This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Baseball series.
There sometimes aren't a lot of games in the majors on Thursday's, but that won't be the issue this week with eight games making up the main evening slate on Yahoo. The night won't be short on excitement, either, with several series carrying significant playoff implications. Let's try to add to the fun with a winning DFS entry.
Sonny Gray's ($45) time with the Yankees might have ended on a sour note, but his tenure with the Reds has been spectacular. He enters this start against the Cardinals with a 3.10 ERA that is nearly two runs lower than his mark from last season. His 3.46 FIP supports his strong ERA and he's also lowered his WHIP to 1.13. Not only that, but his 27.9 percent strikeout rate is over six percentage points higher than his career mark. The Cardinals only have an 87 wRC+ against right-handed pitchers, leaving Gray as one of the more appealing options for this slate.
Another player who has benefited from a change in scenery is Aaron Sanchez ($30). While he was a disaster with the Blue Jays this season, he's only allowed one run across 11 innings since being dealt to the Astros. He didn't face the toughest of foes in the Mariners and Orioles, but the initial results are still very encouraging. With the Astros' recent track record of helping pitchers excel, Sanchez could be in line for a strong finish. The A's should provide his toughest test since being traded, but even they are weakened right now without Ramon Laureano (lower leg), so Sanchez could be worth a look in tournament play.
Alex Young ($37) struggled for the Diamondbacks in his last start, allowing four runs over 3.1 innings. It came against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, so it's hard to blame him for the poor showing. Overall, he still has a 3.32 ERA, although his 4.48 FIP is a bit concerning. One of the big reasons for his success has been his 1.00 WHIP. With a favorable matchup against a weak Giants' lineup on tap, he could provide excellent value.
After destroying the Orioles pitching staff once again, the Yankees will finally face a quality set of arms when the take on the Indians. However, taking the mound against them will be one of the Indians' lesser pitchers in Adam Plutko, who has an ugly 5.96 FIP. The Yankees love hitting at home and have the second-highest wRC+ against right-handed pitchers (116) in baseball, so expect them to still be a popular option. Gio Urshela ($27) stands out after hitting 33-for-67 (.493) with eight home runs and nine doubles over his last 17 games.
The Angels have an interesting matchup with Reynaldo Lopez, who has a 5.16 ERA and a 4.98 FIP for the season. However, he's been much better of late, allowing two runs or fewer in five of his last six starts. With that being said, he's allowed 1.6 HR/9, overall, so Mike Trout ($27) should still be a popular option. Shohei Ohtani ($19) is also an interesting choice since he's heating up at the plate, hitting 10-for-23 (.435) with two doubles and a triple across his last five games.
The Diamondbacks return home after a series at Coors Field to face Dereck Rodriguez and the Giants. Rodriguez will be recalled from Triple-A to make this start and he struggled in the majors earlier this season, posting a 5.40 FIP and a 1.48 WHIP. One of the most popular options on the Diamondbacks figures to be Ketel Marte ($21), who is having a career year with his .392 wOBA.
Twins vs. Pedro Payano (Rangers)
After recording a 1.52 WHIP at Triple-A, Payano has continued to have problems keeping men off base in the majors, leaving him with a 1.71 WHIP across his first five appearances. Even though the Twins have a weakened lineup without Nelson Cruz (wrist), they still have plenty of potent bats. Rosario has stepped up down the stretch by hitting 18-for-55 (.327) with four home runs and four doubles over his last 13 games. Arraez has also worked his way into a regular role by hitting 23-for-73 (.315) across his last 20 contests. Don't count on him for much power, but he did score 15 runs during that stretch.
Reds vs. Michael Wacha (Cardinals)
Wacha is having a miserable season for the Cardinals with a 5.54 ERA and an even worse 6.10 FIP. One of the keys to his success last year was that he only allowed 1.0 HR/9. It's been a very different story in that department this season with him allowing 2.1 HR/9. That could end up being his downfall against the powerful duo Suarez and Aquino. Don't worry that they don't have the platoon advantage against him either, considering Wacha has allowed a .403 wOBA against right-handed hitters.
Cubs vs. Drew Smyly (Phillies)
Smyly came out of the gate strong after joining the Phillies, allowing one run over 13 innings in his first two starts. However, he's reverted back to his earlier struggles by allowing 11 runs (nine earned) over 10.2 innings in his last two outings. The fact that those games came against two bad lineups in the White Sox and Giants is also concerning. The Cubs should present him with a difficult matchup, especially Castellanos with his 194 wRC+ versus left-handed pitchers.