Thursday night’s nine-game DFS slate is lacking in aces, but there are strong matchups to exploit on the pitching and hitting sides. Along with some usual poor pitchers to pick on, there’s even some value to absorb from a Coors Field bout between the Rockies and Brewers. Let’s break down some of the evening’s premier FantasyDraft options.
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Top SP: Miles Mikolas ($19,400) at San Diego Padres
DFS players should chase strikeouts as much as possible, so Miles Mikolas and his 19.3 K % does not typically qualify as a top option. Yet he supports that mundane mark with a 2.70 ERA, 51.2 % ground-ball rate, and the lowest walk rate (1.2 %) of any qualified starter. The precise pitcher has also worked seven innings in each of his last four starts, which alone allotted FantasyDraft investors 15.75 points each turn before accounting for his three wins and four combined runs allowed. Facing the Padres, who strike out more than anyone in baseball, patches up the 29-year-old righty’s main weakness. Use him with confidence on an evening lacking elite hurlers.
Honorable Mention: Walker Buehler ($20,600) vs. CIN
SP Mike Foltynewicz ($18,700) at Miami Marlins
Anyone seeking strikeouts will gravitate toward Caleb Smith, who has submitted MLB’s sixth-highest strikeout % (33.8). Yet he’s squaring up against the Braves, who entered Wednesday night with baseball’s lowest K % (16.7) and highest wOBA (.348) against southpaws. Let’s instead turn to his opponent. Mike Foltynewicz has quietly tallied 43 strikeouts in 37 innings while posting a 3.65 ERA. Last Friday’s six-run setback was hardly unusual for the highly erratic thrower, but he can pick on a desolate Marlins lineup troubled by MLB’s lowest wOBA against righties. Averaging 5.1 innings per start with a 10.6 walk %, he contrasts Mikolas in every way. The final point tally is all that matters, but they make an intriguing combination with great matchups.
Honorable Mentions: Garrett Richards ($17,200) vs. MIN; Tyler Mahle ($14,500) at LAD
OF Lorenzo Cain ($8,600) at Colorado Rockies (RHP German Marquez)
German Marquez has displayed reverse splits throughout his career, over which he has surrendered a .526 slugging percentage and .362 wOBA to same-handed hitters. While Lorenzo Cain excels against southpaws, he’s a career .283 hitter versus righties who will carry a season .381 OBP into Thursday evening. The usual leadoff hitter will test Marquez’s struggles at Coors Field, making him a high-floor, high-ceiling play for $8,600. Depending on who starts, Ryan Braun ($9,100), Domingo Santana ($8,300), and Jesus Aguilar ($8,000) are also interesting right-handed Brewers bats to buy.
Honorable Mentions: Nelson Cruz ($8,600) at TOR (J.A. Happ); Josh Donaldson ($8,400) vs. SEA (Mike Leake)
OF Teoscar Hernandez ($7,200) vs. Seattle Mariners (RHP Mike Leake)
Once upon a time, the Blue Jays did not play Teoscar Hernandez. That was ages ago, when the Mets were a juggernaut and Jose Ramirez couldn’t buy a hit. OK, that was early April, but it seems so ancient now. Since making his debut on April 13, Hernandez has already belted six homers and swiped three bases. He boasts a .574 slugging percentage and .374 wOBA while crushing 40 of 72 batted balls (as of Wednesday night) for an exit velocity of 95 mph or higher. He’s legit. Mike Leake? Not so much. He has coughed up 47 hits, 15 walks and 27 runs in seven disastrous starts. Four righties have already taken him deep, and his .448 xwOBA is somehow considerably worse than his actual (and also quite bad) .371 mark. Oh yeah, Hernandez has also spent the past four games occupying the leadoff role. How is he only $7,200?
Honorable Mentions: Yangervis Solarte ($7,800) and Curtis Granderson ($7,300) vs. SEA (Leake)
Value: OF Carlos Gonzalez ($7,200) vs. Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Jhoulys Chacin)
Remember how Jhoulys Chacin is always way worse on the road than wherever he calls home? A trip to Coors Field won’t remedy that problem. A Rockies stack is certainly in play, but I wouldn’t be breaking any ground by recommending Charlie Blackmon ($10,800) and/or Nolan Arenado ($10,600). Let’s instead focus on Carlos Gonzalez, who has logged just 23 plate appearances at Coors compared to 68 on the road in 2018. He’s 7-for-22 with two doubles, a triple, and a homer at the park he has called home for nearly a decade, so let’s not shy away because of his overall .226/.264/.393 line. Even during a rough 2017, he recorded a .356 wOBA against righties and .390 wOBA at Coors, and he’s available for $7,200 against a righty who has relinquished a .418 wOBA to lefties this year and 6.13 ERA on the road since the start of 2016.
Honorable Mentions: Justin Smoak ($6,400) vs. SEA (Leake); Chris Davis ($5,700) vs. KC (Ian Kennedy)
Lineup Stack: Kansas City Royals at Baltimore Orioles (RHP Chris Tillman)
Fueled by Tuesday’s decimation of Dylan Bundy, the Royals have scored 38 runs over their last six games. While Bundy was probably the best starter they faced during that stretch, another pitching pinata in Chris Tillman awaits. Any hitter not named Mike Trout could only dream of replicating the .346/.429/.630 slash line all opponents have posted against the Baltimore righty. He has already served up five home runs, and lefties have registered a .517 wOBA. Any cash-contest lineup should employ Mike Moustakas, who has nine homers in 96 plate appearances versus righties this season. Be grateful that he only costs $9,000. Following a rough start, Lucas Duda has gone 9-for-25 in seven May games after taking Andrew Cashner deep on Wednesday night. The big first baseman is there to crush bad righties, and he only costs $6,300. Jon Jay can also save some cap space at $5,600, a good bargain if he’s batting atop the lineup. And we don’t have to contain the party to lefties, as Whit Merrifield ($8,200) and Jorge Soler ($7,500) are both generously priced given the matchup.
Honorable Mentions: Blue Jays vs. Mariners (Leake); Rockies vs. Brewers (Chacin)