The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.

Thursday features a split slate. DraftKings features a seven-game early slate starting at 1:10 p.m. ET, while FanDuel features a four-game early slate starting at 1:10 p.m. ET and a three-game afternoon slate starting at 3:10 p.m. ET. Both sites feature a seven-game main slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET.

Pitchers

Studs

Three pitchers have a salary of at least $10,000 on FanDuel:

  • Justin Verlander (R) $12,000, HOU vs. OAK
  • Lucas Giolito (R) $11,000, CWS vs. KC
  • Patrick Corbin (L) $10,000, WSH @ MIN

Verlander is putting together another remarkable campaign in 2019. He’s pitched to a 2.52 ERA and 3.35 FIP while striking out 11.88 batters per nine innings. He’s also compiled 5.6 Wins Above Replacement, which ranks sixth in the league.

Verlander has pitched particularly well from a Statcast perspective over his past two starts. He’s limited opposing batters to an average distance of 179 feet, which represents a decrease of -42 feet when compared to his 12-month average.

He’s in an interesting spot today vs. the Oakland A’s. Their projected lineup has posted a .351 wOBA against right-handers over the past 12 months, which is one of the top splits-adjusted marks on the slate. That said, Verlander still leads all pitchers with a 3.5 opponent implied team total, and his -253 moneyline odds rank second.

Verlander also possesses some of the top strikeout upside on the slate. His 12-month K/9 of 11.92 ranks first among today’s starters, as does his K Prediction of 9.3.

Add it all up, and comparable pitchers have historically posted an average Plus/Minus of +6.23 on FanDuel (per the Trends tool). He’s the easy top option at pitcher on the main slate.

Giolito stands out on the early slate. He’s taking on the Kansas City Royals, who rank just 23rd in wRC+ vs. right-handers over the second half of the season. Giolito leads the early slate with an opponent implied team total of 3.6 runs, while his -189 moneyline odds rank second.

Giolito has also increased his K/9 to 11.39 this season, and the Royals projected lineup has posted a 25.4% strikeout rate vs. right-handers over the past 12 months. He has solid upside in this matchup.

Corbin is the toughest pitcher to make a case for in this group. He’s taking on the Minnesota Twins, who have been an offensive juggernaut for most of the season. Their projected lineup has posted a .358 wOBA against southpaws over the past 12 months, and they’re implied for 4.7 runs. That’s extremely high considering Corbin’s salary, and pitchers with comparable salaries and opponent implied team totals have historically averaged Plus/Minus of -3.52 on FanDuel.

The Twins also own the seventh-lowest strikeout rate vs. left-handers this season, so Corbin has less strikeout upside than usual.

Values

Yu Darvish is squaring off with Dinelson Lamet in San Diego, and both pitchers have their merits for DFS.

Let’s start with Darvish. His opponent implied team total of 3.7 ranks second on the early slate, and the Padres represent an elite matchup for right-handers. They’ve posted a .286 wOBA and 29.5% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months. Darvish’s resulting K Prediction of 9.2 trails only Verlander’s, and pitchers with comparable Vegas data and opponent implied team totals have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +2.97 on DraftKings.

Darvish also enters this contest in solid recent Statcast form. He limited his most recent opponent to an average distance of 205 feet and hard hit rate of 20%, both of which represent decreases when compared to his 12-month averages.

Lamet is an underdog is this matchup, but his opponent implied team total of 4.4 runs is still respectable. The Cubs’ projected lineup has been mediocre against right-handers over the past 12 months, posting a .283 wOBA and 26.1% strikeout rate.

Lamet provides an interesting combination of strikeout upside and recent Statcast data. He owns a K Prediction of 8.4 and a 15-day/12-month distance differential of -23 feet, and pitchers with comparable marks in both categories have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +2.32 on DraftKings.

Tyler Mahle is dirt-cheap at $6,200 on DraftKings, and he owns an appealing matchup vs. the Seattle Mariners. Their projected lineup has posted a .288 wOBA against right-handers over the past 12 months, and they rank just 26th in wRC+ vs. right-handers since the All-Star break. They’ve also struck out in 27.7% of at bats against right-handers over that time frame, which is the second-highest mark in the league. He has nice upside considering his salary.

Fastballs

Rich Hill: He’s making his first start nearly three months, but the Dodgers will reportedly look to stretch him out to get ready for the playoffs. It’s hard to trust a starter in his return from an extended absence, but he does have an excellent matchup vs. the Orioles. He could potentially return value even if he only throws five innings.

Drew Smyly: He’s coming off back-to-back gems, and his recent Statcast data suggests those performances haven’t been particularly fluky. He remains affordable at $6,800 on DraftKings, albeit in a tough matchup vs. the Braves.

Gio Gonzalez: He has an appealing matchup vs. the Miami Marlins, whose projected lineup has struggled to a .292 wOBA and 26.6 strikeout rate vs. left-handers over the past 12 months. He also enters this contest in strong Statcast form given his 15-day/12-month distance differential of -23 feet.

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 Colorado Rockies:

  • 1. Trevor Story (R)
  • 2. Charlie Blackmon (L)
  • 3. Nolan Arenado (R)
  • 4. Daniel Murphy (L)
  • 5. Ryan McMahon (L)

Total Salary: $24,800

The Rockies are currently implied for 5.7 runs, the third-highest mark on the main slate. That said, that number undersells their upside. They’re taking on Cardinals right-hander Miles Mikolas, who has shown major regression this season. He’s pitched to a 4.25 ERA, and that number drops to 5.83 when pitching on the road. He isn’t a particularly good strikeout pitcher – he’s posted a K/9 of just 7.13 this season – so the Rockies should put a bunch of balls in play at a minimum. That could spell big trouble for Mikolas at Coors Field.

Arenado isn’t someone who usually stands out vs. right-handed pitchers, but he’s tough to ignore given his recent Statcast data. He’s posted an average distance of 248 feet over his past 14 games, which represents an increase of +25 feet when compared to his 12-month average. Historically, batters with comparable distance differentials and lineup spots have averaged a Plus/Minus of +1.57 when playing at Coors Field.

On the main slate, the top four-man FanDuel stack belongs to the Atlanta Braves:

  • 1. Ronald Acuña (R)
  • 2. Ozzie Albies (S)
  • 3. Freddie Freeman (L)
  • 4. Josh Donaldson (R)

Total Salary: $15,000

The Braves are currently implied for 5.3 runs, which ranks fifth on the main slate. They also represent one of the better pure values on FanDuel given their Team Value Rating of 83.

Smyly has pitched well recently, but he’s still been one of the worst pitchers in baseball this season. He’s posted a 6.20 ERA and 6.44 FIP, and opposing batters have averaged 2.57 HRs per innings against him.

Acuña deserves to be treated as one of the top overall plays on the slate. He’s posted elite marks against left-handers over the past 12 months, and he enters this contest in excellent recent form. He’s managed an average distance of 243 feet, exit velocity of 97 miles per hour, and hard hit rate of 58% over the past 15 days, all of which represent increases when compared to his 12-month averages.

If you are interested in targeting this game, you’ll need to keep an eye on the weather reports. The current forecast calls for a 47% chance of precipitation at game time.

Other Batters

The Astros are currently implied for 5.7 runs vs. A’s right-hander Homer Bailey, which should make them a popular target on the main slate. George Springer stands out as one of their best options. He’s a right-handed batter who actually performs better against right-handed pitchers, and he’s posted strong Statcast marks over the past 15 days. Springer also represents one of the best values on FanDuel, where his $4,100 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 88%.

On the early slate, Aaron Judge stands out as an elite value on DraftKings. He’s priced at just $4,700, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 96%, and the Yankees are currently implied for 6.3 runs. He has a nice matchup vs. Tigers right-hander Spencer Turnbull, who has pitched to a 7.96 ERA over the second half of the season.

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

Pictured above: Astros SP Justin Verlander (35)
Photo Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports