The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.
Thursday features a split slate. There’s a two-game early slate starting at 12:10 p.m. ET and a six-game main slate starting at 7:10 p.m. ET.
Three pitchers on today’s slate own a salary above $9,000 on FanDuel:
- Jacob deGrom (R) $10,900, NYM vs. SD
- Jose Berrios (R) $9,300, MIN @ CWS
- Lucas Giolito (R) $9,100, CWS vs. MIN
deGrom got off to a rough start this season, but he’s been the most consistent pitcher in baseball since the beginning of May. He’s allowed more than two earned runs in just two of 15 starts over that time frame, resulting in a 2.53 ERA and 2.84 FIP. He’s been a particularly nice fantasy value over the past month, posting an average Plus/Minus of +7.03 on FanDuel.
deGrom is in an elite spot today vs. the San Diego Padres. Their projected lineup has posted a .304 wOBA and 29.9% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months, and they own the second-highest strikeout rate against right-handers this season. As a result, deGrom leads all pitchers in three key pitching categories: 3.1 opponent implied team total, -197 moneyline odds, 10.4 K Prediction. Historically, pitchers with comparable marks in all three categories have averaged a Plus/Minus of +2.20 on FanDuel (per the Trends tool). He’s an elite option on the early slate.
Berrios and Giolito are squaring off in Chicago, and both players are excellent values on FanDuel. Giolito owns a Bargain Rating of 97%, while Berrios owns a Bargain Rating of 92%.
Berrios is a slight -138 favorite, and he leads the main slate with an opponent implied team total of 4.0 runs. The White Sox have also struck out at a 28.2% clip against right-handers over the past 12 months, giving Berrios a K Prediction of 8.0.
His Statcast data from his past two starts is also strong. He’s limited opposing batters to an average distance of 190 feet, which represents a decrease of 11 feet compared to his 12-month average. Add it all up, and comparable pitchers have averaged a Plus/Minus of +2.30 on FanDuel. He’s the clear pitcher to target in this matchup.
Giolito has a brutal matchup vs. the Twins, who have been one of the best offensive teams in baseball this season. They rank first in home runs per game, second in runs per game and fourth in wRC+ against right-handed pitchers. They’re currently implied for 4.6 runs, which is higher than usual for a pitcher of Giolito’s caliber. Historically, pitchers with comparable salaries and opponent implied team totals have averaged a Plus/Minus of -2.18 on FanDuel.
That said, Giolito has seen a price decrease of more than $2,000 from his peak, which makes him an interesting buy-low target. He’s pitched to a 5.40 ERA during the month of July, but his 2.98 FIP suggests he’s been considerably unlucky.
It’s a rough day if you’re looking to pay down at pitcher. Each of the value options has flaws, although some options are strong than others.
Let’s start with Drew VerHagen. He’s priced at the absolute minimum on DraftKings, and he’s in a strong spot vs. the Seattle Mariners. Their projected lineup has posted a 27.4% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months, giving VerHagen a solid K Prediction of 6.5. He’s not a particularly good pitcher – he was designated for assignment early this season – but he has posted a respectable K/9 of 8.74 over the past 12 months. Historically, pitchers with comparable salaries and K Predictions have averaged a Plus/Minus of +1.24 on DraftKings.
VerHagen owns the highest Projected Plus/Minus in our MLB models, which makes him an interesting option for those looking to load up on bats.
Jose Suarez leads the slate with a Bargain Rating of 98% on FanDuel, and he’s in a solid spot vs. the Baltimore Orioles. They rank just 25th in wRC+ and own the third-highest strikeout rate against left-handed pitchers this season. There’s currently no Vegas information available for this game, but expect Suarez to own one of the better opponent implied team totals on the main slate. He also owns a strong K Prediction of 7.4.
That said, it is fair to question just how much upside Suarez actually possesses. He’s pitched 5.2 innings or less in each of his past seven starts, including 4.1 innings or less in each of his past three. He was also hit hard in his last outing, allowing batters to post an average distance of 225 feet, exit velocity of 95 miles per hour and hard-hit rate of 54%. He still stands out on a weak pitching slate, but he’s far from a slam dunk.
Joe Musgrove: He stands out on the early slate at just $5,800 on DraftKings given his elite matchup vs. the St. Louis Cardinals. Their projected lineup has posted a .285 wOBA and 28.1% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months, and their implied team total of 4.5 runs is the second-lowest mark on the afternoon slate.
Adam Plutko: He benefits from pitching for the Cleveland Indians, who are -140 favorites vs. the Kansas City Royals. Plutko limited the Royals to just one earned run over seven innings in his last outing.
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 New York Mets:
- 1. Jeff McNeil (L)
- 2. J.D. Davis (R)
- 3. Pete Alonso (R)
- 4. Wilson Ramos (R)
- 5. Michael Conforto (L)
Total Salary: $21,600
No one really stands out as an elite target on the early slate. Three of the four teams have an implied team total of either 4.5 or 4.6 runs, and the Mets are one of them.
That said, they do have a nice matchup vs. Padres left-hander Eric Lauer. He’s been a mediocre pitcher this season, posting a 4.31 ERA, and the Mets rank fourth in wRC+ against left-handers when playing at home.
Davis has been elite in that situation this season. He’s posted a wRC+ of 178, and he’s slugged three HRs in just 33 at-bats. Davis has also swung the bat well recently, posting a 15-day/12-month distance differential of +10 feet and hard-hit differential of +13 percentage points.
Conforto could be slightly overlooked in this lefty-lefty matchup. Lauer has actually fared worse against left-handed batters than righties this season, and Conforto has smoked the baseball over his past 11 games. He’s posted an average distance of 252 feet, which represents an increase of 29 feet compared to his 12-month average. He’s also one of the Mets’ better values on DraftKings, where his $4,300 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 67%.
On the main slate, the top four-man FanDuel stack belongs to the Oakland Athletics:
- 1. Marcus Semien (R)
- 2. Matt Chapman (R)
- 3. Matt Olson (L)
- 5. Ramon Laureano (R)
Total Salary: $13,300
The A’s are currently implied for 5.5 runs vs. the Texas Rangers, which is the second-highest mark on the main slate. The Yankees rank first with an implied team total of 5.8 runs, but they’ll cost significantly more to roster. As a result, Oakland’s Team Value Rating of 88 leads the slate on FanDuel.
They’re taking on Rangers right-hander Ariel Jurado, who has pitched to a 4.92 ERA this season. He’s also managed a K/9 of just 6.60. The A’s have posted one of the lower strikeout rates against right-handed pitchers this season, so they should put a lot of balls in play against Jurado at a minimum.
Laureano is known more for his defense than his offense at this point, but he’s still posted a solid .355 wOBA and .221 ISO against right-handers over the past 12 months. He also enters this contest in solid recent form given his 15-day/12-month distance differential of +8 feet.
The Indians are currently implied for 5.4 runs, which will likely make them a popular target on the main slate. Francisco Lindor looks like a particularly strong option. He’s expected to occupy the leadoff spot in the lineup, and he’s posted a .352 wOBA and .188 ISO against right-handers over the past 12 months. He’s also a nice value at just $4,900 on DraftKings, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 75%.
The Angels have a strong matchup today vs. Jimmy Yacabonis, who has pitched to a 6.95 ERA this season. He’s been particularly poor against left-handed batters, allowing them to post a .417 wOBA, which bodes well for Shohei Ohtani. He’s crushed right-handers over the past 12 months and has posted a 15-day/12-month distance differential of +17 feet.
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: White Sox SP Lucas Giolito
Photo credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports