Wednesday’s MLB DFS main slate features nine games and locks at 7:05 pm E.T.

Pitchers

There’s a star-studded cast of pitchers priced above $9,000 tonight:

  • Jacob deGrom (R) $11,700, NYM @ PHI
  • Gerrit Cole (R) $11,500, NYY vs TOR
  • Dylan Bundy (R) $9,800, LAA vs ARI
  • Zack Wheeler (R) $9,600, PHI vs NYM
  • Lucas Giolito (R) $9,600, CHI vs MIN

Jacob deGrom is the highest-priced pitcher on FanDuel and DraftKings today, and the Bales Model’s second favorite pitching option. He also has one of the more challenging matchups against the Philadelphia Phillies.

deGrom has been elite in 2020, logging a 44 Fielder Independent Pitching Minus (FIP-). That means he is pitching 56% better than league average. deGrom is also crushing his Expected FIP (xFIP) by posting a 1.67 ERA while collecting a 10% HR/Flyball ratio. xFIP accounts for 10% of flyballs as home runs.

The Phillies are top 10 in walk percentage and bottom 10 in strikeout percentage. The offense will make opposing pitchers work to get them out and is No. 8 in baseball in Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+). Once the Phillies get on base, they make life difficult for pitchers (7.7 Baserunning Rate, or BsR, third in baseball).

The same issues deGrom faces also fall on his opponent, Zack Wheeler.

Wheeler is striking out fewer batters than ever in his career, but is setting career lows in BB/9, HR/9, HR/FB percentage, ERA, and FIP-. The 30-year old is justifying his contract even if he has issues putting on his pants.

What is more concerning for Wheeler than splitting fingernails while putting on pants is the New York Mets offense. The Mets have the best wRC+ in baseball, second in Offensive WAR, and are bottom 10 in strikeout percentage. If we are comparing apples to apples, the Mets are bad on the basepaths (-8.2 BsR). I would love to favor one of deGrom or Wheeler, but this is the game of the night in baseball and would be less tilting without either in your lineup.

Gerrit Cole is going to get ownership despite his price tag because he continues to strike out batters at a high clip. The righty is the favorite of the Bales Model and the Yankees are -243 Moneyline favorites against the Toronto Blue Jays. Another positive for Cole on Wednesday is that the Blue Jays have not faced him this season. Watching tape and facing live pitches are not the same and the Jays could be in for a second consecutive tough day at the plate. Toronto sports a 105 wRC+ and sit middle of the road in walk and strikeout percentages.

If the Blue Jays expect to stay in a game against Cole, they will have to hit home runs. Cole is allowing 1.06 more HR/9 in 2020 than he has over the course of his career. Cole makes the short list of pitching options, but he is not my favorite.

Dylan Bundy has been a league average pitcher despite playing on abysmal teams in Baltimore. His arrival to Los Angeles has shed light on that (75 FIP- in 2020, 102 career) and he has been one of the best stories in 2020 and an MLB DFS lineup mainstay. Bundy is throwing all four of his pitches at lower velocities and it has helped his control and raised his groundball percentage 6% over his career average.

Bundy faces the Arizona Diamondbacks, who rank bottom five in OBP, slugging percentage, wRC+, and Offensive WAR. Arizona does well in terms of not striking out so Bundy may lose out on a few extra K’s. Bundy is fifth on the Bales Model tonight, but first in my heart.

I have some conflict with Lucas Giolito tonight. The White Sox are 22-5 over their last 27 games but are in for another battle for first place with the Minnesota Twins. In two starts against the Twins this season, Giolito has pitched 8.2 innings, allowed 10 hits and nine earned runs, and has walked four batters. That equates to 32 FanDuel points combined for those two starts. There is some context to those starts: Giolito opened the season against the Twins and was chased early, and the second start was following his no-hitter.

Outside of beating up on the Sox ace, the Twins are a league average offense with no outstanding or underwhelming team batting statistic. The White Sox are the favorite against the Twins and the over/under sits at a respectable 8.5. Giolito’s price tag is great considering the elite options, but the Twins have his number. Save salary, but buyer beware.

Values

The Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians continue their series in Chicago tonight and have similarities to exploit. Adam Civale toes the rubber for Cleveland, Jon Lester for Chicago. The two offenses struggle offensively, ranking bottom 10 in batting average, and slugging percentage while posting negative Offensive WARs.

Oddly enough, both offenses are top 10 in walk percentage. Civale and Lester rely on control to maximize their pitching arsenals. I lean Civale because his strikeout upside pairs with the Cubs’ third-highest strikeout percentage.

Civale projects higher on the Bales Model, but if Wrigley Field weather has its way, the expected wind direction blowing left to right will benefit both starters.

Fastballs

Cole Hamels makes his season debut for the Atlanta Braves tonight. Do not start the southpaw, but note that his success is vital to a Braves staff that needs a healthy starting pitcher.

Lance McCullers ($7,500) returns from the IL tonight for a juicy matchup against the Texas Rangers. He is the Bales Model’s second-best option this evening if you want to start a high-variance pitcher.

Notable Stacks

Tonight’s top stack on FanDuel is a welcome change and full of potential:

  • Travis d’Arnaud (R)
  • Freddie Freeman (L)
  • Marcell Ozuna (R)
  • Ronald Acuna Jr. (R)

Total Salary: $20,900

The righty-heavy stack gets lefty Keegan Akin and the Baltimore Orioles. Ronald Acuna Jr. is the third-best hitting option on FanDuel based on the Bales Model. Freeman is the third best first baseman, d’Arnaud the best catcher, and Ozuna is a top 10 outfielder option based on projections. The Braves lead the slate with a projected run total of 5.8.

The next stack pairs with my favorite pitcher tonight, but is more expensive than the Braves stack:

  • Albert Pujols (R)
  • David Fletcher (R)
  • Anthony Rendon (R)
  • Mike Trout (R)

Total Salary: $21,200

I believe it is possible to stack these hitters with Bundy. If you want to save salary, I recommend removing one of Rendon and Trout. That allows your stack to keep a proven RBI threat while playing David Fletcher, the team’s run scorer at the top of the order.

Other Hitters

My namesake Aaron Hicks continues to hit in the meat of the New York Yankees batting order. He also is getting lineup protection from the return of Giancarlo Stanton and impending return of Aaron Judge. At $3,700, Hicks is a great option to get a piece of the Yankees offense in your lineup without breaking the bank.

The Houston Astros should rake against the Texas Rangers tonight, and a salary-saving option is Josh Reddick ($2,500). He is tied for second on the team with eight Pro Trends, including a Bargain Rating over 90. Every Astros hitter has at least five Pro Trends tonight and they are projected to score 5.1 runs.