Thursday’s nine-game main slate starts early at 12:35 EST. Note that FanDuel is including the Red Sox/Blue Jays as part of their slate, while DraftKings doesn’t. This is shaping up to be an interesting slate where the key seems like it will be picking the right mid-tier option at pitcher. There are a lot of them today!
Top Tier Pitching
Note: As we go through tonight’s pitching options, you’ll find their line from their previous outing, and in the table above you’ll find their combined stats from the 2021-22 seasons.
Justin Verlander : ($10,100 DK, $10,700 FD): vs TOR (ND) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 85 pitches.
Alek Manoah: ($10,700 FD): @ HOU (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 95 pitches.
Michael Kopech: ($9,600 DK, $9,500 FD): @ MIN (ND) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 83 pitches.
Verlander is coming off a ho-hum start against the Jays, but before that, we saw him flash with a dominant eight-inning shutout against the Mariners on just 87 pitches. Verlander probably has some ups and downs early on as he’s coming off a long layoff, so he’s not a must by any means. And plus the Rangers are much improved this year with just a 19.9% team K rate, the second-lowest in baseball so far this year.
Manoah and the Jays are only available on FanDuel today where the big righty is at an even salary with Verlander. He’s coming off an excellent start against the Astros his last time out and now gets the Red Sox, who have struggled a little out of the gate with just a .281 team wOBA, 22nd in baseball. If I’m going to the top on FanDuel, Manoah would be the guy.
Kopech gets a great matchup against the Royals, who have the lowest implied team total on the slate. But, he might be a little capped in terms of upside relative to his salary as he threw just 83 pitches his last time out, and starting pitching is still a relatively new endeavor for him as he was used almost exclusively out of the pen last year. As we’ll see, there are some very intriguing options in the mid-tier, so there could be some merit in fading the top tier entirely today.
Trevor Rogers: ($6,100 DK, $7,700 FD): @ ATL (L) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 95 pitches.
Zack Wheeler: ($8,300 DK, $8,100 FD): vs MIL (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 84 pitches.
Freddy Peralta: ($7,700 DK, $9,100 FD):@ PHI (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 89 pitches.
We’ve got quite a few potential buy-low options to pick from today. Rogers was brilliant last season with a 2.64 ERA and 1.15 WHIP across 25 starts. The young southpaw has come out of the gate slow but he gets a bounce-back opportunity today against a Nationals offense that has struggled to do much offensively with a .281 team wOBA, 23rd in baseball. He’s hard to ignore on DraftKings at only $6,100.
Speaking of hard to ignore salaries, Wheeler and Peralta stick out relative to what we were paying for them last season. Peralta hasn’t quite found his groove yet with his normally sensational slider, but even still he put together a reasonable five innings against a tough Phillies lineup his last time out and today draws a much easier matchup, on paper at least, against the Pirates. Wheeler is in a similar boat but with him, it is his fastball velocity that has lagged behind; he’s averaged 95.2 with the heater, exactly two ticks down from last year. Wheeler is risky given that he’s looked off, but you could also look at this as an opportunity to buy low on the man who finished second in NL Cy Young voting just a year ago. It’s not terribly surprising to see the former Met off to a slow start considering that he missed time in the spring dealing with shoulder fatigue. He’ll get a chance to put together his first strong start of the year against the road Rockies with the Phillies installed as the second-largest favorite on the board (-200).
Tarik Skubal: ($8,500 DK, $8,800 FD): vs COL (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 91 pitches.
Bailey Ober: ($7,900 DK, $8,600 FD): vs CWS (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 79 pitches.
Jameson Taillon: ($8,100 DK, $8,500 FD): vs CLE (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 84 pitches.
Skubal had plenty of ups and downs last year but still, he put together a respectable 4.34 ERA and 1.26 WHIP across 29 starts in what was his first full season. So far this year we’ve seen him put together two strong starts in a row with a CSW% over 30% so we know the upside is there. The most impressive thing, to me at least, is that he has just one walk through his first three starts, an encouraging sign for the southpaw as he looks to take a step forward in year two. He gets the Twins on the road, a team that thus far has K’d at a 25.7% clip, fifth-highest in baseball.
On the other side of the game, Ober and the Twins are home favorites (-143) against the Tigers. Ober has been proven to be very efficient with a 19.6% K-BB% through his first 23 major league starts. The knock against him is that, so far, the Twins have kept him on a tight leash as they let him go past 90 pitches just once last year and so far this year he has yet to reach 80. Still, he’s an option against a Tigers lineup that isn’t too scary (.286 team wOBA, 21st this year) although his upside might be capped a bit until we see him go a little deeper into games.
Taillon has the benefit of pitching at home as the strongest favorite on the board (-240) against an Orioles team that has struck out at a 26.1% clip, the third-highest in the league so far this year. On the other side, the Orioles’ southpaw Bruce Zimmermann has rattled off three impressive starts and his K rate sits at a much improved 27.1% in the early going. Granted know he’s at Yankee Stadium facing a lineup loaded with righty power so this could end badly, but he’s a potential SP 2 if you’re feeling very adventurous in DK tournaments at $6,800.
Nick Martinez: ($7,000 DK, $7,200 FD): vs LAD (L) – 4.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 5 BBs, 4 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 102 pitches.
Tyler Mahle: ($7,600 DK, $7,500 FD): vs STL (L) – 4.1 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 88 pitches.
Martinez is another interesting mid-tier option to consider. After four years playing in the NPB, he’s a little bit of a mystery, he certainly could be better but it’s difficult to say only three starts in. At the very least he got his pitch count up to 102 and now gets a Reds team whose offense has been dreadful so far this season with the worst K rate in baseball at 27.1% and the worst wOBA at .262.
On the other side of the game, Mahle is the more known option. He gets a Padres lineup that is a little thin right now. Sure, he’s been productive but Jurickson Profar doesn’t seem like your prototypical cleanup hitter. With a 6.88 ERA and 1.71 WHIP so far through four starts, he shouldn’t be too high in terms of roster percentage, so if you’re looking for a tournament option in the mid-tier, Mahle could have some appeal.
Bats and Stacks
- MIA (4.5 implied run total) at WSN Patrick Corbin (LHP) 10.5 K-BB%, 6.22 ERA, 1.55 WHIP: Remarkably, the lefty has a 6.55 ERA over his last 185.1 IP. Last year he allowed a .387 wOBA to RHB putting Jesús Aguilar, Jorge Soler, Garrett Cooper, and Avisaíl García on the radar as value options in all formats. The lefties Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Jesús Sánchez are options for tournament stacking.
- PHI (4.5 implied run total) vs COL Austin Gomber (LHP) 14.5 K-BB%, 4.49 ERA, 1.27 WHIP: The weather in Philadelphia looks really tough for offense with winds blowing in and temperatures hovering in the high 40s. Still, this is certainly one of the strongest lineups on the slate and one that is also facing one of the weaker pitchers on the bump this afternoon in Gomber. Alec Bohm is a potential value play at third, while Rhys Hoskins is an affordable mid-tier option at first who has been hitting in the two-hole in front of Bryce Harper.
- NYY (5.0 implied run total) vs BAL Bruce Zimmermann (LHP) 13.1 K-BB%, 4.31 ERA, 1.44 WHIP: As mentioned earlier, Zimmermann has gotten off to a sharp start, but he’s still a young, unproven lefty who is facing Aaron Judge et al making the Yankees an upside stack. Although they could be worth fading in tournaments where they should be immensely popular.
- Houston (4.6 implied run total) at TEX Martín Pérez (LHP) 12 K-BB%, 4.64 ERA, 1.49 WHIP: We know Mr. Pérez isn’t very good. The veteran southpaw coughed up a .371 wOBA against RHB last season putting Alex Bregman on the radar at 3B. Chas McCormick is a potential value play who could be hitting leadoff.
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