If Tuesday’s slate was defined by pitching excellence, Thursday’s eight-game slate is going to be about pitching survival. I mean that in both possible senses, too. Not only have some of the guys taking the mound this evening survived against insane odds to make it to the major league level, but you’ll also have to somehow survive having two of them in a lineup. It’s not exactly a collection of names that inspires a lot of confidence.
Let’s go position-by-position and break it all down.
Luis Garcia, Houston Astros at Detroit Tigers, $8,700 - I’m not quite sure how the algorithm spat out Joe Ross ($9,600) and Nick Pivetta ($9,500) before Garcia, but I’ll surely take the savings. The right-hander has been excellent in recent weeks, pitching to a 2.23 ERA and a 2.71 FIP across his past seven starts. Garcia has also managed an impressive 27.8% strikeout rate within that span of time, which has directly led to five of those seven outings producing at least 22.0 DKFP. In June, the Tigers have been far from the punching bag they were earlier in the season — they’ve registered a 108 wRC+ — yet the team remains a decent matchup with the league’s fourth-highest swinging strike rate (12.6%). Garcia can certainly rack up some fantasy points this evening.
Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, $6,300 - It’s difficult to put into words just how bad the “value” pitching options on tonight’s slate are, but when Martinez and his 15.43 ERA in June is the name you come up with, I think that pretty much says it all. Here’s the thinking. Of the eight games on the schedule, Pirates-Cardinals has the second-lowest implied total, likely due to the fact both teams rank in the bottom five of baseball in wRC+ throughout the month. So, between Martinez and Chad Kuhl ($6,900), I’ll lean towards the cheaper of the duo and the one that’s a pretty sizable favorite on the DraftKings Sportsbook. I guess there’s something positive about Martinez averaging 10.43 strikeouts per nine across his past four starts, too. It’s all super bleak.
Editor’s Note: Dodgers C Will Smith is not in the lineup for tonight’s game vs. the Cubs.
Will Smith, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Chicago Cubs , $4,800 - While the Dodgers do not have the slate’s highest implied team total, it’s not hard to see this lineup doing some serious damage on Thursday. First and foremost, Los Angeles is getting healthier and is starting to look like the All-Star team that was assembled six months ago. On top of that, Zach Davies ($8,100) comes into this outing with a 6.33 xERA and allowing opposing RHBs to compile a .355 wOBA. It also doesn’t hurt that Smith owns a 193 wRC+ when hitting in home games so far in 2021.
Reese McGuire, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Baltimore Orioles, $2,100 - The ultimate punt play at the position. If you’re someone thinking about spending up twice at pitcher this evening — which might not be a terrible idea — McGuire is in a perfect spot. The backstop has seven hits in his past three games, he’s slashing .300/.347/.433 for the season and, of course, he’ll be in an opposite-hand matchup against Dean Kremer ($6,500). The fact that the Jays are implied to score well-over six runs is pretty enticing, too.
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Trey Mancini, Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays, $5,000 - When in doubt, use an asset that’s playing in Buffalo on Thursday night. The Orioles as a team hit left-handed pitching exceedingly well, and it all starts with Mancini in the middle of the lineup. In 99 plate appearances this season within the split, the 29-year-old has posted a .322 ISO and a 166 wRC+. With Anthony Kay ($4,000) making an emergency start and conceding 2.14 home runs per nine in 2021, there’s no reason to think Baltimore won’t get lighting up the scoreboard this evening.
Alex Kirilloff, Minnesota Twins vs. Cleveland Baseball Team, $3,500 - Kirilloff continues to outperform his surface statistics by a wide margin, as he comes into tonight’s contest with a stunning .395 expected wOBA. Now, I’m not saying that all the positive regression is going to take place on Thursday, but I am saying that J.C. Mejia ($4,700) is an incredible matchup for the rookie. Mejia has struggled to an 8.53 ERA as a starter, specifically having issues with opposing LHBs. To wit, the 36 lefties that the 24-year-old has faced this season have combined to post a .657 slugging percentage. That’s bad news for Cleveland.
Marcus Semien, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Baltimore Orioles, $5,400 - Semien has had a slight issue making consistent contact as of late, but that wasn’t a problem when he and the Jays faced Kremer this past weekend. Semien took the young RHP deep to leadoff the game, while he’d eventually hit another off the Orioles’ bullpen later in the afternoon. That’s not an entirely shocking result for an RHB facing Kremer, as the rookie has surrendered a whopping 2.33 home runs per nine within the split so far in 2021. He’s also stuck out just 16.8% of the right-handed hitters he’s faced this season.
Luis Arraez, Minnesota Twins vs. Cleveland Baseball Team, $2,800 - Arraez doesn’t possess a huge fantasy ceiling due to his complete lack of power, but he does have a career .341 batting average versus right-handed pitching. He’ll likely be batting leadoff for the Twins this evening against Mejia, which could lead to as many as five plate appearances and should definitely lead to some run-scoring opportunities. I mean, he doesn’t have to do much at this price tag to bright back value, right?
Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays, $5,100 - With Tyler Glasnow on the IL, the Rays have turned to Michael Wacha ($7,000) in the starting rotation and it’s gone about as well as you’d expect. For the season, the veteran RHP sports an ugly 6.70 xERA, while he’s also allowed opposing LHBs to compile a .306 average and a .364 wOBA. That’s probably music to the ears of Devers, who is in possession of a 1.002 OPS when facing a right-handed pitcher so far in 2021. While Tampa’s bullpen is always scary in DFS, I think Devers can do some damage early in this contest.
Wander Franco, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox, $3,800 - Well, let’s all pour one out for the two slates where the No. 1 prospect in baseball was priced at the minimum. Still, even with Franco’s salary nearly doubling overnight, it’s not like he’s expensive at $3.8K. I mean, putting aside the whole “generational hitter” thing, Franco’s a switch-hitting power bat that’s expected to hit in the top-third of a Rays’ lineup that’s projected to score just under five runs on Thursday. Sounds like a decent value to me.
Jorge Polanco, Minnesota Twins vs. Cleveland Baseball Team, $4,400 - Polanco got off to an ice cold start to the season, but he’s been hitting really well since May 7. In fact, in the 168 plate appearances he’s taken in that span of time, Polanco has mustered a .232 ISO with just a 14.3% strikeout rate. You love to see that mix of contact skills and power, especially in a matchup against someone like the aforementioned Mejia.
Freddy Galvis, Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays, $3,000 - Galvis has been punishing left-handed pitching all season long, coming into tonight’s meeting with the Blue Jays slashing .293/.329/.520 with a .227 ISO and a 132 wRC+ within the split. Strangely, he’s usually moved out of the two-spot when the Orioles draw a southpaw, but even still, the veteran shortstop has supreme value at this minuscule price.
Editor’s Note: Braves RP Jesse Chavez will start tonight’s game vs. the Reds.
Nick Castellanos, Cincinnati Reds vs. Atlanta Braves, $4,900 - Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Castellanos hits really, really well against left-handed pitching. I mean, if we’re being honest, he’s hit well versus anyone he’s faced regardless of handedness in 2021, but a .279 ISO within the split is quite tantalizing. Castellanos also possesses a massive .460 expected wOBA when squaring off with a lefty — one of the highest qualified marks in all of baseball. I doubt Sean Newcomb ($4,000) works too deep into this game, but at least Castellanos will get one crack at a southpaw on Thursday.
Editor’s Note: Blue Jays OF George Springer is not in the lineup for tonight’s game vs. the Orioles.
George Springer, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Baltimore Orioles, $3,800 - It’s not like Springer’s looked great since making his return from the IL, but this is a price point that simply won’t last. Dean Kremer has a 5.98 FIP and he’s surrendered 2.37 home runs per nine to opponents through 11 starts this season. He’s simply not good and Springer, historically, is very good. With the Jays owning this slate’s highest implied team total, I’d be trying to get the veteran into as many lineups as possible.
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