Finding the best DFS pitchers for today

May 13th, 2021

Thursday's always present an intriguing daily fantasy slate, and this one is no different with an almost even split between day games and night games.

The early set of games have no shortage of established ace-caliber pitchers, while finding the right pitcher for the night slate may be a bit trickier.

Either way, we're here to help you find the perfect pitcher(s) by breaking down the best options in both the early and late games.

Day games

Jack Flaherty, RHP (vs. Brewers)

The stat(s): 1.70 ERA in last six starts

The matchup: After his disappointing 2020 campaign, Flaherty was tagged for six runs off six hits (including two homers) over just 4 1/3 innings on Opening Day. He's seemingly regained his ace form ever since, winning each of his last six starts while posting a 1.70 ERA and allowing only one home run over 37 innings. As for this specific matchup, there's good news and bad news for Flaherty. The good news is he's facing a Brewers team that ranks 28th in the Majors in team batting average, 26th in runs per game and 27th in strikeout rate. The bad news? The all-important win may not be easy to come by given that the opposing starter is the next guy on this list ...

Corbin Burnes, RHP (vs. Cardinals)

The stat(s): 49 K's, zero walks this season

The matchup: Burnes insists that it will be "business as normal" when he takes the mound for the first time in more than two weeks on Thursday. The right-hander will be pitching on 16 days' rest following an asymptomatic case of COVID-19. Burnes enters with a 1.53 ERA and 49 strikeouts, just two shy of matching the all-time record for any pitcher before issuing a single walk. The long layoff has to be a concern for fantasy purposes, as it's unclear whether Burnes will be on any type of pitch count in his return. As for the matchup, the Cardinals rank in the middle of the pack in most offensive categories, though their 22.8% strikeout rate is the ninth-lowest in the big leagues.

Lance Lynn, RHP (vs. Twins)

The stat(s): 8 K's, 6 walks since returning from IL

The matchup: Lynn has pitched well in his two starts since returning from a strained right trapezius, but his stuff hasn't been quite as overpowering. He allowed just one hit over five scoreless innings on Saturday, though he walked four batters in the process. The good news is he threw 90 pitches -- a sizable jump from the 68 he threw in his first start off the IL. He doesn't seem to be on any pitch restrictions any longer, but he will be facing a Twins team that ranks among the top 10 in runs per game, batting average and slugging percentage.

Zach Eflin, RHP (vs. Nationals)

The stat(s): 14.0 K/BB ratio

The matchup: Eflin has been the model of consistency this season, completing at least six innings in each of his seven starts -- and allowing two runs or fewer in five of those. He's done it with some incredible command, issuing only three walks over 45 1/3 innings (and one of those was an intentional pass). The matchup isn't ideal, as while the Nats rank 27th in runs per game (3.6), they are sixth in average (.245) and don't strike out a ton (23.0 K%). Eflin has maxed out at eight strikeouts this season -- and he's had two outings with three or fewer -- which somewhat limits his fantasy upside.

Night games

Trevor Rogers, LHP (vs. D-backs)

The stat(s): 1.89 ERA, 33.1 K%

The matchup: Rogers posted a 6.11 ERA over seven starts in his debut season last year. He's been slightly better through seven starts this time around. The 23-year-old is 4-2 with a 1.89 ERA and has racked up 50 strikeouts in 38 innings, all while holding opponents to a .197 average. He'll have his work cut out for him in this one, though, as the D-backs thrive in their home ballpark. They average 6.2 runs per game while slashing .282/.349/.489 at home, compared to putting up 4.3 runs per game and a .217/.309/.370 slash line on the road.

Garrett Richards, RHP (vs. Athletics)

The stat(s): 2.84 ERA in last three starts

The matchup: Richards has pitched well of late, turning in a pair of seven-inning outings in his last three trips to the mound. He's racked up 22 strikeouts over 19 innings in those starts, a vast improvement from his first four outings, when he had just 12 K's over 16 2/3 frames -- and no more than four in a single start. The A's rank in the bottom half of the Majors when it comes to runs per game, batting average, slugging percentage and OPS, while their 24.5 K% is the 10th-highest in MLB.

Sean Manaea, LHP (vs. Red Sox)

The stat(s): 2.23 ERA in last six starts

The matchup: Manaea flirted with a no-hitter his last time out, and now he faces the team against which he tossed a no-hitter in 2018. The southpaw allowed one run off two hits while striking out a season-high 10 batters over 7 1/3 innings against the Rays on Friday. He's allowed two runs or fewer in five of his seven starts this season, but the matchup is far from ideal here. Manaea will be facing a Red Sox team that leads the Majors in batting average, slugging percentage and OPS. They also rank in the top five in runs per game and strikeout percentage.

Cristian Javier, RHP (vs. Rangers)

The stat(s): 6.97 ERA in two May starts (0.87 in April)

The matchup: Javier has struggled a bit in his last two outings, giving up eight runs over just 10 1/3 innings. He's also allowed three home runs in those two starts after serving up zero in his four April outings. He also finished April by turning in three consecutive scoreless performances, totaling 17 innings. Javier will be looking to get back on track, though it may not come easy against a Rangers squad that ranks in the top half of the league in most offensive categories. The good news is Texas has the eighth-highest strikeout rate at 26.5%.

Zach Plesac, RHP (vs. Mariners)

The stat(s): Back-to-back scoreless starts

The matchup: Plesac has had an up-and-down season, posting a 1.38 ERA over his first two starts before getting tagged for 12 runs over just 5 2/3 innings (19.06 ERA) in his next two outings. He's put up a 1.27 mark in his three starts since, including tossing 13 2/3 scoreless frames in May. That could make him an enticing option for fantasy players, especially considering the matchup. The Mariners rank dead last in the Majors in batting average, while also sitting in the bottom five in terms of run production, slugging percentage, OPS and strikeout rate. Of course, Seattle is hoping that the arrival of Jarred Kelenic will change all that.