As the MLB continues its final push to the finish line at the end of the month, Thursday’s schedule features a split slate of fantasy baseball options with seven games in the afternoon and another seven games scheduled for under the lights. In this post, we’ll focus on the seven night games that are all series finales and include three divisional contests, highlighted by the Astros-Athletics matchup that features the top two teams in the AL West who are both very much in the playoff hunt.
With 14 teams in the player pool, there are lots of ways you can structure your roster to take advantage of the best matchups. There are some potential weather concerns in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington to keep an eye on, and with expanded rosters, there’s always the chance a team will push back a start or re-arrange its rotation. To keep up on the weather and any lineup changes, stay tuned to the DK Live app or visit live.draftkings.com. As you start to get your squad together, check out my top targets as studs and values at each position.
StudJustin Verlander, HOU vs. OAK, $12,600 — Verlander is making another strong case for a Cy Young this season and is 18-5 with a 2.52 ERA and 0.77 WHIP in his 30 starts for Houston. He already has reached exactly 200 innings and has piled up 264 strikeouts. Verlander will be facing the Athletics for the fourth time this season and is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 21 innings. Highlighted by his no-hitter against the Blue Jays on Sept. 1, Verlander has been locked in since the All-Star break, going 8-1 with an impressive 1.72 ERA and averaging 33.7 DKFP per start. Especially with rain and injury uncertainty for the other top options on the board, Verlander is the option to pay up for on this slate. Other Options — Rich Hill ($10,700), Julio Teheran ($8,500)
ValueKyle Allard, TEX vs. TB, $7,200 — It has been a rough season for the Rangers, but there have been some positive signs from their recent call-ups including Allard, who they acquired from the Braves at the trade deadline. The 22-year-old lefty has gone 4-0 in his six starts with a 3.78 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings. He had one bad outing against the Angels, allowing seven runs in five innings but has bounced back nicely allowing three total runs over 18 1/3 innings in his three starts since then. He doesn’t post the elite strikeout numbers Verlander or Rich Hill ($10,700) offer, but he has shown an ability to work around baserunners and provide solid innings. Texas can take the series from the Rays with a win in this matchup in what should be a fun battle of young lefties as Allard takes on Brendan McKay ($7,900) in the rubber game of the three-game set in Arlington.
Other Options — Brendan McKay ($7,900), Clay Buchholz ($5,800)
StudJ.T. Realmuto, PHI vs. ATL, $4,500 — Realmuto’s seven-game hitting streak came to a halt Wednesday, but he still has started the month with an impressive 12-for-35 (.343) run with four homers and a 1.200 September OPS. He has plenty of experience against Braves starter Julio Teheran ($8,500), going 7-for-26 (.269) against him with a home run and five RBI. Realmuto’s first season in Philadelphia hasn’t gone as well for the team as they hoped it would, but the 28-year-old backstop already has hit a career-high 24 home runs and driven in a career-high 80 RBI. He’ll look to continue his strong finish at Citizens Bank Park, where he has hit .298 this season with a .904 OPS. Other Options — Mitch Garver ($5,300), Robinson Chirinos ($3,800)
ValueYan Gomes, WAS at MIN, $3,100 — With the Nationals and Twins both in playoff races and facing each other for the final time this season, the teams will do all they can to fit this game in around the rain forecasted for Minneapolis. If they do, Gomes could be a good value option behind the plate since he knows Kyle Gibson ($8,200) so well from his time with the Tribe. Gomes is 13-for-30 (.433) with two doubles and two homers against Gibson in their past meetings. He has struggled to a .212 average this season but has connected on three home runs already in September after not homering at all in August. He has a high ceiling as a boom-or-bust option against Gibson.
Other Options — Pedro Severino ($3,300), Isiah Kiner-Falefa ($2,900)
FIRST BASEJoc Pederson, LAD at BAL,$5,200 — Pederson and the Dodgers’ big bats all make sense as they take on the Orioles and Dylan Bundy ($5,100) in the last game of their three-game stop at Camden Yards. Bundy has allowed 28 home runs in 27 starts, including 16 in 15 home starts. He has a 5.24 ERA in Baltimore and has gone 2-8 while allowing opponents to hit .292 against him. Pederson has been on a nice run since the start of September, going 11-for-19 (.579) with three doubles and five home runs. He is hitting only .250 for the season but is up to 32 home runs. He didn’t start Wednesday against a lefty but likely will return to his spot atop the lineup against Bundy this Wednesday. Other Options — Cody Bellinger ($5,400), Howie Kendrick ($4,200)
ValueRowdy Tellez, TOR vs. BOS, $3,500 — Tellez homered in each of the Blue Jays’ first two wins against the visiting Red Sox and has 19 home runs in 98 games in the Majors. He has hit safely in four straight and six of his past eight games with four home runs over that eight-game span. He remains a boom-or-bust play due to his .223 average on the season, but he will look to help the Blue Jays complete their sweep of the Sox in a favorable matchup against Jhoulys Chacin ($5,500) and Mike Shawaryn ($7,500).
Other Options — C.J. Cron ($3,500), Jesús Aguilar ($3,400)
StudNick Solak, TEX vs. TB, $4,100 — Like Allard, Solak has shown plenty of potential since being acquired by the Rangers at the trade deadline. He has gone 25-for-72 (.347) with three homers and a 1.015 OPS in his 21 games with Texas. Solak came from the Rays’ organization and has gone 4-for-8 so far in the series against his former team with a double and a home run. He’ll face McKay, who he spent much of the season with Triple-A Durham. Solak has averaged 11.1 DKFP over his past 10 contests and has at least 14 DKFP in each of his three most recent games. Other Options — Jose Altuve ($4,800), Cavan Biggio ($4,200)
ValueGavin Lux, LAD at BAL, $3,600 — Lux is considered one of the top prospects in all of baseball after hitting .347 in 113 games split between Double-A and Triple-A this season, which included 26 home runs, 10 stolen bases and a 1.028 OPS. Lux is getting his first time in the Majors this September and has gone 6-for-25 (.240) with two doubles and a home run. He hit that home run Tuesday in Baltimore as part of his 22 DKFP in his most recent start. Since he’s a lefty, he was out of the lineup Wednesday but should get back in there against Bundy, offering an affordable way to get a piece of the Dodgers’ projected production.
Other Options — Aledmys Díaz ($3,800), Shed Long ($3,500)
StudJosh Donaldson, ATL at PHI, $5,200 — Donaldson has had a great bounce-back season after playing just 52 games in 2018 due to injury. He has been durable for the Braves, playing in 143 games and hitting .258 with 37 home runs and a .921 OPS. He has been even better in the second half with a 1.023 OPS since the All-Star break, including 19 of his 37 home runs. The Bringer of Rain will have a familiar matchup against Drew Smyly ($6,500), who he is 9-for-19 (.474) against in his career with three doubles and three home runs. Donaldson hasn’t had a great series so far in Philadelphia, but I think he’ll bounce back and turn that around in this matchup. Other Options — Anthony Rendon ($5,300), Eugenio Suárez ($4,700)
ValueHanser Alberto, BAL vs. LAD, $3,500 — Alberto could be the hitter I’ve highlighted the most this season because he’s always under-priced and so consistent against left-handed pitching. On the season, Alberto is hitting .418 (84-for-201) against southpaws with five home runs and a 1.002 OPS. He also has put together an impressive second half, hitting .337 since the All-Star break. He likely will lead off against Hill and the Dodgers and almost always finds a way to offer solid return on investment.
Other Options — Vladimir Guerrero Jr. ($3,700), Abraham Toro ($3,200)
StudMarcus Semien, OAK at HOU, $4,100 — Admittedly, Semien has a bad matchup against Verlander, but he has managed to go 8-for-28 (.286) with a double, triple and home run against the Astros’ ace in the past. The real reason he’s so attractive at this affordable price, though, is his recent run of success. In his past 16 games, Semien is 24-for-69 (.348) with four doubles, two triples, six home runs and three stolen bases giving him a 1.125 OPS and an average of 14.3 DKFP per contest over that stretch. Even with the bad matchup, he’s too hot to pass up at just over $4K. Other Options — Alex Bregman ($5,300), Trea Turner ($4,700)
ValueElvis Andrus, TEX vs. TB, $3,900 — Andrus has relatively quietly Jhoulys put together a solid season for the Rangers, hitting .274 with 10 homers and 27 stolen bases. Most of his power production has come against southpaws, who he has a .723 OPS against. He typically hits near the top of the order and ends up in good run-producing spots. He has hit safely in four of his past five games, going 6-for-23 (.261) with three runs scored and three RBI.
Other Options — Jorge Polanco ($3,900), Jean Segura ($3,700)
StudGeorge Springer, HOU vs. OAK, $5,600 — Springer has battled multiple injuries this season but has been extremely productive when healthy. He returned from a concussion Sunday against Seattle and has hit four home runs in four games since then, going 6-for-16 (.375). He is averaging 15.2 DKFP per contest over his past 10 games with seven homers, 14 RBI and 12 runs scored. He and Houston are a good stack to consider as they take on Homer Bailey ($6,000), who has allowed five home runs in his past four starts. Other Options — Ronald Acuña Jr. ($5,500), A.J. Pollock ($4,400)
ValueKyle Lewis, SEA vs. CIN, $3,100 — Lewis earned a September call-up with a solid season in Double-A for the Arkansas Travelers. He hit .263 with 11 home runs, 25 doubles and a .741 OPS. He was ranked as the Mariners’ No. 10 prospect by MLB Pipeline and has made a splash with a home run in each of his first two games in the Majors against the Reds. He was the No. 11 overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft but was slightly derailed by a knee injury suffered in a collision at home plate. He likely will get another season in the minors before he’s a full-time option in Seattle, but he has shown enough promise to be an option in a good matchup with Tyler Mahle ($6,200), who is 2-11 with a 4.94 ERA and especially has struggled on the road, where he is 0-8 with a 5.18 ERA and 12 home runs allowed in 12 starts. As a result, Lewis and the other Mariners could be a nice source of value.
Other Options — Randal Grichuk ($3,700), Josh Reddick ($3,500)
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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.