The sun is shining, the skies are blue and the umpires are terrible. How could you ask for better conditions to play a little baseball? Tonight’s featured slate on DraftKings is made up of eight games and it all gets underway at 7:07 p.m. ET in Buffalo, New York.
Let’s go position-by-position and break down who you should be targeting for your lineups.
Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels vs. Detroit Tigers, $8,100 - Ohtani can sometimes limit his own upside with his command issues — a 9.8% walk rate doesn’t mix well with a starter who’s already usually throwing fewer than 90 pitches — however it’s hard to argue with the raw results. Ohtani owns a 2.85 ERA and a 3.39 xFIP through 47.1 innings of work. He’s struck out 34.0% of the batters he’s faced and he’s managed to exceed 30.0 DKFP twice in his last five outings. That’s some pretty impressive stuff from an asset priced this close to $8K, especially one that’s also regularly hitting bombs of his own. Meanwhile, the Tigers have actually been hitting decently so far in June, but the team does own the AL’s second-highest strikeout rate within that span (26.4%). Detroit remains a very generous DFS matchup.
Charlie Morton, Atlanta Braves vs. St. Louis Cardinals, $7,200 - Morton has been frustratingly inconsistent all season long, but here’s what we know about the RHP. First and foremost, Morton has struck out 10.23 batters per nine through his 13 starts, showcasing an elite level of swing-and-miss ability. On top of that, Morton’s ERA estimators are far kinder than his actual ERA of 4.50, as the 37-year-old’s FIP (3.77) and xFIP (3.47) are roughly a full-run lower. There’s also the matter of the struggling Cardinals. In general, it’s always been best to attack this lineup with a right-handed pitcher, but St. Louis is having its issues with pretty much everybody so far in June. In the month, the Cardinals sport a lowly 78 wRC+ and a .115 ISO that’s the lowest mark in all of baseball. Look for Morton to take advantage.
Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays, $4,800 - Sanchez has certainly been enjoying the month of June, as the backstop has slashed .302/.333/.674 with a 168 wRC+ in his 45 plate appearances since the calendar turned. I doubt that success with come to an end this evening with the Jays sending T.J. Zeuch ($6,200) to the mound in an emergency start. For those who don’t remember the former first-round pick’s cup of coffee in April, Zeuch pitched to an 11.72 xERA over four appearances. Yikes.
Tom Murphy, Seattle Mariners vs. Tampa Bay Rays, $3,400 - Murphy has consistently preferred to face left-handed pitching throughout his career, and nothing about the trend has changed so far in 2021. In 67 plate appearances within the split, Murphy owns a .276 ISO and a 124 wRC+. For some perspective, against RHPs, the catcher has just a .456 OPS. So, maybe Rich Hill ($9,200) isn’t exactly an ideal matchup, but given his handedness, he’ll do.
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Jared Walsh, Los Angeles Angels vs. Detroit Tigers, $5,000 - This is an interesting spot. I’m not totally above having some Matt Manning ($4,700) exposure in tournaments; but at the same time, he is a 23-year-old kid making his first-career MLB start and he’s pitched to a 8.07 ERA in Triple-A so far this season. Walsh is slashing an insane .340/.418/.648 with a 188 wRC+ against right-handed pitchers in 2021. Between Manning and a shaky Tigers bullpen, he should be in line for a huge performance this evening.
Editor’s Note: Yankees 1B Chris Gittens is not in the lineup for tonight’s game vs. the Blue Jays.
Chris Gittens, New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays, $2,400 - It’s unclear if Gittens will be in the Yankees starting lineup this evening, but I can’t think of a better matchup for the slugger than Zeuch. Gittens’ biggest flaw is his contact rate, yet that shouldn’t be an issue against Toronto’s lanky starter, as Zeuch has struck out just six of the 57 batters he’s faced so far this season. The RHP is also conceding a .700 slugging percentages to opponents, so you don’t really have to squint to see how Gittens’ massive raw power could play into tonight’s contest.
Marcus Semien, Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees, $5,100 - The Jays and the Yankees both have implied team totals of well over five runs on Thursday, which means getting any piece of this game is a good idea. To be fair, though, Semien’s a perfectly fine play in a vacuum. Toronto’s leadoff man is slashing .333/.395/.614 with a 173 wRC+ since the beginning of May, while Michael King ($6,300) sports a 5.30 xERA and has struggled mightily as a starter. Semien also leads the Blue Jays in stolen bases (9), so he can truly attack an opponent in so many different ways.
Dylan Moore, Seattle Mariners vs. Tampa Bay Rays, $3,000 - Again, I’m not suggesting that you full-on stack against Hill, but if you need to save some salary on a small slate, you could do worse than cherry-picking some Mariners’ bats. Dylan Moore has been hitting well since coming off the IL, he possesses a career .208 ISO against LHPs and he’s usually batting in the middle of Seattle’s lineup when the team is facing a lefty. That’s a pretty nice combination of factors.
Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves vs. St. Louis Cardinals, $4,700 - Regression has not been kind to John Gant ($7,500). The right-hander had been consistently outperforming his ERA estimators all season long coming into June, but his last two starts have been a train wreck. Gant’s surrendered 12 earned runs in 5.2 innings, mainly the result of three home runs and an embarrassing 0.38 K/BB ratio. For 2021 as a whole, Gant’s 6.15 xERA stands as an ugly reminder that the 28-year-old simply isn’t all that good. Riley, who owns a .268 ISO and 147 wRC+ when hitting at home, should be able to do some serious damage this evening.
Cavan Biggio, Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees, $3,700 - It’s only a sample of 20 plate appearances, but Biggio has looked very comfortable at the dish since returning from the IL last week. To wit, the LHB is hitting .412 in that span with five extra-base hits and an eye-popping .647 ISO. To put that in perspective, in Biggio’s first 151 PAs of 2021, he was only able to muster seven extra-base knocks. In an opposite-hand matchup with King, Biggio is certainly viable on Thursday.
Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees, $5,600 - Bichette has the capacity to be a streaky hitter, which could mean good things for anyone with the capital to roster him this evening. In fact, in 63 plate appearances in June, Bichette is slashing .356/.397/.576 with a 166 wRC+. More recently, the shortstop has 17 hits and a 1.086 OPS in his last 10 games. Basically, the man is on fire and I severely doubt that King has the stuff to combat Bichette’s amazing current form.
Jose Iglesias, Los Angeles Angels vs. Detroit Tigers, $3,700 - With Anthony Rendon ($5,000; triceps) out of the lineup on Wednesday, Iglesias was asked to bat third for the Angels. Actually, for the past week, the shortstop has primarily been hitting out of the five-hole. Is it sad that lineup positioning is the best rationale I have for liking Iglesias on Thursday? Sort of, especially with the infielder’s 2020 campaign looking more and more like an aberration. However, Los Angeles has the second-highest non-Coors implied run total on tonight’s slate. If Iglesias is batting in the top-half at a price below $4K, I’m going to have some shares.
Aaron Judge, New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays, $5,400 - I’ve never been a huge fan of using BvP stats, but the fact that Judge has two home runs off of Zeuch in just eight career at-bats makes a lot of sense. Judge has the second-highest expected wOBA in baseball (.439) and a whopping 19.4% of his batted ball events this season have been barrels. As mentioned above, Zeuch is a contact-oriented pitcher, yet contact is not the result you want if you’re a pitcher when Judge is in the batter’s box.
Dominic Smith, New York Mets vs. Chicago Cubs, $3,800 - Smith had been entrenched in a pretty disastrous slump the past few weeks, but things appear to be turning around. To wit, Smith has a pair of home runs in his past three games, and now he’ll get an amazing matchup against Kyle Hendricks ($8,800). The RHP has been awful as of late, conceded eight home runs in his past four outings. Actually, for the season as a whole, Hendricks sports a 5.44 xERA, while he’s surrendered a massive .422 wOBA to the 141 LHBs he’s faced. Hendricks is broken and Smith should reap the rewards.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) 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 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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