I’ll be digging into the MLB slate on Thursdays and will be bringing you some top plays to consider on FanDuel. We have a split slate today, so we are left with only six games on the main slate, and it’s a slate that is heavy on pitching with plenty of top tier arms to choose from.
Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox, $11,000 – There are plenty of strong pitching options on this slate, and the matchup isn’t perfect, so I don’t view Sale as a must play, but for cash games I still view him as the best play. For GPPs, with the other solid options, we could also see lower ownership on Sale than usual, especially when his worst start of the year came against this Indians team earlier this month. That start won’t scare me off of Sale, and if he somehow does project at lower ownership then he clearly has the highest upside on the slate with a 36.8% strikeout rate, which laps the other options on this slate. The Indians limit strikeouts and are 11th in wOBA against LHP this year, but I would prefer to use a LHP rather than a RHP against them, and the Indians do have the lowest team total on the MLB odds board at 3.1 runs.
The two non-Sale options I’m eyeing on this slate are Carlos Martinez and Dallas Keuchel. Martinez draws the top team to attack in the Padres, and the matchup sets up well for him considering his biggest struggles come with LHB, which the Padres lack. He’s been up and down this year, so I do prefer the safety of Sale, but he’s been pitching much better recently and the matchup sets up great on paper for him. If you need the extra $1,200 savings, he’s the top non-Sale option for me, although he will likely be very popular and could very well see higher ownership than Sale. If you’re looking for a pivot from the high ownership on Martinez, I like Keuchel, who has been off people’s radar due to his injuries and struggles coming back from injury. However, he’s always pitched much better at home and he’s finally looked healthy over his past two games, with two strong starts. He doesn’t feature huge strikeout upside, but he has the ability to pitch deep into games and is facing a Washington lineup that has been ravaged by injuries.
Alex Avila, Chicago Cubs, $3,000 – Avila continues to be a solid fantasy producer and is still priced affordably at $3,000. Catcher is pretty ugly today, so he’s the top option on the board for me today, as he hits in a solid lineup spot in a great hitting environment in Cincinnati. He’ll have the platoon advantage on Sal Romano, who is a young RHP that is allowing a 37.5% hard-hit rate to LHB so far in his young MLB career (45 career innings pitched with 21 innings against LHB).
Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs, $4,600 – If you’re playing Sale, Rizzo is tough to squeeze in, but if you’re taking a shot with Keuchel or Martinez in a GPP then he’s someone I’d try to fit alongside them. Some of the other first baseman draw tough matchups, and Matt Carpenter is listed as “DTD”, so Rizzo sticks out as the clear top option for me. I’ve already noted with Avila than young Sal Romano is someone I’ll attack on this slate, and I like the Cubs’ LHB up and down the lineup with Rizzo obviously being the top option.
Outside of Rizzo, my next option would be Matt Carpenter against Luis Perdomo, who can struggle with LHB. However, Carpenter missed yesterday’s game with an illness, so he’s questionable to play tonight. If Carpenter sits and I can’t afford Rizzo, I’ll go home run hunting with Albert Pujols and C.J. Cron against Martin Perez, who is allowing a .368 wOBA, 1.4 HR/9 and a 36.8% hard-hit rate to RHB this season.
Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins, $4,200 – For the most part with high end pitching, I won’t be looking to spend up, but if I am spending up then then Dozier is right there at the top of my list along with Trout and Rizzo. The Twins draw the best matchup on the board against Derek Holland, and Dozier has always been a hitter that crushed LHP. Holland continues to have major home run issues, and the Twins’ RHB are elite options today with Holland allowing a .410 wOBA, 41.5% hard-hit rate and 2.38 HR/9.
I don’t like any of the punt options, so I’m going to try to squeeze in Dozier, but outside of Dozier, Ian Happ and Rougned Odor would be my next options to consider in GPPs, given Dozier is likely to be popular.
Tommy La Stella, Chicago Cubs, $2,200 – This pick hinges on the status of Kris Bryant, but if Bryant sits another game, La Stella sticks out as a punt option on a slate where we need value due to the high end pitching. He homered in his start yesterday and drew a solid lineup spot (hitting sixth), so he’s a source of value to look towards if he starts again. The Cubs’ team total is sitting at 5.07 runs and you can grab a cheaper bottom of the order stack with Avila, La Stella and Heyward if their lineup sets up like it did last night.
I’m hoping Bryant sits one more game, so I can punt with La Stella, but if Bryant is in the game then obviously he and Adrian Beltre are options at the top end, although it will be tough to afford them. Jorge Polanco has amazingly homered in four straight games and draws the aforementioned Derek Holland, so he as well as Rafael Devers would be the mid-range options.
Eduardo Escobar, Minnesota Twins, $3,100 – As mentioned, I want to attack Derek Holland, as he’s just been awful against RHB this year. Escobar isn’t a big name, but he’s quietly been rock solid against LHP this year with a .359 wOBA and .194 ISO, and he should draw a solid lineup spot against a LHP.
Outside of Escobar, I’ll look to Elvis Andrus, who draws a young RHP in Troy Scribner, as Andrus has surprisingly been one of the better offensive shortstops this season. Andrelton Simmons would be my last option at the position, as Martin Perez is certainly attackable with RHB.
Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins, $3,200 – If you can afford Mike Trout, he’s far and away the top outfield option against Martin Perez, so I won’t spend much time on him. Outside of Trout, I’ll continue attacking Derek Holland with Buxton, who has having a quality second half of the year. He’s hitting higher in the order and has hit LHP much better than RHP this season.
Jason Heyward ($2,900) & Ben Zobrist ($3,200), Chicago Cubs – Kyle Schwarber is certainly an option as well, but with the high priced pitching, I’m targeting the more affordable Chicago LHB. A stack of Avila, La Stella, and Heyward would be very affordable and provide solid exposure to the Cubs bottom of the order. Heyward is having a strong series so far in Cincinnati with five hits in two games, and I’ll continue to ride the hot hand. Zobrist tends to move all over the lineup, but if he hits in a quality lineup spot, he’s additional affordable exposure to one of the top projected offenses on the slate.
Cameron Maybin, Los Angeles Angels, $2,600 – Outside of Trout, I’m focusing on the cheap outfielders that are playing the pitchers I want to attack in Romano, Holland and Perez. If Maybin finds himself in the leadoff spot against Martin Perez, he’s a tough value to ignore against Perez, who as mentioned above struggles with RHB.
Also Consider – Mike Trout, Shin Soo-Choo