This Thursday night is a light night on the diamond with only five games on the schedule. Even with only 10 teams in action, there are plenty of options to build your fantasy baseball team around, and there are some intriguing matchups for the 10 starting pitchers scheduled to take the mound. As you put your roster together, don’t miss these top-five pitchers:
1. Luis Severino – NYY @ SEA – $11,000
Severino dueled Chris Sale in his last start and takes on another former Cy Young winner tonight as he faces Felix Hernandez and the Mariners in Seattle. Severino comes into the start just 5-4 with a 3.40 ERA, but his strikeout rate and strong recent form earn him the slight edge over the rest of the options on this list.
In four straight starts and nine of his last 10, Severino has picked up at least six strikeouts. He has also lasted at least six innings in all but one of those outings. In those 10 starts, he is averaging 22.1 DKFP while striking out a total of 76 batters over 66.2 innings. He has actually been better on the road than at home, posting a 2-1 road record with a 3.02 ERA in his 10 starts away from Yankee Stadium while picking up 74 strikeouts in 62.2 innings. Severino hasn’t faced Seattle this year, but pitcher-friendly Safeco Field is another reason to like the 23-year-old righty tonight.
2. Cole Hamels – TEX @ BAL – $9,400
The Rangers have gotten three straight strong outings from Hamels since a rough return from the DL at the end of June. After getting knocked around by the Indians in that start, Hamels has allowed just two total runs in his last three starts, going 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 22 innings.
On the season, the lefty is 4-0 with a 3.05 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. He has held opponents to a .203 average and struck out 33 batters in 59 innings. While his strikeout rate is a little low, his form has been so good that he has posted more than 24 DKFP in each of his last three starts. He’ll look to keep rolling against the Orioles at Camden Yards tonight.
3. Madison Bumgarner – SF vs. SD – $11,800
Bumgarner is the most expensive pitcher on the board for tonight, but I think Severino and Hamels make better plays because Bumgarner is still working his way back from his long layoff. He pitched for the first time since April 10 on Saturday and gave up three runs on four hits in seven innings. He got a no-decision against the Padres in that outing, and he’ll face San Diego again tonight this time in San Francisco.
While the final line wasn’t bad, the most concerning part of Bumgarner’s return was that he struck out only five batters. As he gets back to full strength, he’ll be an elite option again this season, but at this point, he’s boom-or-bust because he hasn’t shown if he’s back to 100 percent and doesn’t have the backing of a great lineup.
4. Michael Fulmer – DET @ KC– $10,200
The Tigers’ five-game winning streak came to a halt last night, but they can still take three of four from the Royals if they get a win behind Fulmer tonight. On the season, Fulmer is 10-6 after picking up a win in each of his last four starts. In three of those outings, he went at least eight innings and totaled more than 22 DKFP.
Fulmer is most effective when he is getting a ton of ground balls and working carefully with his control. He usually keeps the ball in the ballpark and limits damage, but he doesn’t strike out a ton of batters. The exception to that rule, though, was his last start against the Royals, when he struck out seven in 8.2 innings allowing just two earned runs and picking up the win. He doesn’t have as high a ceiling as Bumgarner, Severino or Hamels, but he’s the lowest risk option on the board due to his consistent production.
5. Felix Hernandez – SEA vs. NYY – $7,600
While fantasy owners are used to a dominant Hernandez costing much more, he has been a solid option since his return, even though he hasn’t been as lights out as in previous seasons. In his five starts since a two-month stint on the DL, Hernandez is 3-1 and has more than 12 DKFP in four of those five outings, posting a solid 3.72 ERA and 1.31 WHIP to go with 29 strikeouts in 29 innings.
Hernandez is still working his way back to full strength and hasn’t been pitching deep into games. He gets a matchup against the Yankees at home tonight, and he has been much better in home starts (4-1, 3.82 ERA) than starts on the road this season. He’s a riskier play than the top four options on this list, but he is the best play under $9K and his strikeouts give him upside to consider.
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.