When looking at “bargains” on FanDuel, we'll typically focus on hitters who are $3,200 or lower. In general, we'll only highlight players at the top end of that scale if they have star potential.
Thursday is typically the thinnest day on the schedule, but we have 12 games to work with today. Seven are early while only five are in the “main” slate. I'll split my attention across the two time slots. The weather should cooperate today. Do note, Chicago will be cold but dry.
Please note, these player picks were organized early in the day. For MLB contests, always check lineups and weather closer to game time. Rain, wind, or unexpected managerial decisions could open up additional sources of value. Be sure to keep an eye on the MLB Headlines and Injuries desk.
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Onto the bargain plays...
1 – Mat Latos – SP – Chicago (FanDuel $6,300) Early
It pains me to make this recommendation. I watched his start against the Athletics last week. Latos was effectively wild. He was getting great movement on his pitches, but he's still prone to making mistakes. His velocity was also down over two mph from last year. His 2015 velocity was also two mph below his peak. In other words, he's down over four mph from when he was a good pitcher.
As much as I disrespect Latos, the Twins have turned into the offense to target. Eduardo Escobarand the ghost of Joe Mauer are the only guys hitting at all. Byron Buxton, Byung-ho Park, and Miguel Sano have combined to strike out in about half their plate appearances. Eddie Rosario hasn't been much better while Brian Dozier, Trevor Plouffe, and Escobar all have 25 percent strikeout rates. Latos could go six innings with six strikeouts and a chance for a win.
2 – Jason Castro – C – Houston (FanDuel $2,300)
Castro always represents a solid risk-reward play. While most catchers at his price point are completely helpless at the plate – think Josh Thole – Castro at least offers the potential for a home run. He's a low average, low OBP hitter so he frequently zeroes out. This makes him a better pick in tournaments. Cash game and 50/50 owners may wish to pursue a higher floor – perhaps Caleb Joseph if he starts.
3 – Joe Mauer – 1B – Minnesota (FanDuel $2,800) Early
If, like me, you're wary of Latos against even the worst of offenses, Mauer is the guy to try. He entered spring with a pair of BSOHL stories. Physically, he was reportedly better prepared for the season than the recent past. He also corrected a vision problem.
It's hard to argue with the early results. He isn't missing anything with a .393/.486/.536 line. His .417 BABIP isn't entirely fluky because he's posted a very high hard hit rate. If he squares up fewer pitches, the BABIP will decline. He's also shown great plate discipline. As always, Mauer is a multi-hit threat but lacks typical first baseman power.
4 – Rougned Odor – 2B – Texas (FanDuel $3,000)
Chris Tillman has pitched pretty well against two of the weakest offenses in baseball. Today he'll face a real challenge – the Rangers. If Delino DeShields isn't in the lineup, Odor will probably hit first. Otherwise, he'll bat sixth or seventh. Either scenario is fine. We prefer the extra plate appearance from the top of the order, but I also think he'll have some good RBI opportunities batting seventh. Odor isn't off to a hot start, but it appears to be a BABIP related problem (.185 BABIP).
5 – Luis Valbuena – 3B – Houston (FanDuel $2,400)
Valbuena is a classic platoon play. He's shown plus power against right-handed pitching in recent seasons, including 20 home runs in 361 plate appearances last year. Kennedy had trouble with left-handed hitters in 2015. He did post a strong strikeout rate, and Valbuena is prone to whiffs. Much like Castro, this is a high variance matchup. It's best for a GPP.
6 – Anthony Rendon – 3B – Washington (FanDuel $2,900) Early
They say diversification is important in any investment portfolio. I suppose a DFS lineup can be considered a portfolio. Rendon doesn't appear to have the 20 home run power we witnessed in 2014. However, he's still a very steady hitter capable of posting a high average and OBP. He should supply a lot of 12 to 18 point games with upside for the odd multi-hit stomping. Julio Teheran and the Braves bullpen may hand him one of those plus days.
7 – Aledmys Diaz – SS – St. Louis (FanDuel $2,900) Early
Like Rendon, Diaz is much more likely to supply multiple hits than a home run. Unlike Rendon, Diaz bats at the bottom of the Cardinals lineup. He's a high contact spray hitter with the raw tools to post a high average. Batting eighth offers a special challenge for this type of hitter. They have to jump on hittable pitches while knowing the opposing pitcher is probably fine with issuing a walk. In any case, Diaz offers a high floor at a cheap cost. Wily Peralta and the Brewers pen offer little to fear.
8 – Miguel Sano – OF – Minnesota (FanDuel $3,100) Early
I mentioned Sano is having some trouble this year in the Latos write-up. He's just 3-for-24 with six walks. No extra base hits. This is not how the Twins scripted it. Sano has legit 40 to 50 home run power, he's just not getting to it right now. If he works a few mistakes from Latos – and remember, he's prone to throwing a few cookies – Sano has the raw tools to be the top DFS play of the day. Of course, the floor is a big ol' goose egg.
9 – Nomar Mazara – OF – Texas (FanDuel $2,700)
Nomar the Second has a stranglehold on the Rangers two-hole. The sweet-swinging lefty is a solid play against Tillman. Mazara has power, contact skills, and decent plate discipline. He was my preseason pick for Rookie of the Year, and I haven't seen anything to change my assessment. He's discounted a solid $800 from his actual value.
10 – Alex Gordon – OF – Kansas City (FanDuel $2,600)
I'd be remiss if I left out mention of the mostly affordable Royals versus very mediocre Doug Fister. The sinker baller is down to 85 mph on the gun. He doesn't really have the stuff to survive with such high school quality heat. Gordon has yet to really get going, but he has the platoon advantage at a homer friendly park against a hittable pitcher.