Thursday features a four-game main slate on FanDuel and a five-game main slate on DraftKings, starting at 4:05 p.m. ET.

Note: The STL @ DET game has been postponed.

It’s vital to differentiate on a short slate, so refer to ownership projections in the model for the latest estimates when setting your lineups. Let’s dive right in.

Pitchers

Thursday’s slate has just one pitcher priced above the $9,000 mark on FanDuel.

Studs

  • Yu Darvish (R), $9,600, CHC vs. MIL

Darvish comes into Thursday as the most expensive pitcher on both sites in a home bout against the Milwaukee Brewers. He’s been sharp to start the season, pitching to a razor-thin 1.68 FIP over three starts. His strikeout rate is down (8.47 K/9 versus 11.5K/9 in 2019), but his 30.4% hard hit rate is in line with his career norms. His average fastball velocity is also up from last season, hitting an average of 95.6 mph (94.3 mph in 2019). Given those factors, it’s likely we see the strikeout rate creep up as the season progresses.

We may start to see that on Thursday night against a Brewers team striking out 27% of the time and hitting to a slightly above league average .331 wOBA. They’ve struggled to score runs lately, though, averaging just 3.3 runs/game over their past three games. Darvish found success against the Brewers in 2019, pitching to 0.90 ERA and striking out 15 batters in 10 innings pitched. He’s a strong play on Thursday night based on the matchup, but given the short slate, he should be very popular.

Consider him a strong cash game play, but in guaranteed prize pools (GPPs), it may be wise to look elsewhere.

Values

Jake Arrieta was strong in his last start, pitching six innings of shutout baseball while striking out six batters. The numbers indicate he’s been getting a bit lucky, though, as his 3.85 FIP is nearly a run and half higher than his 2.45 ERA. His 46.7% hard hit rate is also very high.

He’ll turn his attention to the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday, a team that has been hot as of late, scoring 31 runs over their past four games. That said, their overall season numbers are just average, hitting to a .327 wOBA and striking out 24.7% of the time. Given the general perception of Baltimore as a poor hitting team, Arrieta will likely be very popular on a short slate. Given his FIP differential and elevated hard hit rate, there is more risk here that one might expect.

At $8,300 — the third-most expensive option on FanDuel — it may be wise to look elsewhere.

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images. Pictured: Jake Arrieta

Anthony DeSclafani has yet to allow an earned run in 2020, pitching 11 scoreless innings and collecting a 1.85 FIP over his first two starts. On Thursday, he takes on a Pittsburgh Pirates team with a projected lineup that has a poor .283 wOBA so far on the season. While his strikeouts are down to start the year (6.55 K/9), his 9.02 K/9 from last season was strong. The Reds also come in a -169 favorite and the Pirates have a slate-low 3.9 implied run total. DeSclafani is the top-rated pitcher in the Bales Model and comes in with 5 Pro Trends.

He should come with relatively low ownership in this one, making him an attractive GPP target at his $7,100 salary.

Fastballs

Tyler Glasnow struggled in his last start, lasting just 2.2 innings and giving up four earned runs against the New York Yankees. Things won’t be easier against a strong Boston Red Sox lineup, but there is reason for optimism. Glasnow was strong against the Sox in 2019, striking out 21 batters over 15 innings and pitching to a solid 2.40 ERA. Given the price and matchup, he’ll likely be lower owned, making him a strong GPP target. He’s $8,800 on FanDuel.

Trevor Williams has pitched well so far, collecting a 3.52 ERA so far in his first three starts. His 4.52 FIP indicates he’s been a bit lucky, and his 5.12 FIP from a season ago shows that there may be some negative regression coming. The matchup is strong on-paper against a Cincinnati Reds team hitting to a .307 wOBA and striking out 26.9% of the time, but there is real risk in rolling with Williams at his $7,100 price tag.

Notable Stacks

With the Lineup Builder, it’s easy to incorporate stacks into DFS lineups. Thursday’s top five-man on DraftKings (per the Bales Model) belongs to the Philadelphia Phillies:

  • 1. Andrew McCutchen (R)
  • 2. Rhys Hoskins (R)
  • 3. Bryce Harper (L)
  • 4. JT Realmuto (R)
  • 5. Didi Gregorious (L)

The Philadelphia Phillies will likely be popular on Thursday when they take on second year pitcher Tom Eschelman. Eschelman struggled mightily in his first big league season, pitching to a 7.33 FIP and allowing 2.75 HR/9 in 2019. Bryce Harper has been electric so far this season, hitting an absurd .483 wOBA and .317 ISO so far to go along with 211 wRC+. Rhys Hoskins also grades out well (.326 wOBA and .213 ISO against righties in 2019), and he is very reasonably priced at just $3,000 on FanDuel.

The Phillies have the highest implied total on the slate (5.6 runs), so you’ll absolutely need to differentiate elsewhere, either via starting pitcher or a lower-owned mini-stack, if you’re considering playing this stack.

Total Salary: $23,800

The Chicago Cubs also rank highly as a four-man stack on FanDuel (per the Bales Model):

  • 1. Kris Bryant (R)
  • 2. Anthony Rizzo (L)
  • 3. Javier Baez (R)
  • 5. Kyle Schwarber (L)

The Chicago Cubs take on lefty Brett Anderson, a league-average pitcher (at best) that’s struggled so far this season, earning a 5.62 FIP over his first two starts. He’s limited the long ball over the past three seasons (1.12 HR/9 or less), but he allowed a 40% hard contact rate in 2019 and 42.3% so far in 2020.

Kris Bryant was exceptional against southpaws last season, hitting to the tune of a .532 wOBA. Javier Baez was also very strong, collecting a .391 wOBA and .314 ISO himself against left-handed pitching. Both players are below the $4,000 mark on FanDuel.

Total Salary: $14,400

Other Batters

Mike Brosseau is an extreme value at just $2,600 on FanDuel. He’s projected to lead off for the Tampa Bay Rays and has excellent numbers vs. lefties this season, hitting to a .576 wOBA and .600 ISO so far in 20 plate appearances. The Rays also have an implied total of 5.3 runs, making him a good investment at his price tag, even if it’s just as a one-off play.

Joey Votto has struggled so far this season, but has hit right-handed pitching well, collecting a .344 wOBA in such situations. He also found success against righties in 2019, hitting to a .346 wOBA over 432 plate appearances. He’s batting third in a game where the Reds have a 5.2 implied run total, so he’ll be in a good spot to produce. He’s only $3,200 on FanDuel.

Teammate Nick Castellanos is a good pairing with Votto for any mini-stacks on Thursday. Castellanos has been hitting the ball well this season, smashing seven home runs so far in 18 games. He’s also been lights out against righties, with a .454 wOBA and even more impressive .435 ISO. He’s expensive at $4,000 on FanDuel, but he should prove worth spending up for.