This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
The three most expensive starters on Wednesday's main slate all face reasonably tough matchups, which makes our fade/play decisions very interesting. We also have some enticingly cheap options to throw into our potential stacks, giving us a lot of room to plug in players at the top of the price range.
Noah Syndergaard ($10,400) showed flashes of how dominant he can be in his first two starts against the Nationals but will now face a Twins offense that holds a bottom-10 strikeout rate. This, along with the fact that they currently boast a top-10 wOBA against righties, could make it difficult for "Thor" to pay off at his price.
Kenta Maeda ($10,100) seems like another risky play against the Cardinals, as St. Louis finds itself just outside of the top-10 offenses against right-handed pitchers according to wOBA. It is also worth noting that early 2019 returns suggest Maeda's walk rate may continue to rise after jumping two full percentage points (8.1 percent) last year.
James Paxton ($9,700) has been a strikeout machine in his first two outings this season but it's reasonable to expect that he'll have much less margin for error against that Astros than he had in either of his starts against the Orioles. Be that as it may, Paxton's swinging strike rate has trended upwards steadily for each of the last three seasons, and currently sits at what would be a career-high mark (16 percent). The Astros boast several formidable righty bats, which makes Paxton an iffy cash play but he has more than enough strikeout upside to be in consideration for GPPs.
Robbie Ray ($9,400) Couldn't get much going in San Diego but prospective owners shouldn't forget that he struck out nine batters over five innings when facing a tough Dodger lineup in his first outing of the season. The Rangers have started the year as a solid road team after finishing 2018 as one of the worst road clubs in the league according to wOBA, but I question the stability of the small sample, as they didn't make any significant changes to their offense this offseason. In addition to that, they will lose their designated hitter in a National League park.
Frankie Montas ($8,100) wins the Orioles lottery for Wednesday, which will almost certainly make him a popular option. Montas has had a bit of trouble with the home run ball this season but has kept a strong 2.45 ERA through his first two starts with an 11:3 K/BB ratio in 11 frames to go along with a 60 percent groundball rate. While he isn't likely to throw that many grounders for long, he was always a big strikeout pitcher in the minors, which may mean the whiffs will be sustainable going forward. The Orioles have shown a modicum of power to begin the year but not enough to scare DFS players off Montas at this price.
Yu Darvish ($7,400) makes for an intriguing GPP dart throw. The 32-year-old has had an abysmal start to the season but tossed four innings of one-run ball in his last start against the Braves before the wheels fell off. He will face a Pirates team that has started off the year fairly well but finished 2018 as a bottom-10 team against right-handed pitchers according to wOBA.
Mike Trout ($5,600) is a strong option against most competition but is day-to-day after being removed from Tuesday's contest with a groin strain.
Felix Pena has some strikeout upside but has begun 2019 with the same homer problem that has troubled him throughout his career. This makes Christian Yelich ($5,500) an interesting option to consider despite the fact that he will be playing in a big ballpark.
Cody Bellinger ($5,400) is on an absolute tear at the moment, as evidenced by the .960 slugging percentage he has tallied over his first 50 at-bats of the year. Jack Flaherty has kept his walk and home run rates in check to begin the season, which could make him a tough test.
Bryce Harper ($5,200) is off to a similarly fast start in Philadelphia. Jeremy Hellickson was able to limit long balls last season but still finished with a 4.40 xFIP to left-handed hitters in 49.2 innings.
Consider Khris Davis ($4,900) an elite power option against right-handed pitchers until further notice. This is especially true when he is facing someone like Dan Straily, who kept a 1.5 HR/9 rate against same-handed batters last year.
Domingo Santana ($4,900) looks to be in rebound mode to begin the year, having logged a .479 wOBA against right-handed pitchers in 47 at-bats. Meanwhile, Heath Fillmyer tallied a 1.95 HR/9 rate against right-handed hitters in 37 innings last season.
Pete Alonso ($4,600) is taking the league by storm after a successful run in the minors. He should find a comfortable matchup in Jake Odorizzi, who logged a 4.52 xFIP against right-handed hitters last season and has been rocked to the tune of a 6.75 ERA in his first two outings of 2019.
Whit Merrifield ($4,500) will face a contact pitcher who has shown some signs of homer trouble in Yusei Kikuchi. Merrifield hasn't shown dominance in his 13 at-bats against lefty pitching this year but finished 2018 with a .402 wOBA against lefties in 182 at-bats.
Willians Astudillo ($3,800) has looked great in his first 14 at-bats this season. The sample size may be small but with his extremely high contact rate and ability to hit for power, I expect the young catcher's ownership to be fairly high, even against a top pitcher like Syndergaard.
Ben Zobrist ($3,700) will likely hit atop the order against Jordan Lyles, who allowed a 4.51 xFIP against lefty hitters last season and walked more batters than he struck out in his first outing this year against the Reds.
Would you believe that Bruce has seven homers already this season after hitting just nine in 84 games with the Mets last year? We round out this stack with Narvaez, who I will keep using for as long as his price stays depressed. He has logged a .363 wOBA against righty hurlers this season.
I plan on taking advantage of Hellickson's pitch-to-contact ways when he heads back to Philadelphia, as Herrera and Franco have both started the season by showing good power against right-handed pitchers.
Mondesi's price was in the stratosphere after a hot start but we can comfortably go back to him here. He has continued his assault on lefties in 2019 after logging a .233 ISO against them last year. Soler has started slow this season but is worth playing at this price after compiling a .333 ISO against his opposite hand in 54 at-bats in 2018.