Even though Thursday is a travel day or a getaway day for several Major League Baseball teams, there are still 10 teams in place and ready to play under the lights on Thursday as part of the DraftKings main fantasy baseball slate, starting at 7:10 p.m. ET. Three of the five games are the start of a new series while the Yankees-Twins and Red Sox-Angels series wrap up on Thursday before the teams move on to face new opponents over the weekend.
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Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees at Minnesota Twins ($10,400) – There are several very nice pitching options on the slate, but Cole is hard to overlook given his recent dominant form. The Yankees’ ace has at least nine strikeouts in five of his past six games, raising his rate to 11.27 K/9 on the season. He is 5-1 with a 2.78 ERA and 2.58 FIP on the year and has actually been slightly better on the road, where he’ll make this start. He has racked up over 22 DKFP in each of his past eight outings, including 36.6 DKFP in his most recent start when he limited the Tigers to two hits over seven shutout innings with nine strikeouts. The Twins aren’t nearly as easy of a matchup as Detroit, but the tougher matchup isn’t enough of a reason to pass up on Cole’s high ceiling.
Other Option – Max Fried ($9,500)
Nick Pivetta, Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Angels ($8,400) – The Angels have dropped a franchise-record 14 straight games coming into their Thursday night matchup, and the Red Sox have won a season-high seven straight contests. Last night, Boston pitchers held the Angels scoreless with seven hits for their second win in the series with the exact score of 1-0. Los Angeles has been held to two runs or fewer in seven of its past nine games, and now will face Pivetta, who has been pitching very well lately. Pivetta is 5-4 with a 3.50 ERA and 3.60 FIP on the year, but he has allowed one run or fewer and produced over 20 DKFP in five of his six most recent outings going at least six innings in each of those outings. He threw a complete game against the Astros for 39.6 DKFP during that run and brings that kind of ceiling as he tries to continue the Red Sox’ rise and the Angels’ demise.
Other Option – Konnor Pilkington ($7,100)
Matt Olson, Atlanta Braves vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($5,300) – Olson has been solid since joining his hometown team over the offseason, hitting .258 with a .207 ISO and .364 wOBA over his first 57 games with the Braves. He has been surging over his past 10 games, going 14-for-44 (.318) with two homers, 13 RBIs, a .273 ISO and .409 wOBA. He gets a good matchup against Pirates SP JT Brubaker ($7,500), who has allowed lefties to post a .342 wOBA against him, so look for Olson to continue to produce strong numbers now that he has settled into the cleanup spot.
Ke’Bryan Hayes, Pittsburgh Pirates at Atlanta Braves ($4,800) – Hayes doesn’t have nearly as much around him in the lineup as Olson, but he usually does have a premium lineup spot either hitting leadoff or elsewhere in the top three. Hayes has gone 13-for-39 (.333) over his past 10 games to average 10.9 DKFP per contest with two doubles, two home runs, a .205 ISO and .420 wOBA. He has a tougher matchup against Max Fried ($9,500), but Hayes has been wearing out southpaws all season, posting a .340 average and .410 wOBA vs. LHP.
Other Options – José Ramírez ($6,300), Trey Mancini ($4,700)
Gio Urshela, Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees ($3,700) – Urshela has picked up a pair of hits in each of the first two games of this series against his former team and is hitting .370 (20-for-54) over his past 14 games with four doubles and two home runs helping him to a .412 wOBA. He’s in a tough matchup against Cole, but he has hit well at Target Field all season, posting a .323 home batting average and a .365 home wOBA. As a midrange target, the contact-focused veteran brings reliable production.
Ryan Mountcastle, Baltimore Orioles at Kansas City Royals ($3,100) – The Orioles have a nice matchup highlighted in the stacks section below, and Mountcastle brings a high ceiling with his power potential. After smashing 33 homers last season, he’s only hit eight in 45 games this year but is still hitting .257 with a .313 wOBA. His hard-hit rate and his barrel rate show he has gotten a little bit unlucky with hitting balls hard but right at people this season, and some metrics indicate he’s set up for positive regression. Three of his eight home runs on the year have come in his past eight games, and he has gone 8-for-27 (.296) with a .464 wOBA over that span.
Other Options – MJ Meledez ($3,800), Michael Chavis ($3,400)
Aaron Judge, New York Yankees at Minnesota Twins ($6,000) – The Yankees lost Wednesday, snapping a seven-game winning streak, but they should be poised to bounce back behind Cole and Judge on Thursday. Judge has been an absolute fantasy beast all season, hitting .311 with an eye-popping .364 ISO and .442 wOBA. Five of his 22 homers this year have come in his past nine games, while he is hitting .343 with a .486 wOBA over that span. He also has a great track record of 5-for-17 with three career home runs against Dylan Bundy ($8,800), so pay up for Judge if you can make the rest of your salaries work under the cap.
Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees ($4,700) – Buxton has hit safely in nine of his past 10 starts and homered twice in his past four games. The power production has been there most of the season, but his average was down to .202 before this recent burst pushed it up to .224. His .301 ISO has kept his wOBA at .378 due to all his extra-base hits, and he brings a high ceiling on Thursday from this salary under $5K despite a tough matchup against Cole.
Other Options – Ronald Acuña Jr. ($6,200), Cedric Mullins ($4,700)
Franchy Cordero, Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Angels ($3,300) – Cordero is one of the options the Red Sox may turn to at leadoff while Kiké Hernández (hip) is on the injured list. He has been platooning at 1B and RF and has flashed some potential by hitting .241 (14-for-58) over his past 19 games with three doubles, three homers, 15 RBIs and a .322 wOBA. If he’s in the leadoff spot of this stacked lineup, he’ll be an interesting value to check out.
Oscar González, Cleveland Guardians vs. Oakland Athletics ($2,200) – The 24-year-old has given the Guardians a nice boost since joining the team on May 26 and has become a fixture in the middle third of the order with his power bat. He has gone 17-for-49 (.354) with five doubles and five RBIs and is averaging 6.5 DKFP per game despite still searching for his first MLB home run. His 50.0% hard-hit rate and production at Triple-A indicate it’s only a matter of time before the youngster goes yard. In 41 games at Columbus, González hit nine dingers and hit .282 with a .345 wOBA. González and his teammates have a great matchup, which is highlighted below in the stacks section.
Other Options – Aaron Hicks ($2,600), Jo Adell ($2,600)
TEAMS TO STACK
Cleveland Guardians vs. Oakland Athletics – Athletics SP James Kaprielian ($5,700) has struggled after missing the first month of the season with a shoulder injury. In his seven starts, he is 0-3 with a 6.06 ERA and 5.96 FIP and has surrendered 22 runs and seven home runs in seven starts. Three of those seven home runs have come by left-handed hitters who have a .375 wOBA against him while righties sport a solid .320 wOBA against the 28-year-old. Myles Straw ($4,100), Amed Rosario ($4,200), Owen Miller ($4,000) and Josh Naylor ($4,200) are all solid midrange options that usually hit in the top part of the order while José Ramírez ($6,300) is clearly the cornerstone of the team’s lineup. There is also some solid value to consider in the OF with Oscar González (highlighted above) and a resurgent Steven Kwan ($3,100).
Baltimore Orioles at Kansas City Royals – The Orioles hit five home runs on Tuesday to beat the Cubs before being rained out on Wednesday. They have actually scored at least five runs in four of their past six games and rank near the middle of the pack in most team stats for June—progress for a lineup that struggled early in the season. They’ll look to keep improving against Kris Bubic ($5,000), who worked out of trouble against the Astros in five shutout innings in his most recent start but still has a 9.33 ERA and 7.56 FIP over his first seven appearances this season. He has some alarming splits in his small sample size, allowing lefties to hit three of the five home runs he has allowed and surrendering a .776 wOBA. In his career, lefties actually have a .420 wOBA against him. As a result of the favorable reverse split, lefties Cedric Mullins ($4,700) and Rougned Odor ($2,900) remain in play. Trey Mancini ($4,700), Austin Hays ($4,100), Anthony Santander ($3,600) and Ryan Mountcastle (highlighted above) have all been trending in the right direction as well, so there are definitely options to consider in this favorable spot.
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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 do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. 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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