Get all of Michael Beller’s columns as soon as they’re published. Download the new Sports Illustrated app (iOS or Android) and personalize your experience by following your favorite teams and SI writers.
Thursday may be a typical travel day, but we still have a busy 13-game slate on our hands. What’s more, we have a ton of star power on the mound. How much, you ask? Dallas Keuchel, last year’s AL Cy Young, is the seventh most expensive pitcher available. You need to hit on your ace to have DFS success on Thursday. For our ultimate lineup, we turn to the other defending Cy Young Award winner.
Starting pitcher: Jake Arrieta ($11,100) @ Cincinnati and Luis Severino ($7,400) vs. Oakland
Arrieta’s 2016 season is starting to look a whole lot like his second half of 2016. In three starts covering 22 innings, he has allowed three runs on 15 hits, striking out 20 and walking just two. He has held two of his three opponents scoreless and has helped the Cubs cruise to wins in all of his outings. The Reds have swung the bats better than expected to this point of the year, but that still just has them 17th in wOBA. Arrieta is the centerpiece of this lineup.
Severino has struggled this year, surrendering seven runs and a whopping 18 hits in 10 1/3 innings. He got some extra work in to fix his issues in a bullpen session earlier this week, however, and is confident that he has a bead on what has gone wrong his first two trips to the mound. The strikeout upside is there, and Oakland ranks 25th in the league in wOBA. This is a good spot to take a shot on Severino.
Catcher: Yasmani Grandal ($3,100) @ Atlanta, Matt Wisler
Grandal is still checking in at a very affordable price, and that’s what makes him so attractive on Thursday. We’re looking to save some money behind the dish, and Grandal does that while also bringing significant upside thanks to his power, as well as the Dodgers matchup with Matt Wisler. That’s enough to make Grandal an easy choice at catcher for Thursday.
First base: David Ortiz ($4,600) vs. Tampa Bay, Jake Odorizzi
We’re just about three weeks into the season and Oritz is hitting .295/.415/.659 with three homers, seven doubles and 13 RBI. What else is new? Odorizzi has actually been tough on Ortiz in their meetings, limiting him to 3-for-18, but that’s not enough to fade the 40-year-old slugger. Odorizzi has thrown the ball really well this year, amassing a 2.41 ERA, 2.07 FIP and 1.07 WHIP with 20 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings, but that, too, isn’t reason to stay away from Ortiz. The only thing that’s going to slow him down is retirement.
Second base: Jean Segura ($3,500) @ San Francisco, Johnny Cueto
Segura’s first year in Arizona has resembled a throwback to his first year in Milwaukee. The 26-year-old is hitting for average, a bit of power, and using his speed on the bases. His slash is a robust .317/.358/.540, and he has three homers, three doubles, three steals, nine runs and eight RBI. In other words, he has been filling up all five traditional fantasy categories. He’s well worth the $3,500, even in a matchup with Johnny Cueto.
Third base: Josh Donaldson ($5,200) @ Baltimore, Chris Tillman
Completely fading the Blue Jays in Baltimore against Tillman is a losing proposition. Donaldson already has six homers, four doubles, 14 RBI and a .667 slugging percentage on the year. He’s also 7-for-23 with a homer and three doubles against Tillman in their meetings with one another. That doesn’t matter nearly as much as the fact that Toronto is an absolutely brutal matchup for the veteran righty. Donaldson, as he typically is, will be at the center of the action for the Blue Jays.
Shortstop: Corey Seager ($3,800) @ Atlanta, Matt Wisler
Seager’s $3,800 price feels a bit expensive given his slow start to the season, but the matchup with Wisler is too good to ignore. The Atlanta righty has already allowed seven runs on 11 hits, including three homers, in 13 2/3 innings. Any pitcher having longball issues is one we want to target for DFS purposes, and that’s what helps to make Seager so attractive on Thursday. He should also take advantage of the fact that Wisler really struggled against lefties last year, allowing a .327/.416/.569 slash line.
Outfield: J.D. Martinez ($4,200) @ Kansas City, Edinson Volquez; Adam Eaton ($4,200) vs. Los Angeles Angels, Jered Weaver; David Peralta ($2,900) @ San Francisco, Johnny Cueto
I feel a bit like a broken record with Martinez, but I’m going to keep picking him if he’s hitting. He went 0-for-3 with a walk on Wednesday, but is still slashing .347/.431/.531 on the year. Eaton has put together two strong seasons in Chicago, but this time he’s doing it right from the start of the season. The 27-year-old is slashing .327/.373/.418 and has been on base 22 times this season. The White Sox have lacked punch behind him, but that’s bound to change with Jose Abreu and Todd Frazier starting to get going at the plate. Weaver presents the White Sox with a great matchup. Speaking of being a broken record, when is Peralta going to get some respect? Less than $3,000 for his services? Sign me up, please.