Wednesday features a couple of lockdown aces take the mound in Madison Bumgarner and Chris Sale, but things really start to get interesting when we get south of $10,000. Cole Hamels, Danny Salazar, Carlos Martinez, Garrett Richards, Chris Archer and Joe Ross are all between $8,100 and $9,900. You can pair someone on the cheaper end with Bumgarner or Sale, or go with two of those second-tier options, especially since a few of them have an ace ceiling. The lack of attractive cheap options on the mound will push most DFS players toward one of those two strategies.
Starting pitcher: Chris Sale ($11,200) vs. Los Angeles Angels and Chris Archer ($8,500) @ Miami
With all due respect to Madison Bumgarner, Sale is the best pitcher on Wednesday’s board. He was electric in his last start, allowing just two hits while striking out nine batters in a shutout of the Rays. The Angels are 25th in the league in wOBA, and while they have been slightly better against lefties, they haven’t seen one quite like Sale. It should be noted, however, that they do have the lowest strikeout rate in the league. Sale is a staff anchor every time he takes the mound, and you might get the benefit of relatively low ownership with Bumgarner also pitching Wednesday.
Archer is way down at $8,500 because of his struggles to start the season. A pitcher like him should need his arm to fall off before he dipped down into the mid-$8,000s in price. Archer’s velocity and stuff is fine. His is a command issue, and the potent Baltimore lineup singlehandedly skewed his numbers by taking him deep four times. Archer can do exactly what teammate Drew Smyly did to the Red Sox on Tuesday, but he doesn’t need to pitch that well to turn a profit at his discounted price.
Catcher: Yasmani Grandal ($3,200) @ Atlanta, Julio Teheran
Grandal missed the first week or so of the season with a forearm injury, but it hasn’t taken him long to make his presence felt in the Dodgers lineup. He collected four hits, including two doubles, in two starts in the team’s weekend series with the Giants, driving in one run and walking twice. Grandal is a switch-hitter who has always been better from the left side, and that’s where he’ll be with Teheran on the mound.
First base: Anthony Rizzo ($4,200) @ St. Louis, Carlos Martinez
Rizzo is quietly off to a very slow start this year, going just 8-for-49 in his first 14 games. He has had a few big hits and has also drawn 10 walks and been hit by three pitches, but he still hasn’t been there’s no spinning what has been a bad start at the plate. Wednesday isn’t a bad time to bet on him breaking out of his funk. First of all, you’ll get low ownership in addition to the discount. Secondly, as good as Martinez is, he allowed a .329 wOBA to lefties last season.
Second base: Logan Forsythe ($3,200) @ Boston, Rick Porcello
Leadoff men on road teams who cost just $3,200 are always attractive DFS plays. Forsythe may come to the plate five times on Wednesday, especially if Porcello’s early-season performance continues apace. Forsythe doesn’t give you the speed of a typical leadoff man, but he does have five extra-base hits and a .455 slugging percentage in 49 plate appearances this season. After spending nearly $20,000 on pitching, we had to find savings at multiple positions. Forsythe lets us do that while also providing identifiable upside.
Third base: Adrian Beltre ($4,200) vs. Houston, Doug Fister
The 37-year-old Beltre continues to ward off any signs of aging, slashing .288/.345/.500 with a pair of homers and five doubles in 58 plate appearances this season. He doesn’t strike out, and Fister doesn’t strike anyone out, so he’s going to be putting the ball in play a lot on Wednesday. That’s more than half the battle. It doesn’t hurt that Fister has surrendered nine earned runs and two homers in 10 2/3 innings this season. Beltre is a great pivot off the high-priced third basemen on Wednesday.
Shortstop: Marcus Semien ($3,400) vs. New York Yankees, Nathan Eovaldi
Semien doesn’t get mentioned among the great young shortstops in the league—nor should he—but he does have as much natural power as any of them, this side of Carlos Correa. Semien already has four homers on the year and is sitting on a .524 slugging percentage. Eovaldi, meanwhile, has allowed four homers in just 11 2/3 innings this season. Semien’s strength meets Eovaldi’s weakness in Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.
Outfield: J.D. Martinez ($4,000) @ Kansas City, Ian Kennedy; Yasiel Puig ($3,900) @ Atlanta, Julio Teheran; Jason Heyward ($3,600) @ St. Louis, Carlos Martinez
This wasn’t by design, but all of our outfielders are on the road, and all hit no lower than fifth in their team’s order. Martinez, Puig and Heyward could easily combine for 13 to 15 plate appearances on Wednesday. Martinez’s price continues to stay flat in the low-$4,000s despite the fact that he’s hitting .370/.544/.565 on the year. There’s no reason to fear a matchup with Kennedy, even after acknowledging that the veteran righty has been quite good early in his Kansas City tenure. Puig’s slash sits at .347/.429/.510 in 56 plate appearances, and he’s 5-for-8 with a homer against Teheran in their respective careers. As for Heyward, recall earlier in the column that we pointed to Martinez’s struggles with lefties. Heyward will have a low ownership rate given his slow start, and he has been getting BABIP’d to death over the last week or so. All the line drives he’s hitting are bound to start finding holes.