Thursday brings us a little bit of a lighter night in Major League Baseball with six games on the main slate on DraftKings, which gets underway earlier than normal at 4:05 p.m. ET. Four of the six games are divisional contests, and the other two are interleague matchups, including the Padres visiting the Angels and the two New York teams meeting at Citi Field in the late afternoon for a makeup game.
As you assemble your DraftKings roster, there are some key matchups to focus on. Based on form, matchup and expected opportunity, I’ve selected my favorite value plays and studs at each position. As always, 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 should impact your lineup.
Clayton Kershaw, LAD vs. ARI, $10,300 — Kershaw has been a throwback to his former excellent self in his five starts this abbreviated season with either one or zero runs allowed in four of those five games. He has won three straight starts to improve to 4-1 on the season with a 1.80 ERA, 0.77 WHIP and 33 strikeouts in 30 innings. Kershaw has typically been lights out at home but this will be just his second start of the year at Dodger Stadium. The 32-year-old lefty has looked healthy and dominant with over 23 DKFP in three straight, which is great to see after he has battled injury and ineffectiveness over the past few seasons.
Other Options — J.A. Happ ($8,900), Mike Clevinger ($8,700)
Zach Eflin, PHI vs. WAS, $7,800 — Eflin hasn’t been nearly as locked-in as Kershaw, but his strikeout numbers have been high throughout the season, helping to cover for some of the runs he has given up. He went seven strong innings in his most recent start, striking out eight Braves and allowing just one run on four hits on his way to 31.4 DKFP. He has at least eight strikeouts in three of his past four starts and is up to 37 in his 26 1/3 innings this season. Washington’s bats have been silenced in the past two games in Philadelphia, managing just eight hits combined and no runs over the past two contests. The Nationals have dropped five straight and eight of their past nine games, and Eflin will try to keep them trending downward while continuing his solid run of production.
Other Option — Taijuan Walker ($4,800)
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J.T. Realmuto, PHI vs. WAS, $5,100 — Even without a hit, Realmuto managed to contribute 16 DKFP on Wednesday, walking twice and adding a pair of stolen bases and a run scored. He has been hitting the ball well this season with an .884 OPS and .263 average helping him produce 9.8 DKFP per contest. On Thursday, he gets a great matchup against Anibal Sánchez ($7,400), who has given up 23 runs and eight home runs in his 30 innings over five starts this season. He has been particularly hittable on the road, where he is 0-2 with a 9.24 ERA. He has been crushed by both righties and lefties, allowing righties to post a 1.013 OPS against him and lefties a .970 OPS. The Phillies will be a good stack to consider, and Realmuto is especially attractive due to his high ceiling and his 6-for-12 history against Sánchez which includes a pair of home runs.
Other Options — Yasmani Grandal ($4,800), Christian Vázquez ($4,500)
Austin Barnes, LAD vs. ARI, $2,800 — Barnes has been working effectively with Kershaw, and he’ll likely be behind the plate once again after Will Smith ($3,500) drew the start for Los Angeles in the first two games of the series. Barnes doesn’t have a ton of power but has been hitting the ball well lately when given opportunity, going 12-for-33 (.364) over his past 10 games with a double, a home run and even two stolen bases helping him average 8.7 DKFP per contest over that span. It looks like the Dodgers will be a good stack as well against Luke Weaver ($8,200), who has gone 1-5 with an 8.23 ERA in his seven starts this season.
Other Option — Yan Gomes ($2,900)
José Abreu, CWS at KC, $5,300 — Abreu has been at the heart of the White Sox’ order and has gotten a huge boost as the lineup around him has grown and improved. He is hitting a solid .313 with 12 homers, 33 RBI and a .980 OPS on the year. Five of those 12 homers have come in his past 10 games in which he has gone 14-for-39 (.359) with two doubles, 10 RBI and 12.5 DKFP per contest. He gets a great matchup against Danny Duffy ($7,100) and the Royals, who he knows well having gone 19-for-64 (.322) against the lefty in their past meetings with a pair of home runs. Abreu is one of several options that make lots of sense against Duffy, who has surrendered six homers in seven starts this season, going 2-2 with a 4.11 ERA.
Other Options — Rhys Hoskins ($4,700), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. ($4,300)
Austin Nola, SD at LAA, $3,600 — Nola was one of the Padres’ many trade deadline acquisitions and will probably be back in the lineup after an off day on Wednesday. He went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored in his Padres debut on Tuesday and is 12-for-33 (.364) over his past 10 games with a pair of home runs and 9.2 DKFP per contest.
Other Options — Luke Voit ($3,900), Pete Alonso ($3,000)
DJ LeMahieu, NYY at NYM, $4,300 — LeMahieu has hit safely in all six games since he returned from the IL, going 8-for-24 (.333) with a pair of home runs, and has slotted back into the leadoff spot in the Yankees’ lineup. LeMahieu is a consistent option with a high ceiling and makes a ton of sense at this mid-range salary.
Other Options — Ketel Marte ($5,100), Jonathan Villar ($4,100)
Nick Madrigal, CWS at KC, $3,000 — Madrigal has also been swinging a hot bat since coming off IL, going 9-for-23 (.391) with a stolen base, two runs scored and two RBI. He typically hits near or at the bottom of the lineup, but he hit a solid .311 across three stops in the minors last season with 35 stolen bases as well. He hit lefties well on his rise to the majors and has gone 3-for-9 in limited work against southpaws this season. If he’s in the lineup and getting on base, he has nice upside for a bargain play.
Other Options — Robinson Canó ($4,000), Andrés Giménez ($2,000)
Manny Machado, SD at LAA, $4,600 — Machado picked up two more hits on Wednesday after taking the collar on Monday in Denver. He has been red-hot as of late, going 19-for-42 (.452) with a double, triple and five home runs over his past 10 games. Going up against a lefty on Thursday should also set him up well since he has a 1.022 OPS against southpaws this season going 13-for-37 (.351) with a double and three home runs against them. He has also had success in a small sample size against Andrew Heaney ($8,400) specifically, going 3-for-8 with a pair of home runs. Machado is surprisingly affordable given the recent tear he has been on and how well the Padres’ lineup is producing overall.
Other Options — Yoán Moncada ($5,400), Rafael Devers ($5,200)
Alec Bohm, PHI vs. WAS, $3,300 — The 24-year-old prospect seems to be finding his footing in the Majors after a bit of a slow start. So far in his three games against Washington, he has gone 4-for-10 with a pair of doubles and a home run. He’s hitting .288 overall with a solid .833 OPS, but he’s a nice way to get good upside and a piece of the projected production against Sánchez at a very affordable salary.
Other Option — Gio Urshela ($3,600), J.D. Davis ($2,800)
Corey Seager, LAD vs. ARI, $4,900 — Once again, SS is loaded with top options, but don’t miss Seager, who is a little bit cheaper and still offers nice upside against Weaver. Seager has hit safely in 10 of his past 11 games and picked up extra-base hits in four of his past five with a stolen base during that span as well. As a result, he has posted exactly 100 DKFP in his past nine games for an average of 11.1 DKFP per contest.
Other Options — Trea Turner ($5,300), Fernando Tatis Jr. ($5,200)
Andrelton Simmons, LAA vs. SD, $3,200 — While Simmons doesn’t have the power potential and therefore upside of his cross-town counterpart, he is a solid source of batting average. He has hit .320 in his 13 games this season and gone 14-for-38 (.368) over his past 10 games with four walks and a stolen base. He has at least 5.0 DKFP in four straight games and eight of his nine games since coming off the IL. While he may not have a super-high ceiling since he mostly just produces singles, his consistency makes him a solid cheap play at just over $3K.
Other Options — Chris Taylor ($3,700), Adalberto Mondesi ($3,000)
Mike Trout, LAA vs. SD, $6,100 — If you’re paying up for an outfielder on this slate, Trout is my favorite elite option. He has 19-plus DKFP in three of his past five games and is up to 13 home runs on the season with 34 RBI and a .984 OPS. He somehow continues to produce big-time numbers even though the team around him has been a mess all season. Trout will face Mike Clevinger and the Padres in this matchup, and he has gone 3-for-11 with two doubles, a home run and four walks against Clevinger in the past. He’s an expensive option, for sure, but one that always has the potential to deliver a big game.
Other Options — Mookie Betts ($5,800), Luis Robert ($4,700)
Andrew McCutchen, PHI vs. WAS, $4,100 — McCutchen has been red-hot for the Phillies, going 15-for-45 (.333) with two doubles, two stolen bases and four home runs over his past 10 games. He hasn’t had success against Sánchez in the past, going just 5-for-28, but with how hittable he has been this year, I still think McCutchen can stay hot in Thursday’s contest.
Jackie Bradley Jr., BOS vs. TOR, $2,800 — JBJ is definitely more known for his glove than his bat, but he has been heating up lately and has shown in the past he can get a hot streak going that makes him a viable fantasy bargain. He has hit safely in nine of his past 10 games and has hit three home runs during that stretch. He had a home run and a stolen base on Wednesday and finished with 21 DKFP. He gets a matchup on Thursday with Taijuan Walker, who has dominated righties this year but let lefties like JBJ hit .283 with four homers and a .903 OPS against him. Bradley has a high ceiling in this matchup, although he can definitely be boom-or-bust.
Other Options — Clint Frazier ($3,600), Michael Conforto ($3,000)
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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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