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FanDuel has a 13-game all-day slate and a five-game early slate starting at 12:10 p.m. ET. DraftKings’ seven-game early slate begins at the same time.
Both site’s five-game main slates start at 7:07 p.m. ET.
On FanDuel, there are four pitchers who cost $10,000 or more:
- Justin Verlander (R) $12,000, HOU @ SEA
- Patrick Corbin (L) $10,900, WSH @ SD
- Trevor Bauer (R) $10,400, CLE vs. MIN
- Zack Wheeler (R) $10,200, NYM vs. SF
From a projection standpoint, Verlander is the best play on the board. He owns an excellent 25.3% K-BB% this season, and he’s facing a Mariners team that has a 25% strikeout rate. However, they also have a .337 wOBA and rank inside the top eight in team ISO and Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) this season.
That said, the Mariners are implied for just 3.4 runs and the Astros are sizeable -190 moneyline favorites and his 8.5 K Prediction is among the best for pitchers on Thursday. Pitchers with comparable K Predictions, Vegas data and salaries have historically averaged a +4.71 FanDuel Plus/Minus with a 63.9% Consistency Rating.
Corbin leads our main slate in floor, median and ceiling projections. The win against the Padres isn’t a lock since it’s basically a pick’em right now, but it’s an incredible matchup. The Padres’ projected lineup carries a high 28.5% strikeout rate and lackluster .303 wOBA against lefties over the past 12 months, and they rank 21st in wRC+ against them this season. He’s a strong play on FanDuel but is a better value on DraftKings with his 80% Bargain Rating and slate-high +7.77 Projected Plus/Minus.
Bauer won’t make my cash game teams as he owns an underwhelming 4.50 xFIP this season and 10.4% walk rate. Bauer also draws a tough matchup against a Twins team that ranks first in team wOBA and ISO this season and second in wRC+. Although, he could still be a worthy tournament pivot on a small slate like this with his 7.6 K Prediction and 27% strikeout rate. He just needs to keep the walks to a minimum.
Wheeler is easily the top pitching option on the early slate. His $10,200 salary on FanDuel is the highest salary by a whopping $2,900. The Giants’ projected lineup has a low 21.4% strikeout rate, but they also aren’t very good at getting on base or generating runs against right-handed pitchers. Overall, they have an awful .227 wOBA and rank 25th or worse in team ISO and wRC+ against them.
The Giants’ 3.2 implied run is by far the lowest mark on the early slate.
J.A. Happ has been hit or miss from a fantasy standpoint with his 50% Consistency Rating while pitching to a 4.67 xFIP with a 15.3% K-BB%. But, he’s in a decent spot on Thursday against a projected Blue Jays lineup that has a 27.3% strikeout rate and .307 wOBA against lefties over the past year. Additionally, they rank 22nd in team ISO and 25th in wRC+ this season against them.
Jose Quintana is only available on DraftKings’ early slate, and he should be a viable SP2 behind Wheeler. His 5.8 K Prediction leaves much to be desired, but the Rockies have struggled against lefties, with their projected lineup posting a .270 wOBA against them over the past 12 months, and they rank just 20th in wRC+ against them this season.
Joey Lucchesi: He’s an intriguing tournament option as he’s pitching opposite of Corbin. He’s been solid this season, pitching to a 3.72 xFIP with a 24.6% strikeout rate. Although, there is some risk with the Nationals ranking in the top 11 in wOBA, ISO and wRC+ against lefties this season, but options are limited on a five-game slate.
- 1. Ronald Acuna (R)
- 2. Dansby Swanson (R)
- 3. Freddie Freeman (L)
- 5. Nick Markakis (L)
Total salary: $17,600
The Braves have a sublime matchup against Chris Archer, who has struggled this season, pitching to a 5.17 xFIP with a 9.9% K-BB%. This should be a good spot for this stack with their 4.9 implied run total.
Freeman will be on the negative side of his splits, but he still owns a .375 wOBA and .205 ISO against righties over the past 12 months. He’s also in excellent batted-ball form right now, boasting a 233-foot average distance, 95-mph exit velocity and 61% hard-hit rate, all of which exceed his 12-month averages. Freeman and Acuna both carry top-12 Projected Plus/Minus on DraftKings.
This stack should provide plenty of value on DraftKings considering Acuna, Markakis and Freeman have Bargain Rating of at least 96%.
The top FanDuel stack on the main slate in the CSURAM88 Model belongs to the New York Yankees.
- 1. DJ LeMahieu (R)
- 2. Luke Voit (R)
- 3. Aaron Hicks (S)
- 4. Gary Sanchez (R)
Total salary: $16,100
At the time of writing, the Yankees have a robust 5.5 implied run total against Edwin Jackson. Jackson has been abysmal this season, pitching to a 5.62 xFIP with a 7.1% K-BB%. He’ll enter this game in terrible form, evidenced by his 252-foot average distance, 98-mph exit velocity and 58% hard-hit rate. Hitters against pitchers with comparable batted-ball data have historically averaged a +1.58 FanDuel Plus/Minus.
Jackson’s poor batted-ball data should pair well with the majority of this stack since all of them have exit velocities of at least 90 mph. Voit and LeMahieu both have 95-mph exit velocities while Sanchez checks in at 93 mph.
The main downside of this stack is how expensive it is. It’ll force you to pay down at pitcher a bit and mix in some cheaper bats.
The top hitter in the Bales Model is Matt Carpenter for the early slate. The matchup against righty Anthony DeSclafani will put him on the positive side of his batting splits. He’s demolished right-handed pitchers over the past year, boasting a .386 wOBA and .269 ISO. Additionally, he’s demolished the baseball over the past two weeks, sporting a 253-foot average distance, 98-mph exit velocity and 50% hard-hit rate. All of those marks exceed his 12-month averages, and Carpenter’s +33 Recent Batted Ball Luck (RBBL) suggests progression could be headed his way.
Shin-Soo Choo’s x-ray’s were negative on his hand after he was hit in the 12th inning last night, so if he’s in the lineup, he is in an excellent spot against right-handed David Hess. Hess has an abysmal 1.43 WHIP and 2.47 HR/9 over the past year. Meanwhile, Choo has throttled righties over the past 12 months, hitting them to the tune of a .404 wOBA and .243 ISO. The stars could align for Choo in this spot with his 232-foot average batted-ball distance, 96-mph exit velocity and 52% hard-hit rate. The Rangers’ 5.8 implied run total leads the main slate.
If you need some salary relief for the expensive Yankees stack on FanDuel, Delino DeShields carries an 88% Bargain Rating and is projected to hit from the No. 2 in the order. He owns a top-two Projected Plus/Minus on FanDuel and it’s historically been +EV to target hitters near the top of the order on teams with high implied run totals. Since 2012, hitters in the top two of the order with comparable salaries who are featured in games with similar implied run totals have averaged an excellent +3.06 FanDuel Plus/Minus.
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: Zack Wheeler
Photo credit: Sarah Stier-USA TODAY Sports