As is sometimes the case on Thursdays, there is a split slate with some afternoon games, so we are left with only a five-game slate tonight. It’s a tough slate in regards to pitching, so it’s more of a tournament slate, but on the flip side, that means ownership shouldn’t be concentrated on any one pitcher on FanDuel.
Jason Hammel, Chicago Cubs, $7,900 - As mentioned, pitching is tough tonight because the only semi-ace in Cole Hamels is facing one of the elite offenses in baseball. Cincinnati hasn’t been terrible this year, but I think we’ll see them be one of the weaker offenses this seasonm so I think Hammel draws the best matchup tonight. None of his stats will necessarily wow you, but he is a solid pitcher. He had a serviceable 3.68 xFIP and a 24.2% strikeout rate last year (fourth highest on the slate). Guys like Iglesias, Kennedy, and Hamels are also facing elite offenses, so there is some blowup potential there, but I’ll roll with Hammel as a safer option in the mid-tier. Vegas would seem to agree; they have the Reds projected with the lowest team total on the MLB odds board tonight.
Robbie Ray, Arizona Diamondbacks, $6,200 - He’s certainly a GPP-only option, considering he allows a high hard hit rate and the Dodgers are a quality offense. However, most of their top bats are lefties, so they are a team that I don’t fear as much against left-handed pitching. Ray is the cheapest pitcher on the board, so he’ll allow you to spend up for bats, and this is a night where pitching may not win you a GPP. He’ll be heading to a favorable pitching environment in Los Angeles and fared well against the Dodgers last year in four starts (6 ER in 23 IP with 19 strikeouts).
Also Consider - Ian Kennedy (GPP)
Evan Gattis, Houston Astros, $2,500 - I think there’s a case to be made for both targeting Ian Kennedy as your pitcher and stacking against him. He was great in his opener and does feature a quality arsenal, so the strikeout upside is there against an Astros team that will strikeout. However, that game also came at his pitcher friendly home field and this game will be played in Minute Maid, which is favorable to right-handed bats. The Astros have a ton of power and Kennedy allowed 31 home runs (18 to L, 13 to R). Gattis is a guy who brings power to the upside, so while he may not be the safest cash game option, the upside is there for a GPP.
Miguel Montero, Chicago Cubs, $2,800 - The Cubs draw a tough matchup with a talented young pitcher in Raisel Iglesias, who just dominated a right-handed heavy Pirates offense. However, the Cubs should feature five lefties in their top six, and Raisel has been much more effective against righties than lefties (career 2.62 xFIP to righties compared to 4.24 against lefties). I’m not necessarily going out of my way to target the Cubs, but it’s a short slate and they can certainly give Iglesias some problems here. Montero has started the year hot and has been on quite the roll over his past five games.
Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals, $3,100 - The Royals typically don’t make great GPP options, but they do present quality cash game option. They’ll be facing a ground ball pitcher in Doug Fister, so there isn’t a ton of home run upside, but he doesn’t strike out many bats and has struggled at times against left-handed bats in his career. Hosmer has had solid success against Fister in their meetings, having gone 8-for-23 with a home run.
Prince Fielder, Texas Rangers, $3,400 - The Rangers check in with the second highest team total on the night when they’ll be facing a hittable pitcher in Chris Tillman in a positive hitting environment. Fielder provides solid savings from the upper tier of first baseman and held a massive .402 wOBA against right-handed pitching in his home ballpark last year.
Jose Altuve, Houston Astros, $4,100 - They won’t come cheap, but pitching isn’t expensive tonight, so I’ll have some Astros stacks in tournaments because they do present quality upside tonight. The Astros check in with the second highest team total on the night, and Altuve is really rolling a top of their order. Last year, he was a guy who ran hot and cold, and he’s running really hot right now, so I’ll continue to ride him while he’s hot.
Ben Zobrist, Chicago Cubs, $3,000 - I don’t necessarily love him tonight, but second base is a tough position if you’re not paying up for Altuve. As mentioned, Iglesias has been just average against left-handed bats, and the Cubs feature lots of lefties at the top of their order. They have the third highest team total on the slate, and while Zobrist hasn’t shown much upside, he has been a solid cash game option because he’s finding ways to get on base and score runs.
Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers, $3,700 - I don’t love his price after it took a big leap after his big game in his last outing. However, I’m hoping that helps keep his ownership in check for tournaments. Tillman is a guy who doesn’t feature big platoon splits, and actually flashed reverse splits last year, so the righty on righty matchup doesn’t scare me here. Beltre performed much better at home last year, and has hit Tillman hard in their career meetings (6-for-12 with two doubles and a home run).
Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals, $3,200 - If you can squeeze in Josh Donaldson, he’s always a great option, and while I think one of these Toronto big bats takes one deep today, overall Eovaldi handles right-handed bats well, so it’s a tough spot to spend $5,300. Moustakas makes for a nice mini-stack with Hosmer, and I’m liking the prospects for some runs on both sides in this game. Like Hosmer, he’s also seen success against Fister, as he’s 9-for-25 with a home run, and he has hits in five of his past six games.
Carlos Correa, Houston Astros, $4,700 - Any time I can fit Correa into my lineups, I look to get him in there because he carries so much upside at a weak position. With the pitching being very affordable tonight, I’ll look to get him into my lineups; he presents big power upside as well as stolen base upside.
Troy Tulowtizki, Toronto Blue Jays, $3,000 - Toronto is a tough offense to figure out tonight; they have the top offense on the board, but they tend to be very expensive. Also, Nathan Eovaldi typically struggles with left-handed bats and has held righties to a career .296 wOBA. However, Vegas likes Toronto to score runs, and this price is just too cheap for a hitter with Tulo’s talent. If you can’t squeeze in the bigger bats like Donaldson, Encarnacion or Bautista, Tulowitzki provides cheaper exposure to the expected top offense of the night.
Colby Rasmus, Houston Astros, $3,800 - I think both Rasmus and George Springer are very much in play, but I think most will opt for the cheaper option in Springer, so I’ll look to Rasmus in tournaments. I’ve mentioned Kennedy’s struggles with the long ball and he particularly struggled with left-handed bats -- he allowed a 45% fly ball rate, 36.5 % hard hit rate, and 1.95 HR/9. Rasmus has a ton of power and is swinging a good bat with multi-hit games in three of his past five.
Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers, $3,700 - I think Robbie Ray could be serviceable tonight in a tournament, but I also don’t think he’s going to completely shut down the Dodgers. Guys like Puig and Enrique Hernandez are interesting options at the top of the order, and they have hit lefties well. Puig has had a nice start to the year and holds a career .379 wOBA against left-handed pitching.
Nomar Mazara, Texas Rangers, $2,700 - He’s the Rangers’ top prospect and just was recently called up, so he’s not a household name yet. Due to that, his ownership shouldn’t be crazy and he’s still very affordable. He’ll likely be hitting second for a team with the second highest run total on the board, and has recorded hits in three of his four MLB games.