DFS MLB Game by Game Breakdown – Thursday, August 16

MESA, AZ - FEBRUARY 28: Anthony Rizzo #44 of the Chicago Cubs bats against the Oakland Athletics during the spring training game at Sloan Park on February 28, 2018 in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
MESA, AZ - FEBRUARY 28: Anthony Rizzo #44 of the Chicago Cubs bats against the Oakland Athletics during the spring training game at Sloan Park on February 28, 2018 in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Welcome into the Thursday edition of the DFS MLB Game by Game Breakdown! We have smaller seven game slate on tap tonight so let’s jump in!

Last night wasn’t the worst night ever as Gerrit Cole dragged us over the DFS MLB cash line virtually on his own. It was nice to see him get back on track, so to speak because he’s looked almost like a mortal lately. Kevin Gausman stunk up the joint after changing his arm slot and the offense on both lineups was MIA again. Fortunately, the first game tonight should offer some fireworks.

DFS MLB – Cubs at Pirates

Cubs Probable Starter – Jon Lester, LHP 

3.89 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 18.4 strikeout rate

Vs LHH – .265 average, .366 wOBA, 19.4 K rate, 36.3 fly ball rate and 35.8 hard hit rate

Vs RHH – .245 average, .322 wOBA, 18.1 K rate, 38.6 fly ball rate and 34.5 hard hit rate

Lester has been getting beat up lately and it’s about time. He’s had regression coming all year long and it seems like a long time ago that he had an ERA in the low 2.00’s. Since he’s such a prime target, I’m going to have a Pirates stack without any question. Elias Diaz went yard yesterday and is in a prime spot to do it again tonight. In seven at-bats against Lester, he has a .578 xwOBA and part of that is likely because he smokes the four seam/cutter mix that Lester leans on a lot. He has a .400 ISO and a .452 xwOBA versus that mix and he’s smashed lefties overall with a 1.004 OPS, .426 wOBA and .258 ISO this season. If he’s not in the lineup, Francisco Cervelli has a .510 xwOBA and a .391 ISO against the pitch mix as well. The righty hitters of David Freese, Starling Marte, Josh Bell and Jordy Mercer are all viable options with Bell’s .527 xwOBA against Lester being my favorite of the bunch.

Pirates Hitters to Target 

Elite Options – Elias Diaz/Francisco Cervelli, Josh Bell, David Freese

Secondary Options – Starling Marte(if active), Jordy Mercer

Pirates Probable Starter – Ivan Nova, RHP 

4.42 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 16.5 strikeout rate

Vs LHH – .290 average, .364 wOBA, 11.4 K rate, 39.6 fly ball rate and 33.5 hard hit rate

Vs RHH – .253 average, .313 wOBA, 21.6 K rate, 27.2 fly ball rate and 34.9 hard hit rate

Nova is a really weird pitcher. He’s not very good but he has the ability to pop up and have good games here and there. He’s better against righty hitters but I’m still having a hard time not looking at Javier Baez since he’s under $4,000 and checks all the boxes we normally look at. He’s excellent against righty pitching overall with a .279 ISO and .366 wOBA, he has a .371 ISO versus the pitch mix for Nova and he’s taken him out of the yard twice. The catch is he’s hit a for a .154 average against Nova in 13 at-bats so if you want to go with a lefty hitter instead, Anthony Rizzo has to be high on the list. He’s been hot this month, hitting almost .300 and Nova’s Achilles heel is lefty hitters. You can always kick in lefties like Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ, Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward if you want to go with a Cubs stack.

Cubs Hitters to Target 

Elite Options – Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez

Secondary Options – Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ, Ben Zobrist, Jason Heyward

Home Run Pick – Anthony Rizzo and Josh Bell

FanDuel MLB: ST. LOUIS, MO – JUNE 15: Matt Carpenter #13 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits a two-run single against the Chicago Cubs in the seventh inning at Busch Stadium on June 15, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

DFS MLB – Nationals at Cardinals

Nationals Probable Starter – Tanner Roark, RHP 

4.12 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 20.5 strikeout rate

Vs LHH – .257 average, .324 wOBA, 22.7 K rate, 37.8 fly ball rate and 25.1 hard hit rate

Vs RHH – .247 average, .299 wOBA, 18.3 K rate, 33.9 fly ball rate and 29.1 hard hit rate

It’s been a rock solid four start stretch for Roark, who has gone at least seven innings in those games and has been racking up strikeouts for the most part. Roark doesn’t give up a ton of home runs to lefty hitters but it’s enough for me to not rule out Matt Carpenter. There’s probably not a pitch mix Carpenter wouldn’t rate well against at this point, but the numbers are definitely spiked for him against the four seam/sinker duo he’ll see almost 60 percent of the time. The ISO is over .390 and the xwOBA is over .520 so even at $4,400 he could still pay off. You might actually get him at a little bit of a lower ownership since Roark has been on point lately. If I had to play a righty, it would probably be Yadier Molina. His numbers via the pitch data aren’t all that far behind Carpenter considering Carpenter has been one of the best hitters in baseball. I wouldn’t have much interest in going heavy on Cardinals tonight.

Cardinals Hitters to Target 

Elite Options – Matt Carpenter

Secondary Options – Yadier Molina

Cardinals Probable Starter – Jack Flaherty, RHP 

3.22 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 30.2 strikeout rate

Vs LHH – .188 average, .264 wOBA, 26.4 K rate, 33.1 fly ball rate and 31.5 hard hit rate

Vs RHH – .217 average, .306 wOBA, 34.1 K rate, 39.5 fly ball rate and 35.6 hard hit rate

I always have some reservation when I suggest pitchers against the Nationals with the talent they have but this could be a solid spot to use Flaherty in GPP. He’s only given up five bombs to lefties all year to go along with the splits you see and if you can control the lefties for the Nats, you have a good chance at success. Since each side has some stats in their favor, I think you just have to plant your flag. If you’re using hitters, I’d stick with Juan Soto and his .947 OPS and .341 ISO against the four seam/slider combo or Bryce Harper with his .915 OPS and .248 ISO against the pitch mix. Flaherty himself seems just a hair too expensive given the downside that he faces tonight, but that could be another factor that drives players away from him.

Nationals Hitters to Target 

Elite Options – None

Secondary Options – Bryce Harper, Juan Soto in GPP

Home Run Pick – Matt Carpenter

DENVER, CO – JULY 25: Starting pitcher Jon Gray #55 of the Colorado Rockies delivers to home plate in the first inning against the Houston Astros during interleague play at Coors Field on July 25, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) /

DFS MLB – Rockies at Braves

Rockies Probable Starter – Jon Gray, RHP 

4.81 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 27.1 strikeout rate

Vs LHH – .263 average, .341 wOBA, 29.6 K rate, 32.5 fly ball rate and 39.3 hard hit rate

Vs RHH – .251 average, .289 wOBA, 24.5 K rate, 24.9 fly ball rate and 31.0 hard hit rate

Last start was the first bump in the road for Gray since he came back from the minors but it’s hard to judge him too harshly when he had to face the loaded Dodgers in Coors. The splits aren’t the most important to me for Gray because his year has been a lot of bad luck. The FIP is 3.75 and the xFIP is 2.94 against lefties and if you think that doesn’t matter, go ask Jon Lester. He’s held the current Braves lineup to a .167 average and a .253 xwOBA through 62 plate appearances so I’m inclined to play him in this spot.

Maybe he wouldn’t be my cash game pitcher, but there is tangible upside and I generally side with a good pitcher over a good lineup. Ronald Acuna may or may not be in the lineup after a bush league move by Marlins pitcher Jose Urena last night. He drilled Acuna on the first pitch, clearing the benches. That would leave Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies as the two most dangerous hitters but I really like what Gray brings to the table tonight.

Braves Hitters to Target 

Elite Options – None

Secondary Options – Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies

Braves Probable Starter – Julio Teheran, RHP 

4.33 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 22.0 strikeout rate

Vs LHH – .217 average, .334 wOBA, 18.5 K rate, 42.5 fly ball rate and 42.1 hard hit rate

Vs RHH – .196 average, .296 wOBA, 25.3 K rate, 40.6 fly ball rate and 35.9 hard hit rate

We all saw the strikeout upside for pitchers against this Colorado lineup when they’re on the road these past two nights. Is Julio Teheran as talented as Justin Verlander or Gerrit Cole? Absolutely not. However, he has held this Rockies lineup in check through his career. In 150 plate appearances, the Rockies are batting .175 with one measly homer and a .233 xwOBA. David Dahl is dirt cheap and has a lot of numbers going for him via the pitch data. His xwOBA is up at .518 and the ISO is spiked at .391 so if he makes the lineup, he might be a really good punt option. Past that, I think I would just stick with Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado. There’s really a ton of good GPP pitching options tonight, but I’m not sure we’ve found the cash option quite yet. Even though the Rockies strikeout at a 25.1 percent clip, this could reverse and blow up on Teheran in a hurry.

Rockies Hitters to Target 

Elite Options – David Dahl as a punt

Secondary Options – Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon

Home Run Pick – David Dahl

FanDuel MLB: ANAHEIM, CA – JULY 22: Shohei Ohtani #17 looks on as Justin Upton #8 shakes hands with Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim after hitting a two run home run in the third inning against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium on July 22, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

DFS MLB – Angels at Rangers

Angels Probable Starter – Odrisamer Despaigne

Since Tyler Skaggs was forced back to the disabled list, we don’t have an official starter quite yet, but it is believed to be Despaigne. With a team like the Rangers, that is pretty important since they are lefty heavy. If the Angels throw Despaigne, hitters like Shin-soo Choo and Rougned Odor would be at the forefront. If it’s not Despaigne but a lefty, I would tend to gravitate more towards Robinson Chirinos and maybe Jurickson Profar. I’ll do my best to give a little update on Twitter, even though it won’t be as in depth as normal.

Rangers Probable Starter – Ariel Jurado, RHP 

5.66 ERA, 1.40 WHIP and 9.2 strikeout rate

Vs LHH – .294 average, .417 wOBA, 10.0 K rate, 26.7 fly ball rate and 43.3 hard hit rate

Vs RHH – .244 average, .324 wOBA, 8.5 K rate, 31.7 fly ball rate and 39.0 hard hit rate

Can I just play Kole Calhoun and Shohei Ohtani twice in my outfield and utility spots? Jurado throws the sinker as a primary pitch and Ohtani wrecks righty sinkers with a .545 ISO and .476 xwOBA. That syncs up perfectly with his overall 1.008 OPS, .320 ISO and .421 wOBA against righties this season. He’s cheaper than Calhoun, who remains on a tear and is up to 16 home runs. It’s just a little difficult to pay $3,700 for him but he’s so red hot you can make it work. Speaking of expensive, let’s look at Justin Upton. I wouldn’t take the splits here to be 100 percent accurate with such a limited track record so Upton destroying sinkers with a .344 ISO is attractive. His price is spiked as well and I would likely only use him as part of an Angels stack.

Angels Hitters to Target 

Elite Options – Kole Calhoun, Shohei Ohtani

Secondary Options – Justin Upton, Albert Pujols

Home Run Pick – Shohei Ohtani

DETROIT, MI – MAY 31: Nicholas Castellanos #9 of the Detroit Tigers singles against the Los Angeles Angels during the second inning at Comerica Park on May 31, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /

DFS MLB – Tigers at Twins

Tigers Probable Starter – Francisco Liriano, LHP 

4.42 ERA, 1.45 WHIP and 18.5 strikeout rate

Vs LHH – .130 average, .211 wOBA, 23.1 K rate, 31.4 fly ball rate and 21.6 hard hit rate

Vs RHH – .264 average, .360 wOBA, 17.4 K rate, 33.2 fly ball rate and 33.2 hard hit rate

It really depends on what kind of lineup the Twins throw at us tonight. They have the ability to load it with righties, but it would leave a couple of their better hitters out. If they go closer to the normal lefty heavy lineup they have, Liriano could actually be a dart throw since he’s so cheap. I just wouldn’t look at the box score until it’s over because if there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s Liriano is wildly inconsistent. Mitch Garver could be a really solid punt with a .357 ISO versus the pitch mix for Liriano. The season long numbers look pretty bleak but that’s why we play daily fantasy sports. What’s really interesting here is there’s no other righty hitter that has a .105 ISO versus the pitch mix. I’m not sure I’d be on a lot of Twins hitters tonight.

Twins Hitters to Target 

Elite Options – Mitch Garver

Secondary Options – Miguel Sano, Tyler Austin

Twins Probable Starter – Ervin Santana, RHP

6.53 ERA, 1.45 WHIP and 15.2 strikeout rate

Vs LHH – .255 average, .373 wOBA, 13.8 K rate, 55.8 fly ball rate and 39.5 hard hit rate

Vs RHH – .333 average, .416 wOBA, 17.7 K rate, 59.3 fly ball rate and 33.3 hard hit rate

Until he gives us evidence otherwise, Santana will continue to be a gas can and should be treated as such. Some of the options that rate well aren’t the biggest names in Jim Aducci and Niko Goodrum, who both have an ISO over .325 against righty four seamers and sliders. In fairness, that’s about where the positive numbers stop for the Detroit hitters because they’re one of the worst teams in baseball against righty pitching. It’s very difficult to feel extremely confident in the hitters tonight because no hitter other than Goodrum has an ISO over .200 and Aducci is the highest wOBA at .333. Most of these numbers aren’t what we would normally want but Santana is that bad so far since he’s come back from a finger injury. He continues to be well below his normal velocity from last year.

Tigers Hitters to Target 

Elite Options – Niko Goodrum, Jim Aducci(price point only)

Secondary Options – Nicholas Castellanos

Home Run Pick – Mitch Garver

TORONTO, ON – APRIL 1: Justin Smoak #14 of the Toronto Blue Jays is circles the bases after hitting a two-run home run in the seventh inning during MLB game action against the New York Yankees at Rogers Centre on April 1, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

DFS MLB – Blue Jays at Royals

Blue Jays Probable Starter – Sam Gaviglio, RHP 

4.86 ERA, 1.42 WHIP and 22.0 strikeout rate

Vs LHH – .291 average, .358 wOBA, 15.4 K rate, 36.6 fly ball rate and 38.2 hard hit rate

Vs RHH – .253 average, .327 wOBA, 27.1 K rate, 31.3 fly ball rate and 30.6 hard hit rate

I very rarely use Whit Merrifield against righty pitchers, but my goodness does he look good tonight. Gaviglio has an ERA over 8.00 on the road and he whips the sinker in there around 50 percent of the time. Merrifield utterly destroys that pitch, even from righties with a .435 ISO and a whopping .638 xwOBA. He is a little more expensive than I was hoping for but he still is a solid option. Lucas Duda is the team leader in ISO for the regular season among everyday players and carries a .505 xwOBA against righty sinkers. That’s about as far as I would go with the Royals tonight.

Royals Hitters to Target 

Elite Options – Whit Merrifield, Lucas Duda

Secondary Options – Salvador Perez

Royals Probable Starter – Glenn Sparkman, RHP 

5.06 ERA, 1.63 WHIP and 18.9 strikeout rate(16 IP)

Vs LHH – .259 average, .348 wOBA, 15.2 K rate, 45.5 fly ball rate and 40.9 hard hit rate

Vs RHH – .300 average, .356 wOBA, 22.0 K rate, 23.3 fly ball rate and 35.5 hard hit rate

We don’t have much of a track record here for Sparkman so we’re generally going to side with the best hitters versus righties for the Blue Jays. Justin Smoak and Randall Grichuk are almost identical in ISO against righty pitchers at about .260 and you could finish the stack off with a fresh and healthy Kendrys Morales. All three of those hitters have an ISO over .300 and an xwOBA over .435 against righty fastballs, which they’ll see at least 57 percent of the time. On a smaller slate, offensive players against an unknown like Sparkman should draw some ownership.

Blue Jays Hitters to Target 

Elite Options – Justin Smoak, Randall Grichuk,

Secondary Options – Kendrys Morales, Curtis Granderson

Home Run Pick – Whit Merrifield

DFS MLB – Diamondbacks at Padres

Diamondbacks Probable Starter – Clay Buchholz, RHP 

2.67 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 20.9 strikeout rate

Vs LHH – .191 average, .246 wOBA, 19.9 K rate, 35.8 fly ball rate and 29.6 hard hit rate

Vs RHH – .275 average, .334 wOBA, 22.1 K rate, 41.3 fly ball rate and 44.6 hard hit rate

Buchholz is in the running for a cash pitcher because he gets the Padres and because his home/road splits are solid as well. His ERA is 2.18 away from home and that’s only giving up a .264 wOBA. The strikeout rate for the Padres as a team against righties is sky high and maybe we get more towards the 40 point range for Buchholz tonight. Wil Myers, Franmil Reyes and Hunter Renfroe all have an ISO of at least .207 and a wOBA over .295. Reyes drags the wOBA number down but makes up for that with his power numbers. I’m still not a firm believer in Buchholz seeing the fly balls and hard hit rates to go along with is FIP and xFIP numbers. However, the Padres are on the low end of almost every single offensive category so maybe Buchholz gets by for one more start.

Padres Hitters to Target 

Elite Options – None

Secondary Options – Wil Myers Franmil Reyes, Hunter Renfroe

Padres Probable Starter – Jacob Nix, RHP 

*1 start* 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 16.7 strikeout rate

Nix rocked up 40 points on FanDuel in his first start the went six innings and he doesn’t draw the most difficult matchup by the numbers. Arizona ranks no higher than 17th in average, OPS, OBP, wOBA, wRC+, ISO or slugging. They also have a top 12 strikeout rate so it might not be too surprising if Nix cleared 30 points again. Without a good idea how to attack Nix, I’m not going too crazy with Diamondbacks hitters. I don’t want to use the pitch data from a six inning sample wither, as that’s likely to skew the results a bit. David Peralta leads the club in wOBA against righties at .402 and then he has a .255 ISO, also top on the team. Paul Goldschmidt can get it done now matter who the pitcher is but those might be the only two Diamondbacks I would have. This is a Nix or two man mini stack to me.

Diamondbacks Hitters to Target 

Elite Options – None

Secondary Options – David Peralta, Paul Goldschmidt

Home Run Pick – Wil Myers

PITTSBURGH, PA – MAY 29: Elias Diaz #32 of the Pittsburgh Pirates hits a solo home run in the second inning against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park on May 29, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

DFS MLB – Sample FanDuel Lineup

P – Clay Buchholz 

More from FanSided

C/1B – Anthony Rizzo 

2B – Whit Merrifield

3B – David Freese

SS – Elvis Andrus 

OF – Shohei Ohtani, Kole Calhoun, Kyle Schwarber 

Utility – Elias Diaz 

I’m reluctantly putting Buchholz in as my pitcher of choice but this is a very difficult slate at this point. It seems like there’s a ton of different directions each game could go which makes it harder to settle on a direction. We have a sizable chunk of the Pirates and Cubs game with Rizzo, Schwarber, Freese and Diaz. .That’s the game I feel most comfortable with hitters in and then we take the Angles mini stack against a terrible pitcher in the outfield. Mix in Merrifield and Andrus and this lineup is ready to roll.

The Core – Shohei Ohtani, Elias Diaz, David Freese

Pitching Options to Consider 

High End – Jon Gray, Clay Buchholz

Mid-Range – Tanner Roark, Julio Teheran

Punt – Francisco Liriano, Jacob Nix

Stacks to Consider – Pirates/Cubs game stack, Los Angeles Angels, Detroit Tigers

Next. DFS NFL Week 2 Preseason Game by Game Breakdowns. dark

As always, may fortune be on your side and make sure to follow me on Twitter @bucn4life as MLB allows late swap. If there’s a late scratch and/or lineup cards aren’t put in for the late games, this article will always be updated on Twitter ASAP.