This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
Thursday's 12-game schedule brings a heavy dose of day games across baseball. Overall, there could be plenty of runs scored in several games because of a lack of top-tier starting pitchers set to take the mound. In fact, there will be at least six pitchers in action who have lost at least eight games this season, including Dylan Bundy (1-8), Jake Arrieta (5-10) and Joe Ross (5-9). Let's dive into the six-game evening slate on DraftKings and highlight some players to consider for your entries.
Sonny Gray ($9,300) has had an odd season. His ERA sits at 4.26, but his FIP is better at 3.82. He's allowed an abnormally-high .340 BABIP, which has contributed to his 1.38 WHIP. He's even allowed 1.3 HR/9 despite just a 5.4 percent barrel rate allowed. For his career, he's allowed 0.9 HR/9 and a 5.3 percent barrel rate. His ERA could improve as we head down the stretch, including during a favorable matchup Thursday versus the Pirates, who have the second-worst OPS in baseball.
Framber Valdez ($9,900) hasn't been as good as his 3.01 ERA would lead you to believe given his 4.18 FIP. His 10.7 percent walk rate has been a problem, leaving him with a 1.30 WHIP. Still, he's an appealing option for his matchup at home against the Twins. Not only do the Twins have a weakened lineup after trading away Nelson Cruz, but Valdez has a career 3.77 FIP at home, compared to a 4.44 FIP on the road.
The Yankees' starting rotation is in shambles right now with both Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery having tested positive for COVID-19. They'll turn to Nestor Cortes ($7,900), who has actually been a pleasant surprise, for their matchup against the Mariners. Across 11 appearances this season (three of which were starts) he has a 1.93 ERA and a 2.19 FIP. Given that the Mariners have the fourth-worst OPS in baseball, Cortes could provide value.
In need of starting pitching depth, the Mariners added Tyler Anderson ($7,700) at the trade deadline. He's been done in by the long ball this season, allowing 17 home runs over 108.2 innings. That could be problematic for a matchup against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. One player on the Yankees that stands out is Aaron Judge ($5,300). For his career, he has a .275 ISO against left-handed pitchers and a .319 ISO at home.
Joey Votto ($5,700) has been as hot as it gets, hitting 20-for-53 (.377) with 10 home runs and three doubles over his last 14 games. He now has a 140 wRC+ for the season, which includes a 174 wRC+ versus right-handed pitchers. He'll face an underwhelming one in Wil Crowe ($6,900), who has a 5.64 FIP and has allowed 1.9 HR/9.
Staying with the Reds' matchup against Crowe, Kyle Farmer ($3,400) might also be someone to consider. He's on a heater of his own, hitting 28-for-69 (.406) with three home runs, six doubles and two triples over his last 18 games. While he doesn't walk much, he only has a 16.8 percent strikeout rate for the season.
Whenever a left-handed pitcher is on the mound, Andrew Vaughn ($2,900) is someone to consider. The rookie has a 187 wRC+ versus southpaws, compared to an 87 wRC+ against righties. Opposing him for the Royals will be Daniel Lynch ($6,300), who has a 1.68 WHIP across his first five starts.
Stacks to Consider
Astros vs. Griffin Jax ($5,800), Twins: Yordan Alvarez ($4,600), Kyle Tucker ($3,800), Michael Brantley ($3,100)
With the Twins moving a couple of starters at the deadline, a rotation spot has opened up for Jax, who has come out of the bullpen for four of his seven appearances in the majors. He's been almost exclusively a starter in the minors, so the role is certainly nothing new for him. This is a tough assignment for him against the Astros, who have the second-best OPS in baseball. One of their leaders has been Alvarez, who has a .267 ISO against right-handed pitchers.
Braves vs. Wade LeBlanc ($6,700), Cardinals: Ozzie Albies ($4,900), Austin Riley ($4,600), Jorge Soler ($3,300)
The Cardinals seem to have the market cornered on washed up left-handed starting pitchers. After starting Jon Lester and J.A. Happ in the first two games of this series, they'll now send LeBlanc and his 1.54 WHIP to the mound. Never known to generate a lot of strikeouts, he's been even worse in that area this season with a 14.4 percent strikeout rate. Riding a hot streak in which he is 44-for-136 (.324) with 10 home runs and eight doubles over his last 36 games, Riley sticks out as someone to include in any Braves stack.