Thursday is a much quieter day with just eight games on the schedule split into two slates. In this article, I will be looking at my core plays at each position for the five-game main slate.
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With that, let’s jump into the picks.
The premiere matchup of the night is the season opener and pitchers duel between Trevor Bauer and the Indians and Gerrit Cole and the Astros. Vegas currently has the home team Astros as a -160 favorite and it makes sense when you start breaking down the matchup. The Astros rank 2nd overall in wRC+, 29% better than league average while the Indians rank 28th almost 40% below league average. On top of that, the Indians have struck out 26.7% of the time, second only to the Blue Jays. For Cole, he has been an absolute stud since joining the Astros at the start of last season posting a 3.17 ERA, 2.99 xFIP, 1.05 WHIP, and whopping 35% K rate. Fire him up in all formats.
Also Consider: Marco Gonzales(SEA) or Aaron Nola(PHI)
The Mariners are second to the Red Sox in implied runs tonight and will be my top team to target. They will face Taylor Hearn who will be making his major league debut and while he has a ton of K upside, he hasn’t been great in AAA this season posting a 4.05 ERA, 4.85 xFIP over four starts.
For Vogelbach, he is amidst a breakout season as he enters tonight with .317/.455/.783 slash line with eight home runs and 14 RBI. He only has one hit in seven at-bats against lefties but it was a home run and I don’t expect Hearn to go deep and that is more good news as the Rangers bullpen is one of the worst in the league(4.98 ERA, 18.4% HR/FB).
Also Consider: Luke Voit(NYY)
On a small slate with some top pitching we are going to need some value and middle infield is one place I will go for it tonight. LeMahieu doesn’t provide a ton of upside but does have a track record of consistency and as a bonus has been hitting leadoff in his last four starts due to a ton of Yankee injuries. If he is back there again, he is an excellent play in all formats, especially on DraftKings in the low $3K range.
Also Consider: Ronny Rodriguez(DET)
Another value play I will be targeting tonight is Rafeael Devers. The Red Sox lead all teams in implied runs(5.5) in a plus matchup against Jordan Zimmerman whose hot start is a thing of the past as he has allowed 14 earned runs over his last three starts. The big upside is also there as Zim has also allowed five home runs in those three starts and has allowed an average exit velocity of over 90 mph on the season.
Devers has yet to find the power stroke this year(0 HR) but he has been fairly consistent getting on base at a .365 clip and the Red Sox also appear to be finally getting in stride.
Also Consider: Jeimer Candelario(DET)
The price seems a little high for Andrus tonight but it is relative to the slate size combined with his terrific start to the season. He has arguably been the most consistent shortstop in fantasy as he enters tonight with an elite .345/.394/.540 slash line with 15 RBI and 13 runs scored. On top of that, he has also been slightly better against lefties posting a .49 wOBA, 112 wRC+, and 819 OPS since the start of the 2017 season and is already 8 for 18(.444 average) in the split this season.
Also Consider: Xander Bogaerts(BOS)
Haniger has been hitting leadoff or second in the lineup for the majority of the season and it has paid off in a big way as he has already scored 26 runs(2nd most) and added seven home runs and 18 RBI. He has crushed lefties(7 for 17 this season, .314 average last season) and faces a rookie pitcher who may not go deep with added innings for a struggling bullpen. I love the Mariners offense tonight and Haniger will be a target in all formats.
Also Consider: David Fletcher(LAA) if he is back in the leadoff spot