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

Thursday will feature a nine-game main slate starting at 8:05 p.m. ET on both DraftKings and FanDuel.

Pitchers

Studs

On FanDuel, there are three pitchers who cost $10,000 or more:

  • Matt Boyd (L) $10,500, DET @ KC
  • Clayton Kershaw (L) $10,400, LAD vs. CHC
  • Jacob deGrom (R) $10,200, NYM vs. STL

None of the top-priced pitchers have particularly exploitable matchups. First is up is Boyd, who is up against a projected Royals lineup with a lowish 23.3% strikeout rate against lefties over the past 12 months. However, Boyd has been exceptional this season, pitching to a 30.5% strikeout rate and 3.42 xFIP.

That said, his recent Statcast data is slightly concerning since he’s allowed opposing hitters to average a 232-foot average distance, 94-mph exit velocity and 42% hard-hit rate. However, the Royals rank just 28th and 27th in Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) and team ISO this season. Given Boyd’s massive strikeout rate, he’s viable in all formats tonight.

Kershaw isn’t the strikeout machine he once was, possessing a 22.9% strikeout rate this season, nearly a 13% drop from last season so far. Additionally, the Cubs rank 10th wRC+ and seventh in team ISO against left-handed pitchers this season. With Kershaw’s strikeout rate on the lower end among aces tonight and the matchup against an above-average offense, I’d primarily look at Boyd and deGrom in this price range.

Jacob deGrom

Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jacob deGrom

deGrom leads our floor, median and ceiling projections among all pitchers tonight. He also has a solid +7.42 Projected Plus/Minus on FanDuel. The matchup doesn’t stand out on paper as the projected Cardinals lineup has a 23.3% strikeout rate and they rank 16th in wRC+ this season. Although, they’ve struggled to hit for power against righties, ranking just 27th in ISO.

deGrom carries a solid 7.8 K Prediction and the Cardinals are implied for a slate-low 3.3 runs, but it might be tougher for them to get a win as they’re short -127 moneyline favorites with Jack Flaherty pitching opposite of deGrom, giving the Mets an implied run total of just 3.7.

Values

Jack Flaherty is a better value on DraftKings, where he has an 80% Bargain Rating. He’s a viable SP2 candidate with his exceptional 7.2 K Prediction against the Mets. He’s been decent this season, pitching to a 25.7% strikeout rate, but he’s been somewhat volatile this season with his 4.08 ERA and 3.97 xFIP. But I like him in this spot as a slight underdog with the Mets implied for a paltry 3.7 runs. His +6.46 Projected Plus/Minus on DraftKings is the second-highest mark.

I wouldn’t use Jon Gray outside of tournaments since the Rockies are at home Thursday night. He’s a decent tournament punt on FanDuel with his 83% Bargain Rating against a projected Padres lineup that has a 28% strikeout rate. Additionally, since 2015, Gray has averaged a +8.45 FanDuel Plus/Minus with a 71.8% Consistency Rating when pitching as a home favorite, per our Trends tool.

Fastballs

David Price: The Red Sox are the largest favorites (-216 moneyline) on the night while the Rangers are implied for a meager 3.6 runs. Price has been hit or miss this season with a 50% Consistency Rating, but overall he hasn’t been too bad, pitching to a 3.28 xFIP and a 29.4% strikeout rate.

J.A. Happ: The White Sox’s 4.3 implied run total is on the higher side, but he leads both sites in Projected Plus/Minus against a projected White Sox lineup with a 27.4% strikeout rate and .292 wOBA against left-handed pitchers over the past 12 months.

Notable Stacks

With our Lineup Builder, it’s easy to incorporate stacks into DFS lineups. One of the top four-man DraftKings stacks in the CSURAM88 Player Model belongs to the Boston Red Sox.

  • 1. Mookie Betts (R)
  • 2. Andrew Benintendi (L)
  • 3. J.D. Martinez (R)
  • 5. Xander Bogaerts (R)

Total salary: $19,300

The Red Sox will take on Adrian Sampson, who has pitched to a 4.88 xFIP and lackluster 13.6% K-BB% this season. Overall, their 5.5 implied run total is the third-highest mark on the slate, and they boast the fifth-highest Team Value Rating in our Vegas Dashboard.

The matchup against the righty will put Betts on the positive side of his batting splits. He’s crushed righties over the past year, hitting them to the tune of a .407 wOBA and .237 ISO. Betts has generated a fair amount of hard contact over the past two weeks, sporting a 93-mph exit velocity and 46% hard-hit rate. He’s a solid value on DraftKings with his 82% Bargain Rating.

Benintendi will also be on the positive side of his splits, and he’s absolutely throttling the baseball right. He carries a massive 265-foot average distance, 96-mph exit velocity and 54% hard-hit rate over the past two weeks. All of which exceed his 12-month averages. His +44-foot distance differential is the fourth-highest mark among all hitters.

The top FanDuel stack in the CSURAM88 Model belongs to the Colorado Rockies.

  • 1. Charlie Blackmon (L)
  • 2. Trevor Story (R)
  • 3. David Dahl (L)
  • 4. Nolan Arenado (R)

Total salary: $17,700

With the Rockies at Coors Field, it’s not surprising they rate out as one of the top stacks on Thursday. Their 6.3 implied run total leads the night, and they carry a solid Team Value Rating of 80 on FanDuel. They’ll take on Matthew Strahm, who struggled in his last start, allowing seven earned runs across 4.1 innings.

It’s worth noting Arenado left Wednesday’s game after getting pegged in the forearm, so be sure to monitor his status as lineups are released tonight.

Charlie Blackmon

Credit: Russell Lansford-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Charlie Blackmon

Blackmon owns an 84% Bargain Rating on FanDuel, and he’s been solid since coming off the injured list. Over his last five starts, he possesses a 242-foot average distance and a 92-mph exit velocity. Even though he’ll be on the negative side of his batting splits, he still in a good spot as a leadoff hitter in an elite hitting environment.

Story leads our shortstop ceiling projections by a significant margin on Thursday, which isn’t surprising considering he possesses a .399 wOBA and .257 ISO against left-handed pitchers over the past 12 months.

Other Batters

If you want some exposure to the Yankees’ 5.8 implied run total, Aaron Hicks will be on the positive side of his batting splits, boasting a .377 wOBA and .231 ISO against right-handed pitchers. Ivan Nova has been awful this season, possessing a 4.63 xFIP and 8.5% K-BB%.

It’s not ideal that Rowdy Tellez is projected to hit from the No. 7 spot for the Blue Jays, but he’s cheap on both sites and carries a .334 wOBA and .246 ISO against right-handed pitchers over the past 12 months. HIs +1.26 Projected Plus/Minus on FanDuel is a top-four mark on the slate. His salary relief should help you gain exposure to some of the higher-priced bats on the slate.

Good luck, and be sure to check out The Action Network if you’re looking for more in-depth MLB analysis.

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: Aaron Hicks
Photo credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports