This article is part of our The Wheelhouse series.
Maybe it's sour grapes, but I'm planning on sitting out Thursday's small slate.
I generally avoid situations with fewer than six games anyway, but Jon Lester's poor showing against the Pirates, which is the latest bump in a disappointing start to his 2017 season, cratered some other useful pieces. Although on DraftKings, Sean Manaea's early exit with a shoulder injury was equally responsible for my lack of success.
Nevertheless, here's a quick look at Thursday's four-game schedule, and fortunately, there doesn't appear to be any inclement weather in the forecast.
I've been wrong about Chris Sale to this point, as I expected the move to Fenway would drop him from the league's top-five starting pitchers. Injuries to Madison Bumgarner and Noah Syndergaard may make it even easier. If I were playing Thursday, Sale would be my default in cash games, and likely my preferred tournament option as well.
In the battle for second consideration on the GPP side, Taijuan Walker's home start against the Padres would match up with Masahiro Tanaka's road turn against Boston. The Red Sox's offense will wake up eventually, and even if that day is not today, I would rather err on the side of caution since Sale is the opposing starter and the win probability takes a hit.
Picking on the Jays was my preferred lean for the day games, with Carlos Martinez getting Toronto in Game 1 of the doubleheader in St. Louis. I'm less optimistic about Adam Wainwright for obvious reasons.
Jered Weaver and Jays spot starter Casey Lawrence will be heavily targeted with opposing bats. Ricky Nolasco was pushed back due to his struggles keeping the ball in the park, as he's yielded seven homers in 22.2 innings through four starts, making the A's a bit more interesting than usual this evening.
On the other side of that matchup Kendall Graveman is back from a stint on the 10-day DL with a shoulder injury. I'm taking a wait-and-see approach before considering him useable in two-pitcher setups, and I would like to see the extra life on his fastball sustained off the injury.
If you're not using Taijuan Walker, using left-handed hitters against him is a good plan. Although he is home-prone in that split, Walker's .310 wOBA against lefties is *only* the fifth-worst of the eight pitchers on the board (Adam Wainwright is first at .369, but the Jays are limited in terms of lefty bats as well). Unfortunately, the Padres don't have much in terms of quality from that side of the dish, but switch-hitter Yangervis Solarte continues to hold a prominent place in the San Diego lineup and he appears to be the best individual matchup.
As noted above, Cards stacks and D-backs stacks are optimal.
Be sure to check the lineups closer to game time. In order, my interest is in the following trio:
It's all about Matt Carpenter on Thursday if you're playing on FanDuel. At $3,300 against an unproven righty, we're talking Ralph Wiggum Chalk Play of the Day territory. If Carpenter sits, pay the freight for Paul Goldschmidt.
San Diego-Arizona becomes the focus here. Non Taijuan Walker owners should use Ryan Schimpf if he starts. Walker owners, or Schimpf skeptics can use Brandon Drury even though it's righty-righty for him against Weaver.
With a robust Friday slate on tap, there will be much greater detail in the breakdown tomorrow.
Good luck tonight!