With the NFL Draft taking center stage on Thursday night and just two evening games in Major League Baseball, the main slate on DraftKings features the nine afternoon games and gets underway at 12:35 p.m. ET. Each of the nine games is a continuation of an ongoing series with the teams moving onto their weekend matchups Friday.
Throughout the day, stay locked into the DK Live app for updates on the weather and players’ availability. You can also follow DK Live on Twitter @dklive for the latest news and analysis leading up to the first pitch. I’m also usually hanging out on Twitter, too — my handle is @ZT_Sports — where you can let me know what you think of these picks, ask any questions and find more bargain-specific content.
Michael Kopech, Chicago White Sox vs. Kansas City Royals ($9,600) – The young flamethrower has looked sharp this season and should be close to fully stretched out, although the team will continue to be cautious with his innings. He dominated the Twins in his most recent start, allowing three hits and one walk while striking out seven in five shutout innings and never allowing a runner to reach second base. The bullpen blew the lead, so he’s still in search of his first win, but he has only allowed one earned run this season while fanning 15 batters in 14 innings. This matchup vs. the Royals sets up well for him to post a big total with high strikeouts and a good chance for a W.
Other Options – Justin Verlander ($10,100), Tarik Skubal ($8,500)
Freddy Peralta, Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates ($7,700) – Peralta struggled in his first two starts but found his footing in his most recent outing vs. the Phillies. He gave up a run in the first inning but then threw four shutout frames with six strikeouts in five innings, ending up with 18.3 DKFP in a no decision. He gets a very favorable matchup vs. the Pirates, against whom he piled up 28 strikeouts in 23 innings last season with a 2.74 ERA. As always, strikeout upside gives pitchers a much higher ceiling and reduces the risk, as well, so going with Peralta and his 12.09 career K/9 rate makes a ton of sense under $8K in any matchup, but especially in this one.
Other Options – Bailey Ober ($7,900), Chris Flexen ($7,300)
Ty France, Seattle Mariners at Tampa Bay Rays ($5,600) – France was on fire entering play Wednesday, going 19-for-42 (.452) with two doubles, four home runs and 17 RBIs in his last 10 games. He’s put up double-digit DKFP in four of his six most recent games, averaging 14.9 DKFP per game over that stretch. In his first 18 at-bats against lefties this season, France has gone 7-for-18 with a .389 ISO and .533 wOBA. Last year, he also crushed southpaws with a .311 average, .197 ISO and .370 wOBA. While he’ll probably only get one or two at-bats against Jalen Beeks ($4,000), he has been hitting everyone hard enough that he deserves a look even though his salary has climbed to this lofty level.
DJ LeMahieu, New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles ($4,500) – LeMachine hasn’t displayed quite as much power as France, but he had an MLB-best 12-game hitting streak coming into Wednesday night’s matchup. LeMahieu hit .339 through his first 16 games with a .409 wOBA. Like France, LeMahieu has a history of doing his best work against lefties. He’s 8-for-14 (.571) with a .640 wOBA against lefties so far this season. He has also gone 4-for-6 in his past meetings with Orioles SP Bruce Zimmermann ($6,800). He has been getting on base so much and has settled into the leadoff spot for the Yankees. As the Yankees lineup heats up, his production should climb, as well.
Other Options – Wander Franco ($5,700), Alex Bregman ($5,100)
Miguel Rojas, Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals ($3,200) – While the Marlins have several younger, more flashy options, Rojas is a very affordable play with a good track record against southpaws — specifically lefty Patrick Corbin ($6,500). In their past meetings, Rojas has gone 13-for-30 (.433) with three home runs. He has struggled out of the gate this season, going 8-for-43 (.186) in 12 games. However, he has been better than that against lefties and seems to be settling in, going 6-for-24 (.250) with a triple in his six games the preceded Wednesday’s matchup. Last year, he hit .317 against southpaws with a .382 wOBA, so the upside is there at a very affordable price as he finds his groove.
Spencer Torkelson, Detroit Tigers at Minnesota Twins ($2,900) – Torkelson got off to a bit of a slow start in his first MLB season, but the No. 1 overall pick from the 2020 MLB Draft is starting to settle in. Coming into Wednesday’s action, he was 11 for his last 39 (.282) with three doubles and a home run over his 12 most recent games, and he had a .413 wOBA over that run. He has a 46.4% hard-hit rate over those 12 games and a 41.9% hard-hit rate on the season. He’s climbing in the Tigers order and has hit right behind Miguel Cabrera ($3,500) in the order at No. 5 in the Detroit’s two most recent games.
Other Options – Isiah Kiner-Falefa ($3,500), Gio Urshela ($2,700)
Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins vs. Detroit Tigers ($6,200) – I don’t usually lean into day/night splits, but Buxton’s are too glaring to overlook, and they continue to play out. Last year, Buxton hit .372 in his 29 day games with 10 homers, a .398 ISO and .490 wOBA. This season, he continues to dominate in daylight, going 11-for-29 (.379) with six home runs, a whopping .690 ISO and .639 wOBA. Buxton also gets a good opposite-hand matchup against Tarik Skubal ($8,500) , whom he has homered against twice in six at-bats. It’s a great matchup on multiple levels, but at this point, as long as it’s a day game, Buxton is locked in as a good play if you have the salary available.
Editor’s Note: Byron Buxton is not in the starting lineup for Thursday’s game.
Andrew Vaughn, Chicago White Sox vs. Kansas City Royals ($4,300) – Vaughn had the big blast on Wednesday afternoon, boosting the White Sox to a 7-3 victory with a three-run shot in the seventh inning. It was Vaughn’s fourth homer of the year, and he now has a .319 ISO and .430 wOBA. He hit in the second spot behind Tim Anderson ($5,100) for that contest and should get plenty of good looks if he stays there. He has a great approach at the plate and brings a ton of upside against Brad Keller ($8,800).
Other Options – Bryce Harper ($6,100), Aaron Judge ($5,700)
Julio Rodríguez, Seattle Mariners at Tampa Bay Rays ($3,000) – A little like Torkelson, Rodríguez started slowly but has started to come around. He’s averaging a solid 7.1 DKFP per game on the season and 9 DKFP per game in his 10 contest before Wednesday’s, logging at least 9 DKFP in four straight. Rodríguez has put up those numbers without hitting a home run but has been piling up points on the basepaths with six stolen bases. In his eight games before Wednesday, Rodríguez had four of those six stolen bases, going 9-for-32 (.281) with 59.1% hard-hit rate and a .314 wOBA.
Tyler Naquin, Cincinnati Reds vs. San Diego Padres ($2,900) – Although the Reds aren’t typically a place to go shopping for offense, Naquin actually makes sense as a sub-$3K play in this matchup against Nick Martinez ($7,000). Martinez has given up three of his five home runs to lefties in 14 2/3 innings this season. Coming into Wednesday night’s game, Naquin had hit safely in three of his past four games with a pair of doubles. He has a total of five doubles, a home run and a stolen base with a solid .332 wOBA. He’s usually at the top of the lineup and offers a lot of upside under $3K.
Other Options – Hunter Renfroe ($3,500)
TEAMS TO STACK
Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals – The Marlins have been a pleasant surprise to start the season and have lots of burgeoning young talent to target. They get a nice matchup against struggling veteran Patrick Corbin ($6,500), who has allowed 17 runs in 13 2/3 innings over four starts. He actually has only given up one home run but has still allowed righties to post a .422 wOBA and lefties to post a .512 wOBA. However you cut his splits, they’re ugly for him, but that’s great for the Fish, who have several left-handed bats that have their salaries dropped for a lefty-vs.-lefty matchup that should scare you away. Jazz Chisholm ($5,400), Joey Wendle ($3,900) and Jesús Sánchez ($3,400) are all lefties playing well, while right-handed options Jorge Soler ($3,800), Avisaíl García ($3,700), Garrett Cooper ($3,300) and Miguel Rojas (discussed above) can also be combined into a nice stack that should be able to churn out plenty of runs given Corbin’s lack of form.
Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates – The Brewers will face a familiar opponent in a new uniform when they take on José Quintana ($5,900). Quintana hasn’t missed many bats, but he has been lucky with an unsustainable 76.5% stranded rate. Last season, Quintana held lefties to a .240 wOBA but gave up 10 home runs and a .421 wOBA to righties. You may want to steer away from Christian Yelich ($4,500), Kolten Wong ($3,900) and Rowdy Tellez ($4,000), but there are lots of very affordable righties who have success against lefties. Willy Adames ($5,000) is red hot while Andrew McCutchen ($3,600), Hunter Renfroe ($3,500) and Keston Hiura ($3,200) make a very nice group of options under $4K.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is z.thompson) 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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