This article is part of our FanDuel MLB series.
There are only eight games on Thursday's docket, and since two of them are in the afternoon, and one of them is at 6:40 p.m. ET, we're looking at five contests for the main daily fantasy slate.
Your choices are certainly sparser than usual. However, some players still stick out to me as being more enticing than others.
Run, don't walk, to get Aaron Nola ($8,700). I don't care that he has a 6.84 ERA. This is a guy with a 3.35 FIP in his career. The Phillies ace has struck out 9.47 batters per nine innings since his MLB debut, and this year that number is actually up to 10.08. More importantly, he's facing Miami. The Marlins finished last in runs scored last season, and they are last again and falling behind the pack. You will not find a better matchup anywhere, ever, than the Marlins. This is the game where Nola starts to turn his numbers around.
If you want a slightly counter-intuitive choice, I'm intrigued by the Angels' Trevor Cahill ($6,200). His home/road splits have been among the more striking in recent year. Since 2017 he has a 2.24 ERA at home compared to a 6.51 ERA on the road. He may be facing the Yankees, but remember, this is a rather banged-up version of the Bronx Bombers. This is the time to consider a pitcher matching up with New York.
The Red Sox lineup is facing a righty, which means Andrew Benintendi ($3,800) is a name to keep in mind. The southpaw struggles against lefties, but the dude mashes right-handed pitchers. He's never had an issue getting on base (.359 career OBP), and now he's facing Jordan Zimmermann. The Tigers pitcher had to improve his play down the stretch last season to get down to a 4.82 FIP, and since donning the Old English D, he's been giving up homers with gusto.
Because Mookie Betts ($3,900) is off to a somewhat slow start, he's barely pricier than Benintendi. Right now, Betts feels like a tremendous value, and he's bound to pick up the pace. This is the reigning AL MVP, after all. He has a career .884 OPS even with this tough campaign. Zimmermann has a 5.24 ERA over the previous three seasons, and his 4.94 ERA this year is only slightly better.
Of course, the Tigers are facing a struggling pitcher in Rick Porcello, who once upon a time was a Detroit hurler as well. Now he's a guy with a 6.87 FIP through four starts in 2019. For cheap options, I've had a place in my heart for Niko Goodrum ($3,400) since last season. As a rookie, he hit 16 homers and stole 12 bases in 131 games, and he's increased his batting average, OBP, and slugging percentage since his previous campaign.
With only five games on the slate and a few top-notch pitchers on the mound, such as Trevor Bauer and Gerrit Cole going head-to-head, the stacking options aren't great. I'm going with the Mariners at home.
Texas has decided to call up Hearn from Triple-A to get his first MLB start, and he had a 4.05 ERA in Nashville before getting the promotion. Even if they pull the plug swiftly, the Rangers don't have the strongest bullpen, either.
We know Haniger has been a cold-blooded masher since joining the Mariners. He slashed .285/.366/.493 with 26 homers in 157 games last year, and he's hit seven dingers in 26 games to start this campaign.
Santana's last season in Milwaukee was kind of a lost campaign, as he found himself a man without a country thanks to the acquisitions of folks like MVP Christian Yelich and good-but-not-quite-an-MVP Lorenzo Cain. In 2017, though, he hit 30 homers and stole 15 bases, and in his first season with Seattle he's slashed .306/.372/.491.
Lastly, we've got Narvaez at catcher. The lefty stick has been good against righties in his career. In 21 games to start this season, though, he's hitting everybody. Anytime a catcher has a .366 OBP, it's going to draw eyes.