With just three day games today, the best play is to wait for the evening slate, with six games beginning at 7:10 PM. I’ll mention a couple appealing options available to play on the early slate if you jump in the All-Day contests on FanDuel, but will mainly focus on the night games. As always, be sure to check the starting lineups before locking in your rosters on FanDuel, as Thursday is a very common day for players to be rested.
Garrett Richards – LAA at TB - $8,600 - It is a very tough night to find a starting pitcher to recommend. Richards was torched for six runs in less than an inning in his last start at New York, and had allowed at least three runs in each of his three previous starts. If this sounds like less than a ringing endorsement, it is. I just don’t see another pitcher with more upside than Richards tonight. He was pitching like an ace before an injury ended his 2014 season, and that upside still exists with him. Prior to the disaster in New York, he had a 3.26 ERA, and he has a respectable 7.4 K/9 on the season. Tampa is in the bottom third of the league in K% and wOBA against right-handed pitchers.
Tsuyoshi Wada – CHC vs CIN - $6,300 - Wada has made four starts this season and has looked sharp in three of them. He struggled with his control in his last start at Washington, but on the season he has 20:7 K:BB ratio in 19 innings. In his brief career, over 17 starts dating back to last season, he has a slightly above average 20.7% strikeout rate and a solid 7.0% walk rate. He is a fly ball pitcher, so he will be at the mercy of his HR/FB, but his good control should put him in a position to succeed more often than not. It looks like the wind will be blowing in at Wrigley Field tonight, which should help keep his fly balls in the park.
Buster Posey – SF at NYM - $3,700 – Posey is the top catcher on the board tonight by a wide margin. Though his numbers this season against left-handed pitching are not yet up to his lofty standards, he has a proven track record of success against lefties. He has a career .406 wOBA vs LHP, with marks of .382 and .379 the past two seasons. The Mets’ Jon Niese is allowing a .378 wOBA to RHB with a low 14.5% strikeout rate.
Matt Wieters – BAL vs BOS - $3,300 – The Orioles finally got Wieters back in the lineup this week after a lengthy absence to start the season. He has come back hitting with six hits in his first four games. He got the night off Wednesday, so he should be in the lineup against the struggling Wade Miley. Miley has a low 14.6% strikeout rate against right-handed hitters and a 4.67 ERA that is backed up by a 4.61 SIERA. The Orioles are one of the top offenses to target tonight.
Lucas Duda – NYM vs SF - $3,300 - It has been nice to see Tim Lincecum pitch respectably again, but there is really not much to get excited about in his peripherals. He is getting by against left-handed batters with some unsustainable numbers; a .202 BABIP, 81.1% strand rate and 4.2% HR/FB. None of those are going to last. Duda has some positive regression coming his way in HR/FB vs RHP, but even without a great start to the season against RHP, he has a .353 wOBA and 128 wRC+, after posting marks of .394 wOBA and 158 wRC+ in 2014.
Adam Lind – MIL vs WAS - $2,700 – Adam Lind’s salary is just too low for his skill set against right-handed pitching. He has a .377 wOBA with nine HRs vs righties through the first two months this season after logging a .410 wOBA last season. Washington’s Tanner Roark has a dangerously low strikeout rate against LHB. His biggest strength is a high ground ball rate, but it doesn’t hold up against left-handed batters.
Dustin Pedroia – BOS at BAL – $3,400 - Pedroia has been hitting the ball well of late, bringing his season average up to .312 with a .376 OBP. Boston should be able to score early and often against Chris Tillman, who has opened the year with a 5.61 ERA, which is supported by his 4.83/4.92 FIP/xFIP. Tillman is showing reverse splits, allowing a .401 wOBA to right-handed batters with a below average strikeout rate and high walk rate. Pedroia’s elite plate discipline will make it very tough for Tillman to get past him.
Jeff Baker – MIA vs COL - $2,600 - Baker has been hitting in the cleanup spot for Miami against left-handed starters, and if that continues tonight, he makes for a great value play. In a limited sample size this season he has a .368 wOBA and 133 wRC+ against LHP, which is in line with his career numbers.
Martin Prado – MIA vs COL - $2,700 - Prado is an underappreciated player as he doesn’t hit for big power. But, in cash games, he is a very steady source of points. He has hits in 20 of his last 22 games and has elite plate discipline against left-handed pitching. So far this season, Prado has a .364 wOBA and 130 wRC+ against lefties. Colorado’s Chris Rusin has career numbers of 14.6% K and 10.1% BB against right-handed hitters.
Brock Holt – BOS at BAL - $2,700 – Holt has been moved up to the #2 spot in the Boston batting order, being sandwiched in between Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez. If that lineup holds up tonight, Holt is a great value for what should be a high scoring Boston team. Holt has been solid against right-handed pitching this season with a .348 wOBA and 122 wRC+. He comes into tonight with eight hits in his last five games.
Troy Tulowitzki – COL at MIA - $4,500 -Tulo has broken out of his early season slump and looks to be back to the superstar we are used to seeing. Shortstop is one of the toughest positions to fill day in and day out; if you can afford Tulo, he is an easy choice. In his current nine-game hitting streak he has six multi-hit games with five homers. Miami’s David Phelps is a reverse splits pitcher with a 16% strikeout rate against RHB, and a .326 wOBA this season after allowing a .356 wOBA to righties in 2014.
Ian Desmond – WAS at MIL - $2,900 - With all the questionable pitchers going tonight, I’m finding it tough to get exposure to all the offenses I want. Don’t overlook Washington against Milwaukee’s Matt Garza, who is not pitching well this season. His strikeout rate has dropped, his walk rate has gone up, and his 4.59 SIERA is a good indication of how hard he’s been hit. If I’m not paying up for Tulowitzki, the best use of the shortstop position is to get an affordable bat in what should be a high scoring lineup.
Giancarlo Stanton – MIA vs COL - $5,300 - If you can only pay up for one big bat tonight, Stanton looks like the top option. He has eight HRs in the past 11 games; he is simply one of the elite hitters in the league in any matchup. I’ve mentioned Chris Rusin’s underwhelming numbers against RHB; meanwhile Stanton has a silly .472 wOBA and 203 wRC+ against LHP.
Adam Jones – BOS at BAL - $3,300 – Jones is close to a must-play at this salary against Wade Miley. I mentioned Miley’s low strikeout rate against right-handers and overall struggles this season; add to that in his last trip to Baltimore he allowed six runs before being knocked out in the third inning. Jones is crushing left-handed pitching this season with a .409 wOBA and 167 wRC+.
Kole Calhoun – LAA at TB - $2,800 – The one offense I haven’t talked about yet that is worth a look is the Angels against Alex Colome. Colome has allowed a .348 wOBA to lefties with a below average strikeout rate. Calhoun has been hitting cleanup for a Los Angeles team that always has the potential for a big night. While I can’t prioritize the Angels ahead of some of the other strong offenses tonight, Calhoun makes for a very affordable way to make sure you get a piece of this offense in the event that they have a big night.