With Thursday’s 10-game schedule divided evenly between the afternoon and evening, FantasyDraft offers two sets of DFS contests. The latter slate, however, shuns a 6:10 p.m. ET game between James Paxton’s Mariners and Mike Clevinger’s Indians.
While the night shift could have used those pitchers, it’s instead led by two AL East aces. Meanwhile, the afternoon action is light on big-name hurlers outside of a head-to-head matchup between Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Martinez. Let’s examine the entire card to identify some of Thursday’s top plays.
Pitcher List is excited to be partnering with FantasyDraft, featuring advice articles every morning through the entirety of the 2018 season. Signup and play for free at FantasyDraft.
I came awfully close to picking Dylan Bundy, who will saunter into Thursday’s throwdown against Tampa Bay with a 1.42 ERA and 31.0 strikeout %. Since the Rays has scored 34 runs over the last four games, let’s play it safe with a known commodity. If Chris Sale’s start hasn’t received the same acclaim, it’s because everyone is accustomed to his dominance. A 1.86 ERA and FIP and 31.0 K-BB % represents business as usual for Boston’s ace. Toronto is far from a pushover, especially at the Rogers Centre, and they brandish some dangerous right-handed bats. Yet that does not include the injured Josh Donaldson, who has taken Sale deep four times in 27 career at-bats, so let’s take our chances with a superstar pitcher handling Steve Pearce, Teoscar Hernandez and Kendrys Morales. The cavernous price difference, however, makes Bundy a reasonable pivot at $18,400. Maybe even use both once the lineups reveal a hitting bargain or two to fund such a costly expenditure.
Only Miami nurses a lower ISO than Cincinnati’s .101. A returning Eugenio Suarez is the team’s lone starting right-handed position player with a wOBA above .300, so let’s roll with Sean Newcomb. The Braves southpaw has submitted 27 strikeouts in 21.2 innings with a 50.9 % ground-ball rate. His command remains a work in progress, but his 62.1 first-pitch strike % represents an improvement from last year’s 58.1. Although FantasyDraft is not giving a considerable discount at $17,100, he’s still a sensible high-upside second starter to pair with Syndergaard. (After all, how can we fade Thor on the same day Avengers: Infinity War hits theaters?)
Just like KV yesterday, I’m riding David Peralta at a mid-level price. Ben Lively has allowed a .298/.372/.528 career opposing slash line against left-handed batters, two of whom have taken him deep this month. The 26-year-old enters Thursday afternoon’s matchup with a respectable 3.69 FIP, but he has also already yielded 26 line drives. Peralta has made a living off his .308/.357/.500 slash line against righties, and he’s up to his usual tricks (16-for-48, five doubles, and a homer) in 2018. Now he’s leading off against an exploitable righty in a hitter’s park. Although a lack of fence-clearing pop hinders his ceiling, Peralta should deliver a satisfying return on a $8,000 price tag.
Miguel Cabrera is back. After scorching three doubles in the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader, the former Triple Crown winner is batting .329/.416/.513 with a 46.8 % hard-hit rate. Although a 58.1 ground-ball % is troubling for a slow-footed 35-year-old first baseman, his Statcast data churns out a .390 wOBA only five points below his actual clip. For just $7,600, $100 cheaper than Tyler Austin against a righty, look for Miggy to stay hot against Ivan Nova, who has served up four homers in five starts. Consider pairing Cabrera with Nicholas Castellanos ($8,500) and/or Leonys Martin ($7,300).
It pains me to say this, but I’m ready to leave Chris Archer Island. The polarizing Rays righty has relinquished 30 hits, 10 walks, and 21 runs through five atrocious starts. Mike Trout would blush at the numbers (.362/.431/.702, four homers) lefties have amassed against the former ace. Maybe he turns it around and proves that “former” describer premature. My hope is dwindling. I could just as easily pen a gloomily paragraph about Chris Davis, who’s hitting a dreadful .160/.261/.259. Since he’s cheap and facing a righty against whom he owns 1.075 OPS in 37 plate appearances, take a ride on the wild side and see if he can reacquaint himself with the Camden Yards bleachers.
Lucas Giolito has 10 more walks (19) than strikeouts (nine). How is that even possible? The former star prospect has especially struggled against lefties, allowing a .467 OBP and .427 wOBA. DFS gamers want more than just walks from their hitters, but consistently reaching base would make regular Royals leadoff hitter Jon Jay a bargain at $6,600. For a bigger splash, consider Mike Moustakas ($9,200), who has gone yard five times in his last 10 games played. He boasts a 48.1 % hard-hit rate after crushing his seventh homer of 2018 on Wednesday night. Because the Royals apparently don’t know how platoons work, Lucas Duda’s struggles against lefties (3-for-28 with 10 strikeouts) cloud his success (14-for-45, four walks) versus righties. Hope for a homer to pay off his $7,300, but settle for a walk and/or base hit before the White Sox turn to one of baseball’s weakest bullpens.
Honorable Mentions: Tigers at Pirates (Ivan Nova); Red Sox at Blue Jays (Marco Estrada)