Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander or Chris Sale? Who are you backing in Wednesday's DFS contests?
MS: Mitchell Layton / Getty Images, JV: Bob Levey / Getty Images, CS: Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images

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  • Wednesday's MLB DFS contests start with one big question: Which ace are you backing?
By Mike Barner
May 16, 2018

Want to do well on the Wednesday evening DFS slate? You’re going to have to make the right choice among Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Chris Sale as your top pitcher. We’ll weigh in on that decision, plus give you some offensive stacks that could pay off come the end of the night. Consider the picks below, and then plug them into our MLB Lineup Optimizer to help complete the rest of your lineup.

Starting Pitchers

Justin Verlander, at Angels (FD: $11,000, DK: $12,000)

After spending his entire career with the Tigers, Verlander has been almost unhittable since being acquired by the Astros late last season. He’s been one of the most dominant pitchers out of the gate this season, posting a 1.21 ERA, 0.72 WHIP and 11.6 K/9. Not only is he providing a ton of strikeouts, but he also has a career low 5.8% walk rate while holding opponents to a 24.6% hard-hit rate. This will be his second start of the season against the Angels. In the first meeting, he allowed two runs and recorded nine strikeouts over seven innings. He’ll eat up a significant portion of your budget, but he also has incredibly high upside.

Walker Buehler, at Marlins (FD: $9,500, DK: $8,500)

Regarded as one of the top prospects in baseball, Buehler has wasted no time making a name for himself in the majors. He’s making a case to stick in the Dodgers’ rotation even when they get healthy, posting a 1.64 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 11.0 K/9 through four starts. His FIP stands at 1.64 and he’s allowed a .288 BABIP, so his supporting numbers further highlight his strong start. His first start of the year came against these same Marlins when he held them scoreless over five innings while racking up five strikeouts. They have scored the fewest runs (142) and hit the fewest home runs (31) in baseball, only adding to Buehler’s potential for a big day.

J.A. Happ, at Mets (FD: $8,600, DK: $9,300)

Happ’s 4.80 ERA isn’t great, but it is a bit inflated after he allowed seven runs in 3 1/3 innings in his last start against the Mariners. He has allowed three earned runs or fewer in five of his eight outings and has a career high 11.2 K/9, driven by an 11.7% swinging strike rate. The Mets have one of the worst offenses in the league, scoring the sixth-fewest runs (165). They also have the worst OPS against left-handed pitchers (.593) by a wide margin, leaving Happ as a viable option in tournament play at this reasonable price.

Offensive Stacks

Cleveland Indians vs. Ryan Carpenter, Detroit Tigers
Stadium – Comerica Park

The Tigers don’t have a deep starting rotation to begin with, but are forced to call on Carpenter with Jordan Zimmermann (shoulder) on the DL. Carpenter did make one start earlier this year, allowing three runs in three innings against the Pirates. He wasn’t exactly pitching well in Triple-A, either, with a 5.01 ERA and 1.43 WHIP across seven starts. At age 27 with a career 4.40 ERA in the minors, he’s certainly not an up-and-coming prospect. The Indians are tied for the fourth-highest OPS against left-handers (.789) in the league.

Chicago Cubs vs. Brandon McCarthy, Atlanta Braves
Stadium – SunTrust Park

McCarthy hasn’t been able to stay healthy in the later stages of his career, throwing 92 2/3 innings or fewer in three straight seasons. He’s been healthy so far and has thrown 40 1/3 innings, but it has been ugly recently. He got off to a hot start by allowing three runs or fewer in each of his first four starts, but has allowed at least five runs in three of his last four. His last two outings were particularly concerning, as he surrendered 14 runs to the Giants and Marlins, neither of which have a great lineup. Wednesday brings a matchup against a Cubs team that is tied for the fourth-most runs (208) in baseball, so don’t be surprised if McCarthy gives up another crooked number.

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Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Brandon Woodruff, Milwaukee Brewers
Stadium - Chase Field

The Brewers are still without Chase Anderson (illness) and Zach Davies (shoulder), which keeps Woodruff in the rotation. He was shelled in his last start against the Rockies, giving up seven runs in three innings. He wasn’t much better in a starting role last year either, posting a 4.81 ERA and 1.33 WHIP across eight outings. The Diamondbacks lineup has left a lot to be desired this season and will be missing a key bat with A.J. Pollock out because of his thumb injury, but this could be the perfect opportunity to take advantage of some of their cheap prices for your entry.

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Hector Santiago, Chicago White Sox
Stadium – PNC Park

Santiago has made 11 appearances for the White Sox this season, two of which were starts. He’s had a hard time keeping runners off base with a 1.68 WHIP, and many of those guys have come around to score, evidenced by his 5.60 ERA. He gets himself in trouble far too often, throwing a first-pitch strike to only 47.6% of the batters that he has faced. He didn’t fare well as a starter last season, finishing with a 5.45 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 14 games, and he allowed way too many home runs, giving up 13 in just 69 1/3 innings. The Pirates have the highest OPS against lefties (.856) in baseball.

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