With only three games scheduled for Thursday afternoon, FantasyDraft jumps right to the evening for a single seven-game slate. That wipes out a Coors Field matchup and marquee showdown between Luis Severino and James Paxton, but there are big bats and a superstar ace working the night shift.
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.
Top SP: Max Scherzer ($28,900) vs. Baltimore Orioles
Wow, I’m really breaking the mold by touting Max Scherzer the day after recommending Corey Kluber. But hey, aces gonna ace, and there’s no ace acier than the back-to-back NL Cy Young Award winner. DFS gamers are paying a premium for stability, as Scherzer has ended 13 of 15 starts with two or fewer runs allowed in at least six innings. The other times he allowed four runs in six frames and three unearned runs (five total) in five. That gives him 6.2 innings and 10 strikeouts per turn. Also, the Orioles stink. Mad Max against a lineup with the AL’s worst wOBA (and third-highest K%) isn’t a fair fight. He’s worth pinching pennies everywhere else in cash contests.
Honorable Mention: Tyler Skaggs ($20,800) vs. TOR
Value SP: Aaron Sanchez ($12,700) at Los Angeles Angels
Scherzer’s enormous salary requires an inexpensive risk with the second starter slot. Even Tyson Ross at $14,900 will leave little lineup wiggle room, which leads us to an Aaron Sanchez gambit. A-aron has done messed up for most of 2018, recording the second-worst K-BB % (6.3) among 88 qualified starters. He has also registered a 2.95 ERA, 26.0 K% and .265 wOBA in three markedly improved June starts. Even if the Angels’s lineup lacks depth, facing someone who might retire as the greatest player of all time isn’t ideal. At least the 25-year-old righty wields a 2.97 career ERA away from the Rogers Centre. A high-ceiling, high-floor play, Sanchez’s wide range of outcomes is palatable when paired with Scherzer and a minuscule price.
Honorable Mentions: Tyson Ross ($14,700) at SF; Chris Bassitt ($12,700) at CHW
IF Anthony Rendon ($7,800) vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Kevin Gausman)
Sure, it’d be more fun to play Bryce Harper ($9,900) or Trea Turner ($9,400), but Scherzer leaves us with the same budget as a college kid (or college graduate with a journalism degree writing about baseball online) sustaining on Ramen and week-old pizza. Don’t panic: FantasyDraft was nice enough to leave Anthony Rendon available for $7,800. Although he last homered on May 28, the third baseman has recorded two hits in each of his last four games. One was a double each time. Kevin Gausman, meanwhile, has relinquished a .376 wOBA to righties this season. Investors don’t need a long ball at this price.
Honorable Mentions: Kyle Schwarber ($8,600) at CIN (Matt Harvey): Jed Lowrie ($8,000) at CWS (Lucas Giolito)
IF/OF Ben Zobrist ($7,600) at Cincinnati Reds (RHP Matt Harvey)
Ben Zobrist is back. Following an anemic 2017, the 37-year-old has returned to his old ways by batting .280 with a .375 OBP and one more walk (29) than strikeout in 216 plate appearances. The switch-hitter has inflicted far more damage as a lefty, as he boasts a .402 OBP against righties. His next adversary, Matt Harvey, has ceded eight homers and a .393 wOBA to lefties this season. Joe Maddon is still prone to rotating his deep crop of position players, but Zobrist has batted No. 1 or 3 in eight of his last nine starts. Those who fade Scherzer can include Anthony Rizzo ($9,000) and Kyle Schwarber ($8,600) for a Cubs stack, but everyone else can eye Jason Heyward ($7,300) or Ian Happ ($7,500) instead.
Honorable Mentions: Ketel Marte ($7,500) at PIT (Ivan Nova); Jason Heyward ($7,300) at CIN (Harvey)
Value: IF/OF Matt Olson ($7,200) at Chicago White Sox (RHP Lucas Giolito)
Even a clearance-bin lineup needs some muscle. Enter Matt Olson. The second-year slugger has shaken off a poor start to sock 11 homers since May 13, including one last night. He boasts a .561 career slugging % against righties entering Thursday’s tilt against Lucas Giolito, who has issued a 7.19 ERA with more walks (45) than strikeouts. Opposing lefties have registered a .401 wOBA against the former top prospect, and none of Thursday night’s starters has suffered a worse xwOBA than his .391. That “7” in front of Olson’s price may be an error. Olson is worth far more under these circumstances.
Honorable Mentions: Jose Abreu ($7,200) vs. OAK (Bassitt); Stephen Piscotty ($6,800) at CHW (Giolito)
Lineup Stack: San Diego Padres at San Francisco Giants (LHP Madison Bumgarner)
Madison Bumgarner is facing the Padres, and I’m stacking the Padres. This draws at least an eight on the 10-point scale Ron Swanson uses to gauge Leslie Knope’s insanity. This also isn’t your slightly older sibling’s Bumgarner. The southpaw has allowed 19 hits and nine runs in three starts since returning from a broken finger. He has notched just nine strikeouts in 17.1 innings with a 7.0 % swinging-strike and 46.8 % hard-hit rate. The star southpaw deserves time to work off the rust, but DFS is a game of opportunity, not patience. San Diego just so happens to brandish three lefty-killers whose prices remain low out of respect for Bumgarner.
- Christian Villanueva ($7,300): 79 PA, .517 wOBA vs. LHP
- Hunter Renfroe ($6,700): 183 PA, .420 wOBA vs. LHP
- Jose Pirela ($6,600): 236 PA, .361 wOBA vs. LHP
Those are small sample sizes despite expanding the query to their career numbers, but all three would cost significantly more if facing a no-name pitcher with Bumgarner’s numbers. Franmil Reyes, a righty with unlimited raw power, is also in play for $6,600 for those underwhelmed by Pirela’s limited upside. Those uncomfortable with a complete stack should at least consider Villanueva and/or Renfroe.