Labor Day blessed baseball fans with a busy Monday schedule, but we now pay the price with Thursday’s light four-game slate. That enhances the challenge of creating a distinguishable DFS lineup.
Landing some chalk picks won’t necessarily yield a profit without rostering the evening’s upmost producers. On the bright side, four of eight probable starters are viable options who should each see significant lineup exposure.
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Top SP: Zack Greinke ($17,500) vs. Atlanta Braves
I was all prepared to write about Luis Castillo, who faces the Padres on the heels of an 11-strikeout gem. Then I saw that Zack Greinke costs just $200 more. The Cincinnati righty undoubtedly possesses a better matchup than the Arizona ace, who gets an Atlanta offense tied with Pittsburgh for an NL-low strikeout rate (20.3 %) as of Wednesday night. Yet the Braves only place a spot above the Mets in wOBA against righties. Also, Greinke is better at pitching. The reliable workhorse has filed quality starts in 12 of his last 14 outings. Castillo, who has already yielded five or more runs in seven separate turns, has not tossed consecutive quality starts all season. Perhaps he’s the better tournament play for his immense strikeout upside, but Greinke offers a far steadier floor in cash contests.
Honorable Mention: Luis Castillo ($17,300) vs. SD
Value SP: Stephen Strasburg ($17,000) vs. Chicago Cubs
FantasyDraft couldn’t pick a side between Stephen Strasburg and the Cubs, as everyone involved is priced lower than usual. Others won’t be able to resist Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant for $8,600 and $8,200, respectively, but I’ll instead take Washington’s ace for a paltry $17,000. The righty has never quite realized his potential as the best prospect ever. If health woes weren’t maddening enough, he now also must deal with a 4.09 ERA. Yet he still sports a 28.2 % strikeout rate and 3.27 SIERA. He has hurled consecutive six-inning, two-run outings after rough starts against the Braves and Phillies, and the Cubs have produced below-average offense over the last 30 days.
Honorable Mention: Shane Bieber ($15,000) at TOR
IF Jose Ramirez ($9,400) at Toronto Blue Jays (RHP Sam Gaviglio)
Jose Ramirez hasn’t hit a home run since August 17. He’s batting .250 after the All-Star break. Clearly he’s a bum now. Well, aside from his .375 wOBA after the All-Star break. His 10.9 FantasyDraft points per game also still comfortably leads all position players on Thursday’s docket. The MVP candidate is batting .285/.418/.626 against righties, and the opposing Sam Gaviglio has posted a 5.02 ERA. Take the discount.
Honorable Mentions: Michael Brantley ($9,400) at TOR (Gaviglio); David Peralta ($9,100) vs. ATL (Anibal Sanchez)
IF Kendrys Morales ($8,400) vs. Cleveland Indians (RHP Shane Bieber)
Hitting a home run every day isn’t sustainable. Who knew? Kendrys Morales has gone seven games without a dinger since going yard in seven consecutive contests, but the historic week inflated his slash line against righties to .279/.368/.526. He also still somehow wields a significantly lower wOBA (.340) than xwOBA (.417), so don’t discredit his power tear as a fluke. Shane Bieber will entice many gamers at $15,000, but I’d rather exploit his .398 wOBA (.320/.373/.577) relinquished to opposing lefties. That could also mean playing fellow switch-hitting slugger Justin Smoak ($8,500) and the red-hot Billy McKinney ($7,600), but Morales offers the right splits and best pairing of recent and past success.
Honorable Mentions: Yonder Alonso ($8,400) at TOR (Gaviglio); Freddie Freeman ($8,100) at ARI (Greinke)
Value: IF Yandy Diaz ($7,700) at Toronto Blue Jays (Gaviglio)
Such a small slate lends itself to stacking two lineups. That’s why I’m doubling down on Cleveland infielders before mentioning my offense to buy in bulk. Yandy Diaz has made a strong impression by batting .333/.371/.470 in 70 plate appearances. The 27-year-old righty, who has gone 15-for-43 with four walks and extra-base hits apiece against same-handed pitchers, has started four of the last five games. He hasn’t batted lower than fifth since August 15. Make sure he’s in Cleveland’s lineup before locking him into yours.
Honorable Mentions: Melky Cabrera ($7,700) at TOR (Gaviglio); Franmil Reyes ($6,900) at CIN (Castillo)
Lineup Stack: Cincinnati Reds vs. San Diego Padres (LHP Eric Lauer)
I braced for the worst before seeing FantasyDraft’s prices. In possession of a 5.01 ERA and 39.0 % hard-hit rate, Eric Lauer was surely too obvious a weak link not to prompt severe markups on Cincinnati’s bats. That’s not the case. Perhaps it’s because he tossed five hitless innings (still allowing an unearned run) in his last outing, but there are three Reds’s players in particularly I want in my DFS lineups.
- Eugenio Suarez ($8,400): Is there going to be a single submission without Suarez? He’s cheap despite annihilating southpaws (.347/.450/.669) all season, so the unheralded third baseman is the evening’s easy chalk pick.
- Jose Peraza ($7,500): A .314/.335/.436 hitter against lefties should bat first or second after taking Jameson Taillon deep for his fifth second-half home run (matching last year’s tally) last night.
- Phillip Ervin ($7,300): The part-time outfielder is batting 12-for-40 with five walks, five doubles, and a homer off southpaws, so he should garner a spot on Thursday’s lineup card. He’s searching for his first extra-base hit since August 24, but still packs a solid power-speed combination at a reasonable price.
Scott Schebler has handled lefties nearly as well (.334 wOBA) as righties (.336 wOBA) over his career, so he’s also not a bad sweetener (or replacement for Ervin if not starting) at $7,400.
Honorable Mention: Indians at Blue Jays (Gaviglio)