Thursday gives a great slate with five day games and six night games to choose from. Keep in mind that FanDuel will have three different options for lineups; Early Only, Late Only, or All-Day, which includes all 11 games. If playing the all-day slate, be careful rostering too many hitters from the night games, as you won’t have a chance to see the lineups before rosters lock. Best of luck today!
Jake Arrieta (early) – CHC @ STL - $9,700 - The early slate today is wide open with pitching options. I see as many five pitchers that are worth considering in Corey Kluber, Edinson Volquez, Jake Arrieta, Drew Pomeranz, and Mike Fiers. I can make an argument for any one of these starters, but I’m going to put Arrieta at the top of the list. Arrieta and Kluber are the most talented pitchers of this group, both with consistently high strikeout rates and low walk rates. While the Cardinals are not an easy team to face, I prefer my pitcher facing them as opposed to the Royals, who are the toughest team in the league to strike out. Arrieta has a 31K/8BB ratio this season to go with a strong groundball rate, coming off a breakout 2014 where he struck out 9.6 batters per 9 innings.
Chris Archer (late) – TB vs TEX - $8,900 - Archer is the clear top pitcher on the night slate at home against Texas. Archer has allowed 7 ER in his two starts against Baltimore, but in his other 4 games, he has pitched 26 scoreless innings. All in all, he has a sparkling 42 strikeouts in 38 innings to just 10 walks. He is generating lots of ground balls in addition to the strikeouts which helps limit his downside. He is a great play in cash games or tournaments tonight.
Other pitchers to consider – AJ Burnett, Collin McHugh
Stephen Vogt (early) – OAK @ MIN - $3,900 - You always need to be sure to check the lineups on Thursdays, as players tend to be rested often during day games, especially catchers. If he is in the lineup, Vogt is an elite play against Ricky Nolasco. So far this season, Vogt has a .469 wOBA against RHP. While he certainly won’t continue that scorching pace, Nolasco is an easy pitcher to pick on. He allowed a .396 wOBA to left-handed batters last season and his strikeout rate dipped considerably against lefties.
Evan Gattis (late) – HOU @ LAA - $3,800 – Gattis is a high-upside play against left-handed pitching and always a top tournament play. He had a .419 wOBA against LHP last season, while opposing starter Hector Santiago has always allowed better numbers to right-handed hitters. Gattis has 8 hits and 4 HR in his last six games and hits in the middle of a lineup that always has the potential to put up a big night.
Other catchers to consider – Brian McCann
Jose Abreu (early) – CWS vs DET - $3,600 - Two of the league’s top slugging first baseman, Jose Abreu and Miguel Cabrera, square off in a hitter’s park in Chicago. Both face left-handed pitchers who are struggling against right-handed bats this season. There is big upside in both Cabrera and Abreu today. However, Abreu comes in at a much lower salary, making him the better value. Detroit starter Kyle Lobstein has very limited major league experience, but he has looked bad against right-handed hitters and does not have the stuff to get past a hitter of Abreu’s caliber. The price difference should make Cabrera lower owned, so don’t ignore him in tournaments.
Chris Davis (late) – BAL @ NYY – $3,800 - Nate Eovaldi continues to struggle against left-handed batters, making Davis a high-upside play in Yankee Stadium. Eovaldi’s groundball rate goes down against lefties while Davis likes to put the ball in the air and will have no trouble reaching the seats if he gets a hold of one.
Scooter Gennett (early) – MLW vs LAD - $2,200 – Scooter Gennett is fresh off the DL, and looked healthy with a home run last night. Assuming he is back hitting near the top of the Brewers’ lineup, he is a great minimum salary play. The Dodgers’ Carlos Frias has just three major league starts, so we don’t have a lot of data to use, but he has not shown much strikeout ability and has been hit hard by lefties. Gennett has been a very good hitter against RHP with wOBA’s of .346 and .410 in his first two seasons.
Dee Gordon (late) – MIA @ SF - $3,800 – Gordon has been unstoppable at the top of the Marlins’ order so far this season. He is making great contact, keeping the ball out of the air and using his speed to beat out hits. Once he gets on base he is a threat to steal every time. Tim Hudson has no strikeout ability left at his age, his one strength is a high groundball rate, but that does not affect a player of Gordon’s skill set.
Trevor Plouffe (early) – MIN vs OAK - $2,800 – The Twins’ offense has sprung to life over the past week with four games of 8 runs or more. Trevor Plouffe often goes overlooked, but he is a very solid hitter against left-handed pitching, and is usually in the cleanup spot for Minnesota.
Alex Rodriguez (late) – NYY vs BAL - $3,200 – The Yankees should be able to put some runs on the board against Chris Tillman tonight, who has had a rough start to the year. Tillman has allowed 18 ER in 26 innings with a 20K/15BB ratio. So far this season, as well as his last appearance in 2013, ARod is showing reverse splits, hitting better against right-handed pitching. Tillman is basically even on his splits, but he allows more HR to right-handed hitters.
Alexei Ramirez (early) - $2,400 – The White Sox are one of the top offenses to target in the early slate against Kyle Lobstein. Shortstop is a good spot to save some salary today with no top options on the board. Ramirez has not had much success in the early going, but he’s been bit by a very low .236 BABIP. His BABIP the last 3 seasons have been .292, .309 and .290, so expect that number to regress positively. He has a consistent track record of very strong contact rates and he is facing a low strikeout pitcher.
Asdrubal Cabrera (late) – TB vs TEX - $2,400 – Shortstop continues to be a very tough position to find anyone worth playing. The best strategy looks to be finding a cheap option on a team with a chance to score some runs. Texas starter Nick Martinez has been remarkable to start the season, but there’s just no way it continues. He has just 13 strikeouts in 32 innings with a .264 BABIP and a 0% HR/FB%. Those numbers are going to regress soon, there’s just no way around it. In 2014 he allowed a .366 wOBA to left-handed hitters.
Josh Reddick (early) - $3,900 – Reddick is my top play at any position for the early games. He is on quite a roll this season with a .372 average and 20 RBI in 22 games. Though it is a small sample size through one month, against RHP, he has an OPS of 1.130 and a .483 wOBA. In 2014 he posted a .367 wOBA against right-handed pitching, while Ricky Nolasco allowed a .396 to RHB.
Jacoby Ellsbury (late) – NYY vs BAL - $4,500 – I want to have as much Yankees exposure as I can get against Chris Tillman. Ellsbury has hit safely in 22 of 26 games this season with a .427 on-base percentage. He is stealing bases and scoring runs at a very high clip and makes for a great cash game play.
Kevin Kiermaier (late) – TB vs TEX - $2,200 – Kiermaier has hit leadoff the past three games for Tampa Bay and as long as that continues, he is a tremendous value at the minimum salary on FanDuel. I have already mentioned Nick Martinez and his low strikeout numbers and past struggles with left-handed bats. Kiermaier posted a .362 wOBA against RHP in his 2014 rookie season, with a solid mix of power and speed.