Thursday night’s DFS slate is brutal on the mound. Baseball’s top-three offenses by wRC+ are in action, and there’s not a single ace in the catalog.
Since no pitcher costs double-figures on DraftKings or FanDuel, many of the elite hitters are priced up. Yet there are plenty of promising options that won’t cost a bounty, so you can comfortably pay up for the top pitching (by default) without sacrificing too much offense.
Note: All stats are updated as of Wednesday night.
Sonny Gray and Framber Valdez are the evening’s clear top options, and it may be worth doubling down on them in DraftKings cash lineups. When choosing between them, go with Gray. While Valdez has a lower ERA and an elite team in his corner, Gray boasts an edge in strikeouts and walks. He also draws a Pirates lineup last in ISO against righties, and the Reds are heavily favored to prevail over Wil Crowe and Co. Gray, who is cheaper than Valdez on both platforms, rebounded nicely from ugly outings against Milwaukee and St. Louis, with seven strikeouts in six innings of one-run ball against the Mets last Friday night.
You never know what you’re going to get with Touki Toussaint. Maybe you’ll see the promising young hurler who allowed one run apiece to San Diego and Philadelphia with 15 combined strikeouts upon returning to Atlanta. But you might also experience the Toussaint who then surrendered seven runs at Milwaukee. With a career 24.8% K rate, the upside is immense against a Cardinals lineup ranking 22nd in wRC+ against righties. He’s priced down enough to consider as an SP2 in all DraftKings contests, but he’s best reserved for GPP action.
Seattle ranks 25th in wRC+ against lefties and only Milwaukee has a higher strikeout rate versus southpaws. That makes Nestor Cortes Jr. somewhat intriguing, especially after working a season-high five innings at Tampa Bay last week. He has dazzled when on the mound, but a 3.0% HR/FB rate and 9.5% swinging-strike rate dampen the excitement for a converted reliever who will likely at most offer another five frames.
For those seeking a GPP pivot, Triston McKenzie is the ultimate go-big-or-home play. Having already gotten destroyed on the road against the White Sox and Astros last month, the erratic young hurler could again falter versus an elite AL offense that ranks first in wOBA against righties. However, he’s also looked sharp in his other two turns since getting recalled. Toussaint is still the smarter GPP choice.
Atlanta faces a subpar St. Louis southpaw for the third straight game. Since the start of 2019, opposing righties are hitting .302/.350/.522 against Wade LeBlanc. He’s given up a .377 wOBA to them in 41 innings this year, so don’t be fooled by his solid 4.17 ERA. Wielding a career .398 wOBA against lefties, Ozzie Albies ($4,900 DK, $3,600 FD) is a high-priority play this evening regardless of site or contest type. Go with Jorge Soler on DraftKings ($3,300) if he’s following Albies in the No. 2 spot. While not flourishing against lefties in 2021, Austin Riley ($4,600 DK, $3,500 FD) and Dansby Swanson ($4,200 DK, $3,200 FD) have plenty of pop to use in this favorable matchup. The recently required Adam Duvall ($4,100 DK, $3,200 FD) is also always an intriguing GPP play with the platoon advantage.
Houston leads the majors in wRC+ against righties and gets an exploitable one in Griffin Jax, who has already allowed seven home runs in just 26.2 innings. Fellow righties have accounted for six of them and are slugging .635 with a .398 wOBA against the 26-year-old righty. You’ll need to pay full freight for José Altuve ($5,200 DK, $4,300 FD), but Yordan Álvarez ($4,600 DK, $3,700 FD) and Carlos Correa ($4,200 DK, $3,400 FD) are reasonably priced on both sites. Despite Jax’s early splits, Michael Brantley is far too cheap ($3,100) to ignore on DraftKings.
After coming through big against Baltimore last night, let’s see if the Yankees pay off again. Aaron Judge ($5,300 DK, $3,800 FD) and Giancarlo Stanton ($4,300 DK, $3,400 FD) draw mass appeal whenever a lefty comes to town. That should be the case once more, but the bevy of outfield options and price discrepancy — particularly on DraftKings — makes the latter a better choice against Tyler Anderson. Although too pricey on DraftKings ($5,300), DJ LeMahieu is a great FanDuel choice at $3,000 after consecutive multi-hit games. Gleyber Torres ($4,400 DK, $2,900 FD) is also batting a much-improved .288, with a .212 ISO since the All-Star break, and garners a career 128 wRC+ against lefties.
Batting .322/.410/.644 against lefties during his rookie campaign, Andrew Vaughn stands out as the evening’s top value play. Opposing righties have a .337/.385/.518 slash line in 91 plate appearances against fellow neophyte Daniel Lynch.
Carlos Santana has a higher walk (13.7%) than strikeout (12.8%) rate against lefties over his 12-year career. Dallas Keuchel‘s 5.20 FIP doesn’t inspire much confidence, and he’s one home run away from setting a new single-season high.
Perhaps Seattle’s cheap bats could make an appealing contrarian stack for a stars-and-scrubs lineup. Gamers should probably cherry-pick one bargain bat to limit exposure and save some funds. The best cash option on either site is Abraham Toro, who’s gone a torrid 13-for-31 with three walks, three doubles, and three home runs in nine games with the Mariners. Luis Torrens is slugging .632 against lefties this season, but unfortunately, he’s only eligible at first base on DraftKings. Dylan Moore brings power, speed, and plate discipline to the table as a GPP punt.
Over his brief career, Wil Crowe has given up a .402 wOBA to fellow righties. While Jonathan India ($4,700 DK, $3,600 FD) is priced accordingly, Aristides Aquino makes an interesting dice roll if given the starting nod.
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