A full Thursday in MLB brings us eight day games with four more games in primetime. First pitch in Pittsburgh is at 12:35 EST, so let’s get right into breaking down the day’s slate to help get your FanDuel lineups set.
Max Scherzer – $11,000 (vs St. Louis) - Scherzer has come out of the gate firing this season, he has a 25/4 K/BB rate in 3 starts with just 2 ER allowed in 21 innings. While St. Louis is not an easy matchup, Scherzer’s elite strikeout ability keeps him in play against any opponent. The other ace on the hill today is Chris Sale, but he is facing a Kansas City team that is the toughest in the league to strike out. For that reason, Scherzer is my #1 choice for Thursday.
Julio Teheran – $8,900 (vs NY Mets) - After Scherzer and Sale, there is a big drop-off to try and find other starting pitchers. Teheran had a rough start last time out against Toronto, but pitching in Toronto is one of the toughest spots for any pitcher, so I’m willing to cut him some slack there. The only concern with Teheran is that he had walked a few more batters than normal in his first three starts, but at this point in the year, I’m still siding with historical data and Teheran has an elite walk rate over the past two seasons. Even with four walks, he held this Mets team to one earned run in six innings a couple weeks ago. I’m going to go out of my way to try and fit Scherzer into my cash games, but Teheran makes a fine contrarian tournament play.
Editor's Note: Play one-day fantasy baseball for cash! FanDuel is hosting a $75,000 league for Thursday’s MLB games. It's just $2 to join and first place wins $7,000. Starts tonight at 7:05pm ET. Enter now!
Buster Posey - $4,000 (vs Mike Bolsinger) - The Dodgers are in a desperate situation turning to Mike Bolsinger for spot start today. He made nine starts for Arizona last season, and has a 5.50 ERA to show for it, while his minor league numbers don’t show anything to be afraid of. Posey is best known as a left masher, but he is no slouch against righties either and is the top option if paying up at catcher.
Yasmani Grandal - $2,800 (vs Ryan Vogelsong) – The Dodgers will be looking for revenge today against Ryan Vogelsong. Yasmani Grandal is a solid hitter against RHP, he had a .344 wOBA last season and has been hitting in a good RBI spot in a packed lineup.
Edwin Encarnacion – $4,300 (vs Chris Tillman) - The Blue Jays bats are a high-upside play against Chris Tillman. Neither Tillman nor Encarnacion show strong splits, Tillman is susceptible to home runs against both righties and lefties. In 2014, Encarnacion had an elite .392 wOBA against RHP with a HR every 13.2 at-bats.
Yonder Alonso – $3,200 (vs Jordan Lyles) - The Padres get one last game in Coors Field before heading back home, so play ‘em while you have the chance. The Rockies’ Jordan Lyles allowed a .372 wOBA to LHB in 2014. Lyles low strikeout rate gets even lower against lefties, while Alonso has a very high contact rate against RHP.
Dee Gordon – $4,000 (vs Dustin McGowan) - The Phillies are scraping the bottom of the barrel to find enough arms to fill their rotation. Dustin McGowan has made just 12 starts since 2011, and through five games out of the bullpen this season, he has looked terrible, allowing seven walks to just three strikeouts. Miami’s leadoff hitter Dee Gordon has come out of the gate with a .388 OBP so far this season.
Neil Walker – $3,200 (vs Kyle Hendricks) - I am not ready to put too much stock in Kyle Hendricks eight strikeout game against San Diego in his last start. In his 13 starts last season, he had a K/9 of 5.3, which is well below league average. While he was a better strikeout pitcher in the minors, he hasn’t shown enough in the big leagues to be afraid of him. Neil Walker is a strong hitter against RHP, with wOBA’s of .364 and .352 the past two seasons.
Todd Frazier - $3,800 (vs Kyle Lohse) – Kyle Lohse is really scuffling, having given up 18 ER in just 16 innings this season. Frazier has already racked up 4 HR and 13 RBI, and in 2014 he was a better hitter against RHP and hit 25 of his 29 HR against righties. The Reds present a tough matchup for Lohse to try and get back on track.
Yangervis Solarte - $2,700 (vs Jordan Lyles) – Solarte got the start Wednesday night and delivered a home run. San Diego has not been consistent with their lineup, so you need to make sure that Solarte is starting before locking him in your lineup, but if he is hitting second, this is a great place to save some salary and get more exposure to the Padres offense in Coors Field. If Solarte doesn’t crack the starting lineup, you can pivot to Brett Lawrie or Aramis Ramirez at the same price.
Starlin Castro – $3,900 (vs Jeff Locke) - Pittsburgh’s Jeff Locke really struggled against RHB in 2014, and as a groundball pitcher, Castro is the Cubs bat that I am most likely to target against him. Unlike most of the Cubs RHB, Castro does not rely on the home run for his value.
Everth Cabrera - $2,600 (vs Drew Hutchison) - I want to try and get some exposure on both sides of what should be a high-scoring game in Toronto. So far this season, Drew Hutchison has allowed 12 ER in 15 innings, and this same Orioles team lit him up for seven runs last week. Cabrera is a great play if he is hitting at the top of the lineup. If he gets put down at the #9 spot, he is still in consideration, though I would try to pivot to Erick Aybar in cash games.
Corey Dickerson – $4,600 (vs Tyson Ross) - In 2014, Dickerson crushed right-handed pitching with a .419 wOBA, coupled with an OPS of 1.098 at Coors Field. San Diego starter Tyson Ross is not the same pitcher away from home, and he’s going to have trouble with this Rockies lineup. Dickerson homered twice Wednesday night, calming any worries about his plantar fasciitis.
Matt Kemp/Justin Upton - $4,700/$4,400 (vs Jordan Lyles) – The combination of the high salaries plus their combined 0-8 last night could lead to lower ownership on Kemp and Upton today. The Padres are in the best spot of any team on the board today against Jordan Lyles. Kemp is the safer play in cash games, as he had a reverse split with a .382 wOBA against RHP in 2014. In a tournament, if you can find a way to get them both in your lineup, this is a tremendous upside play.
Angel Pagan – $3,000 (vs Mike Bolsinger) - Bolsinger allowed a .389 wOBA to lefties in his limited starts last season, and there is no reason to expect him to be any better this time around. It looks like a good spot for the Giants to put up some runs and Pagan is a strong play against RHP.
Alejandro De Aza - $2,900 (vs Drew Hutchison) –Drew Hutchison had trouble with LHB in his rookie season, allowing a .353 wOBA, and he pitched to a 4.73 ERA at home. De Aza is a great play if he is hitting at the top of the lineup. The Orioles should see plenty of chances to put runs on the board today.
Ben Revere - $2,800 (vs David Phelps) – Ben Revere has an elite contact rate against RHP and comes in at a very good price for a leadoff hitter against David Phelps. Phelps allows a lot of baserunners both through hits and walks, making Revere a very likable cash game play.