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MLB DFS: Lineup picks for Thursday's 8-game evening slate

·4 min read
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There will be 13 games played across baseball on Thursday, five of which have early start times. The new-look Padres will take the field with Joe Musgrove scheduled to start against the Rockies. He isn't the only ace scheduled to start in the afternoon since Clayton Kershaw and Brandon Woodruff will take the hill for their respective teams. There are some good pitching matchups for the night portion of the schedule, as well, including Alek Manoah and the Blue Jays facing Sonny Gray and the Twins. As we focus our attention on the evening slate for Yahoo, here are some pitchers and hitters to consider.

Pitchers

Justin Verlander ($56) continues to dominate for the Astros, posting a 1.81 ERA and a 3.04 FIP through 19 starts. His strikeout rate has dropped to 25.6 percent, but he's helped make up for it by allowing just 0.9 HR/9 and a 35.0 percent hard-hit rate. More success could be coming against the Guardians, who rank inside the bottom-half of baseball in both runs scored and OPS.

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Make no mistake about it, Nick Pivetta ($34) has been awful lately. Over his last five starts, he has a 9.38 ERA and a 2.13 WHIP. It's worth noting that two of those outings came against the Yankees, and another came against a Brewers team that has scored the sixth-most runs in baseball. A much easier matchup awaits him against the Royals, who have scored the fourth-fewest runs in baseball and traded away two of their better hitters in Andrew Benintendi and Whit Merrifield. A bounce-back performance could be in the cards for Pivetta.

Johnny Cueto ($37) had a great matchup versus the Athletics in his last start, and he capitalized by allowing just two runs across seven innings. He's been a pleasant surprise for the White Sox, allowing more than three earned runs in a start just one time all season. He's at least worth considering against the Rangers, who have the eighth-lowest OPS in baseball against right-handed pitchers.

Top Targets

Paolo Espino ($27) has had difficulties keeping hitters inside the ball park. He's allowed 13 home runs across 66.2 innings this season, and 1.7 HR/9 for his career. His start against the Phillies could be a perfect opportunity to roll with Kyle Schwarber ($16) and Rhys Hoskins ($15). Schwarber has launched 33 home runs, while Hoskins has gone deep 20 times.

Bargain Bats

It's been a disappointing season for Nick Castellanos ($12), who has just nine home runs and a .682 OPS. He has started to heat up, though, going 14-for-36 (.389) over his last nine games. He even hit a home run Wednesday, his first since June. Given his talent and this favorable matchup, he could be worth the risk at his salary.

Nick Castellanos #8 of the Philadelphia Phillies rounds second base after hitting a two-run homer in the eighth inning of an MLB game against the Atlanta Braves
Consider Nick Castellanos in your MLB DFS lineups on Thursday. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The Nationals' lineup is ugly now that Juan Soto and Josh Bell are gone. One of their most promising hitters left might be Luis Garcia ($10), who is batting .293 with the team after hitting .314 at Triple-A. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him generate a hit or two in a matchup against Noah Syndergaard ($34), who is not the overpowering pitcher that he once was with the Mets, given his 18.9 percent strikeout rate this season.

Stacks to Consider

Red Sox vs. Kris Bubic ($32), Royals: Xander Bogaerts ($17), J.D. Martinez ($9), Christian Arroyo ($13)

The Red Sox had a strange deadline, making moves that indicated they weren't really buyers or sellers. They decided to hold onto Martinez, who was rumored to have possibly been on the move. This ends up being a great matchup for him against Bubic for two reasons. First, Bubic has a 5.45 ERA and a 5.19 FIP. Second, he has a .451 wOBA versus left-handed pitchers this season. With how poorly Bubic has performed, Martinez and the rest of the Red Sox hitter's figure to be one of the most popular lineups to stack.

Astros vs. Zach Plesac ($30), Guardians: Yordan Alvarez ($27), Jose Altuve ($16), Jeremy Pena ($10)

The last time we saw Plesac take the mound against the Astros, he allowed seven runs across 4.2 innings. They present a tough matchup for him because he doesn't have swing-and-miss stuff, which is evident by his career 18.8 percent strikeout rate. Meanwhile, the Astros have struck out the fourth-fewest time in baseball, while posting the fifth-highest OPS. Look for them to hang another crooked number on him during their rematch.

White Sox vs. Cole Ragans ($25), Rangers: Jose Abreu ($19), Tim Anderson ($16), Luis Robert ($25)

Ragans will make his big-league debut after making just eight total starts at Triple-A. He mostly performed well, posting a 3.32 ERA and a 3.99 FIP. This will be a tough matchup for him, though, since the White Sox have the fourth-highest OPS against left-handed pitchers in baseball. They have been led by Anderson, who has a 205 wRC+ versus lefties.