The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.
Thursday features a 10-game main slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET.
MLB DFS Pitching Picks
MLB DFS Stud Picks
Gerrit Cole ($10,200) New York Yankees (-165) at Boston Red Sox
Cole is the sole pitcher priced above $10,000 on Thursday’s main slate. That makes sense considering his excellent numbers on the season. Both his SIERA and ERA have fallen below 3.00, and he’s one of five qualified starters with at least a 30% strikeout rate.
However, Cole isn’t necessarily a safe play today. That’s because he’s taking on the Red Sox in a tough divisional matchup. Boston. The Red Sox are a top-ten offense on the season, despite a slow start dragging their overall numbers down.
Vegas has Boston implied for 3.8 runs, which is a solid mark but not one of the lower ones on the slate. The respect from the betting markets is a good sign for Cole, but he carries more risk than usual. He’s largely beaten up on average and bad teams this season, exceeding salary-based expectations just once against a team with a wRC+ above 100.
Cole is far too risky for cash games but could be a good GPP option depending on his ownership. If he projects outside of the top few pitchers in that category, he’s a solid choice. Getting a pitcher with his talent at lower ownership is always a good thing for tournaments.
Cole leads the FantasyLabs median and ceiling projections while faring worse in THE BAT.
Dylan Cease ($9,800) Chicago White Sox (-250) vs. Detroit Tigers
One of the reasons I’m expecting lower ownership on Cole is the presence of Cease on tonight’s slate. Most players won’t want to spend $20,000 on their two pitchers, and Cease feels like a much better option. Like Cole, he’s one of five pitchers with a 30% strikeout rate this season.
His 34.3% strikeout rate is second in the majors, and he has an excellent 2.51 ERA. More importantly, he has a matchup with the lowly Tigers. While Detroit is playing better as of late, they’re still the second-worst offense in the league by most metrics.
Detroit is implied for just 3.4 runs today against the White Sox, one of the lowest marks on the slate. Combined with his sky-high strikeout upside, Cease is a top option. The one drawback on Cease may be his ability to last deep into games; Cole has thrown seven more innings in the same number of starts.
Cease leads THE BAT’s projections by a wide margin in median and ceiling and will be a very popular choice in all contest types tonight.
MLB DFS Value Picks
Bryse Wilson ($5,400) Pittsburgh Pirates (TBD) at Cincinnati Reds
The game between the Pirates and Reds features two of the worst offenses in the MLB — Cincinnati ranks 27th in wOBA, Pittsburgh 28th. Unfortunately, it also features two pitchers with significant question marks, so targeting this game in DFS is challenging.
Wilson is the better option of the two, with the Reds starting Luis Cessa ($4,000) in what’s likely to be an opener role. Wilson is more clearly a starter, pitching six innings of two-run baseball against the Brewers in his last outing. However, he was a bit lucky with the final stat line; he allowed nine baserunners in those innings.
Still, that was a solid performance against a more formidable team than he’s facing tonight. That makes him interesting at his low salary. He has a 7.49 ERA on the season, but his 4.61 SIERA paints a much better picture. He’s not a huge strikeout guy — his strikeout rate sits at 16.4% for the season — but if he can eat some innings at his salary, he’s a solid option.
Wilson currently ranks second in the FantasyLabs Pts/Sal projections. This game is the second leg of a double-header, so keep an eye on our lineups page and the betting markets once the first game wraps up.
MLB DFS GPP Picks
Joe Musgrove ($9,700) San Diego Padres (-137) vs. San Francisco Giants
Musgrove is somewhat quietly having an excellent year, with a 2.52 ERA, 25% strikeout rate, and over six and a half innings pitched per start. In 14 starts on the season, he’s topped 20 DraftKings points in twelve and gone over 28 points five times.
While the Giants are on the tougher side matchup-wise, their wRC+ of 104 isn’t particularly threatening. That’s a park-adjusted 104 as well, and this game being in San Diego is undoubtedly a benefit to pitchers. San Francisco is implied for just 3.1 runs, the lowest mark of any team on the slate at the time of writing.
Musgrove not having elite strikeout ability is his limiting factor here, with Cease and Cole each projected for at least 1.5 additional Ks. Strikeouts are noisy, though, and Musgrove could certainly match or exceed them if he runs well tonight.
Assuming he comes in with lower ownership projections, Musgrove is a strong GPP pivot from Cease or Cole and a potential SP2 alongside either.
His opposite number Logan Webb ($8,900) is in a similar situation: Strong overall numbers, somewhat lacking strikeouts, and a moderate matchup that could scare some players off.
Musgrove ranks third in the FantasyLabs ceiling projections, with Webb coming in fifth.
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 New York Yankees:
- DJ LeMahieu (1) ($4,700)
- Aaron Judge (2) ($6,000)
- Anthony Rizzo (3) ($4,700)
- Josh Donaldson (5) ($3,800)
- Aaron Hicks (6) ($2,500)
The Yankees hung a massive 16-run score on the Pirates last night, with Judge leading the charge. He had 35 DraftKings points, thanks to a grand slam, two other hits, a walk, and a stolen base. The FantasyLabs models like the Yankees to again be the top stack on the slate, this time as they travel to Boston.
They’re taking on rookie pitcher Josh Winckowski ($7,600), a right-hander who’s off to a decent start to his MLB career. His 3.97 SIERA is solid, though he’s struck out just 17.3% of the batters he’s faced. That latter point is important with so many free swingers on the Yankees. Judge, Donaldson, and Giancarlo Stanton ($5,400) all have struck out at least 25% of the time this season.
Allowing those free swingers to put the ball in play is never a great idea, especially in a hitter-friendly park for righties like Fenway. With winds expected to blow out to left field — home of the green monster — the power bats in New York have an ideal situation.
The Yankees’ 5.1-run implied total is the highest of any road team on the slate.
Top Stacking Pick from THE BAT X
The top DraftKings stack from THE BAT when generated by ceiling belongs to the Atlanta Braves:
Atlanta has the highest implied total on the slate at 5.5 runs. They’re also taking on a rookie pitcher in the Cardinals Matthew Liberatore ($6,800). Unlike Winckowski, Liberatore’s transition to the major leagues hasn’t gone well. He has ERA and SIERA numbers over five on the season.
Liberatore is a southpaw, which is of further benefit to the Braves. Atlanta has a 104 wRC+ against right-handed pitching on the season, but they’ve crushed lefties to the tune of a 118 wRC+. While Olson might make sense as a fade, the rest of this stack is right-handed. While none of them have an extreme platoon advantage, they’re all somewhat better against lefties.
If looking for some down-lineup options — either to save salary and ownership or as an Olson pivot — outfielder Adam Duvall ($3,100) is solid. According to THE BAT, he has the top Pts/Sal and Plus/Minus projections on the Braves. With this stack being somewhat expensive, rostering a cheaper option can help free up some salary.
Other MLB DFS Hitter Picks
Ke’Bryan Hayes 3B ($3,700 DraftKings; NA FanDuel): Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds (Luis Cessa)
Cessa is expected to work as an opener for the Reds, as he’s pitched 30.2 innings in 30 appearances this season. That’s good news for the Pirates, who then get to face Cincinnati’s historically bad bullpen. The Reds relievers have a combined 5.65 ERA on the season, by far the worst in the majors.
Additionally, this is the second game of a double header. That means the Reds bullpen will be stretched even thinner than usual, especially without a true starter taking the mound. Pirates stacks are a sneaky way to attack this one, with Hayes profiling as the best option.
He’s a value as the leadoff hitter for Pittsburgh and provides some upside with his legs. He has nine steals on the season. There aren’t many good hitters on the Pirates, but even they might be able to get it done tonight.
Carson Kelly C ($2,300 DraftKings; $2,300 FanDuel) Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Colorado Rockies (Austin Gomber)
Kelly is hitting a pitiful .142 this season, but there’s reason to be optimistic. The matchup is solid against Austin Gomber ($6,400) of the Rockies. Gomber has a 6.53 ERA on the season. While some of that is a product of pitching at Coors Field, his 4.45 SIERA isn’t great either.
Kelly has also run incredibly bad, with a .165 BABIP on the year. His career mark is .244, so he’s due for some regression. More importantly, Kelly has feasted on left-handers like Gomber. Kelly has hit .265 against southpaws in his career, with an .852 OPS. Both are well higher than his overall marks.
Kelly probably isn’t worth it on FanDuel, where catchers aren’t mandatory and his salary is relatively higher. He’s a great DraftKings play, though, thanks to his 91% Bargain Rating. He leads both THE BAT and the FantasyLabs projections for Pts/Sal at the position on DraftKings.
Jonathan Villar 2B/3B ($4,100 DraftKings; $2,200 FanDuel) Los Angeles Angels at Baltimore Orioles (Jordan Lyles
Villar stands out on FanDuel today, where he’s priced near the minimum. That’s a tremendous value for a projected leadoff hitter on a team with a 4.3-run implied total. His multi-position eligibility is another bonus.
The Angles are matched up with Jordan Lyles ($6,900) in a moderate-to-good matchup. Lyles has ERA and SIERA numbers over four on the season and a sub-20% strikeout rate. Strikeouts have historically been a problem for Villar, whose excellent speed helps him when he puts the ball in play.
Villar is hitting only .218 this season, but he has a career-low .286 BABIP. That should regress a bit, given his .333 numbers in his career. He also provides upside with his legs, with seven steals in limited appearances this year.