On Thursday night, Major League Baseball has five games lined up under the lights for the main fantasy baseball slate on DraftKings. The Rays and Yankees are finishing up their series in the Bronx while across town the Mets wrap up their series hosting the Brewers. The other three series—Mariners-Angels, Tigers-Rangers and Phillies-Nationals—are just getting underway and will continue through the upcoming weekend.
This should be a nice slate with 10 teams providing plenty of options but not an overwhelming amount of information to break down and keep track of. As always at this time of year, there are plenty of injury updates and lineup situations to monitor closely leading up to the first pitch. In order to keep tabs on the latest availability news and player updates throughout the day, install the DK Live app and follow DK Live on Twitter (@dklive). You can also find me on Twitter (@ZT_Sports), where I’m happy to answer questions or break down my picks listed below.
Zack Wheeler, Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals ($9,600) – Wheeler is on pace to set a new career-high with a 10.66 K/9 rate and has gone 5-3 with a 2.84 ERA and 2.13 FIP over his first 11 starts of the season. He has won four of his past five starts with over 26 DKFP in each of those outings and pitched at least six full innings in each of those starts as well. He has been especially effective at home where he has a 1.49 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 1.96 FIP. His consistency makes him a relatively low-risk play, and he has a good shot to get enough run support for another win since he’ll be matched up against veteran lefty Patrick Corbin ($5,200), who has struggled this season.
Other Options – Luis Severino ($9,400), Shohei Ohtani ($8,500)
George Kirby, Seattle Mariners vs. Los Angeles Angels ($6,500) – The 24-year-old prospect was ranked as the No. 26 overall prospect coming into the season and has shown enough upside to be worth a look at this salary in this favorable matchup with the Halos. Kirby was praised throughout his rise through the Seattle system for his ability to consistently throw strikes and has translated that to the Majors by issuing just four walks in seven starts. He has a 3.65 ERA and 4.11 FIP in his 37 innings pitched with 35 strikeouts. Kirby has pitched at least five innings in each start with over 12 DKFP in three straight outings before his defense let him down in his most recent outing against the Red Sox. The Angels should be an easier matchup after almost being no-hit on Wednesday night. Over the past 15 days, the Angels are hitting an MLB-worst .198 as a team and lead MLB in strikeouts with 148. They are averaging 10.6 strikeouts and have scored just 2.6 runs per game over their 14 games during that span, so Kirby should be able to keep them in check on Thursday.
Other Option – Aaron Ashby ($7,100), Beau Brieske ($5,900)
DJ LeMahieu, New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays ($5,100) – The Yankees’ offense is almost always a good place to start DFS shopping these days, and LeMachine has been extremely productive at the top of the lineup. He’s hitting .256 with a .136 ISO and .327 wOBA on the season and averaging over 7.0 DKFP per contest. He will likely face at least one lefty today in the Rays’ bullpen game (options discussed below in stacks), and he has hit .339 with a .413 wOBA against southpaws this season. Like most of the Yankees, he brings more upside and power potential playing at home, and he also offers the added bonus of roster flexibility since he qualifies at both 2B and 3B.
Rhys Hoskins, Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals ($4,400) – There are a lot of reasons to like Hoskins in this matchup against Corbin on Thursday night (more on the matchup in stacks below). If you’re into BvP, Hoskins has gone 7-for-24 (.297) with two home runs and a .419 wOBA against Corbin in their past meetings. He also comes in swinging a hot bat with multiple hits in five of his past six games after going 2-for-4 with a triple on Wednesday. He has hit safely in eight of his past nine games, going 17-for-38 (.447) with three doubles, that triple and five home runs, pushing his wOBA to .611 over that span. He has hit lefties well all season with a .297 average and .437 wOBA, so there are definitely plenty of reasons to build around him at this salary on Thursday night.
Other Options – Pete Alonso ($5,100), Willy Adames ($4,200)
Ji-Man Choi, Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees ($3,800) – Choi has been limited to 43 games by injury this season but has hit .288 with a .370 wOBA when available. He didn’t start Wednesday but still extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a pinch-hit single. He is 16-for-46 (.348) with a .411 wOBA during that span along with five doubles and two home runs. He has gone 3-for-6 with a home run in his career against Luis Severino ($9,400) and will be in a hitter-friendly environment in the Bronx.
Ezequiel Duran, Texas Rangers at Detroit Tigers ($2,500) – Duran is a solid source of salary relief and brings good upside. Like George Kirby listed above, Duran is looking to successfully make the jump from Double-A to the Majors, and so far he has looked ready for the transition. He has gone 14-for-43 (.326) in his 11 games with two home runs and two stolen bases while averaging 8.7 DKFP per contest. Even though he hits near the bottom of the order, his dual-threat potential makes him a great bargain in this matchup vs. Beau Brieske ($5,900).
Other Options – Alec Bohm ($3,100), Nate Lowe ($3,000)
Aaron Judge, New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays ($6,300) – Judge is so locked in right now it’s almost not fair. He homered again on Wednesday and now has 25 home runs to go with his .313 average, .370 ISO and .442 wOBA. Six of those home runs have come in his past 11 games, and he has a .485 wOBA over that span. Fifteen of his 25 home runs have come at Yankee Stadium, where he has a .451 wOBA on the season. If you can find a way to make the salary work, he’s a great centerpiece to build around on any size slate, especially in a limited pool like this one.
Adolis García, Texas Rangers at Detroit Tigers ($4,600) – García is well on his way to another big season in Texas, even though he flies a little under the radar since the team’s lineup isn’t extremely productive around him. He is hitting .248 with a .210 ISO and .323 wOBA—numbers that are right on track with last year’s breakout performance. He has been heating up lately with a seven-game hitting streak that includes multiple hits in five contests, two home runs, a .448 batting average and a .506 wOBA. He still comes at a little bit of a discount, making him a solid play under $5K.
Other Options – Bryce Harper ($5,800), Randy Arozarena ($5,400)
Andrew McCutchen, Milwaukee Brewers at New York Mets ($2,900) – Even though he doesn’t offer the elite upside he did in his prime, Cutch is still a solid producer and deserves attention with his salary under $3K. He has been hitting in the middle of the Brewers’ lineup and has gone 10-for-33 (.364) with a double, a home run and two stolen bases over his past nine games while averaging 9.7 DKFP per contest.
Victor Reyes, Detroit Tigers vs. Texas Rangers ($2,300) – Reyes has jumped right into the leadoff role for the Tigers since returning from a quad injury and has picked up a pair of three-hit games while going 7-for-17 (.412) with a .366 wOBA. He was caught stealing in his only attempt but does seem to have the green light. He has gone 12-for-36 (.333) against lefties this season with two doubles and a triple, and he is 5-for-9 in his past career meetings with Rangers SP Martín Pérez ($9,000).
Other Options – Kole Calhoun ($3,900), Robbie Grossman ($2,400)
TEAMS TO STACK
New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays – The Yankees are looking for another series sweep on Thursday night, but they haven’t slugged their way to success yet in this matchup, picking up a pair of low-scoring wins over the Rays. The offense remains potent, though, and gets a favorable setup against the Rays’ replacement options for Drew Rasmussen (hamstring), who was placed on the 15-day injured list Wednesday.
The Rays will likely patch together a combination of lefty Jalen Beeks ($6,700) with righty Ralph Garza Jr. ($4,000) or maybe call up Josh Fleming ($7,500). New York has won 12 of its last 13 games while hitting .273 with 31 home runs as a team. They have hit 62 home runs in 35 home games and have reached 100 home runs in 62 games this season. Aaron Judge (discussed above) and Giancarlo Stanton ($5,300) provide plenty of thunder from the middle of the lineup while DJ LeMahieu (discussed above), Anthony Rizzo ($5,500), Josh Donaldson ($4,800) and Gleyber Torres ($4,800) also bring plenty of power potential. With Isiah Kiner-Falefa ($4,300) and Jose Trevino ($3,700) as solid value plays, there are hardly any bad options in the Yankees’ lineup since they’re all performing at a high level and have the ability to pile up so many runs, especially when playing at home.
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Washington Nationals – It has been a brutal start to the season for Nationals veteran Patrick Corbin, who is 3-8 with a 6.65 ERA. He has allowed 52 runs and nine home runs across 13 starts. Lefties have actually done damage against him with a .407 wOBA while righties have hit eight of those nine home runs while posting a .365 wOBA. In addition to Rhys Hoskins (highlighted above), Alec Bohm ($3,100) has two home runs off Corbin in their past meetings while going 5-for-12. Nick Castellanos ($4,100) has crushed lefties all year, so he’s a strong play as well, and even in a lefty-lefty matchup Bryce Harper ($5,900), Kyle Schwarber ($4,500) and Didi Gregorius ($4,000) remain in play since Corbin has been so ineffective against lefties this year. Bryson Stott ($2,800), Odúbel Herrera ($2,200), Yairo Muñoz ($2,000) or Matt Vierling ($2,000) also offer good upside and some salary relief if in the lineup.
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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 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.
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