Thursday, May 12, brings split-slate action as half of the league is getting the day off to prepare for their weekend series. There is a four-game early slate with a first pitch of 1:05 p.m. ET and an evening slate of four games beginning at 6:35 p.m. ET on Yahoo and FanDuel, while DraftKings is electing to feature a three-game set at 8:05 p.m. ET. Use MLB DFS & Fantasy Baseball home page to find Awesemo’s FREE MLB cheat sheets, Terry McBride’s tournament strategy article, home run predictions and the daily fantasy industry leading MLB DFS projections.
MLB DFS Picks Today: Spotlight Pitchers and Top Stacks | Thursday, May 12
Yahoo Stack of the Day: Texas Rangers vs. RHP Jonathan Heasley — 4.4 implied runs
Tonight marks the fourth start for rookie Jonathan Heasley. The 25-year-old righty scuffled a little last year during a late-season cup of coffee, allowing three home runs with just half a dozen strikeouts in 14.2 innings. This should be a friends-and-family game for the youngster, who grew up in nearby Plano, Texas, pitching for Prestonwood Christian Academy before spending two seasons at Oklahoma State. Heasley did find some success last season in Double-A, and he had six starts at Triple-A before being called up for this start. Most projection systems have Heasley pegged as a back-of-the-rotation starter. He was a 13th-round selection in the 2018 MLB Draft, so this is not a surprise.
The retooled Rangers offense has not been knocking the socks off of anyone, but Marcus Semien, Corey Seager, Brad Miller and Kole Calhoun were all major offseason upgrades. Catcher Mitch Garver was as well, but he is on the injured list. Fortunately, Jonah Heim is available and he has been tearing the cover off the ball. That is going to regress, but in the meantime, follow the advice of Crash Davis and respect the streak.
Early Slate: New York Mets at RHP Joan Adon — 4.8 implied runs
Make it three days in a row of picking on the Washington pitching staff. Max Scherzer, of course, is now in a Mets uniform, and Stephen Strasburg is still on the shelf. The Nationals have been nearly as dreadful as their regional rivals in Baltimore, and they have been asking a lot of their beleaguered and below-average bullpen to help bail out a shaky core of starters. It would not be a surprise to see 23-year-old Joan Adon get a trip back down to the minors in order to “work things out” in the next couple weeks. In the meantime, he will be making his eighth career start tonight, and while he has 27 strikeouts in 28.1 innings this season, he has been a mess against batters with even a modicum of patience, issuing an absurdly high 18 walks in that timeframe. The four home runs and 12 total extra-base hits have resulted in a not-so-nice 6.99 ERA and 1.66 WHIP.
This is a day game after a night game, though the Mets are heading back to New York to host Seattle this weekend, so they do not have too far to travel. It would not be a surprise for a regular or two to get a day off — but we could also see them clamoring for a chance to get an opportunity against Adon. Pete Alonso, Brandon Nimmo and Eduardo Escobar are the trio to target, with Starling Marte, Jeff McNeil and Dominic Smith the next tier of options that can be used to fill out a full stack.
Top MLB DFS Target: RHP Dylan Cease vs. New York Yankees — 3.5 implied runs
- DFS Salary: Yahoo $46 | FanDuel $10,300 | DraftKings $10,000
Wednesday’s game against Cleveland was postponed with several Guardians coaches testing positive for COVID-19. That has led to Chicago slightly tweaking their rotation by moving Wednesday’s scheduled starter, Vince Velasquez, to Friday, slotting Dylan Cease on regular rest today. Much like recent seasons, this iteration of the Yankees offense boasts power along with plenty of strikeouts. Joey Gallo (32.7%), Kyle Higashioka (30.6%), Giancarlo Stanton (28.0%) and Aaron Judge (24.5%) all strike out in nearly a quarter or more of their at-bats against right-handed hurlers.
Across his last 837 batters faced, with a nearly equal distribution of righties and lefties, Cease has tallied strikeout rates of 31.6% and 33.1%, respectively. Game-time temperatures will be right around 80 degrees, though that should somewhat be neutralized with an 8 to 12 mph breeze coming in from right field.
Cease should also be considered in the MLB player props market. Tonight, the Chicago ace has a 7.5 over/under for his strikeout prop and the Awesemo projections have him for 8.7, which indicates a potential success rate of nearly 70%. In his last three starts, Cease recorded eight strikeouts in Boston, 11 against Anaheim and nine against Kansas City. Furthermore, he has eight or more strikeouts in five of his six appearances this season.
Secondary MLB DFS Target: LHP Taylor Hearn vs. Kansas City Royals — 4.1 implied runs
- DFS Salary: Yahoo $30 | FanDuel $6,700 | DraftKings $6,400
Pitching is thin on the evening slate, particularly on DraftKings, which is skipping the 6:35 p.m. ET matchup between the Reds and Pirates, so JT Brubaker is not an option, though he is the preferred play on Yahoo and FanDuel. Taylor Hearn has had mixed results as he converts from a reliever to a starter. The 27-year-old tends to be a little wild at times, though he has been showing a decent strikeout baseline in The Show. If this is where he starts to “run out of talent,” then he profiles as a spot starter or multi-inning reliever. If he can inch his punchouts closer to one per inning, then he could settle in as a mid-rotation starter that most teams would be thrilled to have on their staff.
The projected Kansas City lineup has one of the best strikeout rates in the league, with only 16.2% against southpaws dating back to last season. The tradeoff is stark, however, as they also have one of the lowest power rates in this stretch with an anemic .100 ISO. If Hearn can negotiate Salvador Perez and Hunter Dozier, he should be able to produce a quality start. It should be noted that Hearn does have a 46.5% hard contact rate, but the inherent lack of power up and down the Royals lineup helps to mitigate that downside potential.
Early MLB DFS Target: RHP Jordan Hicks vs. Baltimore Orioles — 3.8 implied runs
- DFS Salary: Yahoo $32 | FanDuel $7,500 | DraftKings $7,800
The early slate is bereft of top-shelf pitching options, so we will need to focus on matchups. Prior to this season, Jordan Hicks worked exclusively out of the St. Louis bullpen, including 20 saves as the part-time closer in 2018 and 2019. This season the hard-throwing righty has been stretching out to become a full-time starter. The Cardinals have not been rushing the 25-year-old, as they know they need to find an ultimate successor to Adam Wainwright, who can’t play forever (or can he?!). Hicks should be able to go around 75-ish pitches today, which makes him a viable option against a mercurial Baltimore offense.
Final MLB DFS Thoughts & Weather Notes for the Thursday, May 12 Fantasy Baseball Slate
The temperatures continue to rise, and it looks like we should get a day off from trying to forecast rain. Be sure to understand which games are on the evening slate for your DFS site of choice. There is nothing worse than registering for contests and then not realizing they have already started because of a unique or unusual lock time.
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