The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.

Thursday features a split slate: There’s a three-game early slate starting at 1:10 pm ET and an eight-game main slate starting at 7:05 pm ET.

Pitchers

Studs

Some days we get the luxury of paying up for an elite pitcher like Max Scherzer, Chris Sale, or Corey Kluber. Today is not one of those days. Only three pitchers on FanDuel have salaries of $9,000 or greater, and none possess a salary above $9,400:

If there is a ‘stud’ pitcher on today’s slate, it’s probably Luke Weaver. He hasn’t spent a ton of time in the major leagues but has an ERA of just 2.16 this season and an awesome 12-month K/9 of 11.63. He’s been especially productive from a fantasy perspective recently, owning a ridiculous average Plus/Minus of +17.39 on FanDuel over his last five starts:

For today’s matchup, he’s among the leaders in opponent implied team total (3.6 runs), moneyline odds (-195), and K Prediction (7.2). His Statcast data from his last two starts is also really impressive, particularly his average distance of 186 feet. That represents a differential of -22 feet compared to his 12-month average, and pitchers with comparable distance differentials, K Predictions, and moneyline odds have historically crushed on FanDuel (per the Trends tool):

He’s very affordable on FanDuel with a Bargain Rating of 94 percent and should dominate the ownership on the early slate.

With Weaver on the early slate and Zack Godley available only on the all day slate, the pitching options on the main slate are very thin. Masahiro Tanaka will likely be one of the most popular options. He’s a -195 favorite against the Baltimore Orioles, who are currently projected to start seven right-handed batters. That should be a big benefit for Tanaka: He’s historically limited right-handed batters to a .288 wOBA when facing them at Yankee Stadium.

The Orioles’ projected lineup has also struck out in 26.2 percent of at-bats against right-handed pitchers over the past 12 months, and Tanaka’s resulting K Prediction of 6.8 ranks second on the slate. Combining his K Prediction and moneyline odds results in a solid Consistency Rating on DraftKings:

Tanaka is not cheap on DraftKings at $9,700, but, really, no pitcher is tonight. His Bargain Rating of 24 percent is nothing to write home about, but it is the only mark above eight percent for pitchers with a price tag above $9,000. He’s probably the high-priced pitcher most capable of putting up a big game; his Upside Rating of 17 percent over the past year is the top mark on the slate.

Values

Josh Tomlin is pitching for an Indians team that has won 21 straight games, so it’s no surprise that he’s the biggest favorite of the day at -220. Being a favorite that large has been significant for fantasy purposes, with comparable favorites posting solid historical numbers on DraftKings:

While that production is nice, it probably overstates what Tomlin is capable of in this matchup. Tomlin has been a large favorite in plenty of previous occurrences, and it’s not a role he’s historically thrived in. He’s posted a historical Plus/Minus of -1.83 in 18 occurrences as a -150 favorite or larger, and increasing the threshold to -175 actually decreases his average Plus/Minus to -7.27.

Tomlin has also made just two starts since returning from the disabled list, and he’s thrown an average of 76 pitches over those two starts. Even before hitting the DL he didn’t typically go long, hitting the 90-pitch mark in only seven of 22 starts this season. He also has a K Prediction of just 3.8 against a Royals team that has one of the lowest strikeout rates against right-handers this season. Playing for the Indians will likely make him a popular option – which Pro Subscribers can review using the DFS Ownership Dashboard – but his ceiling seems very limited for guaranteed prize pools (GPPs).

One option that should offer more upside on today’s slate is Brad Peacock. He leads the slate with a K/9 of 11.80 over the past 12 months, and his K Prediction of 7.7 ranks first as well. He’s also a slight favorite with -134 moneyline odds and has posted a distance differential of -16 feet over his last two starts. Pitchers with comparable marks in all three categories have historically been strong plays on FanDuel:

He’s not exactly a ‘value’ at $10,200 on DraftKings, but his FanDuel salary of $8,600 results in a Bargain Rating of 92 percent.

Fastballs

Tanner Roark: He doesn’t stand out in any one particular category, but he has solid marks across the board. He ranks in the top-three in moneyline odds (-178), opponent implied team total (3.7 runs), and K Prediction (6.2). He has also averaged 104 pitches over his last two starts. Pitchers with comparable marks in all four categories have a historical Plus/Minus of +1.80 and Consistency Rating of 59.4 percent on DraftKings. Roark appears to be one of the safest options today for cash games.

Jose Urena: He has an excellent matchup today against the Philadelphia Phillies, whose projected lineup has a splits-adjusted strikeout rate of 28.3 percent over the past 12 months. That results in a K Prediction of 6.1 for Urena, and he couples that with a distance differential of -38 feet over his last two starts. On a slate with limited pitching talent, that’s enough to make him an intriguing option for GPPs.

Notable Stacks

With the Lineup Builder, it’s easy to incorporate stacks into DFS lineups. On the early slate, the top five-man DraftKings stack (per the Bales Model) belongs to the St. Louis Cardinals:

Per the Vegas Dashboard, the Cardinals’ implied team total of 5.3 is tied for second on the early slate. They’re set to face Reds left-hander Amir Garrett, who has terrible past-year marks in both WHIP (1.59) and HR/9 (3.21). He’s also posted a distance of 227 feet over his most recent start, which represents a differential of +12 feet compared to his 12-month average. The Cardinals are also in excellent recent form, with all of the stacked batters with the exception of Paul DeJong owning 15-day/12-month distance differentials of +12 feet:

Of the above batters, projected No. 7 hitter Harrison Bader stands out as particularly appealing. He’s destroyed left-handed pitchers over the past 12 months, posting a .667 wOBA and .533 ISO, and his spot in the lineup should result in lower ownership than some of his teammates’ marks. You can review the ownership dynamics for a particular stack using the new DFS Contests Dashboard.

On the main slate, the top six-man FantasyDraft stack belongs to the Seattle Mariners:

The Mariners’ implied team total of 5.0 is tied for just fifth on the main slate, but their batters are quite affordable: Each of the stacked batters has a Bargain Rating of at least 81 percent on FantasyDraft. The Mariners are facing Rangers right-hander Andrew Cashner, which puts most of the stacked batters on the positive side of their batting splits:

The Mariners have also underperformed their Statcast data recently, with all of the stacked batters outside of Robinson Cano owning positive Recent Batted Ball Luck scores (Rec BBLs). Projected No. 2 hitter Yonder Alonso leads the group with a Rec BBL of +53, and he’s dirt-cheap at just $6,900 on FantasyDraft.

Batters

Aaron Judge has cooled off substantially since his torrid first half of the season, but it looks like he might be starting to heat up again. He’s posted an average distance of 263 feet, exit velocity of 97 miles per hour, and hard hit rate of 50 percent over his last 12 games, all of which are increases compared to his 12-month averages. The Yankees are implied for 5.3 runs on today’s slate, and batters with comparable implied team totals and recent Statcast data have a historical Plus/Minus of +1.67 on DraftKings.

Carlos Gomez leads the slate with 11 Pro Trends on DraftKings. The Rangers are implied for 5.1 runs, and Gomez has destroyed the baseball recently, posting 15-day/12-month distance, exit velocity, and hard hit differentials of +34 feet, +6 miles per hour, and +12 percentage points. The game between the Rangers and Mariners is currently projected for the best hitting conditions on the slate, resulting in a slate-high Weather Rating of 85.

Salvador Perez homered on Wednesday’s slate, and his Rec BBL of +77 suggested he was due for good fortune. His recent batted ball distance of 247 feet is one of the top marks on the slate, and Perez is extremely affordable at just $2,700 on DraftKings.

Good luck, and be sure to do your own research with the Labs Tools!

News Updates

After this piece is published, FantasyLabs is likely to provide news updates on a number of players herein mentioned. Be sure to stay ahead of your competition with our industry-leading DFS-focused news blurbs: