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.
It's Thin Thursday. The games are split with four early and five in the evening. Pittsburgh and Cincinnati could see storms so pay close attention to the weather. With apologies to Matt Harvey (inconsistent) and Zack Greinke (pitching at Coors Field), Jon Lester is the only reliable ace. If you want to use him tonight, you'll need bargains. Since the early slate is composed of cheap pitchers, I'll put more emphasis on the night crew.
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 – Ricky Nolasco – SP – Minnesota (FanDuel $6,900) Early
Even though he's the cheapest pitcher available, Nolasco may be the top option in the early slate. The Twins are hosting the Phillies – currently the worst offense in baseball. Nolasco has more than his share of flaws. However, he often throws six innings with five to seven strikeouts. The Twins lineup includes enough left-handed hitters to provide run support against Jerad Eickhoff. There's potential for six innings, six strikeouts, a couple runs, and a win (42 points).
2 – Willson Contreras – C – Chicago (FanDuel $2,500) Late
The catcher position is almost solely composed of bargains. Only Buster Posey (early) and Chris Herrmann (late) cost more than $3,200. Lester usually pitches to David Ross so there's a good chance Contreras won't start. However, it's possible the club will call upon the hot rookie hitter. The Marlins are starting a lefty so Contreras will have the platoon advantage if he plays. Otherwise, Ross is a solid option too.
3 – Joe Mauer – 1B – Minnesota (FanDuel $2,900) Early
Unlike the catcher position, there's a real dearth of cheap first baseman. Mauer may be the most interesting choice opposite Eickhoff. The Phillies starter has allowed a .269/.323/.453 line to left-handed hitters. Mauer has hefty splits too. His .287/.406/.420 line ensures a high floor even if he's a long shot for a home run.
4 – Brandon Phillips – 2B – Cincinnati (FanDuel $3,000) Late
Although Phillips is not hitting well this season – just .258/.296/.391 – he plays a key role in the Reds lineup. Phillips bats third most days, giving him ample run production opportunities. With a bargain price and Great American Ballpark on his side, it's worth considering picking Phillips' role over a more talented, costlier alternative like Neil Walker. He's opposed by southpaw Christian Friedrich.
5 – Eugenio Suarez – 3B – Cincinnati (FanDuel $2,800) Late
While Suarez's role in the Reds lineup is less desirable – he bats sixth – it's easier to envision a home run. The right-handed slugger is batting .328/.366/.627 versus southpaws. While Friedrich has a solid 3.15 ERA, his stuff and peripherals are that of a 4.75 ERA pitcher. The tiny stadium could become a launching pad tonight.
6 – Trevor Story – SS – Colorado (FanDuel $3,100) Late
I get it. Or at least I think I get it. Story is a highly volatile all-or-nothing slugger. If we ignore his early-April homer binge, he's a powerful, league average hitter with a 34 percent strikeout rate. It's still hard to walk away from a shortstop with the potential for multiple taters. Batting fifth for the Rockies promises run production too.
There's another negative to consider. Greinke always has the potential to pitch well. Over the last three seasons, he has a 5.17 ERA in five starts at Coors Field. The damage has come via 45 hits in 31.1 innings (only two home runs allowed).
7 – Steven Moya – OF – Detroit (FanDuel $2,400) Early
Mariners spot starter Adrian Sampson may be the ideal matchup for Moya. Sampson is a pitch-to-contact, no walk pitcher. Moya is a hyper-aggressive hitter with big strikeout issues. Sampson working in the zone should help Moya to make contact. The lefty has massive raw power comparable to the biggest bats in the game. He's a great bet for a home run.
8 – Peter O'Brien – OF – Arizona (FanDuel $3,100) Late
It's always smart to load up on hitters at Coors Field, especially if they're opposite a guy like Eddie Butler. There are two problems with O'Brien. He doesn't start on a regular basis. He's also possibly the most whifftastic hitter in the league. He's currently 6-for-37 with four home runs, 16 strikeouts, and zero walks. Unfortunately, that's about par for the course. The power is real but the whiffs ruin his upside. If O'Brien is out, that may mean Socrates Brito ($2,600) is getting the start.