With a lot of early start times Wednesday, we are left with only seven games to choose from for the main evening slate on Yahoo. While that doesn't give us an abundance of viable options, there are still some that stand out to target. Let's discuss some of those and how ownership percentages might play out.
The biggest name of the evening who should also have a high ownership percentage is Justin Verlander ($57) for his start against the Twins. He's continued to be a strikeout machine with a 30.9 percent strikeout rate and he has done a great job of limiting baserunners with his 1.00 WHIP. He hasn't had the easiest path to success, either, with his five starts coming against the Rays, Yankees, Mariners and Rangers twice in Arlington. The Twins are in the top third of the league in runs scored, themselves, but Verlander still provides significant upside.
The next two names who could be popular will actually be facing each other when Cole Hamels ($45) and the Cubs host Walker Buehler ($46) and the Dodgers. While Hamels has been a different pitcher since joining the Cubs, this is no easy matchup against a Dodgers team that has scored the second-most runs (138) in the league. If you are trying to decide between the two, Buehler might be the better option. The Cubs have some holes in their lineup and Buehler has the higher strikeout upside after recording a 27.9 percent strikeout rate last year.
As crazy as this sounds, deploying Eduardo Rodriguez ($43) and his 7.20 ERA against the Tigers might be a wise move in tournament play. His 4.20 xFIP indicates he hasn't pitched that poorly and his .361 BABIP allowed is sixty points higher than last season. He's also recorded 14 strikeouts over his last 12 innings. Chris Sale was able to get back on track against the Tigers on Tuesday, which shouldn't be that much of a surprise since they have scored the second-fewest runs (72) and hit the fewest home runs (13) in the league.
The chalk team to target for this slate is the Phillies for their matchup against Jason Vargas. It took Vargas 75 pitches to get through four innings in his last start against the Cardinals, giving up three walks, three hits and one run while recording only three strikeouts. He's now issued more walks (seven) than he has strikeouts (six) while giving up 11 runs across 10.1 innings.
Maybe the Red Sox slow start could be attributed to them playing 16 games on the road already compared to just eight at home. That's significant for their lineup considering they had a .829 OPS at Fenway Park last year compared to a .756 OPS on the road. They'll certainly have a chance to put up a crooked number against the underwhelming Tyson Ross, who only has an eight percent swinging strike rate in the early going. He only had an 8.5 percent swinging strike rate last season, as well.
It's hard not to get excited about the prospects for the Orioles to have a big offensive performance with Ervin Santana on the mound for the White Sox. He's been limited to two starts, but they were rough with him allowing 10 runs across 8.2 innings. Combine his five home runs allowed with his 2.19 WHIP and it's no surprise that he has been a disaster. The Orioles were awful with a .662 OPS on the road last year, but they were better at home with a .717 OPS.
Phillies vs. Vargas (Mets)
Vargas allowed a .359 wOBA against right-handed hitters last year, so throwing this trio at him could prove to be productive. Also, don't shy away from Bryce Harper ($27) just because he doesn't have the platoon advantage. Vargas allowed 18 home runs across 92 innings last year and has already given up three long balls this season.
Red Sox vs. Ross (Tigers)
Take advantage of Betts at this reduced price while you still can. He's starting to show signs of coming out of his slump, which shouldn't be surprising considering his abnormally low .246 BABIP. Benintendi and Moreland make a great duo to pair with him after they recorded a .376 wOBA and a .334 wOBA, respectively, against right-handed pitchers last year.
Orioles vs. Santana (White Sox)
If you're going to stack the Orioles, it's hard to argue against just rolling with their three best hitters. Mancini and Nunez provide plenty of power upside while Villar has also seen his strikeout rate decrease from 26.8 percent last year to 17.7 percent this season. If you want to take a chance on a cheaper option, Chris Davis ($7) has rebounded from his awful start to hit 9-for-25 with two home runs and three doubles across his last eight games.
Mets vs. Vince Velasquez (Phillies)
While everyone is attacking Vargas, it might not be a bad idea to roll with the Mets lineup in tournament play. Don't let Velazquez's 0.96 WHIP fool you. He's been lucky with a .222 opponents BABIP, especially when you consider that his line drive rate has actually increased by two percentage points compared to last season. Add in the fact that he's allowed at least a .376 wOBA to lefties in both of the last two seasons and this could be a productive route to take.