Thursday greets us with an eight-game slate featuring a game at Coors Field, a potential slugfest at Sahlen Field and plenty of pitching options to consider.
Top Tier Pitching
Joe Musgrove hasn’t produced a ceiling-type performance in a while so perhaps that’s why his salary remains so reasonable. This year, he’s held lefties to a .271 wOBA and righties to a .214 mark to go along with the best K-BB% on the slate at 28.9%. Simply put, he remains a superb value on both sites and is a building block tonight for all formats with the Padres installed as strong (-163) home favorites. The Reds do have power, with a team wOBA of .331 (third), but the value looks too good to pass up at his current salary.
Brandon Woodruff’s 0.72 WHIP is second among qualified starting pitchers. And, he’s held opposing batters to just a .198 wOBA (.257 xwOBA). However, a visit to Coors Field does add some volatility tonight, making him a little less of a necessity than he otherwise would be. He’s certainly viable in all formats, especially considering how weak the Rockies’ offense has been overall (.303 team wOBA, 18th), but I’d be alright taking the savings with Musgrove.
Shohei Ohtani and the Angels are massive home favorites tonight against the Tigers. This seems like a layup at just $8,100 on DraftKings, so pairing him with Musgrove seems like a good idea. Ohtani will cost you a ton on FanDuel, though, at $11,000, and considering he has yet to reach 100 pitches, he could be worth fading at that salary.
Marcus Stroman is probably overperforming a bit, considering his .264 wOBA allowed versus a .321 xwOBA, but he has pitched well this year and the addition of a split-finger changeup has helped to buoy his strikeouts. At $8,600 on DraftKings, he’s a fine play for all formats if you land on him, though in that price range I’m leaning more towards Ohtani and Musgrove.
There’s no denying Dylan Cease’s breakout this year, as his K rate sits at 29.7% on the year versus just 17.3% last season. Tonight, though, he seems more like a fringe tournament option at best as a road dog against a very tough Houston offense (.340 team wOBA, first).
It’s a fantastic matchup for Rich Hill against the Mariners, but he seems like a fade considering he’s now been held to under 70 pitches in three straight appearances.
Charlie Morton hasn’t been great this year overall and is coming off a disappointing outing against the Marlins his last time out. I’m still holding out hope that he can be more of the guy that we saw with Tampa back in 2019. The encouraging thing is that his fastball velocity has remained steady, sitting over 95 MPH this season. As a massive home favorite (-183) against a below-average Cardinals offense (.299 team wOBA, 23rd), I like this as a get-right spot for Morton. He’s my favorite value pitcher tonight.
Germán Márquez is cheap enough to be considered as an SP2 in tournaments on DraftKings. Prior to his blowup at GABP, he had posted two strong performances at Coors Field and as we noted earlier, the Brewers are not a strong offense.
José Urquidy has been effective overall this year. My guess is that he’s the pitcher with upside who gets overlooked tonight as most will look to jump to Ohtani at just $200 more on DraftKings. It’s not the best matchup, as the White Sox are a good offense (.328 team wOBA, fifth). But as we saw a couple of turns ago against the Red Sox, Urquidy definitely has the ability to overcome any matchup. Also of note, he hit 100 pitches for the first time in his latest outing against the Twins. There’s definitely upside worth chasing here in tournaments and it comes at a very reasonable salary.
The Tigers’ top pitching prospect, Matt Manning, will be making his debut this evening against the Angels. He’s struggled this year with Triple-A Toledo, however, with an 8.07 ERA and 1.55 WHIP. At $4,400 on DraftKings as an SP2 punt play, though, he’s a path to stacking high-priced bats if you feel like throwing caution to the wind in tournaments. It would only be as a total boom/bust play if you’re multi-entering a bunch of different lineups on DraftKings.
Cash Game Bats
After defying the odds for his first few starts, it’s come crashing down for John Gant. And predictably so, considering his 16.3% BB rate matches his K rate. That’s not good! The Braves find themselves matched up with the Cardinals’ swingman and have an implied total north of five runs. Gant has also allowed a .379 xwOBA and .290 xBA both in the bottom 7% or worse via BaseballSavant. Needless to say, Ronald Acuña Jr ($6,100 DK, $4,500 FD) and Freddie Freeman ($5,100 DK, $4,300 FD) are priority spends today. There is a potential value bat here to consider as well with Abraham Almonte ($2,600 DK, $2,200 FD) who is projected to hit cleanup.
Tonight’s Blue Jays/Yankees affair should feature plenty of runs. I have more interest in the Jays’ side of this game, as they’ve just been the more productive offense this year with a .335 team wOBA second only to the Astros. Michael King has been decent this year limiting righties and lefties to below a .320 wOBA, although that comes with a middling K rate of 20.3%, so he could easily blow up here against a high octane offense. Here’s your reminder to play Vladimir Guerrero Jr./strong> ($5,900 DK, $4,400 FD) against a pitcher with a specious 3.77 ERA (5.20 xERA) in King. There’s some value in cleanup man Teoscar Hernández’s ($4,200 DK, $3,300 FD) salary too. He has continued to demolish baseballs with a .376 xwOBA and would be 25th in barrels/PA at 9.8% if he qualified. Rowdy Tellez ($2,600 DK, $2,300 FD) is a crush of mine, he’s hitting the ball really well this year (9.6% barrels/PA) but the results haven’t quite been there yet. He’s an excellent upside punt play as part of a Jays stack.
Kyle Hendricks has been crushed by lefties thus far, allowing a .410 wOBA and .305 ISO. Billy McKinney ($2,800 DK, $2,600 FD) and Dominic Smith ($3,800 DK, $2,800 FD) are there as potential values in the OF if you need some salary relief.
The Brewers travel to Coors Field. Overall, they’ve been an awful offense this year with a .294 team wOBA, tied with the Tigers for 28th. Not great. But as we know, Coors Field can be the proverbial rising tide that lifts all boats. And that’s reflected by their implied total, a robust 5.7 runs. Germán Márquez has shown the ability to stifle opposing offenses but is coming off a dreadful performance his last time out against the Reds in Cincinnati. Christian Yelich ($5,700 DK, $4,300 FD) is, of course, the best option here and is priced up accordingly. Going back to 2019, Marquez has allowed a .321 wOBA to lefties as opposed to just a .292 mark against righties. So the lefties make the most sense on paper. In which case, Omar Narvaez ($4,300 DK, $3,000 FD) figures to be your cash game chalk at catcher this evening. There’s a good chance we’ll see a lot of Luis Urías ($4,000 DK, $3,000 FD) too as the leadoff man who is reasonably priced on both sites. He hasn’t shown much power (.324 xwOBA this year) but will have ample opportunity and at the very least has shown decent plate skills with a 12.4% BB rate.
The Angels are another offense that’s projected to perform well this evening, as they’ll be the first to greet Tiger’s prospect Matt Manning, who has allowed a whopping eleven home runs in Triple-A this year. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to deploy Shohei Ohtani as a hitter. Yes, I know, I’m sad too. Still, Justin Upton has performed well (.356 xwOBA this season) as the Angels’ unconventional leadoff man of late ($4,300 DK, $3,300 FD). Anthony Rendon ($5,000 DK, $3,800 FD) would be an all formats type of play if he is able to return from his triceps injury tonight. Jared Walsh ($5,000 DK, $3,700 FD) is another option to consider at first base, though he is priced very close to Freeman on both sites, making him more of a tournament option.
The Jays will be calling up T.J. Zeuch to start tonight in what will probably be more of a bullpen game. He had struggled in limited action this year prior to his demotion, with a 6.75 ERA and 1.92 WHIP. He hasn’t been great in the minors, with a 1.40 WHIP across 35 innings and just a 15.9% K rate. Still, outside of Aaron Judge ($5,400 DK, $4,200 FD), I’m looking at the Yankee offense as a boom/bust sort of stack tonight. Miguel Andújar ($3,500 DK, $2,500 FD) has been productive of late and is a decent value bat hitting lower in the order.
No, I don’t want to pick on Brandon Woodruff either, but as we saw with Yu Darvish’s last start, Coors Field can derail the plans of even the best of pitchers. Ryan McMahon ($4,900 DK, $3,400 FD), Trevor Story ($5,200 DK, $3,500 FD), and Charlie Blackmon ($4,600 DK, $3,300 FD) are all upside plays that should be minimally represented in tournaments. Prospect Brendan Rodgers ($3,000 DK, $3,000 FD) is a potential value play in tournaments too.
As mentioned earlier, Cease has been one of this year’s clear breakouts. But the Astros offense is a tough one and Cease can lose his control at times. The Astros are pegged with an implied total of just under five runs. Yordan Álvarez and the Astros have the power to swing tournaments.
To his credit, Wade Miley has done an excellent job this year limiting righties to just a .274 wOBA. The Padres have a sort of middling implied total of just over four runs, making Fernando Tatís Jr ($6,000 DK, $4,600 FD) more of a tournament option tonight.
Justin Dunn has been better overall this year but he’s still susceptible to lefties allowing a .346 wOBA and .202 ISO to them this year. The Rays do have an implied total just under five runs making Austin Meadows ($5,300 DK, $3,600 FD) and Brandon Lowe ($4,700 DK, $2,800 FD) potential tournament plays.
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