It's a super Thin Thursday, with four games early and four games late. Adding more heat to a spicy dish is the threat of rain at four venues. In the early contest, Minnesota and Washington could see storms towards the end of their games. The late contest is more affected. Cincinnati has a 40 percent chance of storms throughout the game. Chicago's storm risk currently starts at 50 percent and increases to 70 percent during the game. By wary and check the weather maps.
Assuming the game happens, the top stack of the day is in Cincinnati, where David Holmberg will host the Atlanta Braves. The Braves lineup ranks as the sixth best against left-handed pitching per an advanced stat called wRC+. Great American Ballpark holds a right-handed home run park factor of 128. Parsed into normal English - righties hit 28 percent more home runs in Cincinnati than a neutral park. Finally, Holmberg himself is mediocre. Even if we ignore his earlier debut (a 2.2 inning, five run meltdown), he struggled in the minors. A 4.64 ERA in Triple-A with 5.15 K/9 and 3.30 BB/9 are not the numbers of a major league ready pitcher.
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Mike Trout - LAA: With so few games, it's difficult to identify clever reasons to roster very good players. Trout is a target today because he's facing a mid-tier pitcher in Rubby de la Rosa. Since almost half of the pitchers today can be described as elite or elite-adjacent, Trout has one of the better matchups by default.
Michael Brantley - CLE: Brantley will face Phil Hughes - a pitcher who has quietly posted the sixth best FIP in baseball. Even if we explain away part of his good 2014 season, Hughes is still working in spacious Target Field. Brantley isn't a great bet for power, but he could still generate plenty of points with his hard contact-oriented approach. He's a great DFS asset because he can do a little of everything.
Miguel Cabrera - DET: This Cabrera recommendation is not unlike Trout's. He's a great hitter regardless of the opponent. While Alex Cobb is certainly a good pitcher, he doesn't have the elite stuff necessary to automatically silence Cabrera. Miggy looks better on platforms that count him as a third baseman.
Pablo Sandoval - SFG: For a couple years, Sandoval was between 45 and 50 percent better than league average. He's settled in at about 15 percent above league average, which is still valuable. Facing the second worst pitcher of the day, the switch hitter is an easy pick. We know he swings at everything, but his frequent contact is good for DFS owners hoping to get a burst of production.
Wilson Ramos - WAS: The Nationals face southpaw Wade Miley. That creates the platoon advantage for several solid hitters, including Ramos. The catcher has performed well in August with six multi-hit games and three home runs. Over his career, he has a .311/.365/.433 line against lefties.
Jayson Werth - WAS: Werth also stands to benefit from a matchup with Miley. The stout hitting outfielder is working with a bum shoulder, but it seems to be healed enough. He's gone 6-for-16 with two doubles since returning. In keeping with career trends, he has a .343/.434/.476 slash against southpaws. You may want to temper expectations slightly due to the injury.
Martin Prado - NYY: In fantasy circles, Prado is best known for his utility. That's less useful to DFS owners, but some platforms let you leverage multi-position players. In any case, Prado is cheap today, and he'll have the platoon advantage against Dallas Keuchel. It's not a dreamy matchup, but it'll do in a pinch.
Andrelton Simmons - ATL: If you're looking to snag a cheap shortstop with surprising pop, a fantastic matchup, and a great ballpark, then Simmons if your guy. His season numbers have been a huge disappointment. He has hit lefties reasonably well, which is good for tonight - .273/.317/.403. He takes the occasional Carlos Gomez hack, and I expect to see one or two of those against Holmberg.
Michael Morse - SFG: Not only has Morse hit well this season, he's started to hit better of late. A slump dropped him into the bargain bin. He's just now on the verge of climbing out, but you have time to take advantage against Wood. Morse has a .240/.310/.504 line against southpaws this season. The power numbers bode well.
Madison Bumgarner - SFG: On a day when some of baseball's top pitchers are on the bump, Bumgarner receives top billing. While early weather reports put the game in jeopardy, there's no denying that Bumgarner has a strong matchup. The Cubs do hit lefties well, but Bumgarner is no mere mortal southpaw. He should post his usual strikeout per inning, low walk rate and ERA around 3.00. With Travis Wood opposing him, he stands a very good chance of earning the win.
Julio Teheran - ATL: Teheran also looks likely to pull down the victory. We talked about Holmberg in the intro, and there's a good chance the Braves will put this one away early. However, the best laid plans can go awry. Teheran also has to deal with Cincinnati's hitter friendly park. He's better equipped than Holmberg, but that doesn't make him invincible.
Dallas Keuchel - HOU: Keuchel is about as close as we can come to a cheap pick today. He'll face a scuffling Yankees roster. As a lefty, he can partially neutralize the short porch in right field. Right-handed hitters also do well at Yankee Stadium, but not nearly to the degree of lefties. Keuchel has come down to Earth since his hot start to the season. He's definitely improved over past seasons, but his strikeout rate has returned to career norms.