The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.
Thursday features a 10-game slate starting at 4:05 p.m. ET.
Two pitchers on today’s slate are priced above $10,000 on FanDuel:
- Shane Bieber (R) $10,700, CLE @ MIN
- Luis Castillo (R) $10,100, CIN vs. CHI
Bieber headlines the slate following a great opening performance against Kansas City. He struck out 14 batters and allowed only four hits in six scoreless innings.
The 25-year-old solidified himself as a true ace last season, posting a 3.28 ERA and 3.32 Field Independent Pitching (FIP) metric. His opening showing against the Royals inspires optimism that he will continue his excellent play against the Twins on Thursday.
Admittedly, Bieber’s Vegas matchup doesn’t jump off the page as a screaming value. The Twins are implied to score 4.4 runs as -119 favorites. Nonetheless, Bieber’s recent history against Minnesota is encouraging. He boasted a 3.27 expected ERA and 173 Base Performance Value (BPV) against the Twins last season.
Bieber is a strong option in all formats, and he could carry lower ownership than usual given the presence of the Twins bats. He is projected for 36.44 points in the Bales Model, which ranks first among the slate’s starting pitchers.
The other stud pitcher on the slate is Luis Castillo. He looked sharp in his 2020 debut against Detroit, striking out 11 Tigers and only conceding one run through six innings. The 27-year-old broke out in 2019 to the tune of a 3.40 ERA and 3.70 FIP. His strikeouts per nine innings pitched (SO/9) rose from 8.8% in 2018 to 10.7% last season.
Castillo faces a much tougher test today in the Chicago Cubs. Like Bieber, Castillo’s Vegas matchup is somewhat less-than-ideal, but his team history against Chicago is encouraging. Castillo posted a 3.24 ERA and 154 BPV against the Cubs last year, his expected ERA in this matchup is 2.94.
Hyun-Jin Ryu was rocky in his Toronto Blue Jays debut, giving up three earned runs and lasting only five innings against Tampa Bay. Now, the 33-year-old faces off against a familiar foe in the Washington Nationals. In 2019, Ryu had a 0.61 ERA and 131 BPV against the Nationals.
Ryu has persistently struggled with injuries, but there is no denying his skills when he is healthy. Still, it’s difficult not to like him today given his matchup. Washington averages the third-fewest runs scored per game and will be missing superstar Juan Sotto in tonight’s matchup. As a result, Ryu stands out as a strong fantasy option on FanDuel, where he can be found at $8,400.
If you are looking for more upside, consider Dylan Bundy. He was nothing short of spectacular in his Los Angeles Angels debut. The 27-year-old gave up one run in six and two-thirds innings against the Athletics.
Now, Bundy has an excellent opportunity to follow-up on that stellar performance against the Mariners. Seattle has been anemic offensively this season, scoring a combined 18 runs in their first five games. Furthermore, Bundy is has a rating of 67.29 in the Bales Model which ranks second among all starting pitchers.
The Mariners’ 3.7-run implied team total is the second-lowest on today’s slate. The Angels are also a -200 favorite, which gives Bundy a great shot at a win. He’s always a threat to blow up, but Bundy has the potential to be the highest-scoring pitcher on the slate. He can be found on FanDuel at a price of $8,200.
Max Fried: He is pitching at home in Truist Park, where he posted an ERA of 3.21 last season. Fried followed up his strong close to 2019 with a sharp opening performance this season. He pitched five innings and gave up two runs on the road against the New York Mets. Fried averages more than 10 strikeouts per nine innings in 2020.
He also has a nice matchup against the Rays, whose offense is sorely lacking without superstar Austin Meadows. Tampa Bay is implied to score 4.2 runs, which is one of the lowest totals on today’s slate. Fried can be found on FanDuel at $7,700.
Ryan Yarbrough: The 28-year-old has pinpoint control and improved throughout 2019 in nearly every statistical category. Yarbrough’s skills surged over the second-half with a 135 BPV in 81 innings pitched. The lefty looked sharp in his first start of 2020, pitching five shutout innings against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Yarbrough draws a tough matchup against the Braves, and he does not strike out a lot of batters. However, he also does not allow many baserunners, boasting 1.07 walks and hits per inning pitched (WHIP). Yarbrough can be found on FanDuel at a price of $6,700.
- 1. Whit Merrifield (R)
- 2. Jorge Soler (R)
- 3. Adalberto Mondesi (S)
- 4. Salvador Perez (R)
Total Salary: $13,600
The Royals’ top stack will leave you with quite a bit of money left on DraftKings. Their implied team total of 5.4 runs ranks second on today’s slate.
Kansas City matches up against Tigers right-hander Ivan Nova, who gave up three runs in five innings in his first start of 2020. Nova has pitched to a 4.98 FIP while giving up 1.44 home runs per nine innings. The Royals have been hitting the ball well against the Tigers, averaging seven runs per game.
Merrifield is projected to be the Royal with the highest ownership percentage. He’s expected to bat first in the lineup and will receive ample opportunities against Nova and the Tigers. Merrifield has been scorching hot to start the 2020 season, hitting .391 with two home runs and seven runs batted-in. He is the second-highest-rated player according to the Bales Model today with a 77.52 rating and is priced on DraftKings at $4,100.
On FanDuel, the New York Yankees own the slate’s top four-man stack:
- 1. DJ LeMahieu (R)
- 2. Aaron Judge (R)
- 3. Gleyber Torres (R)
- 4. Aaron Hicks (S)
Total Salary: $12,900
The Yankees are currently implied for 6.4 runs, which ranks first on the main slate. Moreover, they are facing a Baltimore Orioles team that is ranked 31st in runs per game allowed this season.
New York will face Orioles left-hander John Means, who will be making his first start of the 2020 MLB season. He’s coming off a stellar 2019 season, during which he made his first All-Star game. However, Means was terrible over the second-half of the season, posting a 5.59 expected ERA.
With Means making his first start of 2020, he likely won’t pitch deep into this contest. That means the Yankees may draw plenty of at-bats against the Orioles bullpen, which averaged a league-high 5.79 ERA in 2019.
Torres stands out as a value at $3,100 and boasts a Bargain Rating of 97%. In 2019, he hit 13 home runs in 66 at-bats against Baltimore. Torres posted a .278 batting average last season, and he enters this contest in solid recent form.
Finding value is going to be important if you are looking to roster an expensive stack or pitcher on today’s slate, and Renato Nunez stands out as an elite value on FanDuel. He is priced at $2,400 and reports a Bargain Rating of 65%. In 19 careers at-bats against J.A. Happ, Nunez has hit .579 with four home runs.
Mike Trout is another potential value option — even at his price of $4,500 on FanDuel. The Angels are implied for 5.4 runs against Marco Gonzalez and the Seattle Mariners. In fairness Trout has dominated almost every starting pitcher, but his numbers against Gonzalez are scary. In 28 at-bats against the southpaw, Trout has two home runs and a .429 batting average.
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