norm this season, Wednesday's slate features several getaway matinees. This time, action gets underway at 12:30 PM ET in the Steel City with the Rangers and Pirates wrapping up an interleague set. Both Texas starter Martin Perez (28.9% rostered) and Pittsburgh starter Johan Oviedo (9.6%) are widely available but aren't trustworthy streaming options. Perez is a great example of the patience exhibited by the Regression Monster. Sometimes he strikes quickly but other times he waits. Last season, Perez benefited from a low home run rate that escaped correction. Granted he helped it with a high ground ball rate, but a 6.5% home run per fly ball mark was the driving force. This season, Perez's undoing has been an equally unlucky .338 BABIP. In terms of fantasy, his low strikeout rate is an inefficient use of starts in leagues capping the number of starts permitted per week. Oviedo is a bit more dominant than Perez, and has teased fantasy relevancy, but he's still too inconsistent with control, and the Ranger sport the highest scoring offense in MLB.
It's too early in the fantasy week for some to incur risk, but for those sensing they'll need a boost, there are signs Michael Kopech could be figuring things out, specifically with his control. That said, he walked six hitters two starts ago, but in two of his last three outings, he issued just one free pass. Last time out, Kopech fanned 10 while issuing no walks. He'll face the Guardians on Wednesday. On one hand, Cleveland's lineup is tough to punch out, but they have been easier in that regard lately. Admittedly, it's a risk, perhaps best suited for a GPP starter in DFS action, but there is a pathway for Kopech to rack up fantasy points.
Oakland starter Ken Waldichuk also profiles as a high risk, high reward option. He's ranked sixth in terms of ESPN fantasy points today while landing 12th in my rankings for 5x5 scoring. This may seem high when considering his 6.85 ERA and 1.85 WHIP, but both ranking systems are formula driven. The perceived high ranking emanates from Waldichuk's peripherals falling short of expected, but 44 innings isn't enough to ignore initial, rosier expectations. Furthermore, Wednesday's foe, the Mariners, have been poor facing left-handers, with a high 26.7% strikeout rate and an impatient 7.9% walk rate. The walk rate is key as Waldichuk's main problem is issuing too many free passes. Like Kopech, this has more of a feel of a desperation Sunday play for fantasy, but a viable GPP candidate for a GPP lineup.
Speaking of impatience, we're three paragraphs in and those hoping for some safer streaming advice are still waiting. The ledger's top candidate is James Paxton who will take the hill in Anaheim. Long term, Paxton's health remains a concern, but he's pitched well in his two starts this season, fanning 14 with just three walks in 11 stanzas. The Angels hit lefties well, but Boston has been even better, so they should provide Paxton with run support with the Halos sending southpaw Tyler Anderson to the hill.
Zack Greinke may not be missing many bats, but he's not missing the strike zone much either as he's whiffed 14 with only one base on balls over his last four starts, spanning 21 1/3 innings. The veteran will face the Tigers in Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday. Detroit sports the third lowest wOBA with a righty on the hill.
Jorge Soler (19.2%) is an intriguing pick-up. The Marlins will play the third game of their four-game set in Coors Field. While Soler lacks the platoon edge on Wednesday, lefty Kyle Freeland is slated for Thursday's finale. Plans are always subject to change, but currently Soler and the Marlins are ticketed to face southpaws Reid Detmers and Patrick Sandoval in Anaheim on Friday and Saturday. So far this season, Soler has clubbed seven of his 12 homers with a lefty on the hill. Since 2021, 25 of his 52 long balls have come with the platoon edge, despite facing left-handed pitching only 25% of the time.
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Starting pitcher rankings for Wednesday
Bullpen usage watch for Wednesday
By Todd Zola
Ryan Helsley made it interesting last night, but he escaped with his sixth save. Manager Oli Marmol summoned Helsley to protect the Cardinals three-run lead over the Reds, even though Helsley had thrown 23 pitches on Monday. Helsley retired the first two hitters, then loaded the bases on a hit and two walks. Fortunately, the St. Louis closer induced Jonathan India to ground out, but he required a total of 27 pitches to get through the inning. Working two straight games while throwing 50 pitches certainly has Helsley watching tonight's game from the bench. Backup closer Giovanny Gallegos has also pitched in back-to-back games, though he used only 26 pitches. That said, Gallegos has tossed 80 pitches over the past week, so he's likely joining Helsley as a spectator for tonight's affair. Over his last 15 innings, Jordan Hicks has yielded only three earned runs -- and they all came in the same game. He has fanned 27 over that spell, with three holds. Late-inning duties tonight will probably belong to Hicks and Drew VerHagen.
In previous years, a setup man like Yennier Cano's roster percentage would be minimal, limited to the deepest of leagues where protecting ratios is as important as racking up strikeouts and wins. With holds included in the standard ESPN points system this season, Cano is rostered in over half of all ESPN leagues. Not only has Cano logged 10 holds and three saves, his innings and strikeouts are among the league leaders for setup relievers, and his 0.35 ERA and 0.39 WHIP show how adept he's been at limiting traffic and runs. However, Cano logged 30 pitches as he worked two innings last night, which probably will keep him out of tonight's contest with the Yankees. Even though he allowed the ghost runner to score last night, giving the Yankees a 6-5 win, Bryan Baker will likely serve as Felix Bautista's primary setup man, with Danny Coulombe and Cionel Perez in the mix.
Camilo Doval has been a frequent visitor to this section, with only Bautista throwing more pitches among closers. Last night, Doval tossed 19 pitches, just two days after hurling 20 on Sunday. The larger consideration is Doval has worked six of the last nine days, totaling 123 pitches. The Giants do not have an off day tomorrow, so look for Gabe Kapler to call someone else's number in today's matinee with the Twins. Neither Taylor Rogers nor Tyler Rogers were needed yesterday, so they're the likely fill-ins.
Josh Hader only needed a dozen pitches to record his 12th save last night, but this comes on top of 29 pitches on Sunday. The Padres also play tomorrow, so Hader will probably be kept out of tonight's game with the Nationals, ceding closing duties to Nick Martinez, Steven Wilson or Luis Garcia.
With only 10 games on Thursday's docket, most fantasy lineups will have holes. Sometimes addressing this a day in advance is advantageous, especially if the player(s) can be helpful tonight, not to mention beyond Thursday. The ideal place to look is the Seattle bullpen as they still have two games left with Oakland before welcoming the Pirates to T-Mobile Park for the weekend. Mariners closer Paul Sewald (64% rostered) could be available in addition to Justin Topa, Trevor Gott and Gabe Speier, who all have at least six holds. Matt Brash is also in the mix with four holds, one save and 39 strikeouts in 20 frames.
Best sub-50% rostered hitters for Wednesday
Best and worst hitters from the day are generated by THE BAT X, a projection system created by Derek Carty using advanced methods like those used in MLB front offices, accounting for a variety of factors including player talent, ballparks, bullpens, weather, umpires, defense, catcher pitch-framing, and lots more.
Garrett Cooper (MIA, 1B -- 3%) at Kauffmann
Bryan De La Cruz (MIA, CF -- 6%) at Kauffmann
Jean Segura (MIA, 2B -- 8%) at Kauffmann
Ke'Bryan Hayes (PIT, 3B -- 17%) vs. Perez
Jorge Soler (MIA, LF -- 19%) at Kauffmann
Josh Naylor (CLE, 1B -- 45%) vs. Kopech
Andrew McCutchen (PIT, LF -- 23%) vs. Perez
Worst over-50% rostered hitters for Wednesday
Jorge Mateo (BAL, SS -- 59%) at Cortes
Anthony Santander (BAL, RF -- 75%) at Cortes
Pete Alonso (NYM, 1B -- 100%) at Stroman
THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Wednesday
Prop of the Day
Anthony DeSclafani, Giants, 17.5 pitching outs (-125/-110)
THE BAT X sees DeSclafani putting up 15.3 pitching outs for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 35.1% of the time. THE BAT X believes there is positive value on the UNDER with an expected value of $26.29.
Note: Expected Value is a measure of how good a bet is, factoring the probability that it will win versus the odds the book is providing. If you were to wager $1.00 100 times on a bet with an Expected Value of $25, you would win some and you would lose some, but in the end you would expect to come away with $25 in profit on your $100 investment.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE OVER
The weather report forecasts the second-most favorable pitching weather on the slate, as it relates to temperature and humidity.
The wind projects to be blowing in from center at 12.8 mph in this contest, the second-best of the day for hurlers.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER
The Twins have been the ninth-unluckiest offense this year, according to THE BAT X, and are likely to perform better going forward
With his assigned duty of calling pitches today, Todd Tichenor is considered to be a valuable asset as a hitter's umpire.
Target Field projects as the No. 10 venue in the game for walks, via THE BAT X projection system.
The outfield defense of the Giants grades out as the third-worst of all teams today.