Our Blog

MLB DFS Breakdown (Thursday, September 17): Roll With Bieber Against the Tigers

Thursday features a 6-game main slate on DraftKings and FanDuel starting at 7:05pm ET.


Tonight’s slate features two pitchers over the $10,000 mark on FanDuel:


  • Shane Bieber (R), $11,900, CLE @ DET
  • Aaron Nola (R), $10,900, PHI vs. NYM

Even when he’s off his game, Shane Bieber is still #good. His last start against the Twins was forgettable compared to the rest of his season, but he still managed seven innings of three-run ball while striking out eight batters. He’ll continue his Cy Young push on Thursday against the Detroit Tigers, a team that has struggled mightily against right-handed pitching.

So far on the season, they’ve hit to a below average .297 wOBA and have struck out 27.7% of the time. Bieber’s 14.2 K/9 thus far is elite, which puts a ceiling performance tonight squarely on the table. He’s the top overall option on the slate and is playable in both cash games and guaranteed prize pools (GPPs).

Aaron Nola’s 12.3 K/9 and 2.44 xFIP so far on the season are career bests. Over that time, he’s managed to limit his hard contact rate to 34.4%, a massive drop from the 41.9% he had just a year ago. Tonight, he takes on a New York Mets team that surprisingly ranks second in all of baseball against right-handed pitching with a .354 wOBA over 1216 plate appearances. They have also been successful at limiting the strikeouts, whiffing in only 21.5% of at-bats against righties.

While Nola has the stuff to perform well here, his matchup is substantially tougher than Bieber. To that end, he’s not the optimal choice for cash games. In GPP’s, however, his lower ownership projection makes him a strong pivot if spending up.


Dakota Hudson gets a strong matchup on Thursday against a Pittsburgh Pirates team that is dead last in baseball against right-handed pitching with a .259 wOBA on the season. They’ve also struck out 25.5% of the time in such matchups, amongst the highest rate in the game. Hudson never really lights up the box score, but he can approach his ceiling here in this particular matchup. At $8,700, he offers a nice option for those looking to pay down in cash games and those looking for a low-owned pivot in GPPs.

Framber Valdez struggled in his last start, allowing five earned runs over five innings pitched against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He did manage seven strikeouts, though, bringing his total up to 9.0 K/9 on the season. He gets a good matchup against the Texas Rangers, whose .285 wOBA against southpaws is third worst in baseball. They also strikeout 24.8% of the time against lefties, 6th most overall. He offers sneaky upside for his $9,100 price tag on FanDuel.


Masahiro Tanaka has been a solid option out of the New York Yankees rotation this season, but he’s yet to them the type of length that we’ve seen in years past. His opponent, the Toronto Blue Jays, have hit righties well this season, collecting a .328 wOBA and striking out just 21.8% of the time. At $8,300, it’s difficult to project him to pay off his salary on FanDuel.

Seth Lugo’s price is right at just $7,200, but his lack of length makes him a pitcher to avoid on Thursday night. He did last 5.1 innings in his last start, but he has two appearances in his last four where he’s lasted less than 4 innings. He’s an easy fade in all formats.

Notable Stacks

With the Lineup Builder, it’s easy to incorporate stacks into DFS lineups. Today’s top five-man on DraftKings (per the Bales Model) belongs to the Los Angeles Dodgers:

1. Mookie Betts (R)
2. Corey Seager (L)
3. Justin Turner (R)
4. Max Muncy (L)
6. Cody Bellinger (L)

There are not very many things that fit together quite like a powerful Los Angeles Dodgers team and Coors Field. Vegas agrees – the Los Angeles Dodgers have the highest implied team total on the slate with 6.9 runs.

Max Muncy, in particular, matches well against lefty Kyle Freeland. In 67 plate appearances this season against southpaws, Muncy has hit to a strong .351 wOBA. Corey Seager has also found success, collecting a .329 wOBA in such situations himself.

With such a high team total at Coors Field, they will undoubtedly be the chalk tonight. The situation is a good one, but you’ll need to differentiate elsewhere in GPPs if going this route.

Total Salary: $27,200

The Houston Astros also rank highly as a four-man stack on FanDuel (per the Bales Model):

1. George Springer (R)
3. Jose Altuve (R)
3. Michael Brantley (L)
4. Alex Bregman (R)

Total Salary: $13,600

George Springer and the Houston Astros match up very well against righty Jordan Lyles on Thursday. Springer, in particular, has been very good against righties, hitting to a .357 wOBA and .224 ISO so far. Lyles has struggled so far in 2020, pitching to a 6.61 FIP and allowing 1.9 HR/9. Springer is expected to man his typical leadoff spot and is $3,700 on FanDuel.

Michael Brantley has also been exceptional, collecting. a .406 wOBA and .215 against righties so far this season.

The Astros have an implied team total of 5.9 runs, so they will be popular on this relatively small slate. That said, with the Coors Field game total up at 11.5, they will not be the most popular stack on Thursday night in GPPs. Prioritize getting at least a piece of this lineup tonight.

Other Batters

DJ LeMahieu once again finds himself in an advantageous spot tonight against righty Chase Anderson. LeMahieu has been on fire, smashing three homes runs and driving in eight batters over his last two games. His .450 wOBA and .274 ISO in matchups against right-handed pitching is predictably strong as well. He’s a bargain at $4,000 on FanDuel.

Francisco Lindor is the top-rated shortstop in the Bales Model on Thursday night, where he’ll face off against righty Casey Mize. Lindor has a strong .340 wOBA against righties on the season and comes in at just $3,500 on FanDuel as the projected leadoff hitter for the Cleveland Indians. He has a 98% Bargain Rating.