Below we’ve got a discussion of the starting pitching situation as well as the best teams to use for stacks for Thursday’s six-game evening slate on DraftKings. We’ve also got projections derived from Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections, and we have rankings of the top plays at each position.


With three of tonight’s six games being played in stadiums that have a roof, we only have to worry about weather in three games. And of those three, the only one with a real threat of rain is Reds at Cubs. There appears to be a chance of rain throughout the evening in Chicago, so a postponement is possible. If the game does play, delays seem likely. If there is going to be at least intermittent rain, you might avoid the pitchers in that game. If it seems like there might be persistent rain, hitters will obviously have to be avoided as well.

Given how often forecasts change between the time this post is written late the night before and when games actually start, make sure to follow @KevinRothWx for updates.

Pitching Perspective

It’s a very short slate tonight, so a wealth of starting pitching options should not be expected to begin with. But it still feels like tonight’s pickings are incredibly slim. The top projected starter according to my model is Garrett Richards ($8,900). The problem, of course, is that Richards hasn’t been anything close to the stud he was last year. And in his last start he failed to make it out of the first inning.

Both Richards’ strikeout and walk rates are well off what they were last year, but the underlying numbers like his swinging strike rate and first pitch strike rate aren’t that different and are better in some cases. That tells me two things. One, we can expect Richards’ skills to play up a little going forward. Two, he was probably a little lucky last year. While his strikeout rate may continue to hover around league average, I would expect his walk rate, which is currently in the double digits, to trend towards league average.

Tonight Richards is getting bumps to his projection from both opponent and ball park (Tampa Bay), and my model has his price tag being just about right. But my model is based on the ZiPS projections that still like Richards very much going forward. If I based my model on the Steamer projections, Richards wouldn’t grade out as favorably. If it’s not clear, I’m quite lukewarm on him, but you simply may not have a better option.

The second highest projection of the day belongs to Tanner Roark ($5,400), who also has the best value grade of any player today, hitter or pitcher. Roark’s problem this year has been a very low strikeout rate (11.3 percent), but he limits walks and keeps the ball on the ground about half the time, so that can help limit his downside. As for the strikeouts, the ZiPS projections going forward only have his K/9 projected to be 5.80, so his projection for the day is not at all dependent on him missing many bats. His matchup with the Brewers gives a nice boost to his projection and is more than enough to offset a little bit of a negative park shift pitching in Milwaukee as opposed to Washington. I imagine Roark will be the pitcher I use most frequently tonight.

I’m not a huge fan of any of the mid-tier pitchers tonight, so if I’m not going Richards/Roark, I’ll likely go very cheap with my SP2 slot. The cheap options are Michael Lorenzen and David Phelps. Given my concerns about rain delays in Chicago, I’ll likely pass on Lorenzen and roll with Phelps if I have to go super cheap. But the more I dig into this, the more I’m realizing I’m probably just going Richards/Roark almost everywhere.

Here are our projections for today’s starters. You’ll see each starter’s salary, the average number of fantasy points the starter is projected to score per game and how far above or below average his projection is compared to his salary in the value column. You’ll also see adjustments being made for matchup and ballpark. As for the colors, they rank as follows from good to bad: purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, red, burgundy.

Stack Options

According to the Vegas totals, Chicago, Miami and Washington are the best stack options of the day.

For the Cubs, nine through three in that order make for a nice stack. That should be Addison Russell, Dexter Fowler, Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant. Starlin Castro is also a good play, but he may be somewhat disjoined from the rest of that stack. Keep in mind that rain could be an issue in this game.

For the Marlins, the top six in that lineup could make for a good tournament stack. That should be Dee Gordon, Martin Prado, Giancarlo Stanton, Jeff Baker, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich. Stanton is obviously a great play against the left-handed Chris Rusin, who has the lowest projection of any starter today.

And for the Nationals, the middle third of that order, Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desomond are probably where I’d lean there.

You can view and download our hitter projections here. These projections are an average of what each hitter is projected to do on a per game basis according to the ZiPS rest-of-season projections. The projections have then been adjusted for splits, quality of the opposing starting pitcher and ballpark.

Player Rankings


  1. Buster Posey – $4,100 – San Francisco Giants
  2. Miguel Montero – $3,100 – Chicago Cubs
  3. J.T. Realmuto – $3,600 – Miami Marlins

First Base

  1. David Ortiz – $3,900 – Boston Red Sox
  2. Anthony Rizzo – $5,500 – Chicago Cubs
  3. Lucas Duda – $3,500 – New York Mets

Second Base

  1. Martin Prado – $3,800 – Miami Marlins
  2. Dee Gordon – $4,800 – Miami Marlins
  3. Brandon Phillips – $4,100 – Cincinnati Reds

Third Base

  1. Kris Bryant – $4,900 – Chicago Cubs
  2. Chris Davis – $4,100 – Baltimore Orioles
  3. Pablo Sandoval – $3,300 – Boston Red Sox


  1. Addison Russell – $3,600 – Chicago Cubs
  2. Hanley Ramirez – $4,600 – Boston Red Sox
  3. Wilmer Flores – $3,100 – New York Mets


  1. Mike Trout – $5,400 – Los Angeles Angels
  2. Giancarlo Stanton – $5,800 – Miami Marlins
  3. Mookie Betts – $4,100 – Boston Red Sox
  4. Carlos Gonzalez – $4,500 – Colorado Rockies
  5. Ben Paulsen – $3,500 – Colorado Rockies
  6. Bryce Harper – $5,700 – Washington Nationals

Starting Pitcher

  1. Tanner Roark – $5,400 – Washington Nationals
  2. Garrett Richards – $8,900 – Los Angeles Angels
  3. David Phelps – $4,300 – Miami Marlins
  4. Tim Lincecum – $8,100 – San Francisco Giants

*Rankings are price sensitive

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