The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.
Thursday features a five-game main slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET.
MLB DFS Pitching Picks
MLB DFS Stud Picks
Jacob deGrom ($10,300) New York Mets (-125) at Atlanta Braves
What else is there to say about deGrom at this point? He’s returned to the mound following a year-long absence, and he’s picked up right where he left off. He’s striking out an absurd 15.12 batters per nine innings, and he has an even more absurd 0.42 WHIP. He started his second start of the year by retiring the first 17 batters he faced, and he followed that up by retiring 16 straight in his third outing. It’s entirely possible that deGrom may be an alien.
deGrom will be on a limited pitch count in this outing – he’s yet to throw more than 76 pitches this season – but that hasn’t stopped him from putting up dominant fantasy scores. He’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in all three starts and has scored at least 35.56 DraftKings points in his past two.
The more significant concern is his matchup with the Braves. While he did dominate the Braves two starts ago, his Vegas data on Thursday is far from elite. He’s merely a -125 favorite, while his 3.4 opponent implied team total ranks third on this small slate.
Ultimately, deGrom’s upside is easily the highest among Thursday’s starters, but he carries a bit of risk at his high salary.
Yu Darvish ($9,000) San Diego Padres (-400) vs. Washington Nationals
As good as deGrom is, Darvish might be the superior option on Thursday. He doesn’t have the same pitch count concerns as deGrom, and his matchup is far more manageable. He’s taking on the Nationals, who basically have a Quadruple-A lineup since trading away Juan Soto and Josh Bell.
Darvish’s Vegas data in this spot is elite. He’s a massive -400 favorite, and the Nats’ 2.7 implied team total is the lowest on the slate. Historically, pitchers with comparable marks in both categories have averaged a Plus/Minus of +5.24 (per the Trends tool).
Darvish doesn’t bring nearly as much strikeout upside to the table as deGrom, but his average of 9.04 strikeouts per nine innings is still respectable. Darvish is also -$1,300 cheaper than deGrom on DraftKings, making him a slightly better pure value in our MLB Models.
MLB DFS Value
Luis Patino ($6,700) Tampa Bay Rays (-220) vs. Kansas City Royals
To say things haven’t gone well for Patino this season would be an understatement. He’s thrown eight big-league innings, and he’s posted a 6.75 ERA and a paltry 3.38 K/9 over that stretch. However, he has pitched a bit better in the minors, and he’s coming off five scoreless innings with six strikeouts in his last outing.
Patino is back with the big club on Thursday and is expected to start vs. the Royals. The Rays are currently listed as -220 favorites, and the Royals’ 3.1 implied team total is the second-lowest mark on the slate.
Targeting cheap pitchers like Patino with elite Vegas data is generally a good philosophy. Pitchers with comparable marks have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +4.60 on DraftKings.
Patino will likely be limited to around five innings, but if he can reach that threshold, he has a good chance of picking up the four-point win bonus. His upside is a bit capped for GPPs, but he’s a solid bet to return value.
MLB DFS GPP Picks
Max Fried ($8,500) Atlanta Braves (+110) vs. New York Mets
Fried’s matchup vs. deGrom results in weaker Vegas data than usual, but he remains an outstanding starting pitcher. He’s pitched to an outstanding 2.60 ERA and a 2.86 xERA, and he was rewarded with his first All-Star Game selection.
This will be Fried’s fourth start against the Mets this season, and he’s pitched admirably in the three previous outings. He’s posted a 3.18 ERA while striking out 16 batters in 17 innings.
Additionally, the Mets’ offense has struggled against southpaws of late. They rank 22nd in wRC+ in that split over the past 14 days, giving Fried more upside than might appear at first glance.
He’s expected to carry the third-highest ownership at pitcher, but that’s still going to put him a massive way behind deGrom and Darvish. That makes him an interesting pivot option.
Josh Winckowski ($7,100) Boston Red Sox (-155) at Pittsburgh Pirates
Winckowski’s numbers this season aren’t going to blow you away – 4.69 ERA, 5.50 K/9 – but he does have a bit of pedigree as a prospect. He entered the year as the Red Sox’s No. 8 prospect per FanGraphs, so he’s viewed as a legitimate future major leaguer.
However, his real appeal on Thursday is his elite matchup vs. the Pirates. They’ve been one of the worst offenses in baseball this season, ranking 28th in wRC+ and third in strikeout rate against right-handed pitchers. They also just recently placed Ke’Bryan Hayes on the IL, so they’re even a bit weaker than usual.
Winckowski also gets a massive park upgrade on Thursday. PNC Park is one of the most pitcher-friendly venues in baseball, and Winckowski should be able to take advantage. He’s posted a 5.94 ERA in Fenway Park – a hitter-friendly stadium – but his ERA dips to 2.82 on the road. For my money, Winckowski is a far superior tournament option than Patino.
MLB DFS Hitters
With the Lineup Builder, it’s easy to incorporate stacks into DFS rosters.
Also, don’t forget that for large-field tournaments, you can utilize our Lineup Optimizer to effortlessly create up to 150 lineups.
The top DraftKings stack in the FantasyLabs Models when generated by ceiling belongs to the San Diego Padres:
- Jurickson Profar (1) ($4,500)
- Juan Soto (2) ($6,100)
- Manny Machado (3) ($5,800)
- Josh Bell (5) ($4,700)
- Trent Grisham (7) ($3,300)
The Padres figure to be a popular stacking target on Thursday. They’re taking on Anibal Sanchez, who has been nothing short of a disaster this season. He’s posted a 7.20 ERA across 30 innings, and he’s allowed a staggering three homers per nine innings. Unsurprisingly, the Padres’ implied team total of 5.5 runs ranks first on the slate.
The most noteworthy thing about the above stack is that it spans all the way from No. 1 through No. 7 in the order. It bypasses the projected cleanup and No. 6 hitters – Brandon Drury ($5,600) and Jake Cronenworth ($4,600) – which provides a bit of salary relief. It should also help reduce ownership for what is sure to be the highest-owned offense on the slate.
Top Stacking Pick from THE BAT X
The top DraftKings stack from THE BAT when generated by projected Plus/Minus belongs to the Pirates:
The Padres lead THE BAT in both projected points and projected ceiling, but the Pirates have the edge from a value perspective. That’s partly due to their insanely cheap price tags. You can stack five of the top seven projected hitters in their lineup for just $13,200, which is basically free.
While I highlighted Winckowski in the pitching section, it wouldn’t be a shock if the Pirates managed to put a few runs on the board. Winckwoski has surrendered at least one homer in five of his past six starts, so the Pirates are a good bet for at least one tater.
The real appeal of the Pirates is that they will allow you to stack two high-end pitching options. The most obvious pairing is deGrom and Darvish, but Fried would also work. If it’s a night without a lot of offense, there’s tons of value in having the two highest-scoring pitchers on the slate.
Other MLB DFS Hitter Picks
Alex Verdugo OF ($3,000 DraftKings; $3,000 FanDuel) Boston Red Sox at Pittsburgh Pirates
Verdugo stands out as one of the best pure values of the day on DraftKings, where his $3,000 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 91%. He’ll be on the positive side of his splits against JT Brubaker, who has surrendered plenty of hard contact this season. He ranks in the 24th percentile for average exit velocity and 28th percentile in xERA, so Verdugo has some appeal as the Red Sox’s projected cleanup hitter.
Anthony Rizzo 1B ($5,000 DraftKings; $3,700 FanDuel) New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays
It’s comical how bad Jose Berrios has been against left-handed batters this season. Despite entering the year with the pedigree of a frontline starter, Berrios has pitched to a 6.16 FIP against lefties. Most of that damage has come via the homer, with Berrios allowing 2.47 homers per nine innings in that split.
The Yankees don’t have many intimidating left-handed batters, but Rizzo fits the description. He’s a solid bet to hit one into the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium.
Ronald Acuna OF ($5,400 DraftKings; $4,100 FanDuel) Atlanta Braves vs. New York Mets
If there was ever a night to get Acuna at minimum ownership, it’s tonight. No one is going to roster him against deGrom, but Acuna possesses an elite ceiling on a nightly basis. He’s arguably the preeminent power/speed threat in fantasy baseball, falling just short of a 40-homer, 40-steal season in 2021.