The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.
Thursday features a four-game main slate starting at 1:05 p.m. ET.
MLB DFS Pitching Picks
MLB DFS Stud Picks
Luis Garcia ($9,200) Houston Astros (-134) at Minnesota Twins
“Stud” is a relative term on the early slate, with no pitchers above a 17-point median projection in our MLB Models. However, Garcia is the leader of the group as he takes on the Twins in Minnesota. Garcia has solid numbers dating back to last season, with a 3.08 SIERA and a 24% strikeout rate.
The problem is his price tag. Thanks to an excellent 33-point performance in his last outing, Garcia costs more than $9,000 on today’s slate. That last outing was against the lowly Tigers, but this time he draws a Minnesota team that’s hit the ball well this season. Vegas has the Twins implied for over four runs, making Garcia’s price tag difficult to stomach.
It’s a very ugly slate for pitching, so the decision comes down to how much Garcia stands above the field, not whether he can pay off his salary in an absolute sense. I prefer to take a swing on a cheaper pitcher — who ideally carries less ownership — for tournaments today. However, Garcia is the closest thing we have to a safe option for cash games.
MLB DFS Value Pick
James Kaprielian ($7,500) Oakland A’s (-101) at Detroit Tigers
Kaprielian leads The BAT’s projection system for Pts/Sal projection while ranking third in the FantasyLabs model. Most of the appeal for Kaprielian is in the matchup against the woeful Tigers offense. It’s hard to overstate how bad the Tigers’ bats have been this year. They’re tied for 29th in wRC+ at 79 — the same number as the A’s.
That explains why Kaprielian is a slight underdog despite the matchup. Still, he’s expected to hold the Tigers to 3.9 runs, the second-lowest mark on the slate. He lasted 5.2 innings in his last outing, so replicating that today would be more than enough to pay off his reasonable salary.
While Kaprielian isn’t the most exciting play, there are no pitchers available on today’s slate with a strikeout rate better than his 25% mark. Three other hurlers have an equal mark, but Kaprielian is the cheapest of the bunch and has the best matchup. He’s a solid play both for cash games and GPPs.
MLB DFS GPP Picks
Beau Brieske ($7,300) Detroit Tigers (-116) vs. Oakland A’s
Brieske — a former 27th-round pick — is filling in as a starter for the Tigers while they deal with multiple injuries to their pitching rotation. He’s made two big-league starts so far, posting a 4.20 ERA but a SIERA of 5.79. His strikeout rate of 14% is well below league average as well.
Those metrics make Brieske seem like a bad pitcher, but his two MLB starts have come against the Astros and Dodgers. They are both top-10 offenses and a fairly unfriendly welcome to the show. This time out, he draws one of the worst offenses in baseball. The A’s also strike out at a higher rate than any other MLB team on the season.
I’m no scout though, so it could be that Brieske simply isn’t that good. Fangraphs grades his fastball and changeup as above average but with terrible breaking pitches (based on his pitching value, not his scouting report.). It seems worth giving him a shot, as his rough overall numbers should keep most of the field away from him. It seems fairly likely no pitcher posts a massive score today, so Brieske finishing in the mid-teens should be enough to keep your lineups in contention. If he can’t get it done against the A’s, we can safely avoid him moving forward.
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 Mets:
- Brandon Nimmo (1) ($4,800)
- Starling Marte (2) ($4,900)
- Francisco Lindor (3) ($5,300)
- Peter Alonso (4) ($5,100)
- Eduardo Escobar (6) ($4,300)
With a shortage of expensive pitchers, it’s a good slate to pay up for hitters. The red-hot Mets stand out in that regard, with a slate-leading 4.8 implied total. They’re taking on Joan Adon ($7,000) of the Nationals, who has a SIERA in the mid-fours heading into this one.
The Mets are also on the road, so the guaranteed ninth inning at the plate is another bonus. Adon has also allowed a wOBA over .400 to lefties on the season, giving a boost to Nimmo, Lindor, and Escobar. Keep an eye on our Lineups Page heading into this one too. With a day game following a night game, the Mets could switch things up a bit to give guys a day off.
If that happens — or even if it doesn’t — I’d be comfortable rostering more down-lineup left-handed Mets than this stack currently features. Based on our projected lineups, Dominic Smith ($3,300) could step in for Alonso at 1B or Jeff McNeil ($4,200) at 2B/OF. Adon’s splits are fairly extreme, and a top-of-the-order stack for the Mets will be popular today. Jamming in more lefties will probably be slightly contrarian while still packing a fair amount of upside.
Top Stacking Pick from THE BAT X
The top DraftKings stack from THE BAT, when generated by ceiling belongs to the Houston Astros:
At 4.6 runs, Houston’s implied total is just behind the Mets for best among the visiting teams on the slate. They’re facing Minnesota’s Josh Winder ($8,700), who’s pitched extremely well through five career starts. Of course, that’s a fairly small sample size, and his SIERA — while still excellent at 2.95 — is more than a run above his ERA.
Given the strength of the pitching matchup, Houston should also come in at relatively low ownership by their standards on a four-game slate. When you couple that relatively low ownership with the Astros ceiling projection, they’re a solid tournament stack.
This game also leads the slate in both Park Factor and Weather Rating for hitters. That’s pretty effectively baked into the Vegas line, but it does help explain the high total on the Astros against a strong pitcher. This seems like a good time to take a swing on a team against the rookie hurler.
Other MLB DFS Hitter Picks
Byron Buxton OF ($6,300 DraftKings; $4,600 FanDuel) Minnesota Twins vs. Houston Astros (Luis Garcia)
Buxton is undoubtedly too expensive today, as the Twins take on one of the slate’s better pitchers. However, he’s the leader in The BAT’s leader in median and ceiling projections and is expected to come in at sub-two percent ownership. Buxton should always be considered for your lineups, with an OPS over 1.000 both this season and last. While there’s nothing about the matchup that stands out, anytime we can get him at an ownership discount, the leverage is well worth the price tag.
Juan Soto OF ($5,200 DraftKings; $4,000 FanDuel) Washington Nationals vs. New York Mets (Taijuan Walker)
Soto has a much better matchup than Buxton and is more than $1,000 cheaper on DraftKings. That makes him the better price-considered play here, and he owns the top median and ceiling marks in the FantasyLabs projections. Of course, the field is well aware of this, and his expected ownership is sky-high.
Soto is the better play if you are contrarian elsewhere in your lineup and is certainly a stronger cash game option than Buxton. Fitting both guys is also a solid strategy, as most DFS players won’t want to spend $11,500 on just two players, and both of them could certainly rake in the same day.
Austin Meadows ($4,000 DraftKings; $3,000 FanDuel) Detroit Tigers vs. Oakland As (James Kaprielian)
Meadows has been the lone bright spot for the Tigers’ offense this season, with a .281 batting average heading into Thursday’s game. The Tigers are implied for a high (for them) 3.9 runs, and Kaprielian is expected to be one of the more popular pitchers on the slate. That adds up to make Meadows a reasonable leverage option.
Kaprielian has also struggled against left-handed hitting to start his career, with a wOBA 120 points higher than against righties. The Tigers aren’t really in a position to take advantage of that outside of Meadows, but he’s a solid one-off. The power hasn’t been there yet this year, with no home runs to date. However, his hard-hit rate is higher than it was last season, a year in which he hit 27 homers. Some of that regression is due to the changes to the baseball, but he’ll start hitting some out of the park if he keeps making good contact.