Major League Baseball is setting up for another fun weekend stuffed with fantasy baseball, but even on Thursday’s travel day, there is a solid, nine-game slate of action on DraftKings. Coming into the day, it shapes up to be a potentially soggy slate with rain threatening the games in Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta and St. Louis. Keep a close eye on those weather situations throughout the day and be ready to pivot your picks to other players if any game is rained out. I’ve listed my favorite plays below, emphasizing the options where the weather isn’t expected to be a factor.
To monitor the latest news and player availability updates, be sure to install the DK Live app and follow DK Live on Twitter (@dklive). I’m also usually prowling around Twitter (@ZT_Sports), and I’m always happy to answer any questions you have about these picks or the strategies I typically use.
Frankie Montas, Oakland Athletics vs. Texas Rangers ($9,000) – Montas had his most recent outing cut short by taking a comebacker off his pitching hand after just 1 2⁄3 innings. He is expected to start this game against the Rangers, though, and will look to continue his strong start to the season. Despite a 2-4 record, he has pitched well overall with a 3.55 ERA and 3.32 FIP. He has gotten a little unlucky by most metrics, and his 9.77 K/9 rate indicates his high ceiling. Prior to his abbreviated start, he posted over 23 DKFP in four of six outings, culminating in a season-high 29.9 DKFP with 12 strikeouts in six innings against the Angels earlier this month. He will look to continue that momentum in this matchup against the Rangers, who have hit .223 as a team this season and have scored the fifth-fewest runs in the Majors in May. Montas gave up two runs in 7 1⁄3 innings while striking out eight for 25.5 DKFP when he faced them earlier this season, and he has also been better this year at home, where he has held opponents to a .195 batting average.
Other Options – Tarik Skubal ($9,700), Shohei Ohtani ($8,700)
Hyun-Jin Ryu, Toronto Blue Jays at Los Angeles Angels ($6,900) – Ryu hasn’t been in peak form since returning after missing nearly a month with a forearm injury, but he has still had success. He got his first win of the season by throwing six shutout innings against the Reds and producing 19.9 DKFP in his most recent start. He has allowed just one run in 10 2⁄3 innings over his two starts since returning but has also struck out only six batters. Even though he hasn’t been dominant, he has been good enough to consider at this price point. He should be familiar with the Angels from his time on the other side of the Freeway Series with the Dodgers. In his career against the Angels, Ryu has gone 2-0 with a 0.98 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 27 2⁄3 innings.
Other Option – Devin Smeltzer ($7,600), Konnor Pilkington ($4,000)
Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Milwaukee Brewers ($5,800) – Goldschmidt continues to put up huge numbers near the top of the Cardinals’ order and has a 16-game hitting streak coming into this series against the Brew Crew. He has gone 30-for-67 (.448) over that stretch with five home runs, 12 doubles, a .403 ISO and a .559 wOBA. He has also absolutely crushed lefties all year long, going 15-for-28 (.536) with a .536 ISO and .692 wOBA. Eric Lauer ($10,100) has held him hitless in their previous career meetings, but Goldie is on another level right now and should be able to keep putting up big fantasy points if the weather allows this game to be played.
Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals at Minnesota Twins ($4,400) – While he hasn’t been quite as red-hot as Goldschmidt, Merrifield has started to turn things around after a slow start and is also on the right side of an opposite-hand matchup. In his past 15 games, Merrifield has gone 23-for-64 (.359) with four doubles, three home runs, a .203 ISO and .411 wOBA. He has also added four stolen bases over that stretch giving him another way to produce points. Throughout his career, he has hit lefties well with a .299 average, 24 home runs and a .345 wOBA.
Other Options – Trea Turner ($6,100), Xander Bogaerts ($5,200)
Gio Urshela, Minnesota Twins vs. Kansas City Royals ($3,200) – On the other side of that AL Central matchup, Urshela will also be taking on a lefty, as he and the Twins face Daniel Lynch ($6,600). He’s hitting .298 against southpaws this season with a home run and .339 wOBA. Urshela has hit safely in nine of his past 11 games with a pair of home runs, going 12-for-36 (.333) with a .194 ISO and .405 wOBA. While he doesn’t offer the consistent power production of an elite bat, he is an affordable steady contributor at the hot corner.
Carlos Santana, Kansas City Royals at Minnesota Twins ($2,000) – The Royals as a whole are a little underpriced, possibly since they were originally expected to face Joe Ryan (COVID-IL) but will now take on lefty Devin Smeltzer ($7,600) in a more favorable matchup. Santana hasn’t been as hot as Merrifield, but he has gone 7-for-20 (.350) during his current five-game hitting streak with two doubles and a home run during that span. In addition, the veteran has had success in previous meetings with Smeltzer, going 3-for-11 with two walks and a home run.
Other Options – Josh Bell ($3,900), Jed Lowrie ($2,400)
Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona Diamondbacks ($6,200) – Betts and the Dodgers’ bats are in a great matchup and are priced up accordingly, but he’s still a strong play if you can find other cheap plays to put around him. Betts was out of the lineup Wednesday after smashing two home runs Tuesday on his way to a massive 37-DKFP performance, his fourth straight game with at least 18 DKFP. Betts has been on an absolute tear over his past 25 games, going 35-for-99 (.354) with 10 home runs, a .384 ISO, a .490 wOBA and a 53.0% hard-hit rate. Betts has had multiple hard-hit events in seven of his past 10 starts and gone 17-for-39 (.436) in those games with six home runs and a .646 wOBA.
J.D. Martinez, Boston Red Sox at Chicago White Sox ($4,900) – Betts former teammate in Boston, J.D. Martinez, has also been on fire lately with nine multi-hit performances over his past 12 games. During that span, he’s hitting .532 (25-for-47) with six doubles and two home runs. Martinez is hitting .385 with a .433 wOBA on the season against southpaws like Dallas Keuchel ($5,200), and he has gone 3-for-9 with a home run against the veteran lefty in their previous career meetings.
Other Options – Bryce Harper ($6,000), Byron Buxton ($5,800), Randal Grichuk ($4,200)
Kiké Hernandez, Boston Red Sox at Chicago White Sox ($3,500) – Hernandez has also been heating up lately as Boston’s offense has come alive. While going 15-for-52 (.288), he has hit safely in 11 of his past 12 games with six doubles and a home run. He has five extra-base hits in his five most recent games and has historically been a much better hitter against lefties like Keuchel than against righties. He is 2-for-8 with a home run against Keuchel in their past meetings and should stay hot as long as the weather doesn’t wash out this matchup of the Sox in Chicago.
Kole Calhoun, Texas Rangers at Oakland Athletics ($2,600) – In his first season with the Rangers, Calhoun has been a productive middle-of-the-order bat and has found his power lately with six home runs in his past 10 games. He has gone 13-for-35 (.371) over those contests with an impressive 60.0% hard-hit rate and a .565 wOBA. He also has had previous success against Montas, going 7-for-18 (.389) with two home runs, so this seems to be a nice spot to target the converging trends and roll with Kole.
Other Options – A.J. Pollock ($3,100), Kyle Garlick ($2,200)
TEAMS TO STACK
Washington Nationals vs. Colorado Rockies – Whether he’s been at Coors Field or on the road like he will be in this contest, the early season has been brutal for Germán Márquez ($6,200). Márquez has allowed at least three runs in each of his past seven starts with an ugly 7.05 ERA over that stretch. He has surrendered seven home runs and a 51.6% hard-hit rate during that span, and most of the damage done against him has come from lefties, who have a .409 wOBA against him. He faced the Nationals earlier this year and gave up seven runs on ten hits over five innings including home runs allowed to Juan Soto ($4,700) and Josh Bell ($3,900), who each now have two career home runs against Márquez. There is some solid value to consider as well including César Hernández ($3,800) and Keibert Ruiz ($4,200) at the top of the order and lefties Yadiel Hernandez ($3,100) and Dee Strange-Gordon ($2,000), who will be on the right side of the splits.
Oakland Athletics vs. Texas Rangers – The Athletics have not normally been a great team to stack this season, but they can be a salary-relief special against lefty Martín Pérez ($8,300), who has gone 3-2 with a 1.64 ERA but a 2.43 FIP in his return to Texas. The A’s lineup is loaded with players at or near the minimum salary but several still bring upside against left-handed pitching. Jed Lowrie ($2,400) usually hits near the top of the lineup and has gone 6-for-12 with four walks in his career against Pérez while lefty-specialist Chad Pinder ($2,400) is 5-for-10 with a home run. Elvis Andrus ($2,000) and Cristian Pache ($2,000) are also worth a look if you have to spend all the way down for a spot. Linking a few A’s near each other in the order can get you some solid correlation and upside while still leaving you salary to spend on pricier stacks or bats in other spots.
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
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.
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL/IN/MI/NJ/PA/WV/WY), 1-800-NEXT STEP (AZ), 1-800-522-4700 (CO/NH), 888-789-7777/visit ccpg.org/chat (CT), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), 1-877-770-STOP (7867) (LA), 877-8-HOPENY/text HOPENY (467369) (NY), visit OPGR.org (OR), call/text TN REDLINE 1-800-889-9789 (TN), ConnexOntario 1-866-531-2600 (ONT), or 1-888-532-3500 (VA).21+ (18+ NH/WY; 19+ ONT). Physically present in AZ/CO/CT/IL/IN/IA/LA/MI/NH/NJ/NY/ONT/OR/PA/TN/VA/WV/WY only. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for full terms and conditions. DraftKings operates pursuant to an Operating Agreement with iGaming Ontario. Please play responsibly.