I’ll be digging into the MLB slate on Thursdays and will be bringing you some top plays to consider on FanDuel. We have the rare big slate for a Thursday, with ten games, and it’s a solid mix of solid pitching options with some bats in quality spots as well.
James Paxton, Seattle Mariners, $9,900 – It’s definitely tempting to go all the way up to Jacob deGrom, and I think he’s firmly in play for GPPs, but I’ll take the $700 in savings with Paxton in cash games. He’s been more consistent recently and I like that Seattle is still playing for something, while the Mets are trading away some of their better players. Paxton has ripped off eight straight quality starts, including some tough matchups with Houston, Boston and Kansas City, and he is installed as the largest Vegas favorite on the night at -210 on the MLB odds board. I think both the win and the quality start look like great bets, and while the Angels do limit strikeout upside, they also aren’t an imposing offense and carry the lowest Vegas implied total on the night. Add it all up and I have Paxton as my preferred cash game option on the slate.
For GPPs, there are plenty of pivots, as we have Jacob deGrom, Yu Darvish and Danny Salazar on the mound tonight. Given that Darvish is in a tough ballpark in Arizona, I’ll give deGrom and Salazar the nod. deGrom draws a weak hitting Philadelphia offense that he dominated when he last saw them on June 30 (12 strikeouts and 64 FanDuel points). Salazar looks fully healthy since returning from the DL, as he’s racked up 28 strikeouts in three fantastic starts. He’s a volatile option that can blow up, and he faces a boom or bust Tampa offense with plenty of power but lots of strikeout upside. He’d be third on my list behind Paxton and deGrom, but the upside is there and he should be lower owned. I’m primarily planning to zero in on the three expensive options, but if you’re looking to save in GPPs then Brad Peacock and Vince Velasquez would be the cheap options as a GPP dart throw. Peacock hasn’t looked great recently, but he’s a solid Vegas favorite and the White Sox are one of the weaker offenses in baseball. Velasquez is unlikely to pick up the win against deGrom, but the Mets offense just took a big hit with the trade of Jay Bruce and does feature some strikeout potential at a low price.
Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees, $3,200 – I typically like to just punt the catcher position and there are some intriguing punts, but Sanchez’s price is all the way down to $3,200. He’s facing an extreme fly ball pitcher in Marco Estrada that is allowing 1.4 HR/9 to RHB this season, and Sanchez clearly brings terrific power upside at a weaker position. For the BvP fans, Sanchez also is 4-for-11 off of Estrada with all four hits going for home runs.
If you can’t squeeze in Sanchez, I’m looking to punt with Austin Barnes at $2,400 or Mike Zunino at $2,200. Barnes will draw a young LHP in Anthony Banda in a great hitter’s park in Arizona and has posted a .399 wOBA against LHP this season. Zunino is a boom or bust option, as he tends to be home run or bust, but he’ll have the platoon advantage on Tyler Skaggs, who struggled in his first start of the year coming back from injury.
Edwin Encarnacion, Cleveland Indians, $3,400 – I don’t love the Indians against LHP, but $3,400 for Encarnacion against Blake Snell seems a little cheap. Snell is talented, but he’s extremely wild, which can lead to big innings. Encarnacion is a guy that we’re used to seeing in the $4,000 range, and he’s hit LHP well throughout his career with a .377 wOBA and .232 career ISO against LHP.
I’m looking at the more expensive pitching, so I’m mostly eyeing the $3,400 and under range today. Other options in this range would be Eric Hosmer against Lance Lynn, who struggles against LHB, and Ryan Zimmerman, who is very affordable at just $3,200. For GPPs, Chris Davis is always worth a dart against a low strikeout RHP, and Jesus Aguilar is a pure punt at $2,100 against a LHP in Dietrich Enns, who is making his first MLB start.
Jose Altuve, Houston Astros, $4,300 – If I’m spending up on one bat today, Altuve would be the option I would choose. Second base is a weaker position and Altuve can score fantasy points in so many ways. The Astros check in with the top Vegas implied total on the slate, and he’ll draw a LHP in Carlos Rodon. Altuve is always a great option, but he’s been lights out against LHP in his career with a .389 wOBA.
Outside of Altuve, I’ll look to the Washington Nationals for Daniel Murphy at $3,500 or Adrian Sanchez at $2,300. Sanchez has been a popular punt option over the past few days and has come through in both instances, so I would expect high ownership if he hits high in the order again. He’s my preferred cheaper option, but his potential higher ownership is something to consider in GPPs, as he’s not projected to be a great hitter. Overall, I’ll try to spend up to Jose Altuve or Daniel Murphy, who seems a little too cheap at $3,500 against Dan Straily.
Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians, $3,400 – If you have the salary, I like Alex Bregman tonight as well, but $4,000 is tough to make work, and I’d rather spend up at second base for Altuve. Dropping down in price, Ramirez checks in at an affordable $3,400. As noted above, Blake Snell has been wild all season long and rarely pitches deep into games. With all the traffic on the bases, there is potential for a big inning and Ramirez checks in as both the top points per dollar and overall raw points play, according to the current RotoGrinders’ Projections.
At Ramirez’ affordable price, he’s my go to cash game option, but for GPPs I’ll to fit Alex Bregman in an Astros stack or drop down to Matt Chapman at $3,000, who has plenty of power and is facing Wade Miley.
Marcus Semien, Oakland Athletics, $3,100 – I haven’t mentioned any Oakland bats yet, and they feature plenty of right-handed power and are facing Wade Miley. I think they have several interesting GPP options, and I’ll look to get exposure to their through Semien at a tough shortstop position. Semien has been injured for most of the year, but he posted a .257 ISO against LHP last season and a .377 wOBA against LHP the year prior. Miley, meanwhile, is getting tuned up by RHB for a .376 wOBA, 1.6 HR/9 and a 34% hard-hit rate.
The other shortstop I am considering is Did Gregorius at $3,100. He’s swinging a hot bat over his past four games and carries home run upside against the home run prone Marco Estrada.
Enrique Hernandez, Los Angeles Dodgers, $2,000 – We’ll have to see if he makes the lineup, but with the expensive pitching, I’m looking for a punt option to open up salary cap. Hernandez typically hits sixth or seven against LHP and makes for a cheap mini-stack with Austin Barnes. It’s a great hitting environment and at minimum price, the cap really opens up. Hernandez has nine home runs in 108 at bats against LHP this season, which is good for a .361 ISO, so there is power potential here at minimum price.
Rajai Davis, Oakland Athletics, $3,100 – As noted above with Semien, Wade Miley has just struggled against RHP all season long. He’s someone that I’m looking to attack, and a mini-stack of Semien/Davis is affordable and provides exposure to the top of the Oakland lineup. Davis is a player that has always been much better against LHP (career .340 against LHP compared to a .289 wOBA against RHP), and $3,100 is a solid price for a leadoff hitter against a struggling pitcher.
In the upper tier, it’s always hard to go wrong, but the options that stand out to me are Nelson Cruz against a LHP in Tyler Skaggs, Ryan Braun against a LHP making his MLB start, and George Springer at $4,000 against Carlos Rodon.