This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
There are only a couple of afternoon games Thursday, which means we have another packed evening slate. The AL Wild Card race will again take center stage with the Blue Jays hosting the Yankees. The Red Sox will also be in action against the Orioles, but the Mariners and A's will both have the night off. With teams falling out of contention, we're starting to see some shifting around of starting rotations, which means some lineups could be in a position to thrive. Let's highlight some players to target while building your DraftKings lineups.
The Twins might have a future anchor for their starting rotation in Joe Ryan ($9,300), who will start against the Tigers after being activated from the bereavement list. He never had a strikeout rate below 34.7 percent during any of his stops in the minors and he has a 32.1 percent rate through four starts in the majors. The Tigers have struck out the fourth-most times in baseball, so Ryan could be in for another big night in that department.
The Marlins have the third-worst OPS in baseball, so attacking them on a nightly basis isn't exactly a bad idea. Facing them for their contest against the Mets will be Rich Hill ($7,000), who has proven to be a good addition to the team. Across his last 10 outings, he has a 1.22 WHIP and has recorded 48 strikeouts over 48.1 innings. He did face the Marlins once during that stretch, allowing one unearned run over five innings.
Ian Anderson ($8,400) was locked in during his last start, allowing one run and just three baserunners across seven innings against the Diamondbacks. He also had eight strikeouts, giving him a total of 24 over 17.2 innings in his last three starts. He'll try to build on that performance against the Phillies, who he has already faced four times this season. Over those outings, he allowed eight runs and recorded 24 strikeouts across 23.1 innings.
The Royals will give Angel Zerpa ($4,000) his first Major League start after he pitched a total of 1.1 innings at Triple-A. He did not perform well at Double-A with a 5.96 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP across 13 starts, so the Indians might be able to take advantage of this matchup. The top player on Cleveland to target is usually Jose Ramirez ($5,800), who entered Wednesday with a 141 wRC+.
Ryan Yarbrough ($7,600) is expected to either start or pitch the bulk of the innings in a matchup with the Astros. That means it could be an opportune time to roll with Alex Bregman ($5,100), who has a career 165 wRC+ against left-handed pitchers. Yarbrough hasn't been great, either, given his 5.09 ERA and 4.42 FIP this season.
There was a time early in Spring Training when there was the possibility that Jake Cronenworth ($3,900) could have a difficult time finding every day at bats. That certainly never came to fruition with him tallying 624 plate appearances entering Wednesday. He's proven to be a tough out, posting a 14.1 percent strikeout rate on his way to a .347 wOBA. Don't be surprised if he provides value in a matchup against Tony Gonsolin ($8,800), who has had control issues on his way to a 14.6 percent walk rate.
Simply put, Brandon Nimmo ($3,200) is an on-base machine. He had a .406 OBP entering Wednesday and he has a .394 mark for his career. His power numbers aren't great, but he could at least get on base a time or two in a matchup against Edward Cabrera ($5,600), who has a 1.67 WHIP across six starts with the Marlins. He had a 1.40 WHIP at Triple-A, as well.
Stacks to Consider
Yet another struggling left-handed pitcher will take the mound against the Red Sox when Wells starts for the Orioles. When he faced them two starts ago, he allowed five runs over five innings. Given his 1.75 WHIP, similar struggles could be in the cards this time around, as well. Dalbec entered play Wednesday with a .263 ISO and a .365 wOBA against left-handed pitchers this season, making him a prime option for a Red Sox stack.
The Padres are just trying to scrape together enough healthy starting pitchers to play out the season. Over three outings since joining the team, Velasquez has allowed nine runs (eight earned) across eight innings. When combined with his struggles as a member of the Phillies, he now has a 6.22 ERA and a 5.56 FIP. He's also allowed 1.9 HR/9, which makes the powerful Muncy, with his .277 ISO entering Wednesday, extremely appealing.
Three of Kluber's 15 starts this season have come against the Blue Jays. They've certainly given him trouble, since he's allowed seven runs (six earned) across 11 innings. It could have been even worse considering he allowed 23 base runners across those outings. If his struggles against them continue, Semien could be right in the thick of a productive evening for the Blue Jays given that he launched his 44th home run of the season Wednesday, giving him a 134 wRC+ for the season.