The MLB regular season is officially in the home stretch. Thursday’s main MLB slate starts at 7:10 p.m. ET and features six games. Let’s take a look at some of the top studs and values at each position to help you set your DraftKings lineups.
Corbin Burnes, MIL @ STL, $8,400 – Burnes has somewhat quietly been one of the best pitchers in baseball this season, so I’m not sure why he’s so cheap today. He’s pitched to a 1.77 ERA and 1.78 FIP through his first 56 innings, and he’s also posted a 13.34 K/9. Overall, his 2.6 WAR ties him with Yu Darvish and Jacob deGrom for the top mark among NL pitchers, so he should be a legit Cy Young candidate.
Burnes is in a solid spot today vs. the Cardinals. They rank just 21st in wRC+ vs. right-handed pitchers this season, and Burnes racked up 10 strikeouts over just 4 2/3 innings in his only other start vs. the Cardinals this season. The Brewers are also still fighting for their playoff lives – they’re one game behind the Cardinals and Reds for second place in the NL Central – so Burners shouldn’t be limited in this outing.
Other Options – Walker Buehler ($10,000)
Cristian Javier, HOU @ TEX, $7,400 – Javier stands out as an excellent pitching option at his current salary. He’s taking on the Rangers, who have struggled vs. right-handed pitchers this season. They rank just 29th in wRC+ vs. right-handed pitchers, and they’ve also posted the ninth-highest strikeout rate. The Rangers are currently implied for just 3.9 runs, which is the third-lowest mark on the slate. Javier is just the sixth-most expensive pitcher on the slate, so that’s a pretty appealing combination.
Other Options – Kwang-Hyun Kim ($7,800), Kris Bubic ($6,600)
Christian Vazquez, BOS vs. BAL, $4,500 – Vazquez isn’t someone you typically want to pay up for against a right-handed pitcher, but Alex Cobb ($6,900) is not your average right-handed pitcher. He’s pitched to a 5.10 FIP this season, and that represents a marked improvement from his mark of 11.89 last season. The Red Sox are currently implied for a slate-high 5.5 runs, and Vazquez is expected to occupy the No. 5 spot in the lineup. It’s rare to find a catcher with a high implied team total and a premium lineup spot, but Vazquez checks both boxes today.
Other Options – Salvador Perez ($5,300), Travis d’Arnaud ($4,800)
Pedro Severino, BAL @ BOS, $3,400 – On the other side of that matchup, Severino is another strong option at the catcher position. He’s also expected to occupy a premium spot in the lineup – he’s currently projected to bat fourth – and he’ll be on the positive side of his batting splits vs. left-hander Martin Perez ($6,700). Severino has struggled a bit vs. southpaws this season, but he has historically been productive in those matchups.
Other Options – Austin Romine ($2,800), Jacob Nottingham ($2,000)
Freddie Freeman, ATL vs. MIA, $5,500 – Freeman has been an absolute monster offensively this season. He’s posted a 188 wRC+, which is the second-best mark among all qualified batters this season. Only Juan Soto has a better wRC+ this season, and he’s done it over a much smaller sample size.
Freeman has unsurprisingly been at his best vs. right-handed pitchers, and he’ll be facing a very mediocre right-hander today in Pablo Lopez ($7,200). Lopez has struggled with a 6.10 ERA when pitching on the road this season, and Freeman enters this contest in insane recent form. He’s posted a 229 wRC+ since the start of September, and he’s averaged 13.2 DKFP over his past 10 games.
Other Options – Cody Bellinger ($5,800), Max Muncy ($5,400)
Miguel Cabrera, DET@ KC, $2,800 – Cabrera is no longer one of the most feared hitters in the game, but he’s still capable of getting the job done at a high level vs. left-handed pitchers. He’ll facing a left-hander today in Kris Bubic ($6,600), and Cabrera has posted a 181 wRC+ vs. southpaws this season. He’s also expected to bat third in the Tigers’ lineup, so there aren’t a ton of negatives with Cabrera at his current price tag.
Other Options – Renato Nunez ($3,600), Jeimer Candelario ($3,400)
Ozzie Albies, ATL vs. MIA, $5,500 – Second base is kind of a disaster at the top today. None of the top options really check all the boxes, but Albies stands out as the best of the bunch. His No. 6 spot in the lineup isn’t ideal, but at least the Braves are implied for 5.2 runs. Albies is known for being a lefty masher, but he’s shown some nice strides vs. right-handers this season as well. He’s posted a 157 wRC+, which is a big improvement from his mark from last season.
Other Options – Tommy Edman ($4,400)
Hanser Alberto, BAL @ BOS, $3,700 – Alberto is expected to occupy the leadoff spot for the Orioles, and he’ll be on the positive side of his splits vs. Perez. Alberto has posted a .378 wOBA vs. left-handers over the past 12 months, so he can do a bit of damage in those situations.
Other Options – Kolten Wong ($3,600), Niko Goodrum ($3,300)
Rafael Devers, BOS vs. BAL, $5,500 – Devers is quite simply one of the best left-handed batters in baseball. He was dominant vs. right-handed pitchers in 2019, and he’s followed that up with a 146 wRC+ vs. right-handers in 2020. Cobb has unsurprisingly been at his worst against left-handed batters this season, allowing them to post a .352 wOBA and 1.77 HRs per nine innings.
Other Options – Justin Turner ($5,300), Alex Bregman ($4,900)
Austin Riley, ATL vs. MIA, $3,600 – Targeting batters at the bottom of the lineup is typically not an advised strategy, but Riley is an exception. He has way more power that the typical No. 8 hitter, so he could be a cheap source of pop on today’s slate. He benefits from the same matchup as the rest of the Braves’ batters and is obviously less expensive than most of his teammates.
Other Options – Maikel Franco ($4,100), Isaac Paredes ($2,500)
Adalberto Mondesi, KC vs. DET, $5,000 – Mondesi has had his full skill set on display recently. He’s one of the league’s premier base stealers, and he’s stolen 12 bases since the start of September. He’s also launched four HRs over that time frame, which is an elite combination for fantasy purposes.
Mondesi is in an appealing spot today vs. Tigers right-hander Michael Fulmer ($6,500), who has been an absolute disaster this season. He’s pitched to an 8.17 ERA and 6.73 FIP, and the Royals are currently implied for 5.3 runs.
Other Options – Corey Seager ($5,800), Xander Bogaerts ($5,300)
Willi Castro, DET @ KC, $3,400 – Castro is pretty cheap for someone who is expected to bat second in the Tigers’ lineup. He’ll have the splits advantage vs. Bubic and whoever else the Royals pitch today by virtue of being a switch hitter.
Other Options – Jose Iglesias ($3,900), Orlando Arcia ($2,800)
Ronald Acuna Jr. ATL vs. MIA, $6,100 – I’m obviously very fond of the Braves today, and Acuna is obviously in play for them. He’s one of the most expensive batters on the slate, but very few players can match his upside. He has the potential to hit for power and run on the base paths, and players who can do both are typically excellent fantasy values.
Other Options – Mookie Betts ($6,100), Whit Merrifield ($5,300)
Alex Verdugo, MIA @ ATL, $4,000 – Verdugo will never be able to fill the massive shoes of Betts, but he’s still a capable offensive player. He specifically hits well vs. right-handed pitchers, and he’ll be facing a mediocre right-hander today in Cobb. Verdugo has posted a .399 wOBA and .228 ISO in those matchups over the past 12 months, so he stands out as the projected leadoff hitter for the team with the highest implied team total on the slate.
Other Options – Victor Reyes ($3,200), Jorge Soler ($3,100)
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