This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Baseball series.
While there are only five games for the Thursday evening slate on Yahoo, there is certainly no shortage of quality starting pitching. In fact, there are so many excellent starters set to take the mound that offense might be hard to come by. With that in mind, let's break down how some ownership percentages might play out.
The highlight of the night will be Trevor Bauer ($52) and the Indians facing off against Gerrit Cole ($54) and the Astros. Both pitchers missed a ton of bats last year with Bauer recording a 30.8 percent strikeout rate and Cole posting a 34.8 percent strikeout rate. Heading into this contest, they are inside the top-five in the league in total strikeouts this year. The pitcher with the easiest path to success might be Cole considering the Indians have a far weaker lineup than the Astros.
While Bauer and Cole have carried over their success from last season, the same can't be said for Aaron Nola ($52), who enters this game with a 6.84 ERA and a 1.68 WHIP. His increased walk rate is concerning, but he's also been a bit unlucky considering his 4.11 xFIP and .348 BABIP allowed. If there was ever a favorable opportunity for him to turn things around, it's this matchup against a Marlins team that has scored the fewest runs (65) in baseball. Expect to see him included in plenty of entries.
While Nola is likely to be a popular option, rolling with Caleb Smith ($37) in that game might not be a crazy idea. He's off to a special start with a 2.95 xFIP and a 33.3 percent strikeout rate. He showed plenty of strikeout upside last year, as well, with a 27 percent strikeout rate. He already faced the Phillies once this season, recording six strikeouts across six scoreless innings.
Lastly, Masahiro Tanaka ($42) checks in as a viable target against an Angels lineup that is not scary outside of Mike Trout. Tanaka has allowed two runs or fewer in four of his five starts this season, although he did have the luxury of facing the Orioles, Tigers and Royals in three of those games. The only concern with him is his propensity to give up home runs. He's allowed one in each of his last three starts and gave up 1.4 HR/9 last year.
With so many quality starting pitchers set to appear, the few offenses that have favorable matchups are going to have high ownership percentages. One that immediately stands out is the Mariners for their game against Taylor Hearn and the Rangers. Adrian Sampson was supposed to get the start, but he ended up being used out of the bullpen Wednesday. Hearn hadn't pitched above Double-A heading into this season and his first taste of action at Triple-A hasn't been stellar with him recording a 4.85 xFIP across four starts.
The other popular pitcher to attack will like be Jordan Zimmermann for his start against the Red Sox. After a couple of impressive outings to open the season, the wheels have come off with him allowing 15 runs (14 earned) across 13.2 innings in his last three starts. The Red Sox have also proven to be much more potent at home, recording a .829 OPS there last year compared to a .756 OPS on the road.
Mariners vs. Hearn (Rangers)
A great starting point for a Mariners stack is Haniger, who has a .374 wOBA and has excellent power with a .312 ISO. Santana has returned to his productive ways now that he is locked into a starting role with his .367 wOBA. Beckham has cooled off a bit after his torrid start, but he still has at least one hit in four of his last six games and has a career .333 wOBA against left-handed pitchers compared to a .310 wOBA against righties.
Red Sox vs. Zimmermann (Tigers)
Even with his slow start, it's difficult to create a Red Sox stack without Betts. He's started to turn things around by hitting 9-for-22 with six walks over his last six games. Benintendi is also very appealing after he recorded a .376 wOBA versus righties last year. Finally, Moreland is another left-handed hitter to consider based on his power and the fact that Zimmermann has allowed at least 1.6 HR/9 in back-to-back seasons.
Yankees vs. Trevor Cahill (Angels)
If you're looking for a stack that might not be all that popular, the Yankees present an interesting opportunity against Cahill. He's off to a rough start with a 4.81 xFIP and he doesn't have an overpowering arsenal with his career 17.6 percent strikeout rate. Gardner has been one of the players who has stepped up with the Yankees battling injuries, hitting 10-for-30 with two home runs and two doubles across his last eight games. Voit brings the best power potential with his .258 ISO and Tauchman has produced a .342 wOBA in his first taste of significant action in the majors. For those searching for a cheap option to deploy in tournament play, Mike Ford ($8) is also worth considering.