There are some day games Thursday, but we’re focused on the Main (and Late) Slate in this article. I didn’t offer stacks here but think the Jays, O’s, and Cubs offer appealing options. You can use the options below to anchor your squad and build around. Note that there is a chance of rain in most places Thursday so keep a close eye on those lineups a bit more than usual!
Matchups to Target
Rutschman comes into the game against the Blue Jays 10-for-25 (.400) over his last 6 games, with 4 of the 6 games being multi-hit efforts. This includes 3 2B, 3 RBI, 7 R, 4 BB:3 K, and 1 SB. He’ll face RHP Jose Berrios on Thursday in Baltimore who he has seen 15 times in the past. In those appearances he’s 8-for-13 (.615) with 2 2B, 1 HR, 2 BB, and ZERO strikeouts. He strokes it from the left side of the plate better than the right (.315/.500/.927 vs .256/.399/.743) and Berrios is worse on the road then he is at home (3.62 ERA vs 3.09 ERA), worse in night games than day games (3.98 ERA vs 1.93 ERA), and worse against left-handed hitters than right-handed hitters (.264/.431/.766 vs .215/.333/.607). This game has a somewhat high O/U at 9 total runs and Vegas sees this game as a toss-up, which means the Blue Jays could be scoring too, which leads us to…
After averaging a HR for every 4 games played from 2021 to 2022, Vladdy’s power numbers have taken a dip — 1 HR about every 7 games played in 2023. The rest of the numbers are pretty much in-line with career numbers, including his batting average and on-base percentage. The Jays take on the O’s in Baltimore Thursday night (chance of rain though so keep an eye on the weather, which goes for Adley too), and RHP Kyle Gibson will hurl baseballs toward Guerrero and Co. for a handful of innings, presumably. The 35-year old veteran (am I the only one who thought he was like 30 at most??) has faced Vlad Jr. 19 times in the past, with Guerrero going 5-for-17 with 1 HR and 2 walks, but just 1 K. Vladdy has a tiny 4-game hit streak going too, during which he is 6-for-15 (.400) with a double. Gibson has also got roughed up his last two outings, pitching a total of 10.1 innings while allowing 13 ER on 21 hits (3 HR), 2 BB, and 10 K.
Full disclosure — Robert is ice cold right now, going 1-for-15 (.067) over his last 4 games and 3-for-23 (.130) over his last 6. BUT, as with Manny Machado and Jorge Soler, he typically shows up here when he’s facing a LHP (.312/.581/.953 against LHP vs .254/.544/.852 to RHP). Today he’s going up against Ken Waldichuk of the A’s. Waldichuk has been serviceable his last 3 outings, however, he’s worse on the road (4.44 ERA vs 7.29) and his numbers as a starter are worse – at least in terms of power – than when he’s brought in for relief (.282/.544/.917 as SP vs .284/.376/.763 as RP). Even if he can’t get a couple hits today, a couple batters in front of him are swinging hot bats right now (Andrew Benintendi and Elvis Andrus) so he should at least knock in a run or two.
Gelof’s career got off to a slow start, hitting just .218 in 55 July at-bats, but in August he’s 27-for-77 (.351) and he’s been on base at least once in EVERY game in August (20 games). He’s got 7 doubles and 6 home runs in August as well, so he’s hitting for power too, which is what we need in our little game here. He’ll face LHP Jesse Scholtens for the ChiSox who seemed to have turned a corner by turning in 3 straight quality starts to begin August, but last time out he lost command and was roughed up in Colorado to the tune of 5 earned runs on 5 hits, 5 walks, and just 2 K in 3 innings pitched. This game has the highest O/U run total on the slate at 10, so Gelof could be a piece of that action. It’s going to be HOT in Chicago tonight (~100 degrees), but a chance of rain so keep a close eye on this one too.
I don’t like this any more than you do, but the facts are the facts. He’s 19-for-60 (.317) in August with 4 2B, 6 HR, 10 RBI, 15 R, and 12 BB:22 K. He’s been on base at least once in all but one game in the month, and he’s riding a mini 4-game hit streak that has also come with a mini power surge for the lefty hitter (3 HR in 4 games). Additionally, he’s 2-for-9 with a 2B and a HR against Kyle Gibson with 3 walks and 2 K.
So you want a real value play, huh? Well, if McCann gets the nod at catcher, he’s hit safely in every game in August. It comes with a catch — he’s only played 9 games, so definitely check the lineup when it is released. But during his 9-game August hit streak he’s 13-for-28 (.464) with 4 2B, a HR, 11 RBI, 7 R, 3 BB:8 K, and even a stolen base. Not enough to coax you to use him? In his career he’s 8-for-24 (.333) off Berrios, which includes 2 doubles and FOUR home runs. Yowza. That’s some good production for a backup catcher.
Madrigal has collected 5 hits in his last 11 at-bats (.454), including 2 2B and a HR. As of this writing the Pirates have yet to announce a starter, but if starting a hot-hitting Madrigal could be an under-the-radar value play.
DFS Value Pitcher
With his 4.27 ERA (4.48 xFIP) and 1.34 WHIP, Heaney is not for the faint of heart. He lasted just 3.2 innings in his last start, throwing 84 pitches and allowing 3 earned on 7 hits, 1 walk, and 3 K. The K’s are what land him in this “value” spot. His 8.5 K per nine rate is one of the higher ones on the slate today and he faces the Twins, the team that strikes out the most in the entire MLB on a per-game basis. A win may be hard to come by as the Twins are favored in this one and his counterpart is Pablo Lopez who has a 0.36 ERA in August over 4 starts. That’s ONE earned run in 25 innings, 0 HR, and just 3 walks to 27 K. Talk about dominant (and if you like spending DFS money on pitchers, he’s the opposite of a value play but he’s in an absolute groove). For my money, I could take a chance that Heaney holds the Twins down enough for the Rangers to win a low-scoring contest.
Luis Robert Jr. to record an RBI : See above for reasoning!
Athletics Moneyline : this one could get ugly with the two pitchers on the mound, although the two offenses don’t inspire confidence either. I think the young A’s hitters take it to the ChiSox.
Adley Rutschman to record 2 Total Bases : see above!