After a short slate on Wednesday, we get back in the mix with an eight-game Thursday night slate starting at a normal time of 7:07 p.m. ET. Pitching is fairly loaded near the top tier and many will likely struggle with using the likes of Chris Sale. I’ll go over my thoughts on that plus much more below. As always, you can reach me on the ol’ Twitter machine @SBuchanan24.

Game Notes

Largest Favorite

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

Chris Sale, $10,000, BOS (-240) vs. LAA (+210) — Despite the Red Sox being the heavy favorites tonight against the Angels, it’s hard to trust them at this point, especially with Sale taking the mound. It’s hard to figure out just which Sale will be taking the mound on a given night. Will it be the one that allowed 14 runs on 14 hits with 11 strikeouts through nine innings against the Yankees in his last two starts? Or the Sale that allowed two runs on six hits with 22 strikeouts through 12 innings against the Blue Jays and Rays? Those are the combined results of his last four starts, a span he’s averaging 17.9 DKFP. Regardless of his struggles, his K% remains consistent as he currently has a 34.6% mark on the season, which amongst qualified pitchers, ranks as the third-highest in the league behind Gerrit Cole and Max Scherzer. While the Angels were a tough team to strikeout to begin the season, they’re currently one of the most strikeout prone with a 25.2 K% in the second half. With a salary of $10K and the strikeout upside, Sale is worth taking in this spot but it certainly doesn’t come without risk.

Highest Total

LAA (+210) vs. BOS (-240) 11 runs — Like last night, this game also features the highest projected total on the slate. The Red Sox once again have a 6.5 team total as they take on Dillion Peters ($5,300). He’s only tossed 25 1/3 innings thus far but has already exhibited some poor numbers. He has a 1.7 HR/9, a 40.2% hard-hit rate allowed and a 5.00 xFIP. The Red Sox have some of the best power in the league against lefties with their .220 ISO, which ranks fifth in the league. The only pause I have here is that the Angels bullpen has been fairly good in the second half. They’ve combined for a 4.22 xFIP (19th) and just a 7.9 BB% (23rd). I think I’ll look in other areas to make a stack for tonight but I think the Red Sox do have a couple of players to consider like J.D. Martinez ($5,300) and Xander Bogaerts ($5,200).

Weather Concerns

CHC at CIN (Great American Ball Park) – Not a great forecast for tonight as rain will be all around the ballpark throughout the evening. As of this morning, I wouldn’t be looking to target this game but of course, things could change throughout the afternoon.

Splits to Start

Pitchers vs. Left-Handed Batters

Worst vs. LHB, wOBA, xFIP
Elieser Hernandez, .430, 6.63
Jorge Lopez, .410, 4.49
Dillon Peters, .349, 5.70

Best vs. LHB, wOBA, xFIP
Madison Bumgarner, .251, 3.56
Dallas Keuchel, .258, 2.24
Cole Hamels, .272, 4.27

Pitchers vs. Right-Handed Batters

Worst vs. RHB, wOBA, xFIP
Dillon Peters, .357, 4.52
Dallas Keuchel, .326, 4.57
Thomas Pannone, .324, 5.40

Mike Clevinger, .239, 2.28
Kyle Gibson, .284, 3.18
Aaron Nola, .285, 3.76
Best vs. RHB, wOBA, xFIP

Top Hard-Hit%

This section will populate with the hitters that have the top hard-hit% over the last seven days. This percentage can help distinguish who is swinging the bat well over the course of the past week. I’ll be updating this daily so we have a consistent flow of names in this section.

Name, Team, Salary, Hard-Hit%
Curtis Granderson, MIA, $3,300, 77.8%
Donovan Solano, SF, $4,000, 75%
Jorge Soler, KC, $4,200, 71.4%
Jason Kipnis, CLE, $4,300, 68.4%
Trevor Story, COL, $5,500, 64.3%

Lineup Starters

Pitcher to Build Around

Aaron Nola, PHI vs. SF, $10,600 — Nola has simply been running through teams, essentially since the end of June. After a rough start against the Braves on July 15th, Nola has gone on to average 26.2 DKFP in nine subsequent starts while scoring at least 21 DKFP in eight of those games. Tonight, he’ll look to continue that streak at Oracle Park against a Giants team that has fallen back into reality and is averaging just 2.4 runs over their last five games. On the road, Nola has a .322 wOBA with a 4.17 xFIP.

Heavy Hitter to Pay For

Carlos Santana, CLE vs. MIN, $4,700 — A super important series is about to take place as the battle for the AL Central will begin tonight. I’m not really feeling Kyle Gibson ($7,800) in this start against the Indians with all the lefties they’ll be rolling out. On the road against them, Gibson sports a .358 wOBA and seven of the 17 home runs he’s allowed on the year. As for Santana, he’s been mashing righties at home and enters this game with a .422 wOBA, a .338 ISO and 14 of the 24 home runs he’s hit this season.

Save Big by Drafting…

Cheslor Cuthbert, KCR vs. DET, $3,500 — Cuthbert doesn’t have the easiest matchup against Matthew Boyd ($11,200) but I think he brings some value at his $3,500 salary. What intrigues me is that Cuthbert has some really good numbers against lefties, as evidenced by his .412 wOBA and .283 ISO. The Royals are nothing special offensively but Cuthbert does have eight extra-base hits in the second half with five doubles and three home runs. At his price point, I have no problem taking a shot with him and saving some salary.

Stack Em Up

CLE vs. MIN (Kyle Gibson) — Just as I was talking up Santana earlier, I think it makes plenty of sense to stack up the Indians this evening. As I mentioned, Gibson has seen some struggles against lefties and this Indians lineup boasts A LOT of them. Gibson faced this club once already and while he only gave up one run, it was through just 3 1/3 innings and forced him to throw 81 pitches. This team has made quite a drastic change to their lineup since then and he’ll be facing that new-look team. I think the home run ball comes to haunt him this evening, which is just the kind of production you want from a stack.

Favorite Prop Bet

Detroit Tigers UNDER 5.5 runs (-141)

Yes, the Tigers do have a team total of 5.5 runs on this slate. They have a good matchup against Jorge Lopez, who returns to the starting rotation for the first time since May 25th. When he was a starter, it was just a mess and he was consistently giving up a handful of runs each and every game. With that in mind, I can’t trust the Tigers to put up six runs on any given night. Sure, they’ve been better lately and over their last five games are averaging 4.6 runs per game. At the end of the day, however, this is statistically one of the worst offenses in the league. I’ll take my chance with them scoring under six runs.

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