The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players. 

Thursday features a split slate. There’s a two-game early slate starting at 2:05 p.m. ET and a 10-game main slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET.

Pitchers

Studs

Today’s slate is light on stud pitching options. Only two possess a salary of at least $10,000 on FanDuel:

  • Charlie Morton (R) $10,500, TB @ OAK
  • Jake Odorizzi (R) $10,000, MIN @ KC

Morton is putting together the best season of his career at 35 years old. He’s pitched to a 2.37 ERA and 2.88 FIP, while increasing his K/9 to 11.03. He’s also been dominant from a fantasy perspective over his past 10 games, posting an average Plus/Minus of +7.31 on FanDuel.

Unfortunately, he’s in a tough spot today vs. the Oakland Athletics. Their projected lineup has posted a .339 wOBA and 21.7% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months, and they’re currently implied for 4.0 runs. Morton still has strikeout upside – his K Prediction of 7.0 ranks fourth on the slate – but his Vegas data makes him tough to trust for cash games.

He’s also been hit hard over his past three starts. He’s allowed opposing batters to post an average distance of 208 feet, exit velocity of 93 miles per hour, and hard hit rate of 45%, all of which represent increases when compared to his 12-month averages. His hard hate rate is particularly concerning. Pitchers with comparable salaries, Vegas data, and recent hard hit rates have historically struggled, posting an average Plus/Minus of -4.07 on FanDuel (per the Trends tool).

Odorizzi has been wonderful this season, pitching to a 2.24 ERA in his second year with the Twins. That said, he’s a prime regression candidate moving forward. He’s benefited from a BABIP of .257 and HR/FB rate of 6.6%, both of which are lower than expected. He’s also stranded 83.6% of opposing baserunners, which is the sixth-best mark in the league. Add it all up, and his 4.26 xFIP is significantly higher than his traditional ERA.

He lags behind Morton in virtually every pitching category on today’s slate. He owns a higher opponent implied team total (4.2 runs) and lower K Prediction (6.0).

His Statcast data from his past two starts is also downright terrifying. He’s allowed an average distance of 233 feet, exit velocity of 93 miles per hour, and hard hit rate of 51%, all of which are among the worst marks on the slate.

Ultimately, he offers more downside than Morton and doesn’t provide nearly as much upside. That’s a good recipe for a fade.

Charlie-Morton

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Charlie Morton

Value

It’s a good day to pay down at pitching, but unfortunately, no one really stands out as an elite value option. Before getting to who should be on your radar, let’s focus on one option who shouldn’t.

Julio Urias may garner some attention due to his elite matchup vs. the San Francisco Giants. They’re currently implied for just 2.9 runs, which is the lowest mark on the slate. That said, Urias has spent most of the season serving as a reliever. He hasn’t pitched more than three innings in each of his past 12 appearances, so it’s unlikely that he’ll pitch more than that today. He’s been priced up pretty aggressively across the industry, so it’ll be tough for him to pay off his current salary. No one else out of the Dodgers’ bullpen figures to offer much value either, making this a situation to avoid.

Adam Wainwright is pretty far removed from his prime, and he’s pitched to a 4.46 ERA through his first 13 starts this season. However, he does benefit from one of the best matchups possible vs. the Miami Marlins. Their projected lineup has been dreadful against right-handers over the past 12 months, posting a .277 wOBA and 22.5% strikeout rate, and their implied team total of 3.6 runs is the second-lowest mark on the slate. The Marlins have been one of the best teams to target this season, with right-handers posting an average Plus/Minus of +4.04 on FanDuel.

Wainwright doesn’t provide much in terms of strikeout upside, but his recent batted-ball profile is solid. He’s induced groundballs at a 62% clip, and it’s tough for batters to do damage when they’re not hitting the ball in the air. He’s arguably the top option on the slate, particularly on DraftKings, given his Bargain Rating of 77%.

Robbie Ray stands out as the top option on the early slate. He’s taking on the Colorado Rockies, who have struggled offensively when away from Coors Field this season. They rank just 26th in wRC+ vs. southpaws on the road this season, and they’ve also posted the second-highest strikeout rate. Ray is an elite strikeout pitcher – he’s posted a K/9 of 11.41 over the past 12 months – giving him immense upside in this matchup. His 8.1 K Prediction and 4.0 opponent implied team total both rank first on the early slate.

Photo credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Robbie Ray

Fastballs

Shane Bieber: He’s one of the most talented pitching options available on today’s slate, which gives him appeal despite a tough matchup vs. the Rangers in Arlington. He’s also allowed batters to post an average distance of just 190 feet over his past two starts, which represents a decrease of -22 feet when compared to his 12-month average.

Madison Bumgarner: He has a difficult matchup vs. the Dodgers, who have averaged the seventh-most runs per game this season. That said, they haven’t been nearly as potent against left-handed pitchers, and Bumgarner has displayed increased strikeout ability this season. He has upside for GPPs.

Erick Fedde: He’s an option at $5,300 on DraftKings if you want to completely punt SP2. He has a decent matchup vs. the Nationals, who rank just 24th in wRC+ against right-handers this season.

Notable Stacks

With the Lineup Builder, it’s easy to incorporate stacks into DFS lineups. On the early slate, the top five-man DraftKings stack per the Bales Model belongs to the Cleveland Indians:

  • 1. Francisco Lindor (S)
  • 3. Carlos Santana (S)
  • 4. Jordan Luplow (R)
  • 5. Jose Ramirez (S)
  • 6. Jason Kipnis (L)

Total Salary: $20,200

The Indians’ implied team total of 4.8 ranks second on the early slate, but they represent the best pure value on DraftKings. Their Team Value Rating of 71 ranks first, and their top stack costs an average of just $4,040 per player. Only Luplow owns a Bargain Rating below 82% among the stacked batters.

They’re taking on Rangers left-hander Mike Minor, who has pitched well at times this season. However, his 4.02 xFIP suggests he’s been one of the luckier pitchers in baseball.

They’ll also benefit from getting to play in the one of the most hitter-friendly environments on the slate. The current forecast calls for a temperature of 94.5 degrees at game time, resulting in a Weather Rating of 94. Historically, batters with a comparable Weather Rating have averaged a Plus/Minus of +1.13 on DraftKings.

The Indians also enter this contest in good recent form. Santana, Luplow and Ramirez have all exceeded their 12-month average is distance over the past 15 days, and all three batters will also have the splits advantage against Minor.

On the main slate, the top four-man FanDuel stack belongs to the Los Angeles Angels:

  • 1. Tommy La Stella (L)
  • 2. Mike Trout (R)
  • 5. Albert Pujols (R)
  • 6. Kole Clahoun (L)

Total Salary: $14,500

The Angels have raked in their current series vs. the Blue Jays, scoring at least 10 runs in two of their past three games. Trout in particular has owned the Blue Jays over the majority of his career:

They’re currently implied for 5.5 runs, which is the third-highest mark on the main slate. They have a nice matchup vs. left-hander Clayton Richard, who has been dreadful through his first 20.1 inning this season. He’s pitched to a 7.52 ERA while averaging more walks (5.75) than strikeouts (5.31) per nine innings.

The matchup vs. a left-hander should be particularly beneficial to Pujols. He’s far from the same slugger that he was in his prime, but he’s still been pretty effective vs. left-handers. He’s posted a .349 wOBA and .286 ISO against southpaws over the past 12 months, and he’s managed a 114 wRC+ vs. left-handers this season.

Pujols has also crushed the ball over the past 15 days, posting an average distance of 241 feet. He’s someone who should be on your radar even if you’re not stacking the Angels.

Other Batters

The Cubs will likely be one of the most popular team targets on the slate. They’re currently implied for 5.6 runs and will be taking on Mets right-hander Walker Lockett, who will be making his first start of the season. Lockett was rocked over 15.0 innings in 2018, pitching to a 9.60 ERA. Kyle Schwarber is one member of the Cubs who should be on your radar. He’s excelled when batting leadoff against a right-hander this season, posting a Plus/Minus of +2.28 on DraftKings.

Max Kepler has been priced up to $5,300 on DraftKings, but it’s hard to argue against his elevated salary. He’s posted an average Plus/Minus of +4.08 over his past 10 games and will be on the positive side of his batting splits vs. Royals right-hander Glenn Sparkman. Kepler has also crushed the baseball over his past 13 games, posting an average distance of 234 feet, exit velocity of 95 miles per hour, and hard hit rate of 62%.

Good luck, and be sure to check out The Action Network if you’re looking for more in-depth MLB analysis.

After this piece is published, FantasyLabs is likely to provide news updates on a number of players. Be sure to stay ahead of your competition with our industry-leading DFS-focused news blurbs.

Pictured above: Angels OF Mike Trout (27)
Photo credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports