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 with four games early and four games late. I'll split the analysis between the two time slots – otherwise I wouldn't have enough meat for a column! The early slate is covered in rain – all four games will be wet. Chicago is the most likely venue to be postponed. Based on the weather reports, I'm hopeful all four games will eventually finish. In the late slate, Baltimore is also tabbed for some rain.
Jake Arrieta could be the star of the day. I'm inclined to spend my money on hitters since I know they'll return after a rain delay. At night, Jose Fernandez and Kenta Maeda are the top pitchers. You'll need some bargains to fit around them.
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.
Onto the bargain plays...
1 – Chris Bassitt – SP – Oakland (FanDuel $6,500) Early
I can't say I'm thrilled with the prospect of using Bassitt against the Tigers. They have too much firepower for comfort. Bassitt is a solid pitcher with a decent 94 mph fastball and a plus curve. He throws his sinker most frequently, but it's a bad pitch (.321 avg, .472 slg). When he's on, his deep five pitch arsenal can keep opponents off balance. The best case scenario is something like 36 points.
Since it's a rain soaked contest, a modest pitching total combined with top performing hitters may be the best approach.
2 – Matt Wieters – C – Baltimore (FanDuel $2,400)
At this point in the season, “DFS bargain” is synonymous with “slow start.” Wieters is cold, hitting .224/.283/.327 with one home run and a career worst strikeout rate. A matchup versus John Danks could help him to jump start his season. He's a career .276/.335/.481 hitter versus southpaws. Danks is about as bad as they come. Although he has neutral splits over his career, righties have torched Danks over the last three seasons.
3 – Ben Paulsen – 1B – Colorado (FanDuel $2,900) Early
It's a good day to give Paulsen a spin. Even when hitting at Coors Field, he's a little fringy as a first baseman. He doesn't have much power, and there's a lot of swing-and-miss in his game. A matchup against fastball-only starter Juan Nicasio is perfect for Paulsen. Nicasio's slider is a minus offering at sea level. He's going to get lit up today. While I may not have many good things to say about Paulsen, a $2,900 price tag and a fantastic matchup is just too juicy.
4 – Jonathan Schoop – 2B – Baltimore (FanDuel $2,200)
Nobody questions Schoop's power. It's the rest of his game that leaves observers uncertain. His hyper-aggressive approach is regularly exploited by opposing pitchers. While Danks may be a lousy starter, he knows how to use aggression against hitters. The matchup itself isn't particularly desirable. The small slate paired with the bargain basement price is the draw. There's always a chance he'll lay into one.
5 – Anthony Rendon – 3B – Washington (FanDuel $2,700) Early
The Nationals' two-hole is hitting just .229/.289/.277. It's no mystery why he's bargain priced. Rendon, a patient hitter who also makes a ton of contact, appears to be snake bit. He's posting a good hard hit rate while using all fields. His .264 BABIP looks like pure bad luck, and he should be hitting for better power too. Although a pairing against Aaron Nola isn't an easy assignment, Rendon is still the best third base bargain. He'll eventually face the Phillies soft bullpen.
6 – J.J. Hardy – SS – Baltimore (FanDuel $2,800)
I guess I'm advocating a Baltimore stack tonight. I'm not a huge Hardy fan these days. His power no longer plays with any regularity, and he hits too many infield flies. He even has stark reverse platoon splits since the start of 2014. Hardy does appear to be healthy at the moment. His peripherals look comparable to his best seasons with Baltimore. We could be seeing some dead cat bounce.
More importantly, you'll be hard pressed to find a more desirable shortstop bargain – it's thin out there today.
Despite the bargain price, Martinez is having a typical season. He's hitting .293/.360/.467 with three home runs. He blasted one to right-center last night. Although Bassitt was my pick for cheap pitcher today, Martinez is one of several Tigers who could ruin his day. Most DFS players know Martinez is best used against left-handed pitching. Even though Bassitt is a righty, JDM's current price makes him a good pick.
8 – Adam Jones – OF – Baltimore (FanDuel $2,600)
While I often target Danks, I didn't specifically set out to do so today. It just kind of happened. For a mash-tastic lineup, Baltimore sure has a lot of right-handed bargain hitters. Jones is here because nothing is going right for him. He's battled minor injuries while batting .196/.262/.286. His .238 BABIP and .089 ISO are comically low for him, and he's also flashing a career worst strikeout rate.
A deeper look reveals that there's cause for concern. His line drive rate is at a career worst, and his fly ball rate is low too. He's tapping too many soft grounders to infielders. To me, Danks represents a last chance to produce something. The Orioles have continued to hit him third during his April slump, but they'll lose patience soon.
9 – Randal Grichuk – OF – St. Louis (FanDuel $3,200)
Here's some fun with arbitrary end points. If you ignore his ice cold first week, Grichuk is hitting .241/.311/.500. Seven out of 13 hits have gone for extra bases. Grichuk is always an excellent option when aiming to maximize risk and reward. When he makes contact, he produces massive power. He'll also strike out at an alarming rate.
His opponent, Rubby de la Rosa, has good stuff. Unfortunately, he rarely harnesses it for an entire outing. A mistake to Grichuk could be sent a long way. De la Rosa typically handles right-handed hitters. Grichuk has reverse splits over his brief career so I'm not too concerned by the lack of platoon advantage.