It seems the MLB knows that a football game will be played tonight. The schedule thins out remarkably after a pretty active week, leaving just four games for FanDuel’s contests on Thursday night.
All eyes will be on the 2018 NFL kickoff game between the Atlanta Falcons and defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, and rightfully so. If you have interest in competing in FanDuel’s one-game showdown contest, feel free to take a look at my Eagles vs. Falcons NFL DFS picks.
If not, let’s move along to this tame slate. It’s one with two viable pitchers up top and honestly quite a bit of value to consider. How you build your MLB DFS lineups tonight will depend on how you feel about the pitching. It’s pretty good across the board, so you’re going to want to stack carefully.
Last night brought along some solid success. My value arm worked out nicely (34 fantasy points) and my Rockies stack produced a gem in Trevor Story (3 HR!). I didn’t land enough positive sticks elsewhere, though, and the lineup failed to win.
Here’s my best crack at a GPP-winner for Thursday’s MLB DFS contests at FanDuel:
SP: Luis Castillo – Cincinnati Reds ($8.2k)
Zack Greinke and Stephen Strasburg lead the way at pitcher. Both are viable, but I’m not paying for Stras against the Cubs and Greinke isn’t exactly in the greatest spot against the Braves. He’d be my pick between the two, but on such a small slate I’ll just drop down and use Castillo.
Keep in mind that Castillo is ridiculously volatile. Just look at his recent game logs in term of fantasy points:
This dude doesn’t know who he is as a pitcher yet. The strikeout upside is there, though, and he’ll be facing one of the worst offenses in baseball when the San Diego Padres come to town.
The Padres get a huge park upgrade at Great American Ballpark, but their power usually shows up against southpaws. I absolutely note the risk with Castillo, but he’s a great price for a guy with his K upide with a bad offense entering his home park.
C/1B: Paul Goldschmidt – Arizona Diamondbacks ($4.2k)
Arizona is one offense worth stacking, but Chase Field can be a little more pitcher-friendly these days and Anibal Sanchez has actually been pretty good in 2018. I won’t fully stack the D’Backs, but Goldy can mash anyone and is quite the late-game hammer to lean on to wrap up this small slate.
2B: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. – Toronto Blue Jays ($2.5k)
Gurriel is just a salary saver. I much prefer to use lefties against Shane Bieber, but he’s going into a hitter-friendly park against a pretty powerful lineup. He’s going to have to be careful no matter what and Gurriel has enough pop (.163 ISO) in these spots to take the dive.
3B: Eugenio Suarez – Cincinnati Reds ($3.9k)
Jose Ramirez is the top play at 3B tonight, but he’s just really expensive. I’m sure this will be the game he finally ends his home run streak, but Suarez feels just as good and saves me $800. Suarez boasts nasty splits (.322 ISO) against southpaws and Eric Lauer isn’t unbeatable by any means. The home park edge doesn’t hurt, either.
SS: Jose Peraza – Cincinnati Reds ($2.9k)
I’ll keep the Reds love rolling with Peraza, who doesn’t exactly murder lefties but he connects at a fine enough rate and doesn’t whiff much. If he can simply get a couple hits and score, I think he’ll pay off.
Francisco Lindor is the obvious stud here, but I’m not going to force him into my lineup. I think the Reds are a sneaky stack on this small slate and deviating from popular bats like Joey Votto or Scooter Gennett when stacking Reds could be a good daily fantasy baseball strategy.
OF: Bryce Harper – Washington Nationals ($4.6k)
While I like the Reds, I won’t be eyeing a full stack necessarily. I also like the Nats, who will be at home in a park that is increasingly more hitter-friendly. Kyle Hendricks isn’t a trash arm, but he’s in a tough spot here against a loaded (and veteran) lineup.
I don’t need a big sales pitch for Harper, who loves playing in front of his home crowd and brings a sick .276 ISO to the table against right-handed pitching.
OF: Billy Hamilton – Cincinnati Reds ($2.7k)
It’s all about the steals with Hamilton. He doesn’t have much pop and he’s not very efficient, but if he’s active I just need him to get on base and work his magic. He’s worth a roll of the dice at this price, but Ian Happ ($2.9k) is a fine pivot if you need to go elsewhere.
OF: Juan Soto – Washington Nationals ($3.9k)
If you like Harper, you should show interest in basically all Nats lefties. Kyle Hendricks can be good, but he can have issues on the road and gives up a little more contact to lefty bats. Soto and his .407 wOBA against righties shouldn’t go ignored.
David Peralta and Ronald Acuna are also worth a look here. You’ll just have to move money around if you want to pay for Acuna. I’m not overly into him with a matchup against Greinke in front of him, but if that can make him contrarian on a small slate, he’s worth the risk.
Util: Alex Avila – Arizona Diamondbacks ($2.1k)
I’m admittedly leaving this last slot pretty open-ended. Avila sports solid power against right-handed pitching, but his matchup isn’t amazing and he is not a very efficient hitter. I like the power and the price, but we won’t even know for sure if he’s starting until later in the day.
I’m fine with Avila if he starts, but sliding him in at the utility spot keeps the door open to anyone priced in the $2-$2.1k range that could become appealing throughout the day. The options are still going to be limited on a tiny four-game slate, but playing around with this spot could be something to consider.
The first decision you need to make tonight is what you want to do at pitcher. I see Castillo’s upside as good as anyone on the board and I don’t think anyone offers better value, either. With everyone seemingly at risk and this slate being so small, I’ll just roll Castillo out there and hope we’re on the good side of them this time out.
The park and game logs do make this dicey, but the guy is cheap and facing the Padres. You can hope he’s contrarian, but expecting it might be a mild reach.
The Reds should be fairly contrarian, so hopefully we can differentiate there. If you really want to get bats at low ownership, consider stacking the Padres or load up on Braves against Greinke. Again, it’s such a small slate that playing the ownership game feels like a waste of time.
Regardless, Lauer is one of the better arms to target with hitting tonight and collectively I’m looking at Arizona, Cincy and Washington for small stacks. If you want to just shell out the big bucks for the best possible stack, that’d be the Indians.
Hopefully my MLB DFS picks help you in some fashion tonight. Whatever you decide, I wish you luck!