Even on a Thursday, Major League Baseball keeps the week moving right along with eight games lined up for a solid DraftKings slate that locks at 7:05 p.m. ET. Cleveland and Pittsburgh start the action on an early-heavy schedule that feels a little like a turbo with just two games starting late on the West Coast. The Coors Field game is earlier in the day, so there’s no altitude advantage in play, and it looks like it’ll be a relatively clear forecast to get these eight games in without issue. Six of these eight games are interleague contests with the Reds-Cardinals and Orioles-Red Sox matchups the only divisional games on the slate.
As you get your DraftKings MLB lineups 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 should impact your roster.
Shane Bieber, CLE at PIT, $10,600 — While Cleveland has had its share of turmoil this season, Bieber has shone through as one of the best SP in the Majors, going 4-0 with a 1.30 ERA in five starts while striking out 54 in just 34 2⁄3 innings. He mowed down 11 Tigers in his most recent outing on his way to 39.4 DKFP. As good as that performance was, it was still just his third-best total of the season since he had 41.9 DKFP and 46.2 DKFP in his first two starts of the year. He gets a great matchup in this contest since the Pirates are averaging the third-fewest runs per game and are hitting just .211 as a team. In fact, the only team with a worse batting average is Cleveland at .200, but I think the lineup will be able to get Bieber enough runs against Trevor Williams ($5,600). He’s an expensive play but it’s worth paying up if you can find salary savers in other spots.
Other Options — Sonny Gray ($9,500), José Berríos ($9,000)
Dinelson Lamet, SD vs. TEX, $8,500 — If you’re a regular reader of my contest here on Playbook, you know I’m a huge fan of playing cheap players with upside and love finding deep-dive values. However, this slate doesn’t have much to offer in terms of cheap pitching, so I think it makes sense to spend a little more on the mound while hunting bargains at the plate. Lamet isn’t as cheap as most value SP I’d list in this spot, but he has been excellent in his five starts for the Padres, going 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA and 0.81 WHIP. He has 36 strikeouts in his 28 and one third innings and has produced 23.5 DKFP per start. He took a hard-luck loss in his most recent outing when he took on the red-hot Diamondbacks, but he gets a much easier matchup this time out against the Rangers at Petco Park. Texas has scored the fewest runs per game of any team in the Majors and has an MLB-worst .650 team OPS.
Other Option — Kevin Gausman ($6,500), Nathan Eovaldi ($5,900)
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Sean Murphy, OAK vs. ARI, $3,900 — Murphy has hit safely in seven straight games with an at-bat and has produced at least seven DKFP in each of his past four. He is hitting .350 over his past eight games with an average of 7.25 DKFP per contest. He doesn’t have a super-high ceiling but has hit a pair of home runs and should be in a decent matchup against Alex Young ($6,700), Arizona’s No. 5 starter. The 25-year-old hasn’t crushed lefties yet in the Majors but he still makes a solid play on this limited slate as he continues to emerge as a solid big-league backstop.
Other Options — Christian Vázquez ($5,100), Omar Narváez ($3,900)
Tucker Barnhart, CIN at STL, $2,700 — Barnhart has started the season slow, going just 7-for-38 (.184) with a double and a home run. However, he has been hitting better lately with a hit in each of his past three starts. He had the nightcap of Wednesday’s doubleheader off so will likely be back behind the plate against Adam Wainwright ($8,300). Barnhart has gone 6-for-14 (.429) against Wainwright in his career with three walks, a double and a home run. He’s a bargain play with upside at a thin catcher spot.
Other Options — Austin Nola ($3,200), Austin Barnes ($2,600)
Joey Votto, CIN at STL, $4,500 — Votto has also had success against Wainwright during the two veteran’s long tenures in the NL Central. He has gone 17-for-51 (.333) with six doubles, three home runs and a 1.051 OPS against the Cardinals’ scheduled starter in their previous meetings. So far this year, Votto has three home runs and a solid .764 OPS. He had a rough doubleheader against the Royals in Kansas City on Wednesday, but he should be set up to bounce back nicely as he returns to Great American Ballpark, where he has gone 14-for-43 (.326) this season with a 1.044 OPS.
Other Options — Matt Olson ($4,900), Miguel Sanó ($4,600)
Jake Cronenworth, SD vs. TEX, $2,500 — Cronenworth played himself into a larger role while Eric Hosmer ($3,500) was sidelined and now continues to start against most right-handed starting pitchers at 2B. Cronenworth had two more hits and a stolen base on Wednesday for 13 DKFP, his third straight contest with an extra-base hit and double-digit DKFP. He is hitting .333 on the season with a pair of home runs and a 1.011 OPS.
Other Options — Christian Walker ($3,500), Albert Pujols ($3,200)
Keston Hiura, MIL at MIN, $4,400 — Hiura is heating up with four home runs over his past 10 games after going 3-for-4 with a home run and 24 DKFP in Wednesday night’s win over the Twins. He is hitting .286 over that 10-game stretch but with a healthy .913 OPS and 10.2 DKFP per contest thanks to the power production. He doesn’t have a great matchup against José Bérrios, but he offers a good enough ceiling at this affordable salary to overlook the matchup and still roll with him at the keystone.
Other Option — Mike Moustakas ($4,800), Ketel Marte ($4,000)
Wilmer Flores, SF vs. LAA, $3,800 — Flores returned to the lineup after a day off on Tuesday and cranked his fifth home run of the season while going 2-for-4 with four RBI and 23 DKFP. Flores has been very busy for the Giants early in his first year in San Francisco and has continued to thrive against lefties. He is 8-for-27 (.296) with a .940 OPS against southpaws this season after posting a .982 OPS against southpaws last year. He’ll go against lefty José Suarez ($5,500) in this one, who had a 7.11 ERA in 19 games for the Halos last year and gave up 20 home runs and a 1.046 OPS to right-handed hitters.
Other Options — Max Schrock ($2,400), Sam Haggerty ($2,200)
Anthony Rendon, LAA at SF, $5,200 — Rendon has picked up multiple hits in three straight games to raise his average on the season to .286 (19-for-71). He has five home runs in his past nine games and has put up 14.9 DKFP during that span. He and the Angels will take on Kevin Gausman as they look to salvage a split of their four-game set with the Giants. The Angels have definitely disappointed at just 8-17, but Rendon seems to be fitting well into his new home and is worth a look in this contest at a 3B position stacked with top-tier plays.
Other Options — José Ramírez ($5,300), Justin Turner ($4,900)
Evan Longoria, SF vs. LAA, $3,600 — Longoria stayed hot against Rendon’s Halos on Wednesday, going 2-for-3 with 10 DKFP, giving him at least seven DFKP in five straight starts. He is still hitting just .254 on the season but gets that good matchup against Suarez and is an affordable option at the hot corner with nice upside in the heart of the San Francisco lineup.
Other Option — Rio Ruiz ($3,700), Brad Miller ($3,500)
Fernando Tatis Jr., SD vs. TEX, $5,100 — Tatis has been producing fantasy points and controversy at a great rate over the past few games and has multiple hits in three straight games against the Rangers. He has three home runs and a total of 72 DKFP during the series and should be in a good spot to keep producing against Kyle Gibson ($7,300). Tatis already has 12 homers on the season and 10 have come against righties while he has produced an insane 1.503 OPS at home. On top of all that, he has also been successful in all six of his stolen base attempts, showing he can produce fantasy points in different ways as well.
Other Options — Marcus Semien ($4,700), David Fletcher ($4,100)
Nick Ahmed, ARI at OAK, $3,000 — Ahmed collected two more hits on Wednesday and has gone 7-for-11 in this series against Oakland. He has been heating up lately, going 18-for-36 (.500) over his past 10 games with four doubles, two stolen bases and a pair of home runs helping him to produce 14.6 DKFP per contest over that stretch. He’ll be on the right side of the splits again as he takes on Sean Manaea ($8,100) in the series finale.
Other Option — Brandon Crawford ($3,400), Freddy Galvis ($3,100)
Anthony Santander, BAL vs. BOS, $4,300 — Santander has hit safely in 13 straight games and has gone 21-for-58 (.362) over that span with seven home runs. He is 1-for-4 with a double against Nathan Eovaldi ($5,900) in their past meetings but is straight-up crushing everything right now. He’s hitting .299 on the season and most of that damage has come against right-handed pitchers, who he has hit .313 against with a 1.087 OPS. He has a 1.540 OPS over the past week and will look to keep crushing as the Orioles welcome in the pitching-challenged Red Sox.
Other Options — Mike Trout ($6,200), Max Kepler ($4,800)
Kyle Lewis, SEA vs. LAD, $3,700 — Lewis has gotten off to a strong start to his sophomore season, although he’s toiling in obscurity a bit since Seattle’s offense has been a letdown overall. Lewis has gone 33-for-94 (.351) in his first 25 games with a double, five home runs and a .947 OPS. He has averaged a solid 9.7 DKFP over his past 10 games and 9.6 DKFP for the whole season. He has hit safely in four straight and continues to be one of the few Mariners’ bats worth checking on each day.
Tim Locastro, ARI at OAK, $2,400 — Locastro will likely be atop the Arizona lineup again since they take on another lefty in Manaea. Locastro has gone 4-for-15 (.267) in his limited playing time with three doubles and added his first stolen base of the season on Wednesday on his way to 12 DKFP. He has very nice potential if he’s hitting leadoff on such a hot team, and he’s a great way to save some salary for those top SP or big bats since he costs just $2.4K.
Other Options — Ryan Braun ($3,700), Trent Grisham ($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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