The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.
Thursday features an eight-game main slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET.
MLB DFS Pitching Picks
MLB DFS Stud Picks
Zack Wheeler ($10,200) Philadelphia Phillies (-190) at Pittsburgh Pirates
Wheeler is the safest option on Thursday’s slate, as he’s a high-level pitcher in an excellent matchup. Based on wRC+, the Pirates are the second-worst offense on the slate, ranking ahead of only Detroit. With the Tigers facing a lefty — and doing well against southpaws — that makes Wheeler’s matchup the most favorable.
He brings a sub-3.00 ERA and 26% strikeout rate into this one, with underlying metrics that roughly support those numbers. While he’s perhaps due a bit of regression, it’s unlikely that the Pirates are the team to force that issue.
This game being played in Pittsburgh is also helpful, with the 84 Park Factor for pitchers the top mark on the slate. Vegas has the Pirates implied for just 3.5 runs, one of the lowest marks on the slate.
Of course, Wheeler is a bit pricey for a guy who lacks massive strikeout upside. His K Prediction is a solid 6.84, but that only narrowly edges out some much cheaper arms, making him more suitable as a cash game play tonight.
He leads the FantasyLabs projections for median and ceiling while ranking second in THE BAT.
Shohei Ohtani ($8,900) Los Angeles Angels (-222) vs. Texas Rangers
Ohtani is the leader in THE BAT’s projections by a wide margin while coming in considerably cheaper than Wheeler. He’s the better SP1 choice for GPPs, thanks to his tremendous upside. That said, his matchup vs. the Rangers also makes him slightly riskier.
Ohtani’s volatility was on display in his last outing. He struck out 11 Braves before allowing six earned runs in the seventh inning. While that resulted in a usable DraftKings score of 20.04, it would’ve been a monster day if he was pulled after six innings.
The Rangers provide far less of a threat offensively than Atlanta, though, and this game being in Los Angeles — with an 83 Park Factor for pitchers — also helps Ohtani’s prospects.
He comes into this one with a 2.80 ERA and 35.9% strikeout rate, elite pitching numbers. With the Angels favored heavily and Texas implied for just 3.1 runs, he’s an excellent tournament play.
MLB DFS Value Picks
Alex Wood ($7,500) San Francisco Giants (-143) vs. Chicago Cubs
Wood is a solid regression candidate coming into Thursday, with FIP and SIERA numbers in the low threes but a 4.21 ERA. That, coupled with solid Vegas data, makes him a strong choice at $7,500 on DraftKings.
He has an average matchup with the Cubs, a team that ranks right around the middle of the pack in wRC+ both overall and against left-handed pitching. Vegas is firmly on his side, though, with the Giants favored and Chicago implied for only 3.8 runs.
Wood is another pitcher with only moderate upside, thanks to a 24.3% strikeout rate. He’s a very strong cash game play, though, as saving salary will be necessary with a game at Coors on the slate.
Wood ranks second in the FantasyLabs projections for Pts/Sal while coming third in THE BAT.
Spencer Howard ($5,200) Texas Rangers (+185) at Los Angeles Angels
Howard has struggled mightily as a starter this season, hitting double-digit DraftKings points just once. He has a 7.11 ERA, but he hasn’t actually been that bad. His SIERA is a serviceable 4.87, and he’s been very unlucky with a 26.3% HR/FB ratio.
We aren’t interested in Howard because of his own abilities so much as the matchup and situation. He’s taking on the Angles without Mike Trout, who continues to be inactive with a back issue. Since Trout’s been out of the lineup, Los Angeles has averaged just 3.27 runs per game.
He should also benefit heavily from the location of this game, with some regression to his HR/FB rate in the expansive Angel Stadium of Anaheim. With the 83 Park Factor at play, some of the home runs he tends to allow could be long outs.
Howard is extremely risky given his underlying numbers, but the salary and matchup combination is excellent. He’s a solid GPP option if trying to load up on expensive hitters, leading the FantasyLabs projections in Pts/Sal.
MLB DFS GPP Picks
Triston McKenzie ($9,900) Cleveland Guardians (-119) at Boston Red Sox
Like Howard, McKenzie has a seemingly difficult matchup on paper that’s made much better by injury. The Red Sox will be without Rafael Devers, who is currently on the 10-day IL.
They’re averaging just 3.4 runs in the five games without Devers against softer pitching matchups than they have in McKenzie. McKenzie has a 3.11 ERA for the season with a solid 23.9% strikeout rate.
Those numbers aren’t quite enough to justify his salary, particularly with the Guardians as minuscule favorites. However, that should also keep his ownership low. He’s currently projected in the high single-digit range in the FantasyLabs set.
McKenzie is a solid pivot from Wheeler at the high end, especially in large-field tournaments. His ceiling trails only Wheeler in the FantasyLabs projections, and he’ll come at a discount in both salary and ownership.
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 MLB Tournament Model when generated by rating belongs to the Los Angeles Dodgers:
- Mookie Betts (1) ($5,500)
- Trea Turner (2) ($5,600)
- Freddie Freeman (3) ($5,800)
- Will Smith (4) ($4,900)
- Max Muncy (6) ($3,800)
Despite averaging over $5,000 per hitter, there’s a case to be made for the Dodgers actually being underpriced on Thursday. They have an insane 7.3-run implied total as they travel to Denver for a matchup with the Rockies. Besides the obvious benefit of playing at Coors, they have a tremendous matchup with Jose Urena ($5,600).
Urena has a 3.13 ERA coming into this one but is due for serious regression. His xERA and SIERA are both over 5.00, and his HR/FB ratio is under 10%. That’s below the league average and surely unsustainable in the thin Rocky Mountain air.
He’s also striking out just 12.3% of the batters he’s faced, so there will be plenty of balls in play tonight. The Dodgers are an obvious stack, with the only question being which hitters to put in your lineup.
Top Stacking Pick from THE BAT X
The top non-Dodgers DraftKings stack from THE BAT when generated by ceiling belongs to the Toronto Blue Jays:
The Blue Jays are a strong pivot from the Dodgers tonight, as they travel to Detroit to take on Tigers lefty Tyler Alexander ($5,000). It will be something of a bullpen day for Detroit, as Alexander hasn’t made an appearance over 3.1 innings since the first week of the season.
That raises the chances of an offensive explosion from Toronto. The Tigers feature a strong bullpen, but one that’s been heavily taxed recently. We’ve seen the Tigers go to position players on the mound numerous times this year, with tonight being another potential opportunity.
I’m strongly considering some cheaper Blue Jays options too. In the case of a blowout, the down-lineup hitters are far less likely to be pulled late in the game. That also has the added benefit of saving some salary, allowing us to roster more Dodgers to go with our Toronto stack.
Other MLB DFS Hitter Picks
Javier Baez SS ($4,200 DraftKings; $2,600 FanDuel) Detroit Tigers vs. Toronto Blue Jays (Yuseki Kikuchi)
As usual, I’ll be finding a way to get to Baez against a left-handed pitcher. Fortunately, Baez’s price has come back down on DraftKings after approaching $5,000 for a short stretch, making him an affordable option with a ton of upside.
Baez has a .943 OPS against lefties this season, and Toronto’s Yusei Kikuchi ($7,700) isn’t even a particularly good one. Kikuchi has a 5.12 ERA and 4.49 SIERA coming into the contest. Baez should also be fairly contrarian with the field unlikely to be using many Tigers stacks.
Andres Gimenez 2B ($3,800 DraftKings; $3,200 FanDuel) Cleveland Guardians at Boston Red Sox (Kutter Crawford)
Giminez is hitting .300 on the season, with 11 home runs and seven steals through 86 games. Those are very strong numbers for a player in his price range. His Guardians are implied for a solid 4.7 runs against the Red Sox today, who are featuring starter Kutter Crawford ($6,100).
While Crawford has been better than his 4.50 ERA, he’s still an exploitable matchup for Cleveland. Giminez is a solid mix of upside and value, with his savings being significant on today’s slate. His status as a second baseman also helps, since the Dodgers don’t have any hitters exclusively 2B-eligible on DraftKings.
Austin Slater OF ($3,000 DraftKings; $2,400 FanDuel) San Francisco Giants vs. Chicago Cubs (Justin Steele)
Slater is another hitter I frequently target against lefties. He has a .289 average and .857 OPS against southpaws in his career, compared to just .228/.653 against righties. His price point reflects his overall numbers though, not his splits based on the matchup.
He’s facing the Cubs Justin Steele ($7,000), a second-year pitcher with SIERA and ERA numbers in the low fours. Beyond his platoon splits, he’s also projected to hit first in the Giants lineup, making him a strong value at his price point on both DraftKings and FanDuel.