There are five games on the main slate of fantasy baseball this Thursday at DraftKings, after the Mets and Marlins game was removed since it is now part of a singe admission doubleheader. There are still 10 teams to choose from as you build your lineups, including some really solid options. Three of the five six games feature divisional opponents, and three are series finales while the Dodgers-Cardinals and Mariners-Angels series are getting an early start to their weekend sets.
Half of the 10 scheduled starting pitchers are lefties, and with added roster depth there could be some unusual lineups to keep track of as teams search for just the right matchup, both for tonight’s game and to give them a glimpse of a players future potential. As you look for the matchups you want to target, make sure to take a look at these players, who I think are in the best spots to succeed based on their current form, matchup and potential opportunity.
StudEduardo Rodriguez, BOS vs. TOR, $9,100 — The three top salaries on the slate are all southpaws with Clayton Kershaw ($11,900) leading the way. However, if you can get similar production from Rodriguez for almost $3K less you’ll have much more salary cap flexibility. Rodriguez was knocked around in his most recent start, which came against the Astros. He fell to 12-4 on the season and only earned 0.1 DKFP. However, he looked great in his previous start, fanning 12 White Sox after being activated from the DL and racking up 36.4 DKFP and a win in 5 2/3 innings. He had at least 19 DKFP in four previous starts to last week’s letdown, and should be in a good spot to bounce back against the Blue Jays. E-Rod has made three starts against Toronto this season and is 2-0 with a 2.41 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings. His high strikeout upside and good matchup at home make him the best play of the top tier
Other Options — Clayton Kershaw ($11,900)
ValueBrett Anderson, OAK at BAL, $6,600 — Anderson is expected to come off the DL and return to the A’s rotation as they try to finish their sweep of the hapless Orioles. Anderson was pitching well before sustaining a forearm strain and has allowed two runs or fewer in four straight starts before leaving early with the injury in a rough start against the Astros. In those four previous starts, he had a 0.68 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings for 19.9 FPPG. Anderson is risky since he’ll be making his first start off the DL, but his matchup against the Orioles is a great one, especially with the hot-hitting A’s expected to provide plenty of run support against Dylan Bundy ($6,300).
Other Options — Mike Leake ($7,600)
EDITOR’S NOTE: Astudillo is not in the starting lineup for tonight’s game.
Other Options —
Yasmani Grandal ($4,100), Salvador Perez ($3,700)
ValueMike Zunino, SEA at LAA, $2,900 — Zunino was out of the lineup Wednesday against San Diego, but should be back behind the plate when the Mariners start their series with the Angels. He has hit safely in each of his past three starts and five of his last seven. Zunino has two doubles and a home run during that span and is always an extra-base threat. The problem with Zunino is he’s typically all or nothing. He’s hitting just .191 on the season, but he is 9-for-29 (.310) with three doubles, two homers and a .996 OPS against the Angels.
Other Options — Francisco Arcia ($3,400),
Jonathan Lucroy ($2,900)
StudMatt Olson, OAK at BAL, $4,500 — The Athletics lineup will definitely be one to target since Orioles starter Dylan Bundy ($6,300) is 1-5 with an 8.29 ERA and 17 home runs allowed over his nine starts since the All-Star break. Most of Bundy’s struggles have come against lefties, who are hitting .318 off him with a massive .952 OPS. Olson is one of the A’s lefties to take a look at, especially after he hit his 26th homer of the season Wednesday as part of a 21-DKFP effort. Olson has favorable road splits and has pounded righties all season with an .817 OPS and 22-of-26 HRs.
Other Options — Matt Carpenter ($4,400), Justin Smoak ($4,300)
ValueDavid Freese, LAD at STL, $3,900 — Freese has been a regular part of the Dodgers lineup against left-handed starting pitchers since joining the team at the start of the motnh. He is 6-for-15 (.400) with a double, a home run, three RBI and three walks in his nine games as a Dodger and has gotten a hit in each game with multiple at-bats. Freese knows the Cardinals well from his time with the Pirates earlier this season as well as from when he played the first five years of his career in St. Louis. He has homered against Austin Gomber ($8,100) in his three prior at-bats against the Cardinals’ southpaw.
Other Options —
Ryan O’Hearn ($4,000), Rowdy Tellez ($3,800)
StudWhit Merrifield, KC vs. MIN, $4,800 — Merrifield typically hits at the top of the Royals order and has posted at least 14 DKFP in 11 of his past 19 games, including four of his last five. In those 19 games, he is averaging 11.3 FPPG by hitting .296 (24-for-81) with four doubles, four home runs and eight stolen bases. Merrifield is an especially good option against lefties, who he is hitting .359 against this season with five homers and a .941 OPS. The Twins are starting lefty Stephen Gonsalves ($5,000), who has allowed 19 runs on 24 hits in 12 1/3 innings this season.
Other Options — Jonathan Villar ($4,700), Jed Lowrie ($4,600)
ValueDavid Fletcher, LAA vs. SEA, $3,500 — Fletcher has settled into a productive role near the top of the Angels lineup. Over his past 15 games, he is hitting .297 with three doubles and a pair of stolen bases, averaging a solid 7.3 FPPG. He has hit the Mariners well this season going 10-for-36 (.278) with two doubles, a triple, a home run, four RBI and a .780 OPS. If you need an affordable option in a good lineup spot, Fletcher’s line-drive approach can usually bring some low level production.
Other Options —
Devon Travis ($3,800), Dee Gordon ($3,300)
StudJustin Turner, LAD at STL, $4,900 — Turner is facing a left-handed starting pitcher — you know what to do. While he has cooled off a bit from a torrid August, Turner is still hitting .351 with a 1.035 OPS against southpaws, and is 2-for-2 with a double against Gomber. So far in September, Turner is hitting .308 with two homers and a 1.003 OPS.
Other Options — Matt Chapman ($4,700)
ValueEhire Adrianza, MIN at KC, $3,300 — Adrianza has been starting in place of the injured Miguel Sano (leg), and has offered some bargain value. Adrianza is 9-for-34 (.265) with a double, a home run, nine RBI and 6.4 FPPG in his past 10 games. He had a two-RBI single against Fillmyer, when he faced him last week as part of a 3-for-4 game with three RBI and 15 DKFP.
Other Options — Renato Núñez ($3,800), Hunter Dozier ($3,400)
StudAdalberto Mondesi, KC vs. MIN, $4,500 — Mondesi has teamed up with Merrifield to give the Royals a nice 1-2 combo at the top of their lineup and has 13-plus DKFP in four of his past five games. He has eight multi-hit performances in his past 13 games, going 20-for-51 (.392) with three doubles, a triple, three home runs and six stolen bases for an impressive 13.1 FPPG. The switch-hitter has hit an identical .284 against both lefties and righties, but more of his power has come against LHP, who he has a .807 OPS against.
Other Options — Xander Bogaerts ($5,000), Manny Machado ($4,700)
ValueAndrelton Simmons, LAA vs. SEA, $4,000 — Simmons went 3-for-3 with a walk and 17 DKFP to close out the Angels’ series against the Rangers. That performance was his fifth game in his past seven with double-digit DKFP. He has seven multi-hit games in his past 13, averaging 9.6 FPPG by going 18-for-53 (.340) with a double and three home runs. Simmons is 12-for-27 (.444) with four doubles and a home run in his career against opposing starter Mike Leake ($7,600).
Other Options — Kiké Hernández ($4,100), Lourdes Gurriel Jr. ($3,600)
StudStephen Piscotty, OAK at BAL, $4,900 — Piscotty has been red-hot for the A’s and enters a favorable matchup with Bundy on a 13-game hitting streak. During that streak, Piscotty is 18-for-47 (.383) with four doubles, five homers, 17 RBI and 12.4 FPPG. Piscotty has thrived all season on the road, and should be able to stay hot against Bundy as a good play under $5K.
Other Options — Shohei Ohtani ($5,700), Khris Davis ($5,100)
EDITOR’S NOTE: Puig is not in the starting lineup for tonight’s game.
Other Options — Mitch Haniger ($4,200), Nick Martini ($3,300)
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.