We have a bit of a strange fantasy baseball slate on tap for Thursday. Two postponements have left us with just four games on the main set for DraftKings. This means less stacking options available and relatively high ownership across the board. To take down a GPP, you will need to find the low-owned play that hits a home run, or secures an otherwise high score. Don’t be afraid to add a bat against your pitcher tonight, either, as that will be even more difficult to avoid. Here are my top three stacks for this small Thursday slate, which kicks off an hour earlier than usual at 6:10 p.m. ET.
It’s important to note that you should always keep an eye on the news and lineup notes from @DKLive in order to best prepare for each slate. In addition, feel free to get at me on Twitter with any questions — @amicsta.
1. Atlanta Braves
When stacking, it is always a good idea to consider the walk rate of the opposing pitcher. Someone who walks a bunch of batters is more prone to getting blown up at any point in the game and likely will give up non-solo home-runs. Yu Darvish ($8,300) posted an 11.7% walk rate in 2018, to go along with a 4.65 xFIP. That loss of control along with waning velocity are the big reasons folks are worried Darvish is declining.
Darvish’s main repertoire consists of his fastball (37.8%), slider (23.5%) and sinker (17.8%). The Braves have numerous batters in their projected lineup that succeed against each of these pitches since 2016.
Fastball — six with at least a .350 wOBA, five with at least a .230 ISO
Slider — three with at least a .340 wOBA, four with at least a .200 ISO
Sinker — six with at least a .350 wOBA, four with at least a .200 ISO
Atlanta also likely will have at least five lefties in the lineup. Last season, Darvish saw his strikeout rate drop 11% when facing left-handed hitters. The Braves should have plenty of base-runners tonight, and that means the potential for a lot of runs scored.
Players to ConsiderOzzie Albies ($4,200)
Brian McCann ($3,400)
Freddie Freeman ($4,600)
Josh Donaldson ($4,400)
Ronald Acuna ($4,800)
Ender Inciarte ($3,800)
2. Los Angeles Angels
From a pure game-theory perspective, the Angels are a great stack. First pitch for this game isn’t until 10:07 p.m. ET, but as I mentioned before, the slate begins an hour earlier than normal, four hours prior to the Angels’ start. There is a good chance we do not have the full Angels lineup prior to lock, making this a great spot to take advantage of late swap. By fading hitters from the first game (Blue Jays at Indians), you can build some great Angels stacks after lock, and leverage any uncertainty or lineup changes from what is expected.
It is also a tremendous spot for the Angels. Edinson Volquez ($6,400) missed all of 2018 with Tommy John surgery and was not a great pitcher prior to that injury. In 2017, he walked 13.4% of batters faced, and his career walk rate is over 10%. Volquez allowed four runs in four innings, while walking four batters in his first start of the season.
Volquez uses his sinker more than 40% of the time. The top three hitters in the Angels’ lineup own at least a .350 wOBA and .220 ISO against sinkers coming from righties since 2016. This is a very disciplined lineup that possesses a strikeout rate under 17% the past two seasons, while walking more than 10% of the time. The Angels should be able to take advantage of Volquez’ control issues.
Players to ConsiderMike Trout ($5,800)
Kole Calhoun ($3,900)
Justin Bour ($4,100)
Andrelton Simmons ($3,900)
Albert Pujols ($3,600)
Zack Cozart ($3,900)
3. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates are expecting Corey Dickerson (shoulder) back in the lineup Thursday, and it makes Pittsburgh an attractive stack. Continuing today’s theme of attacking pitchers who lack control, Tyler Mahle ($7,900) has walked an astonishing 16.4% of lefties the past two seasons. Additionally, lefties own a .418 wOBA and .265 ISO against him.
Mahle throws mostly fastballs, deploying the pitch more than 60% of the time. Pittsburgh has six different hitters with at least a .340 wOBA against fastballs, and four with at least a .190 ISO. They are not a tremendous power-hitting team, but possess enough pop to post some big scores. They also already have swiped four bags to begin the year.
The Pirates are tied for the third highest team total on the day, and do not possess nearly as much name value as the Cubs, who they are tied with. This is a chance to get a couple of low-owned bats into the lineup.
Players to ConsiderCorey Dickerson ($4,100)
Josh Bell ($3,900)
Adam Frazier ($3,900)
Jung-ho Kang ($4,100)
Starling Marte ($4,900)
Francisco Cervelli ($3,700)
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is amicsta) 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.