For the first time in a few weeks, we have a full slate of Thursday night baseball. There are six games scheduled for under the lights, getting started at 6:45 p.m. ET. The Mets and Phillies start the night off as they start their NL East series. The Twins and Orioles are closing out their early-week series, while the other five games are all new matchups that will continue through the weekend. This six-game slate provides plenty of solid options to consider from the dozen teams in action, so check out my favorite plays listed below.
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Shane McClanahan, Tampa Bay Rays at Seattle Mariners ($9,700) – While he has given up some runs this season with a 3.00 ERA and 2.78 FIP, McClanahan is a great example of chasing strikeout potential above all else. Even in starts where he didn’t have a shutout, he had a good fantasy day since his strikeout total gives him lots of margin for error. McClanahan has at least seven strikeouts in each of his four starts and has totaled 42 strikeouts in 27 innings. As a result of all those punchouts, he has over 17 DKFP in each start and over 23 DKFP in each of his past three outings. He’ll be in a pitcher-friendly park against a lefty-heavy lineup, and he has more strikeouts (5) than hits allowed (3) to lefties on the season. As a team, the M’s are hitting only .214 against southpaws, so it should be a nice spot for McClanahan to come through as the top arm available.
Other Options – Jesús Luzardo ($8,500), Robbie Ray ($8,800)
Taijuan Walker, New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies ($7,200) – The Mets just split a four-game set with the Braves after taking two of three games against the Phillies in New York last weekend. All seven of Walker’s innings against the Phillies this season have been shutout innings, and he has only allowed two hits while striking out five. He didn’t get any run support last time out but has shown he can go deep enough in the game for a win even though he isn’t up to a full workload. He’s looked sharp and should know the matchup well.
Other Options – José Urquidy ($7,800), Tarik Skubal ($6,500)
Manny Machado, San Diego Padres vs. Miami Marlins ($5,600) – Machado has hit safely in eight straight games. He has reached double-digit DKFP in six of his seven most recent games and has averaged 11.5 DKFP by going 16-for-39 (.419) with two doubles and two home runs over his past 10 games. He’s hitting .458 (11-for-24) against lefties with three of his five home runs off of southpaws and a crazy .562 wOBA. He gets a great home matchup against lefty Jesús Luzardo ($8,500), and he’s continuing to carry the Padres’ offense while Fernando Tatis Jr. (wrist) is sidelined.
Pete Alonso, New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies ($4,700) – Alonso has also swatted five homers this season while hitting .260 with a .335 wOBA. He has hit safely in 14 of his past 17 games and continues to anchor a very productive batting order. He and the Mets will go up against Phillies’ Ace Aaron Nola ($8,000), but Alonso has enjoyed their previous meetings, going 11-for-31 (.355) with three home runs and a .466 wOBA.
Other Options – Anthony Rizzo ($5,500), DJ LeMahieu ($5,200)
Harold Ramírez, Tampa Bay Rays at Seattle Mariners ($3,400) – The Rays were forced to place Ji-Man Choi (elbow) on the 10-day injured list and also sent prospect Josh Lowe to Triple-A Durham, opening plenty of playing time for Ramírez in the next few weeks. In his first season with the Rays, Ramírez has started 12-for-39 (.308) while going 4-for-13 (.308) with a .423 wOBA against southpaws like Robbie Ray ($8,800). Ramírez has usually been hitting in the heart of the order, and getting him under $3.5K is a great bargain even though he doesn’t bring elite power numbers and is still searching for his first homer of the season. He is hitting the ball hard, though, with a 57.6% hard-hit rate on the year and a 68.4% hard-hit rate over his nine most recent games.
Brian Anderson, Miami Marlins at San Deigo Padres ($3,300) – Anderson seems fully over the shoulder injury that limited him last season, and he has been having a good amount of early-season success for the Fish. He is hitting .258 with a .379 wOBA due to five doubles and a home run. The Marlins are one of my favorite stacks of the day (highlighted below) due to their matchup and Anderson is an affordable way to get a piece of that matchup.
Other Options – Alec Bohm ($3,600), Jose Miranda ($2,100)
Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins at Baltimore Orioles ($5,500) – Buxton got the night off last night as the Twins continue to be cautious with the oft-injured star, but he is not dealing with any known issue, so he’s expected to be back in the lineup in a great matchup, highlighted below in stacks. Buxton has been playing at an MVP level, hitting .290 but with a jaw-dropping .419 ISO due to five doubles and seven home runs in contrast to just six singles. He’s also added a stolen base as well and is averaging 11.5 DKFP per game in his first 16 games this season. He has four multi-hit games in his past eight games, including six extra-base hits. He is absolutely crushing the ball and has 10 barrels on the season (25.0% barrel rate) and a 52.5% hard-hit rate.
Cedric Mullins, Baltimore Orioles vs. Minnesota Twins ($4,200) – There isn’t much to like about the Orioles’ lineup, but there is some value in targeting Mullins, who has been catching fire recently in the leadoff spot. While he’s hitting just .230 for the season, he has multiple hits in three of his past five games while going 8-for-23 (.348) with three doubles, a home run and a .419 wOBA. He has three homers and three stolen bases on the season, so he brings multiple ways to produce fantasy points and is locked in as the everyday leadoff option in Baltimore.
Other Options – Brandon Nimmo ($4,800), Nick Castellanos ($4,600)
Trevor Larnach, Minnesota Twins at Baltimore Orioles ($2,500) – With Max Kepler ($3,500) battling illness and Alex Kiriloff (wrist) and Kyle Garlick (calf) already on IL, Larnach’s offense has become key to the Twin’s lineup. The 25-year-old lefty has started the season hitting exactly .300 over his first 20 games with a .133 ISO and .346 wOBA. Over his past eight games, Larnach has gone 10-for-26 (.385) with a 62.5% hard-hit rate, so he’s a great bargain option in this matchup and can help you afford his teammate Buxton or another similar big-upside slugger.
Juan Yepez, St. Louis Cardinals at San Francisco Giants ($2,000) – Yepez was the No. 22 prospect in the Cardinals’ farm system coming into the season, per MLB Pipeline, but he had a great MLB debut on Wednesday and should be set for playing time over the next few weeks with Dylan Carlson ($3,400) struggling. Yepez hit fifth and went 2-for-3 with two doubles and 12 DKFP in his debut. Prior to his call-up, he hit exactly .300 with 11 homers and 28 RBI. The power potential makes him a great option at the minimum salary.
Other Options – Julio Rodríguez ($3,700), Manuel Margot ($2,800)
TEAMS TO STACK
Miami Marlins at San Diego Padres – The Marlins will have a nice matchup to start their road trip in San Diego, as they go up against Nick Martinez ($7,000). In his four starts, Martinez has handed out 12 walks and allowed nine runs including five home runs. His 6.53 FIP indicates that he has actually been a little lucky to have only a 4.12 ERA. He has given up three of his five homers to lefties, who have a .397 wOBA against him, but righties have fared even better with a .447 wOBA. The Marlins lineup looks much stronger when facing a right-handed pitcher like Martinez since Jazz Chisholm ($5,700) usually slides into the leadoff spot while high-upside slugger Jesús Sánchez ($4,000) enters the starting lineup. Brian Anderson (highlighted above) and Garrett Cooper ($3,300) bring nice upside as affordable options while Jorge Soler ($3,900) and Jesús Aguilar ($4,500) bring high ceilings due to their power potential in a plus matchup against Martinez.
Minnesota Twins at Baltimore Orioles – The Twins don’t have a ton of high-priced power options, but they have been very productive over the past week. Coming into Wednesday, the Twins hit .271 over the previous week, third-highest in the Majors (behind only the Yankees and Nationals) while scoring an average of 5.0 runs per game. They’ll look to keep it rolling against Spenser Watkins ($5,400) the cheapest pitcher on the slate. He has allowed eight runs in 17 2⁄3 innings over his four starts while giving up an insane .464 wOBA to right-handed hitters. He has strong reverse splits, holding lefties to just two hits and a .114 wOBA in their 34 plate appearances against him, so stock up on right-handed hitters from the Twins’ lineup. Byron Buxton (highlighted above) and Carlos Correa ($4,600) both fit the bill as expensive plays, and Gary Sánchez ($4,100) works as a play behind the plate. Ryan Jeffers ($3,400) has also been hot at catcher. The real value, though, is even more affordable in rookie Jose Miranda ($2,100), Trevor Larnach (highlighted above) and even Nick Gordon ($2,100).
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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 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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