Thursday is not a very deep slate for baseball with only seven games. Therefore, a tough day for DFS action with so few ways to go with it. Here are some players to target, at every position and price range:
AJ Burnett vs. San Diego ($10,100) – Burnett grades out slightly higher than Sale based on price, matchup, and recent performance. Burnett has gone 7 innings in each of his last three starts. He has given up only 14 hits, 6 walks, and 3 earned runs while striking out 22 in the process. He has returned just a shade under 30 DK points on average in those starts and that puts him in line for value here. He actually gets a park bump in this one as well as he switches from his pitcher friendly home park to an even friendlier one in PetCo. San Diego has the second most strikeouts against right-handed pitching, but in more at-bats as the rate is 23.5% which is high, but not horrendous. San Diego bats have just been cold lately and Burnett has been red hot. I think this is the right matchup at the right time in the right place for him to keep it rolling.
Buck Farmer vs. Los Angeles Angels ($4300) – This is not a joke, Farmer is a legit prospect. He also faces a lineup that has been jostled and juggled, yet continues to struggle. The Angels have a league worst .227 batting average against right-handed pitching and a 22.1% strikeout rate. Farmer had roughly a K per inning at AAA Toledo with an ERA under 3 and a WHIP of 1.17. He is still young and inexperienced, so he probably will not stick in the rotation for the long haul, but against a team that has struggled and never seen him, he could produce a great fantasy line. He probably will only go about six innings at most, but if can pitch like he has, there’s a good chance he can limit damage and create a nice floor with strikeouts and innings. He also has one of the league’s best offenses behind him, and that is always a pitcher’s friend. His price is so low he does not need to do much to pay it off, and he has the upside we look for and a price so friendly it allows a lot of big bats to be paired with him.
Brian McCann vs. Oakland Athletics ($4400) – McCann has been swinging a hot stick, but he has some drawbacks as well. He is averaging over 12 points per game in his last four starts. He has scored at least seven in every one of them, but moves to a pitcher’s park in Oakland which bumps him down and his price is sky high. The reason for the price jump is the plum matchup he has against rookie Kevin Graveman who has not been good. Graveman has allowed 15 runs in 22 innings of work with three homeruns. He has let lefties knock him around a bit, so it’s no surprise the price is up here. I expect McCann to do well, but the price is of some concern.
Derek Norris vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($3200) – Burnett is a good pitcher and has been solid, but there’s very few guys batting in the five hole and playing catcher like Norris does. He picked up double digit points and multiple hits in three of his last five games, so he is swinging a hot bat. He hits fifth in that order behind Kemp and Upton, but the real kicker is his price. At $3200 you have very slim pickings at any position, but especially one where the other options are kind of weak or overpriced today.
Prince Fielder vs. Boston Red Sox ($5400) – Harper, Trout, Stanton…. Nope all wrong answers. The hottest hitter in baseball is Prince Fielder. In his last five games he has 32, 30, 15, 30, and 26 fantasy points. He has three hits in each of the last four games and two hits in the game before that. We can excuse the slacking two hit performance since both were homeruns, which he now has five of in his last five games. He gets a matchup with a triple A call up today in Eduardo Rodriguez who is a solid prospect, but has not seen a hitter the likes of Fielder in AAA. The game is in a hitter friendly Texas stadium and you really can’t ask for a guy who has been as good as him. The price is up, but who really cares as long as he keeps putting up these huge numbers and has a god matchup.
Nick Swisher vs. Seattle Mariners ($3100) – Swisher homered on Wednesday and is currently batting either fifth or sixth in that lineup. He has always hit left-handed pitching well, and is currently batting .333 against them this year. His price is dirt cheap at $3100 and is both 1B and OF eligible. If you need to save at first today, he is one of the few cheap guys in a good splits matchup that I can stomach using.
Ben Zobrist vs. New York Yankees ($3800) – Zobrist is one of the guys the As count on to hit left-handed pitching. He is recently back from an injury and has already reclaimed his #3 spot in the order vs. Southpaws. In a small sample this year, he is batting almost .350 vs. left-handed pitching and last year in over 120 at-bats, he hit .340. He gets a matchup with CC Sabathia here and Sabathia has struggled so far in 2015. His WHIP is currently 1.42 and the right-handed bats have been doing most of the damage against him.
Delino Deshields vs. Boston Red Sox ($3800) – One of the under the radar guys who has been a cash game godsend finally sees his price back below $4000. Deshields has been leading off for the Texas Rangers and doing a good job of getting on base and making things happen. He has a six game hitting streak and has averaged just over 9 fantasy points per contest. He can get a hit or two, steal a base, and has been scoring runs. There’s a lot of safety in his scores as he has returned at least 9 in five of his last seven games and has a good matchup with the aforementioned rookie Eduardo Rodriguez.
Miguel Cabrera vs. Los Angeles Angels ($4900) – Cabrera gets a matchup against the left-hander CJ Wilson. He has hit in ten games safely, and has scored at least 9 in six of his last ten. In fact over his last nine games, he has averaged nine fantasy points per game and should be in line for another solid performance here. The drawback is obviously a combination of the high price and the fact he gets pitched around. Hopefully he gets up with men on so Wilson will have to challenge him, which will likely end bad. After a slow start, the former triple crown contender is starting to remind people why he is the most feared hitter in the game.
Alex Rodriguez vs. Oakland Athletics ($4100) – A-Rod has hits in his last six games and multiple hits in four of those. He is currently 10 for his last 22 with three walks, which gives him on OBP over .500. He still hits third in that Yankee order and gets a matchup with an overmatched Kevin Graveman here, who has given up 15 runs in his last 22 innings pitched. He has four double digit scores over this six game stretch and is averaging almost 12 points per game. Whether you love or hate him, he can not be ignored if he keeps producing like this.
Marcus Semein vs. New York Yankees ($3500) – This is by far the toughest position to choose today. Semein is not a great option, but he may be the best one we have today. He usually hits well against left-handed pitching and should be moved up in the order today against CC. Sabathia is a guy who has been prone to blow ups and struggles a little bit with right-handed batters. Semein has not been hot lately with the bat though, so there’s definitely an opening for a cheap bat here when lineups come out if one is available.
Andrew McCutchen vs. San Diego Padres ($4700) – Cutch has been rounding back into his past MVP caliber form. He has four fantasy scores of 17 or above in his last seven starts. He has averaged over 14 points during this stretch and has done it against both right and left-handed pitchers. He gets a matchup with Ian Kennedy today who has really struggled of late. The ballpark is not great, but neither is the home park is usually hits in. The Splits matchup is not his preferred one, but when he is swinging a hot bat like this, it rarely matters the handedness or caliber of pitcher he faces. Some of the other guys like Harrison and Polanco and Marte are also starting to hit, so he has been getting up with men on and driving them in. The other expensive options all have matchups that are tougher, so if you are going to spend up at all today, I think Cutch makes the most sense.
Brett Gardner vs. Oakland Athletics ($4100) – With Ellsbury on the shelf, Gardner has become the catalyst on top of the Yankees order. He’s had some big upside games and a skill set that makes him a good play for fantasy. Gardner can get on base by walk or hit, has the ability to steal any time he is on, and even has a little bit of pop in his bat. His lefty swing plays better at home in Yankee stadium, but against a gas can like Graveman today, I think everything is in play. His price has dropped a lot from the near $5000 salary he commanded a few weeks back, and with the matchup being so juisy, it’s tough to ignore him at only $4100 on a short slate.
Nick Markakis vs. San Fransisco Giants ($3400) – Markakis is still the cleanup hitter for the Braves despite the zero homeruns so far in 2015. The best part is his price is so low that a homerun is not needed for him to be able to return value for you. He has 9 and 11 fantasy points in his last two games and can basically get you to that value number in one AB. He does see at-bats with men on often, and an RBI double with a run scored or a second hit basically pays off his salary in a cash game for you. He does not have elite upside as he will rarely get you those 20-25 points to help out in a tournament, but at this price he makes a solid consistent cash game pay you should have on your radar.
Ryan Raburn vs. Seattle Mariners ($2600) – Raburn does one thing well in a baseball uniform and that is hit left-handed pitching. When Cleveland faces a lefty he tends to find himself in the 4 or 5 spot in that order. He homered in his last R/L start and has been mashing lefties all season. He currently sports a .356 batting average in 2015 against southpaws, so you will be hard pressed to find someone with better numbers, better lineup placement, and a better price today to round out your OF.