Thursday brings us the usual short slate of games, split up between this afternoon and tonight. First, we have five games being played this afternoon and then six tonight. So let’s jump right into it, and as always, you can get me on the ol’ Twitter machine @SBuchanan24.

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Heaviest Pitcher Favorites

This section is to showcase who the Vegas favorites are on the night. Not my own personal choices. 

Zack Greinke vs. Cincinnati Reds (-185) – No surprise here, as if Greinke is starting on a particular night, he ends up being one of the top three favorites, according to Vegas. Greinke enters tonight with a 1.67 ERA to go along with a 0.85 WHIP and a K/9 of 8. To say that Greinke has had a fantastic year would be an understatement. In his last start against the Astros, Greinke threw his 13th quality start in his last 14 outings. Uhhh, yeah. How about that for impressive? Coming into this afternoons start, the Reds own the 22nd wOBA in the second half of the season at .311 with a K% of 20.7, good for 18th in the league. At this point, it’s almost impossible not to want to roster Greinke, no matter who his opponent is. He’s truly been that good. Even with his price tag as high as it is at $13,800, I find myself nodding in approval thinking, “yeah, what a bargain for this guy!” Since he’s pitching in a short slate, fully expect him to be owned across the board. How could he not?

Madison Bumgarner vs. Chicago Cubs (-180)- Not only has Bumgarner been pitching well this season, but he’s been getting it done at the plate as well. Because of this, I’ve seen such an outcry for pitchers to be able to have their offensive score count. So first of all, calm down on that. Let me tell you, that is not something you want. Second, just enjoy the fact that he’s pitching so well and leave it at that. Bumgarner enters this afternoon with a 3.02 ERA to go with a 1.04 WHIP and a K/9 of 9.5 If people are going to be on Greinkie, they’ll certainly be on Bumgarner. The strikeout potential for this afternoon is going to be big, as the Cubs love to strikeout more than anything. They have the highest strikeout percentage in the majors in the second half, coming in at 23.8%. That’s a lot. They are hitting quite well during that time span, owning a .331 wOBA in the second half. However, on the season as a whole, the Cubs have struggled against left handed pitching, owning a .307 wOBA with a strikeout percentage of 24.5%. To say this isn’t a good matchup for Bumgarner would be madness. If you like scoring strikeouts, like any sane human being, Bumgarner could very well be your guy this afternoon.

Gerrit Cole vs. Miami Marlins(-170) – Normally, we’d all be excited that Cole was pitching tonight, especially against a team like the Marlins. I mean why wouldn’t you? However, with the exception of his last start against the Giants, Cole has been burning all of us that have been rostering him as of late. His ERA is a whole run higher in the second half than it has been in the first, which isn’t the end of the world, but it’s not what you want to see either. It hasn’t been a huge regression, but it’s also not what you expect from a pitcher like Cole. The Marlins are a weak offensive team overall, owning a .296 wOBA in the second half of the season, good for 27th in the league. They are however, one of the toughest teams to strikeout, as they have the second to last strikeout percentage in the league in the second half, at 17%. I expect Cole to be a popular pick tonight, as the matchup is favorable. I will just also keep in mind that he’s burned me on favorable matchups before as well. Everyone has one of “those” guys. Mine just happens to be Cole.

Over/Under Lines

Top Overall Game Over/Unders

LA Angels vs. Detroit Tigers(Comerica Park) – 9.5 Over/Under – Funny to see the Angels featured in the highest projected run total of the day, after getting almost no hit by Justin Verlander last night. But just like when I make an awful pick, tomorrow is a brand new day. This afternoon, Matt Shoemaker takes on Randy Wolf for the Tigers. Shoemaker has really been regressing this season, entering tonight with a 4.76 ERA and a WHIP of 1.30. Shoemaker has really been struggling with RHB, as he owns a .351 wOBA against them this season. The home run ball has also been a big problem this season, as he average 1.6 home runs per nine innings, certainly not a stat you want to almost be in the two range. Both types of batters have been hitting bombs off of him as well, as 11 have come off righties and 10 off of lefties. The Tigers have a ton of power on that team, owning a .171 ISO in the second half, good for 8th in the league. Honestly, I’m targeting all batters in this Tigers game, meaning from both sides of the plate. As for Wolf, he’s only making his second start of the season, so I won’t even go into his past numbers as they really won’t have anything to do with this start. Just know that the Angels are one of the worst hitting teams in the second half, as they are dead last in wOBA during that time span. If you want exposure, get it from the Tigers side.

Toughest Left/Right Matchups

Toughest Pitchers vs. Left Handed Batters

Tommy Milone vs. Tampa Bay Rays – For as bad as Milone is against righties, he is absolutely money against lefties. On the season, Milone owns a microscopic .22o wOBA when facing left handed batters. He would be a stud if he could figure out how to pitch to righties.

Zack Greinke vs. Cincinnati Reds – “I certainly didn’t expect to see Greinke in this section of the Cheat Sheet.” Said no one ever. Greinke, to no surprise, has one the top wOBA against left handed batters, checking in at .246.

Toughest Pitchers vs. Right Handed Batters

Zack Greinke vs. Cincinnati Reds – Here he is again, showing off this incredible season that he’s having. Greinkie owns a .208 wOBA against righties on the season, which when you think about it, is quite the stat. It’s a tough league, so for Greinke to be that good against righties is impressive to say the least.

Madison Bumgarner vs. Chicago Cubs- In my opinion, the two best pitchers on the board tonight, showing off what they do best. Bumgarner owns a .275 wOBA against righties this season. because unlike Milone, Bumgarner is leftie who can get out righties. What a world!

Best Left/Right Matchups

Easiest Pitcher vs. Left Handed Batters.

Rubby de la Rosa vs. St. Louis Cardinals- I’ll tell you, de la Rosa is straight up BRUTAL against lefties. He’s almost reached the .400 wOBA mark, as he sits justttttt under it at .399. Absolutely insane number for someone who was once the centerpiece of the Red Sox Dodgers blockbuster a few year ago.

Andrew Cashner vs. Washington Nationals-  Cashner has been anything but money against lefties on the season. They’ve been knocking him around to a .380 wOBA on the season. For someone I used to love rostering no matter what a couple of years ago, I don’t even consider him much anymore. How the mighty have fallen.

Easiest Pitcher vs. Right Handed Batters.

Carlos Rodon vs. Seattle Mariners- Another left handed pitcher who really struggles against right handed hitters. I mean, it’s not something that’s uncommon, it’s just that they certainly have the potential to be breakout pitchers if they could just get it figured out. Rodon owns a .374 wOBA against righties this season.

Tommy Milone vs. Tampa Bay Rays- I told you, straight up awful against righties when compared to lefties. Truly, someone needs to work with Milone and figure this out. Otherwise, he’s never going to live up to his potential. If he needs a motivator, I seem to be one right now, not intentional but I’ll roll with it. Milone owns a .356 wOBA against righties on the year.

Hottest Hitters

Michael Moustakas ($4000) – The Moooooooooose has been hitting well lately. He’s 10 for his last 22 with four home runs, 10 RBIs, and six runs scored. Just another part of the Royals team that is just killing the hitting game.

Kris Bryant ($4200) –Overall, this has been a solid season for the rookie. He’s going to experience the growing pains, but he’s been real fun to watch this season. He’s back on a hot streak, going 9-26 with three home runs, nine RBIs and eight runs scored.

Miguel Sano ($4700) – Sano may not exactly be hitting for average, but when your hitting bombs almost every at bat, no one is really going to care about your average. Sano is batting .259 in his last seven with four home runs and 10 RBIs. I told you, no one cares about that .259 right now. All good!

Best Batter vs. Pitcher Matchups

*Marlon Byrd vs. Dan Haren-*Another good day of some BvP stat for you to chew on. Byrd has really, REALLY hit Haren well. Byrd is 14-33 against Haren with nine god damn extra base hits, three home runs and a 1.366 OPS. I don’t know about you, but I was super impressed with those numbers.

Joey Votto vs. Zack Greinke- I mean, certainly you won’t be rostering any batters against Greinke this afternoon, right? Well, maybe your wrong. Votto has hit Greinke extremely well. Votto enters this afternoon 12-27 against Greinke with seven extra base hits, three of them being home runs, and a 1.442 OPS. That my friends, is impressive.

Edwin Encarnacion vs. Yovani Gallardo- Finally, not as impressive as the others because it’s a smaller sample, but still, a good BvP for today. Encarnacion is 5-14 against Gallardo with three extra base hits, all of them being home runs, and a 1.471 OPS. Let’s get it today!

Weather Concerns

Looks like quite the clear day in baseball. But that can change on a dime, so make sure you look as roster lock comes closer.

One Pitcher To Build Lineups Around

Madison Bumgarner ($12,800)- This was fairly obvious who I was going for today, yeah? Did I talk up the strikeout potential enough to give you that little extra push with who to target today? Bumgarner is goin to be highly owned today, no way around it. It’s very well known that the Cubs are free swingers and strike out the TON. Honestly, the 25% against lefties on the season is enough to convince anyone, I would think. Overall on the afternoon, Bumgarner is the second highest priced pitcher, but I think he’s going to be well worth the investment. With his K/9 heading into double digits, I find it hard to believe that he won’t rack up the strikeouts here this afternoon. The only advice I would give, is to maybe try and get a bit creative with your second pitcher today. As I said, everyone will be on Bumgarner, so you want to have a bit of an edge in tournaments, unless your goal is to beat everyone else with your hitting, which is fine as well. A home runs from Bumgarner wouldn’t be a bad thing either today, since I’m all about him helping his own cause. Just don’t complain about the missing 14 points you have because they don’t score pitchers.

Superstar Worth Paying For

Bryce Harper ($5300) – Facing Andrew Cashner, Harper has quite a tasty matchup tonight. Cashner struggles against lefties, owning a .380 wOBA against them. It just so happens, that Harper crushes right handed pitching this year, and for the rest of his life. On the season, Harper owns a .473 wOBA against RHP with some nice power numbers as well, checking in with an insane .342 ISO. Oh, ok Harper. Cashner has given up 16 home runs on the season, so he’s certainly no stranger to having issues with the long ball. As obvious of a choice Harper usually is, I like him that much more with this matchup.

Save Big Bucks By Drafting…

Francisco Cervelli($3600) – Cervelli is a little expensive for this section, but in the grand scheme of things, I don’t think anyone looks at $3600 and thinks, “OH NO WAY, TOO EXPENSIVE!” Cervelli is also listed as Day-To-Day so just watch his status going into tonight. If he does play, he has some good numbers against lefties that I feel like makes him a worthy start tonight. Against lefties, Cervelli owns a .420 wOBA with an ISO of .194. Not too shabby for someone I normally wouldn’t even glance at.  Facing the leftie Justin Nicolino, he’s going to be in my lineup tonight. Even if he doesn’t start. Why? YOLO!