The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.
FanDuel and DraftKings offer 10-game all-day slates starting at 1:05 p.m. ET, along with three-game early slates beginning at the same time.
Both sites also have seven-game main slates at 7:05 p.m. ET.
This breakdown will mainly focus on the seven-game main slate since the early slate consists of just three games.
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On FanDuel, there are three pitchers who cost more than $10,000:
- Chris Sale (L) $11,200, BOS @ NYY
- Hyun-jin Ryu (L) $11,000, LAD vs. NYM
- Carlos Carrasco (R) $10,200, CLE @ CWS
Sale always has a high floor with his 33.7% strikeout rate this season, but he has a suboptimal matchup against a projected Yankees lineup that has a just a 23% strikeout rate and elite .343 wOBA against lefties over the past 12 months. But the Yankees have struggled this season to generate runs against left-handed pitchers, ranking 24th in Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+).
Sale also doesn’t enter this game in his best form, sporting a 260-foot batted-ball distance, 94-mph exit velocity and 44% hard-hit rate over his past two starts. He’s a solid play on a main slate with only seven games given his strikeout potential, but he’s a better value on DraftKings, where he has a 72% Bargain Rating.
Ryu has had elite stuff this season, boasting a 2.81 xFIP and a 24% K-BB%. The matchup against the Mets doesn’t stand out on paper: They rank sixth in wRC+ against lefties this season, and their projected lineup has a middling 24.5% strikeout rate against left-handed pitchers over the past 12 months.
But Ryu and the Dodgers have the most favorable Vegas data on the slate as -254 moneyline favorites while the Mets are implied for a slate-low 3.1 runs. Per our Trends tool, pitchers with comparable salaries and Vegas data have averaged a robust +5.05 FanDuel Plus/Minus with a 68.1% Consistency Rating.
Carrasco hasn’t been as bad as his 4.60 ERA suggests: His xFIP is 1.29 runs lower than his ERA. He still owns an excellent 29.3% strikeout rate and 25.2% K-BB%. But his fantasy numbers have underwhelmed. This year he has a -6.62 FanDuel Plus/Minus with a 45% Consistency Rating.
He’s had a ton of hard contact over his past two starts, allowing opposing hitters to average a 94-mph exit velocity and 56% hard-hit rate. But Thursday could be in a bounceback spot against a projected White Sox lineup that has a 26.1% strikeout rate and weak .295 wOBA against right-handed pitchers over the past 12 months. Overall, Carrasco possesses a favorable 8.4 K Prediction, and the Indians are sitting at -179 moneyline odds against a White Sox team implied for a meager 3.9 runs.
Value options are almost nonexistent on Thursday’s small slate. Given the nature of the main slate, I’d roster one of the three pitchers already discussed on FanDuel and two of them on DraftKings.
You could maybe make a case for Mike Minor and his 90% Bargain Rating on FanDuel for tournaments. He owns a 25.5% strikeout rate this season but a lackluster 4.07 xFIP. He’s been pretty good from a fantasy standpoint, averaging a +9.67 FanDuel Plus/Minus with a 64% Consistency Rating. But Minor is still up against a projected Royals lineup that has a low 22.9% strikeout rate and is implied for 4.8 runs.
Chase Anderson: He’s nothing more than a pure punt if you feel like loading up on bats. Anderson has an OK 24.4% strikeout rate this season, but his 10.9% walk rate could get him into trouble against a Pirates team that has a low 22.3% strikeout rate. The Brewers are slight -121 favorites at the time of writing, and the Pirates’ 4.1 implied run total is the fourth-lowest mark on the main slate.
- 1. Francisco Lindor (S)
- 3. Carlos Santana (S)
- 4. Jason Kipnis (L)
- 5. Jose Ramirez (S)
Total salary: $16,600
The Indians possess a 5.3 implied run total and a Team Value Rating of 78 in our Vegas Dashboard, the second-highest mark on the slate. They square off against Manny Banuelos, who has an abysmal 5.02 xFIP and 8.7% K-BB% this season. And he’s now allowed five or more earned runs over his past four starts.
The matchup against the lefty puts the switch-hitting Lindor on the positive side of his batting splits as he’s hit lefties to the tune of a .373 wOBA and .225 ISO over the past 12 months. Lindor also possesses a hard-hit differential of eight percentage points.
Santana is also in good form over the past two weeks, sporting a distance differential of +14 feet, velocity differential of +6 mph and hard-hit differential of +12 percentage points.
One of the top FanDuel stacks on the main slate in the CSURAM88 Model belongs to the Texas Rangers.
- 1. Logan Forsythe (R)
- 2. Danny Santana (S)
- 4. Hunter Pence (R)
- 6. Asdrubal Cabrera (S)
Total salary: $12,700
The Rangers’ 5.8 implied run total is the highest mark on the main slate by 0.5 runs. Consequently, they also lead the slate with a Team Value Rating of 90 on FanDuel. They take on Jake Junis, who has allowed a ton of hard contact over his past two starts with his 96-mph exit velocity and 48% hard-hit rate. The Rangers should be able to exploit a pitcher with a 4.56 xFIP and 11.4% K-BB%.
Santana will be on the positive side of his batting splits, sporting a .354 wOBA and .173 ISO against right-handers over the past year. Additionally, his 229-foot batted-ball distance, 96-mph exit velocity and 47% hard-hit rate match well with Junis’ poor Statcast data.
This stack won’t be too hard to afford on FanDuel since everyone in this group carries a Bargain Rating of at least 70%.
The Dodgers’ implied run total has risen to 5.1 after opening at 4.9, and Justin Turner will be on the positive side of his splits against the lefty Jason Vargas. He’s throttled righties over the past year, boasting a .396 wOBA and .243 ISO. He’s a better value on DraftKings with his 75% Bargain Rating.
Enrique Hernandez is expected to occupy the leadoff spot for the Dodgers, and he’s an intriguing target on DraftKings with his 91% Bargain Rating. Hernandez boasts a .366 wOBA and .200 ISO against lefties, and he projects well in our models, sporting a top-four median projection and projected Plus/Minus.
J.D. Martinez is in decent form with his +16-foot distance differential, but whenever he’s against a lefty, I’m automatically intrigued. He’s demolished left-handed pitchers over the past 12 months, possessing an absurd .457 wOBA and .349 ISO. J.A. Happ has been exploitable this season, and he owns a 43.4% fly-ball rate across his 11 starts this year.
Good luck, and be sure to check out The Action Network if you’re looking for more in-depth MLB analysis.
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Pictured above: Hunter Pence
Photo credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports