With the MLB regular season getting ready to wrap up this Sunday, the final Thursday night slate of the regular season features a handful of games, providing a limited but entertaining night of fantasy baseball. All five games are divisional matchups and two have major playoff implications as the Indians and Athletics continue to battle with the Tampa Rays for the two AL Wild Card spots. The Indians are wrapping up a three-game set with the White Sox and the A’s are starting their four-game set in Seattle.
While those are the two teams with the most to play for, there are plenty of good fantasy options from across the 10-team player pool. At this point in the season with expanded rosters, lineups and opportunities are more uncertain, so make sure to double-check starting lineups and weather outlooks before the first pitch on the DK Live app or live.draftkings.com. Here are my top targets for this Thursday with a stud and value at each roster spot:
StudSean Manaea, OAK at SEA, $10,400 — Manaea spent most of the season on the sideline with a shoulder injury but has offered an excellent boost since returning Sept. 1. He has gone 3-0 in four starts with a 1.14 ERA, a 0.80 WHIP and 25 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings. He has at least 16 DKFP in each of his four starts and posted more than 25 DKFP in two of his past three outings. The Mariners have hit just .247 against lefties this season and just .222 as a team in September. They’ve scored just 89 runs this month, which is the sixth-lowest total in the Majors. Manaea is in a pitcher-friendly park against a team that is struggling at the plate, so he should be able to continue Oakland’s push for a playoff spot while also contributing to your fantasy team. Other Options — Zack Wheeler ($10,200), Adam Civale ($9,600)
ValueJoe Musgrove, PIT vs. CHC, $7,700 — The Cubs were eliminated from postseason contention after dropping their eighth straight game Wednesday night. They’ve managed just two runs in each of their past three games and could have a depleted lineup since they no longer have to go all out for the postseason. Musgrove has had an up-and-down year with the Pirates but is a solid 10-12 overall with a 4.49 ERA. He is trending in the right direction, having allowed three earned runs or fewer in six of his past seven starts with a 3.86 ERA and an average of 16.4 DKFP per outing. He faced the Cubs at PNC Park in one of those outings and totaled an impressive 28.1 DKFP with nine strikeouts over 7 1/3 innings. He’ll be in the same situation as he looks to finish the season with another strong outing.
Other Options — Jordan Yamamoto ($8,600), José Quintana ($7,400)
StudRobinson Chirinos, HOU at LAA, $4,100 — Chirinos has had a lighter workload this month since Houston re-acquired Martín Maldonado ($3,300), but Chirinos has a much better bat and has seemed to thrive with the extra rest. He has hit safely in seven of his past eight starts, going 10-for-24 (.417) with two doubles, a triple, two home runs and 12.5 DKFP per contest. Chirinos and the Astros will be taking on Jaime Barria ($4,600) as they open their series in Anaheim against the Angels. Other Options — Sean Murphy ($4,000), Roberto Pérez ($3,600)
ValueKevan Smith, LAA vs. HOU, $3,400 — Smith got Wednesday out of the lineup but still had two at-bats after entering as a pinch hitter. He has had a strong September for the Angels, going 15-for-45 with six RBI, two doubles and three home runs. Smith is 22-for-66 (.333) against lefties this season with a .893 OPS, so he’s a solid play against a struggling Wade Miley ($6,500), who he is 2-for-4 with a home run against in their previous meetings.
Other Options — Jorge Alfaro ($3,300), Zack Collins ($3,000)
FIRST BASEPete Alonso, NYM vs. MIA,$5,000 — Alonso still has plenty to play for as he wraps up his rookie season despite the Mets being eliminated from postseason contention Wednesday night. Alonso homered and had 20 DKFP Wednesday and now has 51 home runs on the season. He’s just one short of the MLB rookie record set by Aaron Judge, and he’s also two ahead of Eugenio Suárez for the MLB lead. He has been a fantasy baseball stud all season and should be set up for a strong finish this weekend at Citi Field with the Marlins on Thursday and the Braves in for the weekend. Other Options — Matt Olson ($4,600), Carlos Santana ($4,400)
ValueJosé Osuna, PIT vs. CHC, $3,800 — Osuna has been locked into regular playing time for the Pirates this month, starting 21-of-22 September contests. He has started to pick things up lately, going 14-for-50 (.280) over his past 13 games with five multi-hit efforts. He has been hitting in the cleanup spot regularly for the Pirates and typically has success against southpaws. He is 3-for-9 with a homer in his past meetings with Cubs SP José Quintana ($7,400).
Other Options — José Abreu ($4,000), Austin Nola ($3,600)
StudShed Long, SEA vs. OAK, $4,300 — Long has been a valuable part of the Mariners’ lineup since joining the team Sept. 3. The 23-year-old prospect has started 16 of the past 17 games and hit leadoff in 13 straight. In those 13 contests, he is 19-for-56 (.339) with four doubles, a triple, three home runs and 9.9 DKFP per contest. He has continued to strike out a lot and has been unsuccessful in his two stolen base attempts, showing there is still room for growth as he tries to claim a spot in the Majors next year. Long is in a lefty vs. lefty matchup against Manaea but is hitting .414 (12-for-29) against southpaws in his limited chances this season with a 1.193 OPS. Other Options — Kevin Newman ($4,300), Ian Happ ($4,000)
ValueJurickson Profar, OAK at SEA, $3,500 — Profar’s overall numbers this season have been a little disappointing, but he still has solid upside since he can produce big games in multiple ways. He’s hitting just .217 on the season but does have 20 home runs and nine stolen bases. In his past 16 games with multiple at-bats, he is 14-for-56 (.250) with two homers, two stolen bases and 7.4 DKFP per contest. He has a lot of history with Félix Hernández ($5,400) since both have spent so long in the AL West, and Profar is 6-for-19 (.316) against King Felix, including a double and a home run.
Other Options — Starlin Castro ($3,400), Yolmer Sánchez ($2,700)
StudJosé Ramírez, CLE at CWS, $4,900 — Ramírez has returned from a broken hand, showing the form that made him a fantasy baseball star last season. He has three homers in his two games back, producing 38 and 16 DKFP in his two contests since returning. He will look to stay locked in against Dylan Cease ($9,100) as the Tribe continue their playoff push. Other Options — Yoán Moncada ($4,800), Matt Chapman ($4,100)
ValueDavid Fletcher, LAA vs. HOU, $3,900 — In his first full season in the Majors, Fletcher has been a solid contributor for the Halos and still has a chance at getting to .300 with a strong finish this weekend. He enters Thursday hitting .294 with 30 doubles, six home runs, 49 RBI and eight stolen bases. Fletcher has been hot this month, going 29-for-84 (.345) with a .790 OPS. He doesn’t have elite power but is a consistent contributor from the top of the Angels’ lineup, which makes him at low-risk of going totally bust in a favorable matchup against Miley.
Other Options — Abraham Toro ($3,500), Jake Elmore ($2,800)
StudJon Berti, MIA at NYM, $4,400 — There haven’t been many Marlins on the fantasy radar this season, but Berti has been excellent down the stretch. The speedster has been locked in at the top of Miami’s lineup and gone 21-for-69 (.304) in his 18 games this month with seven walks, five doubles and eight stolen bases. He had four stolen bases against the Mets on Tuesday on his way to 33 DKFP and has double-digit DKFP in five of his past seven contests. He and the Marlins finish with the Mets on Thursday before heading to Philadelphia to finish their season. Other Options — Alex Bregman ($5,300), Francisco Lindor ($4,600)
ValueNico Hoerner, CHC at PIT, $3,800 — The Cubs were forced to call up Hoerner after injuries to Javier Baéz (thumb) and Addison Russell ($3,100), but the 22-year-old rookie has done well in his first Major League exposure, going 18-for-65 (.277) with a double, a triple, three home runs and 14 RBI. He has been one of the most consistent bats in the Chicago lineup lately and should continue to get a long look as a potential future contributor for Chicago since the Cubs have nothing to play for the rest of this season.
Other Options — Dylan Moore ($3,500), Miguel Rojas ($3,200)
StudKyle Tucker, HOU at LAA, $4,800 — The Astros have an embarrassment of riches in their OF with the arrival of the 22-year-old Tucker this September. The highly touted prospect has been excellent, going 17-for-56 (.304) with six doubles, three home runs, 10 RBI and five stolen bases for an average of 8.7 DKFP per contest. He could slide into the leadoff spot if the Astros give George Springer ($5,500) the night off after four straight starts, or he could continue to produce from the No. 6 spot where he has been the past two games. Other Options — Orlando Mercado ($4,900), Ramón Laureano ($4,600)
ValueFranmil Reyes, CLE at CWS, $3,800 — Reyes has hit safely in five of his past six starts including a double and a pair of home runs. He went 3-for-4 in Wednesday’s loss and provides a nice corner OF bat for the Tribe. He struggled badly immediately after being acquired from the Padres but has been much better over his past 28 games. During that span, he is 19-for-99 (.283) with seven homers and an average of 9.5 DKFP per contest. He has a high ceiling for an outfielder under $4K due to his power potential shown by his 36 long balls on the season.
Other Options — Kyle Lewis ($3,800), Seth Brown ($3,600)
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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.