This article is part of our DFS NPB series.
In very similar fashion to Wednesday – and perhaps even more so – Thursday's slate features a number of arms that look exploitable, and the elevated projected run totals to match. Five of the six games sport marks of 8.0 runs or more, with the 9.5 runs predicted for the Lions-Golden Eagles matchup leading the way. That type of prospectus leaves us a bit light on trustworthy pitching candidates, which is why I've limited my suggestions on that front to just two.
As is customary, I'll suggest hitters at three fairly different price points across the price scale, along with some alternative considerations. On a potentially big night for offense, I've also tried to hone in on the two stacks that I feel have the best chance to deliver.
Daiki Iwashita ($11,500) has handled himself well over his first two starts, leading to a 2-0 record and 1.69 ERA across his first 10.2 innings of the season. Iwashita was a bit more vulnerable his most recent time on the mound against a powerful Golden Eagles lineup, but he's a quality arm that's that allowed just one home run and one walk thus far this season. The opposing Fighters also serve to significantly enhance Iwashita's outlook, as Nippon comes in with an abysmal .209 team batting average and the second-lowest home-run tally (18) in the league.
Kenichi Nakata ($9,200) admittedly isn't the surest of propositions, but there are several arms taking the hill Thursday that fit that description. What Nakata does have going for him is a long track record of success – he owns a 100-78 record and 3.73 ERA across 16-plus seasons – an excellent price and a good matchup versus a Swallows team that has power but has produced just a .242 team batting average over its first 20 games. The veteran right-hander also has the advantage of pitching at home and did collect five strikeouts over just four frames in his first and only start of the season. His salary is such that he could justify his inclusion in lineups with a performance that nets DK points in the mid-to-low double digits.
Dayan Viciedo ($8,000) makes frequent appearances in this column, and for good reason. Following a two-hit, two-RBI effort Wednesday, Viciedo is averaging 9.6 DK points per game and hitting .308/.340/.593 with 12 extra-base hits (7 HR, five doubles) and 21 RBI. Opposing arm Koh Nakagawa is just the type of pitcher that could prove to be the perfect dance partner for Viciedo as far as DFS purposes go, considering the young righty has already allowed two home runs across his first three innings and four round-trippers overall in his first eight career frames. To top it off, Nakagawa has also displayed some control issues in the latter sample (five walks), so Viciedo could rack up numbers through multiple means.
Kazuma Okamoto ($6,900) somehow saw a $900 price drop overnight despite exploding for 23 DK points Wednesday in a 12-1 Giants rout. The one-homer, three-RBI effort pushed Okamoto's season line to .367/.419/.696, his road average to .407 and his DK-point average to an outstanding 11.7. Following his prolific effort Wednesday, Okamoto now gets a crack at the Carp's Kazuki Yabuta, who typically operates as a reliever and may therefore be ill-equipped to hang in too long in this game. The right-hander has been frequently ineffective over the prior two seasons as well, surrendering 30 earned runs on 45 hits – including eight home runs – and 42 walks over 39.1 innings.
Adam Jones ($6,200) certainly couldn't have left his ability to rack up impactful hits back in the U.S., so I'm not sold on the relatively modest start to his NPB career. The long-time Baltimore Oriole is slashing a relatively pedestrian .253/.301/.391 through his first 23 games, mostly a far cry from his career .277/.317/.454 line stateside over 14 MLB seasons. Jones does come in with a modest three-game hitting streak, but the veteran outfielder's total of just six extra-base hits indicates he has plenty room to ascend to what have been his career norms. Jones' candidacy as a tournament option Thursday is also influenced by his matchup against Rick van den Hurk, who's allowed 12 runs (11 earned) on 15 hits (including two homers) and five walks across his last two starts.
Speaking of U.S.-born sluggers settling into their first NPB campaign, Justin Bour ($4,800) is following a path that I think Jones will be on in relatively short order. The left-handed masher now has his season slash up to an impressive .309/.368/.544 after a 3-for-5 night Wednesday that included his fifth home run of the season and 22 DK points. The big performance was simply an extension of Bour's recent tear, which is reflected by his .405/.439/.811 slash in his last 10 games. An overwhelming majority of that success has come at home, where Bour is hitting a whopping .476 (10-for-21) and averaging 12.5 DK points over six games. All of those numbers make his current salary a steal, and his matchup against opposing pitcher Keiji Takahashi (1.3 HR/9, 5.76 ERA last season) helps further buttress his case.
Takuya Kai ($4,300) continues to check in at bargain prices despite his status as one of the best-hitting catchers in NPB during the early going. The seven-year veteran has improved his power numbers each of the last three seasons coming into 2020, and he's sporting a career-best .308/.413/.462 slash over 18 games thus far this season. Kai also gets a matchup against a lefty Thursday in Sachiya Yamasaki, who posted an ERA of 4.40 or higher in four of the first five seasons of his NPB career and is already doing the same (4.50) through two 2020 starts.
Stacks to Consider
ALSO CONSIDER: Hiroaki Shimauchi ($7,200)
With a .277 team batting average and 19 home runs, the Golden Eagles are one of the best offenses in NPB and are therefore a perennial stack candidate. That certainly applies once again Thursday, as opposing starter Takahashi has been a consistently hittable pitcher over the course of his first five-plus seasons. The right-hander has already allowed 19 hits over 17.1 innings this season on his way to a bloated 5.71 ERA, and he's produced a figure over 4.00 in each of the last four seasons coming into 2020.
Mogi makes for an excellent way to kick off the stack, considering his leadoff slotting and his tally of 28 DK points Wednesday, his fourth double-digit fantasy-point total of the last 10 games. Mogi is now slashing an outstanding .360/.441/.560 in 13 home games following Wednesday's outburst as well.
Suzuki is enjoying an excellent start to the 2020 campaign, one that's led to a .352/.402/.409 slash and a bountiful 18 RBI over his first 22 games. Suzuki is also a strong contact hitter and has produced double-digit DK-point tallies in four of the last eight contests, making his current salary all the more appealing.
Asamura's salary was at $9K or higher for several games earlier in July, so nabbing him at his current price is one of the appealing aspects of rostering him Thursday. Asamura also bounced back nicely Wednesday following a trio of quiet performances that led to his price drop, as he smacked his 10th homer of the season on his way to 20 DK points. Like Suzuki, Asamura is also a markedly better home-park hitter, with his slash at Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi now sitting at .362/.492/.979 over 13 games.
Finally, Romero is a name I've often honed in on early this NPB season, as his price never seems quite commensurate with his upside. The slugger checks in with a .342/.419/.618 line in 21 games, and half of his 26 hits have gone for extra bases in the form of nine doubles and four home runs. That level of pop is just the kind that can give Takahashi trouble, especially at the Golden Eagles' home park, where Romero has slugged 10 of those aforementioned 13 extra-base hits, including all four of his homers.
Yabuta's various weaknesses were already elaborated on in Okamoto's entry earlier, and with the Giants swinging hot bats at present, they could pay off in similar fashion to how they did Wednesday as one of our featured stacks.
Sakamoto carries a nice price for a No. 2 hitter, and even with his unsightly .224 average, he's still carrying a strong .350 on-base percentage. As highlighted yesterday, the veteran is falling short of his career numbers by a substantial degree, and there's no way he's forgotten how to hit after posting a batting average between .291 and .345 each of his last four seasons and still boasting a .292 career mark despite this season's disappointment.
Maru is another Giants hitter that's underperforming, yet he carries plenty of power upside in his own right. The veteran slugger has tallied between 20 and 39 home runs in each of the last four campaigns while hitting between .291 and .308 in those seasons. His 2020 slash of .233/.309/.425 therefore still has plenty of room for improvement, and he's started to show some of that over the last 10 games with a .314/.385/.629 line accompanied by two homers and 12 RBI.
Okamoto was already discussed earlier, and Nakajima makes for a cheap way to round out your Giants onslaught. As detailed yesterday, the veteran is a good contact hitter that offers some pop and is also sporting a .333 average (5-for-15) over six road contests thus far this season. Nakajima has also been a particularly steady producer of late, hitting .310 with two of his three round trippers on the season in the last 10 games.