Donovan Solano is one of the cheaper top-flight options at his position on the main slate
It’s the final Thursday of the regular season and we have a loaded main slate with 11 games. Corbin Burnes and Zach Plesac are the two most expensive pitchers on the day as both hurlers have been excellent this season but are facing difficult matchups against playoff teams. I like a pair of rookies and a crafty veteran for my pitching selections.
There are some blue-chip hitters with plus matchups on the offensive side as well as some deep value that is worth mining. Be sure to choose your spots wisely, though, as some positions are worth paying the premium (second base/third base) for a reliable option while other deeper positions can be filled at a discount (first base, shortstop, and outfield). I’ve dug around for the best matchups in order to help you #StackTheDeck. So let’s get into it.
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- Ian Anderson has been impressive through his first five major league starts; compiling a 2.36 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and a 35:14 K/BB ratio through 26 2/3 innings (five starts). He faced the Marlins back on September 7th and it took him 83 pitches to get through three innings of work. He only gave up one earned run in that contest but walked four batters. I think the right-hander is due for a bounce-back against the Fish and his high strikeout upside (11.8 K/9) will help get him there. The Marlins are bottom five in baseball with 54 home runs and Anderson has only given up one long ball all season. The Braves have outscored Miami 67-40 in nine games with a 6-3 record this year. He certainly isn’t cheap but his matchup feels safer than Burnes’ or Plesac’s. Anderson is a good bet for a win and is capable of racking up the strikeouts.
- Bubic has been the Royals’ most consistent starter this season and has outshined fellow rookie Brady Singer. He’s registered a 3.97 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, and a 44:19 K/BB ratio over 45 1/3 innings (nine starts), which is nothing special but considering he’s faced the White Sox three times and the Twins twice, it’s not bad. He gets to face the Tigers for the first time who have a .300 wOBA, 91 OPS+, and are 23rd in baseball with 58 home runs; Bubic coughs up 1.2 HR/9 and Detroit isn’t a heavy power-hitting squad. The Royals are out of the playoff race but Detroit is technically still alive so the 23-year old has a great opportunity to play the spoiler against his division rival. Throwing out a rookie pitcher carries inherent risk but the price is fair given the matchup.
- The pesky Orioles have been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, along with the Red Sox, but Perez is set up nicely to pad his stats. The O’s have cooled off significantly in September, going 3-11 over their last 14 contests and averaging 4.1 runs per/game through 23 games this month, but that number is buoyed by 11, 9, and 14 run outbursts in three contests. The veteran Perez has faced the O’s twice this season, logging an 0-1 record with a 3.75 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and a modest 8:3 K/BB ratio over 12 innings. The lefty is coming off his best start of the season when he blanked the Yanks over six innings with seven strikeouts and just one walk. There is nothing exciting about Perez but the price is right and he’s got some sneaky value here.
- Rizzo has a great individual matchup against Pirates starter Chad Kuhl, whom he has a lot of experience facing. The first baseman is slashing .368/.435/.895 with two home runs, four RBI, and three walks against the right-hander across 19 at-bats in his career. It’s been a quiet season for Rizzo and he’s not hitting all that great (.220 BA with a .741 OPS) but he’s slugged nine of his 10 home runs against right-handed pitching.
- Vázquez is slashing .310/.420/.466 with two home runs and seven RBI over his last 15 games (58 AB’s) and he gets to face a pitcher in Alex Cobb that he’s had tremendous career success against. The 30-year old backstop is 10-for-14 with a 1.519 OPS against Cobb, who’s labored with a 4.76 ERA and 1.37 WHIP this year. Vázquez is a huge value given his price.
- Brandon Belt is usually a safe wager when facing a right-hander and he’s an even safer bet against a struggling righty like Chi Chi González of the Rockies, who owns a 7.53 ERA and 1.57 WHIP over 14 1/3 innings this year. Belt is batting .330 with a 1.054 OPS against righties over 109 at-bats this year, hitting nine doubles, seven home runs, and driving in 22 runs. He’s an easy player to forget about but could provide a massive return on investment given his low-opportunity cost.
- Solano is one of the cheaper top-flight options at his position on the main slate but he’s priced significantly lower than his peers. Granted he doesn’t have the power upside that some of the other second base options have but he’s been one of the best hitters in the game all season and should keep it up against Chi Chi Gonzalez. Solano hasn’t been killing it with his counting stats but his rate stats are some of the best in the business over the last fifteen games (.360/.396/.520 over 50 at-bats).
- Alberto has really struggled over his last 56 at-bats, picking up 11 hits and hitting just .196 with a .479 OPS. But the second baseman has hit lefties consistently all season with a .356/.388/.877 batting line across 45 at-bats. Martín Pérez has been nothing special this year and Alberto won’t blow you away with his power but he’s priced cheap enough to bring you a solid return for his price.
- Urshela enters Thursday’s action riding an impressive 12-game hitting streak. Surprisingly, he has only one long ball over that span but Sahlen Field in Buffalo has been quite friendly to hitters this year and Gio has a chance to drive one against Hyun Jin Ryu. The third baseman is batting .250 with a .400 OBP against LHP this season and, most importantly, has a .408 xBA and 1.024 xSLG against off-speed pitches–which makes him a valiant opponent against a pitcher like Ryu. He’s also rocking a .341 xBA against breaking balls so he feels ready to rock in this matchup.
- La Stella has performed quite well as a member of the A’s since joining them at the trade deadline. He’s slashing .280/.360/.397 with one home run and 11 RBI in 78 at-bats as an Athletic. His best performances this season have come against right-handed pitching; he’s got a .299/.386/.496 batting line with five home runs and 22 RBI in 137 at-bats against righties. La Stella has been batting leadoff for the A’s and should get plenty of cracks at Walker Buehler.
- Lamb has picked up a hit in all but one game since signing with the A’s earlier this month. He’s hitting .300/.344/.600 with three doubles, two home runs, and seven RBI in 30 AB’s with Oakland. Arizona released Lamb for a reason as he failed to hit with any semblance of consistency. But through a very small sample size, the third baseman appears to be pretty comfortable in his new surroundings. He’s definitely a hot hand dart throw and could turn back into a pumpkin at any time but he’s practically free at this price.
- Okay, so Seager isn’t technically a “value” at his price but the matchup is just too good to pass up. He has feasted on righties all season with 10 of his 14 home runs coming against RHP. He’s also smacked 10 doubles and driven in 29 runs while batting .333 with a 1.015 OPS. Basically anytime the shortstop faces a righty, he’s worth starting and his opponent, Mike Fiers, is giving up 1.3 HR/9 with a 4.84 FIP. Fire him up.
- Bichette, despite his recent struggles, has hit .333/.360/.458 with a dinger and five RBI in 24 at-bats versus lefties this season. He’s also rocking a 1.036 OPS at home and is facing a lefty in Jordan Montgomery who relies on a combo of his changeup/curveball on nearly 50-percent of his pitches. The shortstop has an xSLG of .627 against off-speed pitchers this year so something has gotta give at Sahlen Field. Hitting towards the top of the Blue Jays lineup, Bichette should get at least three cracks at Monty before giving way to the Yankees pen.
- Everyone knows the risk with Mondesi by now. You’re getting either an 0-for-4 with three strikeouts or 2-for-4 with an extra-base hit, a stolen base or two, and two runs scored. It’s best to only play him in the best of matchups and Michael Fulmer with his 8.17 ERA and 2.00 WHIP (25 1/3 innings) represents exactly that, a great matchup. If you need a little extra convincing then consider that Mondesi has swiped 10 bags in his last fifteen games.
- Merrifield is slashing .369/.397/.508 with two home runs, eight RBI, and three stolen bases over his last fifteen games (65 at-bats) and is facing Michael Fulmer, who has been flat out bad this year. Whit is batting .368 with a .895 OPS in 19-career at-bats against Fulmer, who has a rough 6.73 FIP over 25 1/3 innings this year.
- Hernández has picked up right where he left off, in the power department at least, since he returned from the injured list seven days ago; he’s hit a pair of homers and is slugging .485 over his last 33 at-bats. He gets to face a lefty in Jordan Montgomery and Teoscar has feasted on southpaws this season with a .318 batting average, five home runs, and a .705 slugging percentage.
- J.D. Martinez is 9-for-16 with one home run and a 1.063 Slugging-percentage against Alex Cobb lifetime. He has struggled over the last month of the season but has picked it up as of late with a .290 batting average and a .905 OPS with a pair of home runs over the last seven games. Cobb is the perfect pitcher to propel Martinez out of his funk.
- Pollock has been crushing the ball over his last 15 games with six bombs and 12 RBI while slugging .583. He’s actually fared better against left-handed pitching this year but has smashed nine home runs against righties and Oakland starter Mike Fiers is coughing up 1.3 HR/9.
- Heyward is 8-for-16 lifetime against Chad Kuhl with a homer, six RBI, and a 1.221 OPS. And if there’s anything the outfielder has done at a high level this year, it’s mash right-handed pitching. The 31-year old has a .327/.457/.554 batting line with five home runs and 16 RBI across 101 at-bats against RHP this season. He’s worth firing up at this price to round out your outfield.
5 Studs Worth Their Salary
- Zach Plesac, CLE ($10,400): The ChiSox are a scary matchup on paper but Plesac has dominated them in two starts this year with a 0.00 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, and a 18:1 K/BB ratio over 14 innings.
- Freddie Freeman, ATL ($4,200): Freeman has 15 runs, five homers, and 18 RBI with a 1.338 OPS over his last 53 at-bats. The NL-MVP candidate is worth paying for at any price he’s listed at.
- Ozzie Albies, ATL ($4,100): Since his return from a wrist injury that kept him out for practically the entire month of August, he’s put up a 1.154 OPS with five home runs and 10 RBI over his 53 at-bats in September. He’s hit better from the left side of the plate this year and the switch hitter is facing the right-handed Pablo López.
- Jose Ramirez, CLE ($3,900): Ramírez has been the hottest hitter in the AL over the last week with 12 hits, six home runs, and 16 RBI over his last 26 at-bats. He’s worth getting in your lineup below $4,000, regardless of his opponent.
- Ronald Acuna Jr., ATL ($4,500): Acuña is 4-for-11 with a pair of home runs against Pablo Lopez in his career and he’s 7-for-21 over his last six games with two long balls and six ribbies. He’s usually always worth the money.
5 Notable Players to Fade
- Lance Lynn, TEX ($9,500): The quality start machine has only given up three or more runs once in 12 starts this season and it was against these Astros back on September 3rd when he was tagged for six runs. Lynn has been a model of consistency but facing a tough Astros squad that is desperate to hold on to a playoff spot is not the best matchup.
- Alex Bregman, HOU ($3,600): He’s rocking a .191/.321/.255 batting line over the last 15 games and he’s facing Lance Lynn, who he’s just 3-for-11 against in his career. There are better players worth spending up on.
- Tim Anderson, CWS ($4,100): Look, Anderson is awesome but he’s slashing just .172/.172/.379 with two solo home runs over his last 29 at-bats. Zach Plesac has had his way with the ChiSox in two starts this year and there are cheaper, more trustworthy options at SS on the slate.
- Giancarlo Stanton, NYY ($4,100): Stanton has hit lefties quite well this year, albeit in a tiny 10 AB sample, but he has just a .292 xBA and a .324 wOBA against pitchers with a repertoire like Ryu’s.
- Charlie Blackmon, COL ($3,600): Blackmon has been miserable in the month of September with his batting average sitting directly at the dreaded Mendoza line (.200) to go along with a .624 OPS and two home runs. Outfield is always deep and you could do better than a struggling Chuck Nasty.
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Jon Mathisen is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Jon, check out his archive and follow him @eazymath.