MLB DFS: DraftKings & FanDuel Slate Notes – Thursday Main Slate 4/4/24

Thursday afternoon brings a short turnaround for ballplayers and MLB DFS gamers with a 4:05 ET start time for main slates on both DraftKings and FanDuel. The FanDuel slate includes only the three games in the afternoon in a quick sprint with all three games starting between 4:05 and 4:15. The DraftKings slate stretches to include the evening contest between the White Sox and Royals at 7:40 ET, adding Michael Soroka and Seth Lugo to a woefully shallow pitching slate. The short FanDuel board features a mix of three pitchers who seem more playable and three who are the clearer targets of the day. There are also weather concerns to deal with for the game in Washington, the Pirates and Nationals could start in a delay but Washington is notoriously fickle with how they handle rain, so the situation is worth monitoring with two target teams in play.

Don’t miss our Hitter Projections, including custom Home Run ratings for each player, and Pitcher Projections for more on the top opportunities today.

Note: All analysis is written utilizing available projected lineups as of the early morning, pay close attention to confirmed lineups and adjust accordingly. This article is posted and updated as it is written, so if a game has not been filled in, check back in a few minutes. Update notes are provided as lineups are confirmed to the best of our ability. Still, lineup changes are not typically updated as lock approaches, so stay tuned to official news for any late changes.

MLB DFS: Game by Game Main Slate Notes – 4/4/24

Pittsburgh Pirates (-114/4.66) @ Washington Nationals (+105/4.44)

  • This game has a moderate threat of postponement
  • The Pirates rocket to the top of today’s home run board and stacks board against right-handed DFS target Josiah Gray, who we have stacked against game after game for several seasons. Gray has major issues with keeping the ball in the yard and allowing runs, something that has plagued him throughout his career. While he is capable of breaking off a good start from time to time, the righty has never put things together with any consistency in the Show. Gray posted a 3.91 ERA with a more revealing 5.12 xFIP to go with a limited 20.5% strikeout rate and an ugly 11.5% walk rate last season. The 3.15% home run rate that he allowed was a big step up from previous seasons but he still yielded a concerning 9.4% barrel rate to opposing hitters. In 2022, Gray allowed a 5.86% home run rate on 10.7% barrels and he was at an unheard-of 6.19% on 12.2% barrels the season before. The pitcher has grown some over the past three seasons, but he remains a prime target for bats as demonstrated in his first start of the season, a four-inning mess at Cincinnati in which he was tagged for a pair of home runs while allowing eight hits and seven earned runs in 4.0 innings. Gray has some strikeout upside on this slate, he managed to punch out six Reds in with the bad in his first start, but he only seems able to display enough command to get through a game cleanly when he is not striking out hitters, a bad sacrifice to make for DFS purposes.
  • The Pirates were a near hit last night, the team squandered several opportunities but still managed to post a few solid fantasy scores even while not paying off full stacks, we are going right back to them in one of our favorite matchups in baseball. Oneil Cruz should drop back into the leadoff spot on this slate, the lefty shortstop has a tremendous 14.68 in our home run model today for $3,500/$5,500. Bryan Reynolds is also above the magic number for home run power, as are two more teammates further down the lineup. Reynolds’ 12.44 mark sits third on the team, the outfielder also has good bat-to-ball skills and speed, he slashed .263/.330/.460 with a 110 WRC+, hitting 24 home runs and stealing 12 bases last year. Ke’Bryan Hayes put up a rough start last night but his season began on the right foot after a strong 2023, Hayes is a likely candidate to have a good overall season and he is very affordable in a great matchup at $3,200/$4,700. Jack Suwinski delivered as yesterday’s overall home run pick of the day, though he managed the feat after the Nationals brought in a left-handed reliever to face him. The slugging Suwinski lands at 13.40, second on the team, in today’s home run model, he has a terrific shot to go over the fence on back-to-back days and he is a crucial component in Pirates stacks. Andrew McCutchen costs $2,600/$4,400 and provides reliable on-base skills with a bit of remaining power and speed, McCutchen is a good source of correlated scoring that can create points on his own. Rowdy Tellez has lefty power against the weak homer-prone righty, he is today’s home run pick from this team at 11.87 in the model. Tellez hit only 12 home runs in 351 chances last year but had 35 in a full season in 2022. Henry Davis is a second-year player with tremendous upside, the former top prospect slots in as an affordable $3,800 catcher on DraftKings and he retains his outfield eligibility for $2,700 on FanDuel. Jared Triolo had a strong triple-slash with a bit of stolen base skill as a candidate to reset the table at the bottom of the lineup and column favorite Michael A. Taylor is always sneaky for power and speed from the ninth spot. Taylor has played every day for the Pirates so far, enhancing his value beyond the part-time role that saw him hit 21 home runs and steal 13 bases in 388 plate appearances last season, he is never expensive or popular. With many of the Pirates owned in the 20-30% range on FanDuel’s four-game slate last night, Taylor went off at a tidy 6.6%.
  • Veteran southpaw Martin Perez takes the hill for his second start against a Nationals team that was quite a bit better against lefties last season. Perez worked 4.1 innings and allowed one earned run on six hits while walking three and striking out only two in his first start of the season, the 33-year-old had a 15.3% strikeout rate and 4.45 ERA with a 4.96 xFIP over 141.2 innings and 20 starts last season, he is a targetable pitcher for DFS purposes and a tough ask for pitching shares on either site at $7,300/$7,000 even on a short slate.
  • As a team, the Nationals were at league average for run creation with a .266/.324/.415 triple-slash and just an 18.2% strikeout rate against lefties last year and 11% worse than average for run creation with a .248/.309/.387 triple-slash against righties. The team is not outstanding in any capacity and they will likely lose the power bat of Joey Gallo in this matchup, but they did display a bit of a knack for getting to lefties and some of their key hitters excel in the split. Unfortunately, this does not apply to team star CJ Abrams, who made 169 plate appearances against same-handed pitching last year and went just .166/.240/.272 with a run creation mark 60% worse than the league average. Lane Thomas picks up the slack after Abrams in the projected version of the lineup, the right-handed outfielder was terrific against lefties last season, slashing .331/.375/.573 with a .242 ISO, nine home runs, and a 153 WRC+ in his 192 opportunities in the split. Thomas is a go-to bat in the Nationals lineup and he makes for a handy but popular one-off play. Joey Meneses slashed .291/.337/.434 with two home runs and a 109 WRC+ against lefties last season, he is easy to afford at $2,800/$4,300 on a cheap Nationals team. Keibert Ruiz is an everyday catcher who hits from both sides of the plate, as a righty against lefties, Ruiz slashed .289/.327/.403 with a 98 WRC+ and one home run but he struck out at just a 6.3% clip and walked in 3.8% of his plate appearances, meaning everything is put in play, a benefit for DFS upside. Jesse Winker is in the projected version of the lineup, the lefty has been ill over the past few days but is expected to return at $3,400/$2,300. Winker has not done well against same-handed pitching for his career, over 460 plate appearances he is slashing .204/.320/.337 with a .133 ISO and 86 WRC+. Trey Lipscomb is a right-handed third base option who delivered a good average but not much in the way of power in his run through the minor leagues, Ildemaro Vargas is a light-hitting infielder with cheap multi-positional eligibility, and Riley Adams slides into the projected lineup as a second catcher option. Adams hit three home runs in just 76 plate appearances with a .232 ISO and a 159 WRC+ against left-handed pitching last season. Nasim Nunez rounds out the projected lineup for the minimum price at shortstop on both sites.

Play: Pirates bats/stacks, Nationals bats/stacks

Update: The Pirates lineup is confirmed as expected, the Nationals have Joey Gallo in the lineup hitting cleanup after all, Riley Adams is in a strong spot hitting fifth which should boost his projection slightly against a lefty.

Cleveland Guardians (+138/3.42) @ Minnesota Twins (-151/4.17)

  • The best pitching matchup of the day pits Pablo Lopez against Tanner Bibee with the Twins favored at home and carrying a 4.17-run implied total to the 3.42 mark the Guardians are pulling in. Lopez is the more experienced of the two righties, the veteran came to Minnesota ahead of last season and took a major step forward, finishing fourth in the league in strikeouts and posting career numbers across the board. Lopez worked 194.0 innings in 32 starts, striking out 29.2% of opposing hitters while pitching to a 3.66 ERA and 3.29 xFIP with just a 6.0% walk rate. His 1.15 WHIP was a strong mark for limiting opportunities, he gave up just a 6.3% barrel rate and 3.0% home run rate and managed an elite 14.5% swinging-strike rate. Lopez has been a talented pitcher, he was good with Miami but he stepped up to near great last year. In his first outing of 2024, Lopez worked seven innings, striking out seven and allowing just a solo home run and three other hits to 24 Royals hitters. Lopez is a strong option at the top of our pitching projections today against a Guardians lineup with more strikeouts in it this season. For $10,600/$9,800 it is easy enough to reach the starter on either site given the available hitting value.
  • Guardians hitters could be looking at a long night. Several of the options near the top of the lineup are good at limiting strikeouts, including Steven Kwan, who is a light-hitting leadoff lefty. Kwan needs help from Andres Gimenez and Jose Ramirez to do anything noteworthy on most DFS slates, he has speed but his value comes from correlated scoring in stacks. Gimenez hit 15 home runs and stolen 30 bases in an underappreciated 2023 season, he also struck out at just an 18.2% clip. Jose Ramirez is a star for just $3,800/$5,800, he has a 9.08 in the home run model to lead the team and is the Guardians’ best chance for run creation on any given slate. Ramirez had a 123 WRC+ over his 691 plate appearances last year and he struck out just 10.6% of the time. Josh Naylor was also better than average for avoiding Ks at 13.7% last season. The lefty missed the expected power marks, coming up with just 17 home runs and a .181 ISO in his 495 plate appearances but was very good overall in 2023. Naylor slashed .308/.354/.489 with a 128 WRC+ for the season and is off to a .318/.370/.545 start with a home run in his 27 plate appearances this season. Tyler Freeman is a cheap option with multi-position eligibility, he had four home runs and five stolen bases in his 168 plate appearances last season but was 16% below average for run creation. Will Brennan is a moderately capable lefty who fits the team theme of station-to-station baseball and lacks overall power at the plate. Bo Naylor has a bit of cheap catcher power but he strikes out fairly aggressively, Estevan Florial may not be a full Major League talent and is an aggressive free swinger, as is Brayan Rocchio, the bottom of the lineup could help bolster the strikeout total for Lopez tonight. The Guardians rank near the bottom of the stack and power boards.
  • On the other side, Tanner Bibee checks in as the second-best pitching option by fantasy projections on both sites. Bibee costs $9,000/$9,200 on this slate and could only be hampered by his team not helping him reach bonuses that his direct opponent does achieve. The right-handed second-year starter threw 142 innings over 25 starts last season, posting a 2.98 ERA and a 4.22 xFIP with a strong 24.1% strikeout rate. Bibee has all the look and production of a polished starter who was ready on day one, he is well worth the investment of salary and could win the day given the Twins’ aggressively high strikeout numbers.
  • Minnesota’s lineup has one player over the magic number for home run power against Bibee, who only allowed a 2.22% home run rate on a 6.1% barrel rate last season as a rookie. Byron Buxton is slated to hit third in the projected lineup, he sits at 10.78 in the home run model. The fragile (“it must be Italian”) superstar outfielder can still mash when he is in the lineup but has a lot of work to do to regain his previous form. In 347 plate appearances last year, Buxton managed 17 home runs and nine stolen bases but slashed a mere .207/.294/.438 and was two percent below average for run creation. Premium contact is still available in abundance however, Buxton’s 14.6% barrel rate and 45.7% hard-hit rates were both down year-over-year but remain strong and he managed a .230 ISO for the short season. The outfielder follows lefties Edouard Julien and Alex Kirilloff in the confirmed version of the Twins lineup. Julien had a good rookie campaign, hitting 16 homers and stealing three bases while creating runs 36% better than average on a strong .263/.381/.459 triple-slash. Kirilloff has yet to ascend to forecasted levels of production but his 319 plate appearances last year were not worthless, he slashed .270/.348/.445 with 11 home runs and a 120 WRC+ but his power was lacking given a 7.4% barrel rate and 37.8% hard hits that amounted to only a .174 ISO. Max Kepler is a solid left-handed power hitter who lands behind Buxton in the cleanup spot. Kepler has a 7.43 in tonight’s home run model, his 12.2% barrel rate and 47.6% had-hit mark from last season were both strong and he consistently delivers mid-20s home run totals. Carlos Correa fills shortstop at a fair price for the ceiling that he provides on any given slate, the former Astros star costs just $3,100/$4,200 tonight with a 6.80 in the home run model. Carlos Santana offers pop from either side of the plate; the switch-hitter blasted 23 home runs in 619 plate appearances last season. Matt Wallner is a young lefty slugger who had an extreme 18.8% barrel rate and a 48.1% hard-hit rate over a small sample of 254 plate appearances last season. Wallner hit 14 home runs and posted a .258 ISO while creating runs 44% better than average in the tiny sample last year, he is a highly regarded power-hitting prospect but that output was not expected in full. Wallner is cheap at $2,600/$3,000 with one hit and five strikeouts in his 10 plate appearances this season. Willi Castro is an OK source of stolen bases toward the bottom of the lineup, he swiped 33 in his 409 plate appearances last year, and the lineup closes out with afterthought catcher Christian Vazquez.

Play: Pablo Lopez, Tanner Bibbee, hedge stacks of Twins

Update: The Guardians are rolling with their projected lineup. The Twins lineup was confirmed in the original cut.

Miami Marlins (+138/3.87) @ St. Louis Cardinals (-151/4.73)

  • Aging righty Lance Lynn had a rough 2023. Lynn made it through 32 starts and threw 183.2 innings with a 23.6% strikeout rate but worked to just a 5.73 ERA with a 4.50 xFIP for the season that was far better while still falling short of good. Most concerningly, Lynn allowed a surprising amount of power and premium contact, coughing up a 10.4% barrel rate with a 5.45% home run rate for the season. The righty did show some good signs of continued success, his 12.9% swinging-strike rate is healthy but his 26.5% CSW% could improve and his overall strikeout rate was not far off the mark from previous seasons. The 27-29% strikeout version of Lynn is probably gone, but he could manage much better run totals this season and post strong starts for DFS purposes at fair prices. The Marlins are not a total pushover but they are not a threatening team on the whole and they are without last year’s standout slugger Jorge Soler, whose power was not replaced in the lineup for this season. Lynn ranks third on the short pitching slate for $8,500/$8,100, he is playable on either site and it is fair to expect more innings than the four he managed in his first start of the season against the Dodgers last week. Lynn was not bad in that outing, he faced 17 Dodgers hitters and struck out five while walking one and allowing four hits but no runs.
  • The Marlins are underdogs with a 3.87-run implied total, the team has several good pieces and they are all easy to reach on both sites but we prefer the Lynn side in a head-to-head decision. Luis Arraez leads off for Miami, he flirted with .400 over the first half of last year and finished with a strong .354/.393/.469 triple slash and a 132 WRC+ but he needs help to create full value for fantasy scoring. Arraez is cheap at $2,700/$4,600 and fills second base on both sites, he is not a bad one-off consideration given his pricing and the ability to pay if off with a few hits, if he scores runs he will make full value but the short slate may not need that much for a victory. Josh Bell hits from both sides of the plate, he has medium power and managed 22 homers in 617 plate appearances last year. Bell is a $2,900/$4,100 first baseman and he is followed by Jake Burger, who mashes from the right side and fills both corner infield spots. Burger blasted 34 home runs in 540 plate appearances in a breakout 2023 between the White Sox and Marlins, his 16.7% barrel rate and 49.3% hard-hit rate are excellent contact marks and he delivered that power while also lowering his strikeout rate from 30.6% to 27.6% year-over-year. Burger leads the Marlins at 9.20 in our home run model today. Jazz Chisholm Jr. is not far behind at 8.95. Chisholm missed a large portion of last season but had 19 home runs and 22 stolen bases in the 384 plate appearances he made. The outfielder has not had a good start over 30 plate appearances, an entirely irrelevant sample, he is slashing just .130/.333/.304 and has created runs 24% worse than average over the team’s first seven games. Chisholm remains worth the investment at $3,300/$5,100. Bryan De La Cruz and Jesus Sanchez bring good righty-lefty power to the heart of the lineup. De La Cruz hit 19 long balls in 627 plate appearances and Sanchez had 14 in his 402 chances last year. Tim Anderson has five singles and a double with two walks, a run, and an RBI over his first 28 plate appearances in seven games. Anderson’s start is important, he barely found a job in the offseason after washing out in Chicago last year and needs to get out on the right foot. The shortstop slashed .301/.339/.395 in 2022 and .309/.338/.469 in 2021 before cratering to .245/.286/.296 last season with a WRC+ mark 40% below average. Anderson remains cheap at $2,400/$3,900 at shortstop, we are still betting on the turnaround this season. Nick Gordon and Christian Bethancourt round out the projected Marlins lineup.
  • Lefty Ryan Weathers is a target for Cardinals bats on this slate. St. Louis has four hitters who are over the magic number for home run potential, including a run of three right-handed veteran sluggers from two-four in the lineup. Weathers had a 6.55 ERA with a 5.56 xFIP and a 16.7% strikeout rate while allowing a 4.67% home run rate last season, he is only in the rotation because of several injuries to other Marlins starters. In his first outing this season, the southpaw worked 4.0 innings and struck out five, but he allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks and was not good overall.
  • Brendan Donovan may not play today, he left last night’s game after getting hit by a pitch, one of several Cardinals to get plunked in that game. Donovan is a good leadoff option, even against a lefty, ahead of the team’s right-handed power core and he can deliver production on his own on the right day. Paul Goldschmidt is the home run pick of the day at 12.37 in the model. Goldschmidt hit 25 long balls with a .179 ISO, an 11.9% barrel rate, and 50.7% hard hits last season. Nolan Arenado had 26 homers in 2023 with a .193 ISO while creating runs seven percent better than average. The third baseman costs just $3,000/$4,800 making him very easy to reach in an excellent spot for power. Arenado has a  12.27 in the home run model tonight. Catcher Willson Contreras is an easy option where the position is required and he can be utilized where it is not, part of his action comes as the team’s designated hitter in real life. Contreras has a very good bat for the position, he hit 20 home runs last season while slashing .264/.358/.467 with a .203 ISO and 127 WRC+. The backstop has an 11.14 in the home run model today. Jordan Walker is another right-handed hitter, the outfielder slides in at a cheap $2,600/$3,900 and helps average down the pricing of the stars ahead of him in stacks. Walker hit 16 home runs in 465 chances last year, posting a 42.5% hard-hit rate with a 22.4% strikeout rate. Ivan Herrera will be in the lineup if Contreras is at DH. The catcher has taken his time arriving in the Show and is somewhat positionally blocked but he should see more plate appearances this season and he has skills for moderate power with a bit of stolen base potential and good on-base skills. Nolan Gorman has a 12.60 in the home run model against a same-handed pitcher today, the second baseman is affordable even down the lineup and he has the potential to surprise at low ownership if he plays. Masyn Winn and speedy Victor Scott round out the projected batting order.

Play: Cardinals bats/stacks, Lance Lynn

Update: The Marlins lineup is as expected but the Cardinals move Victor Scott to an excellent position leading off ahead of the right-handed power bats. Ivan Herrera moves up to the cleanup role with Contreras getting a full day off, and Gorman hitting fifth ahead of Walker-Burleson-Winn-Siani.

Chicago White Sox (+155/3.52) @ Kansas City Royals (-169/4.58)

  • The final game on deck is only available on the DraftKings slate (there are single-game FanDuel contests for it).
  • Righty Seth Lugo is on the mound for Kansas City for $8,300 tonight. Lugo made 26 starts last season and posted a 23.2% strikeout rate with a nine percent swinging strike rate and a 27.7% CSW%. The righty had a solid 3.57 ERA backed up by a 3.76 xFIP for the season. Lugo was a bit of a target for power, he allowed a 9.6% barrel rate and 3.15% home runs on a 44.2% hard-hit rate and 90.7 mph of exit velocity on average but he is a capable enough starter against a lousy White Sox squad. Lugo is on the board with a reasonable projection for the salary on this slate, he is playable against this team.
  • Andrew Benintendi is in the projected leadoff spot for Chicago, hitting ahead of Yoan Moncada. Neither player truly reached their expected potential in the Show, but have become more hit-tool focused and lack significant power, though between the two it is Moncada that one wants for any hope at home run upside. Benintendi had five homers and 13 steals in 621 plate appearances last season while Moncada hit 11 homers and created runs two percent below average for the year. Luis Robert Jr. is the team’s star player and, with Eloy Jimenez injured again, the bulk of the offense. Robert hit 38 homers and stole 20 bases last season, he has fantastic any-given-slate upside but very little support in the lineup. Robert makes a fair one-off target at just $5,300. Gavin Sheets has moderate lefty pop, he hit 10 home runs in 344 chances last season but had just a 5.2% barrel rate and 32.5% hard hits. Andrew Vaughn hits the ball hard and delivered 21 home runs last season. Vaughn is the second-best option behind Robert on this team in this form, the first baseman costs $3,900 on this slate and has an 8.13 in the home run model with Robert’s 11.36 leading the team. Braden Shewmake hits from the left side and fills shortstop for just $2,300, he has a 4.74 in the home run model but there is a reason he has only made 14 plate appearances in the Show midway through his age-26 season. Nicky LopezDominic Fletcher, and Martin Maldonado are not priority bats late in the lineup, though Maldonado can always deliver a cheap low-owned catcher home run and Fletcher managed to slash .301/.350/.441 with a 113 WRC+ over 102 plate appearances last year.
  • Righty Michael Soroka had a bumpy return to the mound in his first start with Chicago last week. Soroka lasted five innings and faced 24 hitters but he struck out zero while walking three and allowing four runs on seven hits including a home run. The righty was derailed badly by injuries after debuting as a high-end prospect, he is trying to make it back after six starts and 32.1 innings last year amounted to a 6.40 ERA with a 4.69 xFIP, a 20% strikeout rate, and a 6.21% home run rate. Soroka is difficult to trust even against this Royals squad at $6,600.
  • Maikel Garcia starts the lineup at $4,300 filling third base. Garcia slashed .272/.323/.358 with four home runs and 23 stolen bases last year, if he can improve on a 7.4% walk rate he could be a cozy fit atop the lineup. Bobby Witt Jr. is a star for $6,300 at shortstop but that also makes him the most expensive overall position play on the DraftKings slate. Witt hit 30 home runs and stole 49 bases last year and his 2024 is off to a strong start with a pair of home runs, four doubles, three singles, a triple, two walks, six runs, and two stolen bases in just six games and 25 plate appearances (.400/.464/.880 with a 281 WRC+ and .480 ISO). Witt is still only 24 years old, there is more room to grow for the star shortstop, he is easily worth the salary in stacks with cheaper teammates. Vinnie Pasquantino has a good bat, he struck out at just an 11.9% clip last year and hit nine home runs in his 260 plate appearances. The first baseman is cheap for his talent at $4,600. Sal Perez fills catcher or first base for $4,400, he has a pair of home runs in his first 25 plate appearances this year and a knack for the long ball. MJ Melendez is our Royals home run pick for the day at 7,46 in the model, slightly behind right-handed sixth hitter Hunter Renfroe, who brings a track record of prodigious power to bear. Melendez is a player we are expecting to break out based on his contact skills but he has a lot of growing to do, Renfroe we are banking on a return to form after a dip to just 20 home runs with Los Angeles last season. Adam Frazier is a slap-hitting option for a cheap price at second base, Nelson Velazquez is an interesting power option late in the lineup, he has a 7.22 in the home run model after posting a .352 ISO with 17 home runs in just 179 plate appearances last year. Kyle Isbel closes out the lineup as a mix-in option with a touch of speed.

Play: Royals bats/stacks, Seth Lugo 

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