Everything you’ll need to stay above the payline in today’s DFS MLB Cash Games!
Thursday’s slate is an eight-game early one that kicks off at 1:05pm eastern. Our man Brian Healy has the GPP article, and TheSeige will be on the Cheat Sheet. I’ll be in the Chat Room for the hour leading up to lock. See you there.
Here is the entire content plan for today:
Cash Game Breakdown – The article you are currently reading.
DFS MLB Lineup Coach – Daily coaching session assisting with all aspects of DFS MLB.
DFS MLB Cheat Sheet – A quick guide to the top plays at each position and salary level.
GPP Writeup – Using experience, game theory & advanced stats to uncover low-owned stars.
Core 4 Livestream – Daily Livestream that covers all DFS sports, featuring guests from throughout the Elite Sports Network.
Be Sure to Bookmark:
Thursday, May 6th
A rare occurrence where the main slate begins early (1:05pm ET). We have eight games on both DK and FD featuring some fantastic battles. Notably with the Astros (Lance McCullers) and Yankees, where Gerrit Cole faces his former team. Another solid pitcher matchup will be the Brewers and Brandon Woodruff visiting Zack Wheeler and the Phillies. We also get the return of Hyun-jin Ryu with his first start off IL, visiting the Oakland A’s, and a battle of veteran southpaws in our nation’s capital, where Braves’ Drew Smyly and Nationals’ Jon Lester will both toe the rubber. If you happen to be playing the full-day slate, you’ll get the Diamondbacks vs. Marlins and Rays vs. Angels.
Very little concern about rainouts, though we do expect some drizzle that could cause delays in St. Louis, where the Cardinals host the Mets for the series finale.
For more info and updated forecast, please check out our MLB Weather Center.
1 – Boston Red Sox: -200
2 – New York Yankees: -190
3 – Toronto Blue Jays: -142
Highest Run Expectancy
1 – Boston Red Sox: 5.1 (vs. DET – Spencer Turnbull)
2 – New York Yankees: 4.8 (vs. HOU – Lance McCullers)
3 – Atlanta Braves: 4.6 (@ WAS – Jon Lester)
4 – Toronto Blue Jays: 4.6 (@ OAK – Mike Fiers)
Lowest Run Expectancy
1 – Houston Astros: 3.3 (@ NYY – Gerrit Cole)
2 – Philadelphia Phillies: 3.4 (vs. MLW – Brandon Woodruff)
3 – Detroit Tigers: 3.5 (@ BOS – Nathan Eovaldi)
Today's Pitchers Grid
Today’s Best Pitchers
- Nathan Eovaldi, RHP, Red Sox ($8,400 DK, $8,600 FD)
Perhaps shocking to not see Cole as the top pitcher play, but we’re getting a big favorite (-200) currently on top of his game facing the league’s worst offense and at very reasonable prices.
Eovaldi has been firing at his patented 97-98 mph fastball velocity and continuing to mix in his other four offerings well. He has yet to allow a homer in six starts and has walked just seven batters in 34.2 innings – a 4.9 percent walk rate. Moreover, he has a large positive differential between his 3.63 ERA and 2.13 FIP. The Tigers are whiffing at a league-high 30.9 percent mark, and in the split against righty pitchers, it’s 29.2 percent, which is the league’s second-worst mark. Their team ISO against righties is a mere .163, and only the Orioles have a worse team wOBA than the Tigers’ .279 mark. You’ll likely get more whiffs from Cole, but he may run into a little trouble against his hungry former team, the Astros.
- Gerrit Cole, RHP, Yankees ($10,500 DK, $12,300 FD)
I’ll start by saying Cole’s FD price is a tough pill to swallow tonight. It’s one thing when he’s facing the Tigers or Orioles, but these are the Astros, who are certainly no dead ducks. What’s interesting is this will be Cole’s first start against his former team since the Yankees didn’t venture into the Central or West divisions in the shortened 2020 season. I’m sure he will be extra motivated, but the Astros’ hitters will be as well. If we didn’t have strong alternative options to Cole today, we could easily plug him in, but we should be more discerning. Of course, we can pair him with Eovaldi or someone else in DK cash games so long as we’re able to balance it out with a strong value play from the hitters.
- Brandon Woodruff, RHP, Brewers ($9,300 DK, $10,100 FD)
Woodruff is usually always a strong option on any slate, but today, he may have the opportunity to face a Phillies lineup who are still without Bryce Harper. Over the last seven days, the Phillies are hitting a measly .216 with a .275 OBP and striking out at a near 30 percent clip. Through his first six starts, Woodruff boasts stellar surface ratios (1.80 ERA, 0.80 WHIP), and opposing batters this season are hitting just .156 against him. His barrel rate against is a miniscule 2.4 percent, his strikeout rate is 30.1 percent, and he’s allowed just one homer in 35 innings. The Eovaldi-Woodruff combo on DK today may be ‘the nuts.’
Also consider lefties Danny Duffy (Royals, $8,800) or Hyun-jin Ryu (Blue Jays, $7,900) on DK.
- Drew Smyly, LHP, Braves ($6,000 on FD)
They call me a Smyly apologist, and you won’t find many folks advocating a DFS play who has an 8.05 ERA and has allowed nine homers in just 19 innings…but then there’s me. I’m not telling you to play him in cash, but you can be sure I’ll be rolling with him in some GPP’s on FanDuel, where he’s at the near minimum at just 6k. The truth is he’s nowhere near as bad as his current numbers reflect, and he hasn’t been ‘right’ in about a month dealing with arm inflammation.
Smyly actually tossed a reasonable gem against these Nationals in the first week of the season (6 IP – 4 H – 2 ER – 1 BB – 8 K). He was dealing with the injury in his second start where he served up 5 ER and 2 HR against the Phillies. Then, he was brought back off the IL a bit too quickly on April 25 only to get shelled for 5 ER and 3 HR against the Diamondbacks, who have been lefty-crushers this year. The icing on the cake (or whatever the opposite of that is) was his latest start in possibly the toughest place to pitch (Dunedin, Florida) against arguably the league’s scariest offense (the Blue Jays). In that start, he served up another three homers and walked four guys.
By all accounts, Smyly is healthy and ready to exhibit his 2020 dominance where he whiffed 39 batters in just 22 innings as they mustered a mere .194 BAA in four starts down the stretch. The Nats do have some bats who can smash lefties but also have some who struggle against them (Schwarber, Bell, Robles). The key to this play is if Juan Soto isn’t in the lineup again. Hey, maybe we get lucky and Trea Turner gets a day off. Color me optimistic.
Pitchers to Target Against
- Mike Fiers (RHP/Athletics) – No pitcher in baseball has allowed more home runs since 2016 than Fiers (131). He is making his second start of the season and was back to his old tricks in his first start, allowing three runs on two homers against the Orioles. He has been more of a reverse-splits guy throughout his career, allowing a 1.59 HR/9 to right-handed hitters, and last season, he allowed them to hit .308 against him.
- Jordan Lyles (RHP/Rangers) – One of the worst starting pitchers in baseball, Lyles has a 7.24 ERA (!) over 15 starts and three relief appearances dating back to the beginning of the 2020 season. He has served up eight homers and 23 runs in just 28 innings this season. Seven of those eight homers allowed have come against RHH’s. He’s not a real reverse-splits guy though. Over his career, he has a 4.27 FIP against RHH’s and 5.09 against LHH’s. Target both-handedness hitters from the Twins today.
- John Gant (RHP/Cardinals) – Gant has been dancing through raindrops this season with his 2.16 ERA in five starts as illustrated by his expected stats (5.50 xERA, 4.31 FIP). Moreover, he is among the league’s walk leaders with 18 in his 25 innings of work. He has a career 4.22 ERA at home (138.2 IP) with a 15% walk rate and 5.05 FIP against left-handed hitters. The one positive is that he doesn’t serve up too many homers.
Also, consider using RHH’s against Nats’ Jon Lester and hitters of both handedness from the Red Sox against Spencer Turnbull.
TARGETING STOLEN BASES
(click on link above)
We have a brand new stolen base target tool on the site. I strongly recommend looking it over in order to find a value play or to properly assess how likely a player is to steal tonight.
Hot Streaks (Hottest Hitters at Each Position)
|6||Vladimir Guerrero Jr.||TOR||65||278||22||50||56||2||14.7||15.80||0.345||0.347||0.345||0.450||0.690||0.473||204|
|18||Ronald Acuna Jr.||ATL||60||264||18||53||41||13||13.6||22.70||0.312||0.308||0.285||0.390||0.597||0.415||164|
|22||Fernando Tatis Jr.||SDP||51||214||20||45||46||13||10.7||28.00||0.374||0.279||0.273||0.346||0.647||0.405||162|
Batter vs. Pitcher
No notable samples today other than Ozzie Albies (6-for-7, 1 HR, 1 SB) vs. Jon Lester
For more, visit our BvP Matchup Page!
Overall Hitter Rankings
1 – William Contreras, RH/Braves ($2,900 DK)
2 – Salvador Perez, RH/Royals ($4,800 DK, $3,200 FD)
3 – Mitch Garver, RH/Twins ($4,900 DK, $2,700 FD)
4 – Christian Vazquez, RH/Red Sox ($4,200 DK, $2,500 FD)
Notes: Likely taking the discount on Contreras (ATL) on DK to be able to fit in the stud pitchers and big bats at other positions since the position isn’t particularly strong today. Contreras has at least one hit in each of his first three games since promotion and blasted a solo shot last night. The rest of the guys on DK are a pick-your-poison scenario as Perez has seven bombs on the season, Garver has four in his last six games, and Vazquez has the safest floor while also having three swipes on the season.
1 – Vladimir Guerrero Jr., RH/Blue Jays ($5,500 DK, $3,900 FD)
2 – Nate Lowe, LH/Rangers ($3,600 DK, $3,000 FD)
3 – Ryan Zimmerman, RH/Nationals ($4,600 DK, $2,800 FD)
4 – Daniel Vogelbach, LH/Brewers ($2,600 DK, $2,500 FD)
Notes: Not loving the position all that much today, hence the dicey options after Guerrero. ATL’s Freeman can hit lefties fine, and he gets Lester but is priced just a bit high. A’s Olson can hit lefties too, but Ryu is a tough opponent and not an ideal matchup. Even Goldschmidt against Taijuan Walker isn’t fantastic. That leaves Guerrero as the top play if you can afford it. Lowe (TEX) is hitting .342 over the last 10 days but is among the league leaders in RBI (24) and has 4 SB along with 6 HR. Zimmerman (WAS) goes against my boy Smyly, but if anyone pops a homer off him today, it’s likely the Nats’ veteran. Vogelbach (MLW) is rarely a cash play, but it might be worth a shot with the extremely low DK price, and hope that Wheeler has an off day.
1 – Marcus Semien, RH/Blue Jays ($4,600 DK, $3,200 FD)
2 – Ozzie Albies, SW/Braves ($4,700 DK, $3,200 FD)
3 – Whit Merrifield, RH/Royals ($5,200 DK, $3,700 FD)
4 – Jeff McNeil, LH/Mets ($2,800 FD)
Notes: The theme continues with no true stand-out options at the infield positions today. Semien (TOR) as the likely leadoff man against a bad SP who serves up homers like hotcakes is probably the best place to start though. Albies (ATL) has six hits in seven career PA’s against Lester and has a hit in nine straight despite hitting for virtually no power lately. Merrifield (KC) is always a confident play for us on almost any slate, but we have to pay the piper with that salary. McNeil (NYM) is near the same price as the rest of these guys on DK, so I only have him listed on FD, where he’s under the 3k mark. He’s been one of the most consistent hitters in the game since 2018 and may be leading off today.
1 – Josh Donaldson, RH/Twins ($5,100 DK, $3,100 FD)
2 – Hunter Dozier, RH/Royals ($3,500 DK, $2,800 FD)
3 – Rafael Devers, LH/Red Sox ($5,200 DK, $3,700 FD)
4 – Nolan Arenado, RH/Cardinals ($4,900 DK, $3,700 FD)
Notes: A very reasonable FD price point on Donaldson (MIN), and he’s 3-for-4 lifetime against McKenzie, who has now walked four batters in four of his five starts. Over the last week, it’s Dozier (KC) who has one of the league’s hottest bats. In his last four games, he’s 7-for-16 with 3 HR and 6 RBI. Devers (BOS) and Arenado (STL) are fine plays paying for name brand, but I don’t feel as strongly about them as I do the top two guys. Devers missed a game this week with a shoulder issue, so we’re hoping there’s nothing to worry about there in terms of his power.
1 – Bo Bichette, RH/Blue Jays ($5,400 DK, $3,500 FD)
2 – Xander Bogaerts, RH/Red Sox ($5,100 DK, $3,700 FD)
3 – Trea Turner, RH/Nationals ($5,300 DK, $3,800 FD)
4 – Paul DeJong, RH/Cardinals ($4,300 DK, $3,000 FD)
5 – Gleyber Torres, RH/Yankees ($4,400 DK, $2,800 FD)
Notes: Sorry, but we have to pay up at the position today because it’d be tough to pass on any of the top options. Bichette (TOR) is my favorite play on the slate facing reverse-splits Fiers, and I’ve got him in the core tonight. Bogaerts (BOS) has three homers in his last five games and is hitting .348 on the young season. Turner (WAS) is an across-the-board machine and cash game maven with 7 HR and 7 RBI so far. DeJong (STL) is the resident Mets’ killer. Since he started his career in 2017, he’s hitting .359 (33-for-92) against them with nine homers. Torres (NYY) has yet to hit a homer this season, so I understand not wanting to buy back in until he hits a hot streak, and it’s not like McCullers is a bad pitcher.
1 – Ronald Acuña Jr, RH/Braves ($5,500 DK, $4,300 FD)
2 – Andrew Benintendi, LH/Royals ($3,000 DK, $2,900 FD)
3 – Teoscar Hernandez, RH/Blue Jays ($4,000 DK, $2,800 FD)
4 – Byron Buxton, RH/Twins ($5,800 DK, $4,400 FD)
5 – Nelson Cruz, RH/Twins ($5,300 DK, $3,900 FD)
6 – Michael Conforto, LH/Mets ($3,800 DK, $3,100 FD)
7 – Marcell Ozuna, RH/Braves ($4,800 DK, $2,900 FD)
8 – Giancarlo Stanton, RH/Yankees ($4,400 DK, $3,700 FD)
9 – Kyle Tucker, LH/Astros ($2,700 DK)
10 – Jake Cave, LH/Twins ($2,100 DK, $2,100 FD)
11 – Max Kepler, LH/Twins ($3,400 DK, $2,900 FD)
12 – Dominic Smith, LH/Mets ($4,100 DK, $2,800 FD)
13 – Joey Gallo, LH/Rangers ($3,100 DK, $2,900 FD)
14 – Willie Calhoun, LH/Rangers ($2,700 DK)
Notes: It’s a rare sight when the 2021 season’s best hitter isn’t atop a list of DFS recommendations. What’s particularly nice with Acuña Jr. today is that he loves to steal bases, and Lester is one of the friendliest to opposing runners hanging out at first base. Benintendi (KC) is just too sweet of a price on DK to pass on, hitting second in that lineup against a very unproven SP in McKenzie. Beni has four multi-hit games in his last five and just had a two-homer game last week.
All of the Twins bats are in play – the usual suspects (Buxton, Cruz) as well as a couple of cheap ones (Kepler, Cave). Both Kepler and Cave are hitting under .200 this season, and Kepler has yet to even pop a homer, but he’d be valuable today if he’s leading off, which is a possibility. Slight lean on Buxton over Cruz, but that’s only because Cruz isn’t facing a lefty starter (his preferred split).
Ozuna (ATL) is starting to cook and hit a grand slam in yesterday’s game. Still hitting .205 but starting to show signs of getting out of his funk. Meanwhile, Stanton (NYY) seems truly locked in, hitting balls harder than anyone in the majors. Over the last 10 days, he’s averaging 13.1 DK points per game and hitting a cool .500 in those 50 plate appearances.
The rest of the pack are affordable and underappreciated guys like Tucker (HOU), who has been ice cold but is just $2.7k on DK, and Dom Smith (NYM), who has at least two hits in three of his last four games and the LvR matchup today. Smith was the Mets’ most well-rounded hitter last season. Finally, we have the two power lefties for the Rangers, who are quite affordable, and we shouldn’t be afraid to use them against Pineda, who has allowed five homers in his last four starts to some of the league’s worst teams (Royals – 1, Pirates – 2, Mariners – 2). Pineda always seems to play down to his level of competition.
DFS MLB Core 4
FANDUEL CORE 4
P – Nathan Eovaldi, Red Sox ($8,600)
1B – Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays ($3,900)
SS – Bo Bichette, Blue Jays ($3,500)
3B – Hunter Dozier, Royals ($2,800) or OF Andrew Benintendi, Royals ($2,900)
DRAFTKINGS CORE 4
SP1 – Nathan Eovaldi, Red Sox ($8,400)
1B – Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays ($5,500)
SS – Bo Bichette, Blue Jays ($5,400)
OF – Andrew Benintendi, Royals ($3,000) or 3B Hunter Dozier, Royals ($3,500)