We’ve got a very rare afternoon featured slate on Thursday, which is made up of eight games. Do I like slates that start around noon? Usually. However, to be perfectly honest, this one sort of snuck up on me, and now I’m writing this article at 1:00 a.m. ET. So, well, if this is littered with typos, now you know why.
Let’s go position-by-position and break this thing down.
Brandon Woodruff, Milwaukee Brewers at Chicago Cubs, $10,200 - Let’s start with a little history lesson, shall we? Over the past two days, Freddy Peralta and Corbin Burnes have combined for 23 strikeouts in 13.1 innings of work versus the Cubs. Yes, both are near the top of the leaderboard when it comes to strikeout rate for the season as a whole, but Woodruff’s 30.1% figure isn’t too shabby, either. Anyway, this is mostly about Chicago’s complete lack of major league talent. The Cubs have struck out in over a third of their plate appearances since the beginning of August and they are, without question, the best matchup you can draw as a DFS pitcher for the remainder of 2021. We don’t need to get complicated here.
Marco Gonzales, Seattle Mariners vs. Texas Rangers, $6,700 - There’s a limit to the amount of nice things I can say about a pitcher with a 6.50 xERA for the season, but Gonzales has been looking better as of late. The left-hander has registered a 1.93 ERA in his past four outings, a span of time where opponents have mustered a lowly .268 wOBA. Still, if I’m being completely genuine, this is more about the matchup and the price tag than it is about Gonzales’ recent success. Coming into Wednesday’s slate, the Rangers were sporting a .177 average and a league-low 48 wRC+ since the All-Star break. Those numbers should be grounds for relegation to Triple-A.
Eric Haase, Detroit Tigers at Baltimore Orioles, $5,100 - I’ve reached the point where I’m willing to just blindly play Haase against any LHP he happens to come across. In 89 plate appearances within the split in 2021, the backstop is slashing .321/.348/.714 with a 182 wRC+. John Means ($9,200) is fine, but the southpaw has also surrendered 2.6 opponent home runs per nine in his past eight starts.
Cal Raleigh, Seattle Mariners vs. Texas Rangers, $2,400 - I would expect the switch-hitting Raleigh to draw the start on Thursday with the right-handed Mike Foltynewicz ($5,900) on the hill for the Rangers. Raleigh has done almost nothing at the MLB level, however, he does have some pop in his bat, as evidenced by a .284 ISO in Triple-A. With Foltynewicz leading all qualified pitchers in home runs allowed per nine (2.4), Raleigh represents an inexpensive opportunity to grab some long ball upside.
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Jonathan Schoop, Detroit Tigers at Baltimore Orioles, $4,600 - In all honesty, I’m a little surprised Schoop is priced this far below $5K on Thursday. The veteran infielder simply hasn’t stopped hitting since the beginning of June, with Schoop taking a particular delight in facing left-handed pitchers. Schoop has 85 plate appearances within the split in that span, and he’s hitting .446 with a .365 ISO. That’s some amazing stuff.
John Nogowski, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. St. Louis Cardinals, $2,000 - Look, I’m not going to sit here and try and tell you Nogowski’s a good hitter. He’s not. However, as recently as last Friday, the 28-year-old was batting clean-up for the Pirates against a left-handed starter. Wade LeBlanc ($6,200) is a lefty. LeBlanc also owns a 5.59 xFIP in 47.0 innings thrown in 2021. You could do a lot worse for the absolute minimum.
Trea Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers at Philadelphia Phillies, $6,000 - Few players in baseball have better numbers against left-handed pitching than Turner. In 116 plate appearances within the split in 2021, the new Dodgers infielder is slashing .406/.448/.670 with a 194 wRC+. Yes, Ranger Suarez ($6,400) has been quite good so far this season, but even if Turner doesn’t do damage off of him, he’ll have two or three more PAs versus an underwhelming Phillies’ bullpen.
Abraham Toro, Seattle Mariners vs. Texas Rangers, $3,800 - Toro just keeps getting hits while wearing a Mariners uniform. With two more base knocks in Wednesday’s 2-1 win over the Rangers, Toro is now batting .373 (19-for-51) since the trade from Houston. But, if recency bias isn’t your style, Toro’s handedness is more than enough to make him viable against the aforementioned Foltynewicz, who has surrendered a .398 wOBA to LHBs so far this season.
Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners vs. Texas Rangers, $4,400 - I’m usually looking to utilize Seager when the Mariners are playing away from Seattle, but a matchup with Foltynewicz is too tempting, especially with how the veteran infielder has been hitting since the All-Star break. Seager’s clubbed nine home runs in 102 plate appearances, which has translated into a .902 OPS and a .330 ISO. Not bad for someone facing the most home run prone pitcher in baseball.
Charlie Culberson, Texas Rangers at Seattle Mariners, $2,100 - This would be so much better if Chris Woodward respected Culberson’s dynamic splits and hit him in the top-third of the lineup on Thursday, but I digress. In 107 plate appearances versus LHPs in 2021, the 32-year-old is slashing .333/.375/.531 with a 146 wRC+. You’re not often going to find that level of production this cheap, even if said production is relegated to the seven-spot in the batting order.
Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays, $5,200 - The Rays were able to protect their high-leverage relievers in Wednesday’s lopsided 20-8 loss to Boston, as Dietrich Enns ate 3.2 innings of garbage time. Still, this is a Tampa team that’s going into a scheduled bullpen game with several injuries and taxed arms. Boston should be able to score some runs and I’d expect Bogaerts — who owns a .401 wOBA and a 150 wRC+ while hitting at home in 2021 — to be in the middle of it all.
J.P. Crawford, Seattle Mariners vs. Texas Rangers, $3,600 - Might as well keep stacking Mariners bats, especially when they’re this affordable. Foltynewicz comes into this outing in the fifth percentile in expected slugging percentage (.501), the sixth percentile in strikeout rate (16.0%) and the 12th percentile in expected wOBA (.356). He’s been terrible since the season began, and Crawford is yet another left-handed bat that should give him issues on Thursday.
Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, $5,400 - It’s unclear how long Mitch White ($7,200) is going to be pitching in today’s game versus the Phillies, but what we do know is that the 47 LHBs White has faced so far this season have combined to slash .302/.340/.512. We also know that Harper, suddenly a front-runner for NL MVP, has posted a 1.051 OPS and a 172 wRC+ against RHPs in 2021. There’s a reason he makes a staggering amount of money, after all.
Dylan Carlson, St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates, $3,100 - Carlson has to be one of my favorite value plays on this whole slate. Though the switch-hitter has been better against LHPs so far in 2021, you’ll be glad he’s hitting left-handed with JT Brubaker ($8,200) on the mound for the Pirates. In Brubaker’s past six starts, he’s faced 73 LHBs. Those lefties have combined to slash .308/.384/.738 with a .462 wOBA and eight home runs. Add in Carlson’s standing as St. Louis’ leadoff man, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for DKFP.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
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