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MLB Cheat Sheet: DraftKings Fantasy Baseball DFS Picks, Predictions, Betting Odds for August 19

Garion Thorne breaks down Thursday’s DraftKings MLB slate with pitching and hitting analysis, odds, lines and prop bets.

Everyone has their own preference, but goodness do I love a small MLB slate. It’s just something we don’t get all the often, at least as a featured contest on DraftKings. Well, great news for anyone who feels like same, because there are only four games on the diamond past 7:00 p.m. ET on Thursday.

How does the strategy shift when dealing with a slate this intimate? Let’s break it all down.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Marlins SP Nick Neidert will start Thursday vs. the Reds.

DraftKings Sportsbook Game Notes

Biggest Moneyline Favorite

Note: This section highlights the pitcher whose team is the largest favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook.

Jameson Taillon, $6,300, New York Yankees (-250) vs. Minnesota Twins (+200) — From a DFS perspective, Taillon is a really interesting case study. The former top prospect has been on quite the run as of late, pitching to a 1.68 ERA and holding opponents to a .259 wOBA across his past eight starts. You don’t need me to tell you that that’s really good and that this is easily the best Taillon’s looked at the MLB level since 2018. However, all of this recent success still hasn’t translated into amazing fantasy results, as Taillon’s managed to exceed 25.0 DKFP just twice going back to the beginning of July, due mostly to an underwhelming strikeout rate.

Tonight’s matchup is suddenly relatively unappealing, too. The Twins are on fire, and the team has posted a massive 129 wRC+ over the last seven days, thanks mostly to the Herculean efforts of Jorge Polanco ($3,200), Miguel Sano ($2,800) and Brent Rooker ($2,400). Taillon remains viable on this slate — as a lack of depth and his modest price tag play major factors in roster construction — but I feel confident saying there’s more upside to be found elsewhere.

Highest Projected Total

Minnesota Twins (+200; 3.5 runs) at New York Yankees (-250; 5.5 runs) 10 runs — We just discussed Jameson Taillon’s fantasy prospects at length, so let’s switch the conversation to John Gant ($6,100) and the Twins’ bullpen. Gant hasn’t started a game since all the way back on June 23, which was a time when he was still pitching for the Cardinals. In fact, working as a reliever for Minnesota, Gant threw 41 pitches last Friday and 17 more pitches on Monday, pretty clearly signifying that’s tonight’s effort will be short and sweet.

So, should we be fearful at the prospect of a Twins bullpen game? Not even in the slightest, especially considering Wednesday’s 11-inning victory over Cleveland, a contest where every single reliever on the 26-man roster not named John Gant made an appearance. Alex Colome threw 31 pitches, Juan Minaya threw 40 and Edgar Garcia thew 35. I’d be shocked if Minnesota didn’t make a roster move prior to tonight’s action to bring up a couple fresh arms from Triple-A, which must sound like a pretty enticing scenario for all of the Yankees’ bats. If you were wondering why New York had an implied team total well above six runs on Thursday, now you know.

Weather Notes

Miami Marlins at Cincinnati Reds This game should play, but it wouldn’t be shocking if the first pitch was slightly delayed.

Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals There are expected to be storms in the St. Louis area, which means a delay isn’t out of the question.

Splits to Start

Pitchers vs. Left-Handed Batters

Worst vs. LHB, wOBA, FIP (TBF)
John Gant, .334, 5.75 (171)
Luis Castillo, .332, 4.26 (307)
Zach Thompson, .330, 4.28 (98)

Best vs. LHB, wOBA, FIP (TBF)
Brandon Woodruff, .213, 2.74 (288)
Taijuan Walker, .264, 3.94 (208)
Jon Lester, .268, 3.73 (93)

Pitchers vs. Right-Handed Batters

Worst vs. RHB, wOBA, FIP (TBF)
Evan Phillips, .420, 8.67 (9)
Jon Lester, .392, 5.94 (322)
Taijuan Walker, .318, 4.72 (274)

Best vs. RHB, wOBA, FIP (TBF)
Zach Thompson, .224, 3.07 (118)
Brandon Woodruff, .254, 3.05 (258)
Jon Gant, .304, 4.12 (209)

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Lineup Starters

Pitcher to Build Around

Luis Castillo, Cincinnati Reds vs. Miami Marlins, $8,500 — With bullpen games expected for both the Twins and the Dodgers, I’m at the point where ownership is out the window at pitcher. There are only six to choose from and everyone needs two, so you might as well just eat the chalk and use Castillo. Aside from one awful start against Cleveland, the right-hander has been fantastic since the beginning of June, registering an 2.85 ERA. Castillo has also seen his strikeout numbers tick up recently, with the veteran collecting 10.8 strikeouts per nine over his last six outings. With the Marlins owning the league’s third-highest strikeout rate so far in August at 27.0%, no one has a batter matchup than Castillo on Thursday.

Stud Hitter to Pay For

Trea Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. New York Mets, $5,600 — The past month has been a nightmare for Taijuan Walker ($7,100). Despite having numbers strong enough to make the All-Star Game for the first time in his career, Walker’s cratered in the season’s second half, as the RHP is in possession of an ugly 7.81 ERA and 8.34 FIP since the Midsummer Classic. His biggest issue in that span? Right-handed hitters. Walker’s faced 77 RHBs in his past six appearances, and those opponents have combined for a gargantuan .700 slugging percentage and .447 wOBA. Generally, I’m looking to use Turner in a matchup with a left-handed starter, but with Walker haemorrhaging DKFP to righties, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an asset with more upside than the Dodgers’ infielder.

Save Big by Drafting

Anthony Rizzo, New York Yankees vs. Minnesota Twins, $3,700 — Obviously this is small sample size noise — made even smaller by Rizzo’s recent stay on the COVID injured list — but in 44 plate appearances with the Yankees, the veteran is slashing .278/.386/.528 with a 151 wRC+. He’s also primarily been batting second in New York’s lineup against right-handed pitching. With the Yankees easily implied for the most runs on Thursday evening, there’s no logical reason for Rizzo to be sporting a salary below $4K. It’s that simple.

Set your DraftKings fantasy baseball lineups here: MLB $200K Bat Flip [$50K to 1st]

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