This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
Thursday's five-game evening slate features a perhaps unexpected, but hardly undeserving, pitcher as the most expensive option. From there we have at least one low-end play that can be used for salary relief, while stack possibilities arise from multiple places on the slate.
Luis Castillo ($10,600) has come a long way since the beginning of 2018, having logged a sparkling 1.76 ERA with the help of a 16 percent swinging strike rate. The Cubs present an interesting challenge to Castillo, as they lead the league with an 11 percent walk rate while the 26-year-old has issued 15 free passes to left-handed hitters in 26 innings.
A quick look at the stats of Jose Quintana ($9,200) reveals much the same pitcher we have always seen, save for a large spike in groundball rate, which now stands at what would be a career-best 52 percent. The Reds hover just outside the top-10 when it comes to wOBA against lefty pitchers but it's also worth noting that their 45.2 percent groundball rate is good for the ninth-highest mark in the league.
An improved swinging strike rate hasn't yet translated to results for Trevor Williams ($8,300), whose pinpoint control and low home run rate has contributed to a 3.40 ERA in eight starts. He will take on a Padres team that strikes out more than 27 percent of the time against righty hurlers, while also holding the sixth lowest wOBA (.294).
Marcus Stroman ($7,700) is coming off back-to-back rough outings but there is still a lot to like about the 28-year-old, who has ridden an elite groundball rate and an above-average curveball to a 3.12 ERA in nine starts. The White Sox are a top-10 offense when it comes to groundball percentage, which could make Stroman worth a look at this price.
Mitch Haniger, Danny Santana, and Edwin Encarnacion all ring in at the same price Thursday ($4,700) and all have the necessary firepower to put a hurting on Michael Pineda, who is working on what would be a career-low 20.1 percent strikeout rate in 40 innings. It is also worth noting that the once-promising prospect has allowed 10 homers over that span, which has contributed to an ERA of 5.85.
Eric Sogard ($4,400) has surprised the fantasy baseball universe by sustaining a .246 ISO and .415 wOBA in 57 at-bats against right-handed pitching. Dylan Covey has walked more left-handed batters than he has struck out in 3.2 innings this season and finished 2018 with a 4.72 xFIP against his opposite hand in 65.1 frames.
Freddie Freeman ($4,500) has begun to hit for power against righties once again and carries a .377 wOBA against opposite-handed pitchers in 116 at-bats. Meanwhile, Adam Wainwright has been hammered by left-handed hitters this season, as evidenced by the .627 slugging percentage he has allowed in 17.2 innings.
As has been the case for the last two full seasons, Julio Teheran's high walk and home run rates have severely limited his utility as a fantasy asset. Kolten Wong ($4,000) is in a great position to take advantage of the situation due to his .160 ISO and 14 percent walk rate against right-handed pitchers.
Willians Astudillo ($3,900) is unique in that he plays against same-handed pitchers almost exclusively. The arrangement seems to be working for the 27-year-old, who has logged a .211 ISO against righty pitching in 57 at-bats. He will face a right-hander in Erik Swanson who has allowed four homers to righties in just 12.2 innings.
Eric Lauer has allowed a .496 slugging percentage to right-handed hitters in 28.2 innings this season. We can look to Melky Cabrera ($3,900) for a final bit of salary relief, as he has notched a .386 wOBA against lefty pitching in 37 at-bats.
Blue Jays against Dylan Covey (White Sox)
I mentioned above that Covey hasn't had many innings against lefty hitters this year but an xFIP over 10.00 in limited action makes this a good situation to try to exploit, particularly when we will be saving money with the stack.
Twins against Erik Swanson (Mariners)
Swanson is attackable from both sides of the platoon, as indiscriminate struggles have resulted in the 25-year-old logging a 6.35 ERA in 28.1 frames.