Major League Baseball has a lighter slate this Thursday but there are still a handful of games on the main slate on DraftKings that gets underway at 4:05 p.m. ET. Four of these five games are divisional clashes between familiar foes while the other is the final game of the series between the Orioles and the Phillies. That matchup does have some weather concerns, so keep an eye on the weather reports leading up to first pitch.
As you get your lineup ready, there are some key matchups to make sure to focus on. Based on form, matchup and expected opportunity, I’ve selected my favorite value plays and studs at each position. Make sure to stay locked in to @DKLive on Twitter throughout the day and check the latest news in the DK Live app for any breaking news that may impact your roster.
Yu Darvish, CHC vs. MIL, $10,400 — The Cubs open their four-game series at Wrigley against the Brewers with an excellent 12-3 record and a comfortable five-game lead in the division. Darvish will look to continue his early-season success after going 2-1 with a 2.12 ERA over his first three starts. He has issued just two walks over 17 innings in those outings while striking out 16. He had 29.7 DKFP and 22.2 DKFP in his two most recent outings and will look to keep cruising in this one. He will face a Brewers lineup that has scuffled out of the gate, ranking in the bottom five in the MLB in runs per game, and is striking out 10.31 times per game, the highest rate of any team in the Majors.
Other Options — Julio Urías ($9,600), Chris Paddack ($8,500)
Anthony DeSclafani, CIN vs. PIT, $8,200 — In his first two starts spanning 11 innings, DeSclafani has allowed just five hits and one while while striking out eight and allowing no runs. He had 27.7 DKFP in his most recent outing which came against the Brewers. He’ll face the Pirates at home at Great American Ballpark as he tries to continue his strong start to the season. He pitched much better at home than on the road last season and averaged just over a strikeout per inning. He has a great matchup and good form, so he’s an awesome option at just over $8K.
Other Option — Jake Arrieta ($7,300), Corbin Burnes ($6,200)
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Willson Contreras, CHC vs. MIL, $4,400 — Contreras is looking to bounce back from an 0-for-3 with two strikeouts on Wednesday that also included him being ejected for arguing a check-swing call. He has been a fixture in the heart of the Cubs’ lineup this season which was been among the best in baseball. In his 14 games, Contreras is 14-for-48 (.292) with two home runs, five doubles and seven RBI. He has mashed lefties throughout his career, including an impressive 1.027 OPS against southpaws last season. Contreras should get at least one at-bat against Brett Anderson ($6,700) in a favorable matchup before Corbin Burnes ($6,200), a righty, takes over. Either way, though, Contreras is one of the best bats to target behind the plate on a regular basis.
Other Options — J.T. Realmuto ($5,300), Pedro Severino ($4,300)
Austin Barnes, LAD vs. SD, $2,200 — The catcher’s spot doesn’t have a lot of depth on Thursday, but Barnes is ultra-cheap and can save you enough salary to go get bigger bats elsewhere while offering just as much upside as many of the struggling non-elite options. Barnes is expected to start in place of Will Smith (neck), who is day-to-day. Despite hitting just .154 in his nine games this season, he has shown a little bit of upside lately, going 2-for-4 with a double and 10 DKFP in his most recent start on Tuesday. Last season, he was slightly better at home than on the road and slightly better against righties than lefties, so those splits should help him give you something in addition to plenty of salary savings.
Other Options — Francisco Mejía ($3,400), Tucker Barnhart ($2,900)
Mitch Moreland, BOS vs. TB, $4,200 — Moreland is still being used in a platoon at 1B by the Red Sox and is only getting starts against right-handed pitchers like Glasnow, who will start Thursday for Tampa Bay. When he has been in the lineup, he has been excellent, going 10-for-33 (.303) with a double, six home runs, 12 RBI and a 1.240 OPS. Five of those six home runs have come in his past 10 games, and he is 2-for-8 with a double and a home run in his career against Glasnow. Even if Glasnow is at his best, he’s on a limited pitch count, so there's no need to avoid this matchup for Mitch.
Other Options — Anthony Rizzo ($4,600), Renato Núñez ($4,300)
Colin Moran, PIT at CIN, $3,600 — The corner infielder known as Captain Redbeard is off to a strong start to the season and will try to lead the Pirates to a win in Cincinnati in their first game since Sunday. Moran is 12-for-53 (.226) on the season but has already crushed five home runs and a double while driving in seven. He has a solid .833 OPS so far this year and hit more home runs against the Reds (3) last season than he did any other team. He also has more home runs at Great American Ballpark than any other road park he has played in and has gone 2-for-10 against DeSclafani in his career with both hits being home runs.
Other Options — José Martínez ($3,900), Jake Cronenworth ($2,100)
Keston Hiura, MIL at CHC, $4,300 — Hiura has been one of the few bright spots for the Brew Crew this season going 16-for-64 (.250) with four home runs, two stolen bases and an average of 8.3 DKFP per contest. He usually hits second or third in the order and gets plenty of chances to produce points. Even though I don’t love his matchup against Darvish, he’s a solid option at this salary on this limited slate.
Other Option — Max Muncy ($4,800), Brandon Lowe ($4,400)
Mike Brosseau, TB at BOS, $3,400 — Brosseau will likely get another start against the Red Sox Thursday since they’ll be sending lefty Kyle Hart ($5,100) to the mound. Brosseau started the second game of this series with a leadoff home run on Tuesday and went 2-for-3 with 21 DKFP. He has exactly that amount in each of his two most recent starts and is hitting .375 (9-for-24) on the season with three doubles, three home runs and a 1.250 OPS. His per-game numbers skew a little low since he enters some games late, but when he’s in the lineup he’s a very solid play to consider.
Other Options — Jurickson Profar ($3,100), Michael Chavis ($2,800)
Manny Machado, SD at LAD, $4,200 — Machado has been heating up, going 10-for-36 (.278) with three doubles, three home runs and an average of 10.4 DKFP per contest over his past nine games. He has hit safely in five in a row and should be in a good spot against Urías since he has crushed lefties throughout his career, including last season when he posted a 1.089 OPS against them.
Other Options — Rafael Devers ($5,300), Justin Turner ($4,700)
Rio Ruiz, BAL at PHI, $3,400 — Ruiz connected on another home run Wednesday against the Phillies to continue his strong start to the season. He is 11-for-40 (.275) in his 10 games with a double, four home runs and a .948 OPS. The lefty rebuilt his swing this offseason and it has paid immediate dividends. If the rain holds off and he gets to face Jake Arrieta ($7,300), he’ll be a nice value option at the hot corner.
Other Option — Eric Sogard ($3,800), Yandy Díaz ($3,100)
Fernando Tatis Jr., SD at LAD, $5,400 — Tatis had a rare down night on Wednesday, coming up empty in four plate appearances. He is still off to a great start, though, and comes with a high ceiling against Urías. Six of his eight home runs have come in his past nine games, and he has averaged 14.6 DKFP per contest over that stretch. Tatis offers a great blend of power and speed and almost always contributes good numbers. He should be able to bounce back with a strong game in this matchup.
Other Options — Didi Gregorius ($4,700), Xander Bogaerts ($4,500)
Freddy Galvis, CIN vs. PIT, $3,300 — Galvis has gone 11-for-48 (.229) in his first 15 games this season including three home runs. He went 2-for-4 with a home run on Wednesday and has reached base safely in five straight starts. He is an affordable way to get a piece of the Reds’ offense against Trevor Williams ($5,800), who is 0-3 on the season. Galvis is 2-for-9 in his career against Williams with a double and an RBI.
Other Option — José Iglesias ($3,200), Chris Taylor ($3,000)
Bryce Harper, PHI vs. BAL, $5,400 — The Phillies’ rough start to the season hasn’t been Harper’s fault since they highly-paid OF has been highly productive through his 13 games. He is 14-for-41 (.341) with 10 walks, a double, four home runs and a 1.149 OPS. Orioles starter Tom Eshelman ($6,300) has given up 14 home runs in his 43 and one third MLB innings, so he definitely will be a good matchup to attack if the rain allows this contest to be played.
Nick Castellanos, CIN vs. PIT, $4,800 — Castellanos has cooled off a little bit after his torrid start, going 1-for-16 in his past four games, but taking on the Pirates at his new home at Great American Ballpark should get him going. Four of his home runs have come in his 36 home at-bats and he has a nice 1.155 home OPS. He is still hitting .273 on the season with seven homers, 16 RBI and an average of 10.9 DKFP per contest. In addition, Castellanos is 4-for-11 with three doubles in his career against Williams.
Other Options — Cody Bellinger ($4,700), J.D. Martinez ($4,500)
Jesse Winker, CIN vs. PIT, $3,500 — While his teammate Castellanos has cooled off, Winker is trending the opposite direction, going 13-for-26 (.500) with three home runs and a 1.517 OPS over his past 10 games. He has collected multiple hits in five straight starts with at least 8.0 DKFP in each of those contests. Winker also has a good track record against Williams, going 4-for-6 (.667) in their few previous meetings.
Other Options — Anthony Santander ($3,900), Hunter Renfroe ($3,400), AJ Pollock ($3,100)
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Z.Thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
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