With nine games on tap for Thursday night, the slate is somewhat limited, but much better than you often find on the slowest night of MLB action for the week. Here are the ten options I like best for all types of contests, ranked according to the value they can return at their price, not just on projected fantasy points. Good luck!
Top 5 Pitchers
1) Kevin Gausman – Bal vs. Hou – $8,700 – – His issue is allowing home runs, with a 1.6 HR/9 rate for the year, so he will have to be careful about that with an Astros team that is capable of packing a little punch. Gausman has now thrown six quality starts out of his last nine outings, and has been striking out a batter per inning all year long. Over those last nine starts, he has thrown 49.1 innings and has 59 K’s, good for seven games with 15+ fantasy points and three with 25+. And for as much power as Houston has, they also strike out a ton, limiting Gausman’s downside here. With those recent numbers and the team he has supporting him, his 3-10 record feels much more like a fluke than anything else, something that could turn around in a moment’s notice and make this price tag jump in a hurry.
2) Jose Fernandez – Mia @ Cin – $11,900 – – He hasn’t gotten into the seventh inning or recorded a win in any of his last three starts, which has limited his upside for fantasy purposes. His K/9 rate of 12.94 is otherworldly, but at this price, you are hoping for well more than 20 fantasy points, and he hasn’t done it in a while because of his short outings. As a result his price has dropped, and the low-30’s is terms of fantasy output is easily attainable for a player with this skill set, making him the safest combination of consistency and massive upside on the board tonight.
3) Madison Bumgarner – SF vs. NYM – $13,600 – – The “value” of a player like Bumgarner isn’t something that can show up every start, no matter how consistently good he is for the Giants. Value at this price is something in the vicinity of 40+ fantasy points, which means when he scores you 30 at this price, you got what you paid for. So the real value in owning him is knowing that you have more upside on your roster than anyone. He might just go out and get you 50+ fantasy points, and if he does anyone who doesn’t own him is going to be scrambling to make up those points elsewhere – and is probably going to fall short. As for this matchup, Bumgarner has been unbelievable at home this season, and the one time he faced the Mets this year he threw six innings of shutout ball with seven strikeouts.
4) Jacob deGrom – NYM @ SF – $11,100 – – He has 24 or more fantasy points in seven of his last nine starts, but the thing about deGrom, Fernandez and Bumgarner is that they have 45+ fantasy pointe upside. The argument for deGrom is easy: less expensive than Bumgarner, better matchup than Fernandez. The Reds have been playing well lately, while the Giants’ offense has struggled to gain any real traction for months now.
5) Reynaldo Lopez – Was @ Atl – $5,100 – – The kind of pitcher you could target as a solid #2, Lopez is not going to deliver the kind of performance that delivers a massive score, but at this salary he doesn’t have to do to much to satisfy. If you’re aiming to turn every dollar you spend into three or more fantasy points, never a bad goal, the 15.3 you need from someone like Lopez is more conservative than hoping for 40+ out of Bumgarner. He has three starts on the year, and his most recent was by far his best – against this same Braves lineup – as he went seven innings and gave up five hits and just one run for the win.
6) Archie Bradley – Ari @ SD – $6,500 – – He had a nice stretch through the beginning of July, but has struggled over his past three, failing to even get into the fifth inning in two of them. That has dropped his price and likely scared away some other potential owners, but those factors could combine to make him a solid upside play. He is still a pitcher with a 8.69 K/9 ratio through 95 innings on the season, facing a Padres team that strikes out more than anyone in the majors except the Brewers. Even in a recent 4.2 inning effort against the Twins, his 8 K’s meant he returned 16.9 DraftKings fantasy points.
7) Tyler Duffey – Min @ KC – $7,400 – – Duffey faced the Royals five days ago in Minnesota, and he went seven innings, striking out six and giving up just six hits, one walk and two runs equaling 23.6 fantasy points. So far, through 20 starts, his ERA has actually been more than two full points better on the road. That Royals start was actually his second excellent outing in a row, as he went six innings and gave up one run (with eight K’s) for the win against Houston last week. He has given up home runs at an alarming clip all season long, so facing a Royals team with only 104 round-trippers on the year has to help his chances of getting deep enough in this one to provide some fantasy value.
8) Carlos Rodon – CWS @ Cle – $6,300 – – If it weren’t for the matchup with an Indians offense that has been among the league leaders in every major offensive category all season long, and which has only been playing even better lately, Rodon would be a bit higher on this list. It is not too often you find a pitcher at this price with 109 K’s in 110.1 innings, and that kind of ability helps raise both his ceiling and his floor. If this season is any indication, he will get deep enough into a game to rack up 15+ fantasy points in about half of his starts, which you would take at this price, especially when the strikeout rate brings with it a little bit of extra upside.
9) Dan Straily – Cin vs. Mia – $7,900 – – His price tag just seems low to me. He is 8-6 for a team that is 19 games under .500, his ERA and WHIP of 3.75 and 1.14 are more than respectable, he has a K/9 of 7.17 and he averages more than six innings per start. He has been over 18 fantasy points in five of his last six starts, which isn’t a ton of upside, but which is definitely useful at this price, and he could end up locked in a low-scoring game here facing Fernandez, which could allow him to get to right around that 20-point mark even if he fails to secure the win.
10) Ross Stripling – LAD @ Phi – $5,200 – – The fact that he made the list, more than anything else, means I really don’t love any of the other options available to you. Stripling is the definition of inconsistent and since the formula you are always evaluating is consistency + upside = fantasy value, he’s not starting off well. But for all his inconsistency, there is some upside, and it has shown up much more consistently on the road. His home/road splits are striking: ERA of 4.77 at home and 3.04 on the road, WHIP of 1.39 and 0.98, BAA of .272 vs. just .179. On the road against Philly, there is definitely a chance that upside shows up.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theasquad) 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