Thursday brings another big night of fantasy baseball to DraftKings with eight games on the featured slate, which gets underway at 6:35 p.m. ET. Seven of the eight games are divisional contests, and the only one that isn’t is a potential playoff preview between the Houston Astros and the Baltimore Orioles, the latter of which is trying to hang in the chase for a Wild Card spot.
Make sure to monitor the starting lineups and the latest injury news by installing the DK Live app and following DK Live on Twitter (@dklive). I’m also on Twitter (@ZT_Sports), where you can keep up with all my picks.
Brandon Woodruff, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Cincinnati Reds ($9,200) – Woodruff is an impressive 11-4 with a 3.26 ERA, 3.21 FIP and 10.77 K/9 in his 24 starts this season. He has double-digit strikeouts in three of his past five outings, logging 21 strikeouts in 14 innings over his two most recent outings.
Woodruff has also allowed two runs or fewer in six of his past seven, going 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA, 3.67 FIP and 11.01 K/9 over that stretch. He faced the Reds earlier this month and stacked up 11 strikeouts in six innings on his way to 31.9 DKFP. He was even sharper in his most recent outing with 35.8 DKFP vs. the Yankees. Even though Cincinnati is a hitter-friendly park, Woodruff’s strikeout potential and high ceiling make him a great play on this slate, especially since his salary is barely over $9K.
Other Options – Justin Verlander ($10,700), Julio Urías ($9,700)
Hayden Wesneski, Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh Pirates ($6,900) – Wesneski is a 24-year-old prospect making just his second start in the Majors, but he’s a solid sub-$7K play with nice upside in this favorable spot vs. the Pirates. In his start last Saturday vs. the Rockies, Wesneski struck out seven in seven strong innings and earned 26 DKFP in a no-decision. Even out of the bullpen, he had flashed strikeout potential, punching out 11 over 8 2/3 innings. While his sample size is small, his ceiling is definitely high enough to use him as your SP2 and spend up on bigger bats with the savings.
Other Options – Michael Wacha ($8,100), José Berríos ($6,600)
J.T. Realmuto, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves ($5,200) – Realmuto gets an extra boost from positional scarcity at catcher, but his bat has been hot enough to make him worth a look regardless of position. He has homered in three straight games and has six home runs in his past 10 games. Over that span, he has averaged 13.8 DKFP per contest while going 15-for-37 (.405) with a .514 ISO and .574 wOBA. On top of his recent success, Realmuto has a good history against opposing starter Max Fried ($8,300), going 11-for-34 (.324) with three home runs in their past head-to-head matchups.
Willy Adames, Milwaukee Brewers at Cincinnati Reds ($4,700) – Adames has five homers in his past 10 games and has put up 17.7 DKFP per game over that stretch by going 16-for-36 (.444) with 10 walks, two stolen bases and a .622 wOBA over that span. He’s up to 31 homers on the season and has hit .321 with a 44.8% hard-hit rate and .429 wOBA this month.
Other Options – Rafael Devers ($5,400), Gleyber Torres ($4,100)
Elvis Andrus, Chicago White Sox vs. Cleveland Guardians ($3,700) – Andrus has given the White Sox a huge boost since joining the team and taking over as the team’s everyday leadoff hitter. He’s hitting .337 with five home runs and seven stolen bases in his 19 games this month while scoring 17 runs and driving in 16. He has a solid .412 wOBA and hits at the top of a lineup that has typically given Shane Bieber ($10,100) trouble. Andrus brings a high ceiling with his power-speed combo and still comes affordably under $4K.
Mike Brosseau, Milwaukee Brewers at Cincinnati Reds ($2,000) – Brosseau connected on his sixth home run of the season on Wednesday as a pinch-hitter and could be slotted into the leadoff slot. He has only gone 3-for-9 (.333) since returning from the IL two weeks ago, but he has made the most of his limited opportunities this season, hitting .268 with a .350 wOBA and 126 wRC+. He has some nice power potential and should be a great value to consider at his minimum salary, especially if he leads off Thursday.
Other Options – Josh Naylor ($3,900), Oswaldo Cabrera ($2,800)
Aaron Judge, New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox ($6,500) – Judge didn’t homer on Wednesday but still posted a respectable 16 DKFP with a pair of doubles, two runs scored and a walk. He has averaged an incredible 17.2 DKFP over his past 15 games while hitting .491 (28-for-57) with seven doubles, eight home runs, 15 walks, 20 runs scored and even a stolen base. His .643 wOBA and 338 wRC+ over that 15-game span are ridiculous, but he continues to produce at a historic level and will be focused on setting records and continuing to carry the Yankees offense in this weekend’s set with their archrival Red Sox.
Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros at Baltimore Orioles ($5,000) – Tucker homered on Wednesday and now has five long balls in his past 11 games. He has hit safely in all but one of those 11 contests, going 14-for-44 (.318) with a .452 wOBA. Tucker can sometimes go under the radar since the Astros have so many good hitters, but he has grown into a solid left-handed hitting power play that brings a high ceiling at $5K.
Other Options – Ronald Acuña Jr. ($5,900), Tommy Pham ($4,700)
Harrison Bader, New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox ($2,600) – Bader made his return from the 60-day IL on Tuesday and went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and 14 DKFP in his Yankees debut. He followed that up with 11 more DKFP on Wednesday in New York’s 14-2 victory and should continue to get a chance to be the Yankees’ everyday CF while hitting in a productive lineup. Bader brings a lot of upside with his speed, and he has also flashed a little power, which gives him a very nice ceiling at this salary.
Matt Vierling, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves ($2,000) – Vierling was one of the Phillies’ heroes Wednesday, going 5-for-5 with five singles in their extra-inning win vs. the Blue Jays. The 26-year-old has become a regular against left-handed pitching and has hit .333 (21-for-63) over his past 19 games.
He doesn’t have a home run during that span, but he has stolen a base and produced a .320 wOBA. If you need a minimum-salaried OF, Vierling is a lower-risk, lower-ceiling option, who will likely get the start again against Fried. Against lefties on the season, Vierling is hitting .281 with four stolen bases and a .313 wOBA.
Other Options – Oscar González ($3,600), Stone Garrett ($2,400)
TEAMS TO STACK
Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees – The Red Sox will be facing Jameson Taillon ($7,500) for the fourth time this season after touching him up for 10 runs on 15 hits over 18 innings. Boston has five homers in those games and will be at homer-happy Yankee Stadium for the rest of the week. Taillon has given up 10 home runs in his nine starts since August 1, compiling a 3-3 record with a 4.78 ERA and 4.87 FIP.
Several Red Sox have hit him well, led by Rafael Devers ($5,400), who has gone 4-for-11 with two homers, and Tommy Pham ($4,700), who has gone 7-for-17 (.412) with three extra-base hits. J.D. Martinez ($4,500) has also been heating up lately. Also, Christian Arroyo ($3,300), Connor Wong ($2,600) and Triston Casas ($2,100) all have bargain potential if they are in the lineup against Taillon.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is z.thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
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