This article is part of our FanDuel MLB series.
There are only six games on the Thursday main slate, and unfortunately it wouldn't be surprising to see at least one game postponed due to weather. With there being so many low-scoring affairs and high pitching scores, there almost has to be a significant portion of your salary cap dedicated to the pitching spot. Let's dive in.
There are seven pitchers in the $8,900-$10,300 range tonight, so that would likely be the target for cash games. Four of the seven are on the road, and no one has a clear-cut advantage facing the opposing team. One strategy is to save here and go with Robbie Ray ($8,900), who is actually a home 'dog. Ray had a season-high eight strikeouts last time out and maybe more importantly has thrown 87 and 94 pitches over his last two games. The Rays have struck out 24.6 percent of the time on the road (25.9 percent against lefties on the road, 150 plate appearances) and this game has the lowest over/under of the night at 6.5 runs.
With hitting down to start the season, there's an argument for spending up at the pitcher spot and using someone like Logan Webb ($10,300). He's scored 28, 28, and 52 fantasy points in his three starts at home and St. Louis has only a .286 wOBA against right-handed pitching, the ninth-lowest mark in baseball. Webb was significantly better at home than on the road last season, across the board. His home/away splits: 1.96/4.08 ERA, 10.6/8.6 K/9IP rate and 1.8/2.5 BB/9IP.
If you're looking for a long shot, Jose Urquidy ($6,900) is your man. He's backed by one of the better offenses in baseball and is a home favorite, and he affords a lot of salary cap space to load up on hitters. Urquidy has only pitched one game at home out of his four starts, and he had a 3.35 ERA last season in the friendly confines of Minute Maid Park.
Byron Buxton ($4,100) has had some monster games this season and he is single-handedly capable of making your roster a winner in cash games or getting you into the money in a tournament. Only Manny Machado ($4,200) has a better fantasy points per game mark (15.0 to Buxton's 14.6), but Machado has a much tougher matchup. Spenser Watkins isn't an elite prospect, and he gave up 14 home runs in only 54.2 innings last season.
It's tough to figure out which Phillie to use between Bryce Harper ($3,900) and Kyle Schwarber ($3,800). The answer likely depends on what type of game you're entering a lineup into. Harper has scored points more consistently, making him a better cash game option, but Schwarber has had more big performances, making him the better GPP candidate. Believe it or not, this will be the third out of three starts for Taijuan Walker against the Phillies, meaning they've gotten a good look at him by now despite being held scoreless by him over seven innings so far. Expect some regression tonight.
Anytime you punt at a position it's a gamble, but it's also a great feeling when you weasel out a solid number from your punt play. Rougned Odor ($2,200) is almost at the minimum salary and has a favorable matchup against Chris Archer. First, Odor is at home and Archer provides a good matchup despite owning a 2.93 ERA. The right-hander has allowed three home runs and nine walks in only 15 innings, suggesting his luck will run out if he keeps those numbers up. Odor has been on a bit of a hot streak as of late, scoring 9.7, 6.0, 12.2 and 24.9 fantasy points in his last four contests.
Michael Brantley ($2,700) got off to a hot start but then cooled down on a recent five-game road trip, leading to only 8.1 fantasy points per game. However, he's back home and coming off a 16.6 fantasy point performance, while that cool spell depressed his salary cap hit. He'll face off against Tarik Skubal, who had more problems on the road (5.55 ERA) than at home (3.56 ERA) last season. Look for Brantley to hit towards the top of the lineup, a good spot to both drive in and score runs.
Stacks To Consider
The case for Harper and Walker has already been made and plugging in the Phillies' leadoff and cleanup hitters makes a ton of sense. Walker likely won't pitch too deep into this game and again, I like that the Phillies have already seen him twice. They are favored in this one (Aaron Nola is on the mound) and only the Astros and Twins have slightly higher expected run totals.
The Padres are a sneaky stack considering how dominant Luzardo has been thus far. However, the Padres are home, while Luzardo had a 8.46 road ERA last season and has struggled more with right-handed hitters in his brief career. All four of these Padres will be hitting from that side of the plate and they are a slight favorite in this game.