Every weekday during the MLB season, we’ll provide you with our ultimate DFS cash game lineup. Please note that the column is written in the morning, and you should check all lineups to make sure the players we’ve recommended are starting that day. On June 2 we have three early games: San Francisco at Atlanta (12:10 p.m.), Arizona at Houston (2:10 p.m.) and Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago Cubs (2:20 p.m.). Several of our recommendations are playing in the later of the early-start games, but none come from San Francisco-Atlanta, so get your lineups set as soon as possible.
Starting pitcher: Kyle Hendricks ($8,900) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers and Matt Moore ($8,100) @ Minnesota
We’re going with a couple of pitchers in the second pricing tier while acknowledging that Madison Bumgarner is by far the best, safest option on the board. The problem is it’s hard to find a pitcher to pair with him while leaving enough money for your offense. Hendricks had the best start of his career his last time out, needing just 104 pitches to finish off a complete game against the Phillies. Hendricks now sports a 2.93 ERA, 2.78 FIP, 0.98 WHIP and 45 strikeouts in 55 1/3 innings, making his spring backers look awfully good into June. He has allowed six runs while fanning 22 batters in his last 26 1/3 innings.
Moore has been beyond frustrating, especially after he flashed signs of dominance in April. Despite the fact that he has a 5.31 ERA and 1.47 WHIP, there’s still plenty of reason to like him in this spot against the Twins. First is the strikeout upside. Even though he scuffled through a terrible May, he whiffed 21 batters in 25 2/3 innings. Second is the matchup with a Twins team that ranks 24th in wOBA and sixth in strikeout rate. Remember, too, that Miguel Sano is on the DL. That might cut their strikeout rate, but his absence is still a net positive for Moore.
Catcher: Welington Castillo ($3,200) @ Houston, Dallas Keuchel
Castillo has really struggled over the last few weeks, seeing his slash line dip to .265/.311/.457 in the process. The pop is still there, however, and he should be in the lineup over Chris Herrmann with the lefty Keuchel on the mound. In 54 plate appearances against lefties this season, Castillo is hitting .300/.352/.680 with five homers, four doubles and 11 RBI.
First base: Miguel Cabrera ($4,500) vs. New York Yankees, Michael Pineda
Pineda has been one of the worst pitchers in the majors this season, racking up a 6.92 ERA and 1.65 WHIP in 53 1/3 innings. Cabrera and the Tigers should be able to take advantage. Cabrera cooled off at the end of May after raking through the first three weeks of the month, but we’re still looking at a superstar with a .301/.376/.541 slash line going up against a potentially overmatched pitcher.
Second base: Whit Merrifield ($3,600) @ Cleveland, Carlos Carrasco
Merrifield is 18-for-50 in 12 games with the Royals, including 16-for-42 (.381) over his last nine, all starts. It’s likely he has earned the chance to prove he should be the team’s starting second baseman over Omar Infante. What’s more, Merrifield has hit second in all of those games, a great spot right in front of Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer. For what it’s worth, Carrasco is expected to be limited to about 80 pitches in his return from the DL.
Third base: Kris Bryant ($4,800) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, Julio Urias
Bryant provided all the offense in the Cubs 2-1 win over the Dodgers on Wednesday with a two-run homer off Mike Bolsinger. It was his seventh homer since May 13, a span covering 18 games, and helped push his slash line to .280/.366/.510 for the season. Bryant does have some reverse splits this year, but the Dodgers are asking a lot of Urias to deal with this Cubs lineup in his second career start.
Shortstop: Carlos Correa ($3,400) vs. Arizona, Zack Greinke
On Wednesday, we said Correa’s $3,600 price tag seemed to good to be true and almost forced you to use him. He went 2-for-5 with a triple and an RBI, and then saw his price drop $200, likely because of a matchup with Greinke. You know what to do here. Correa has six hits, including a homer and Wednesday’s triple, and four walks in his last 16 trips to the plate.
Outfield: Mookie Betts ($5,500) @ Baltimore, Ubaldo Jimenez; Lorenzo Cain ($4,400) @ Cleveland, Carlos Carrasco; Cameron Maybin ($3,500) vs. New York Yankees, Michael Pineda
Baseball really isn’t as easy as Betts has made it look the last few days, but getting him in your Thursday DFS lineup is as easy and obvious as it seems. In case you’ve somehow missed it, Betts has five homers in his last 10 plate appearances, and the only reason it isn’t more is because the Orioles walked him twice after he left the yard in his first two at-bats Wednesday. The 23-year-old has one of the most remarkable lines in the majors this year, hitting .288/.335/.549 with 14 homers, 11 doubles, four triples, 51 runs, 42 RBI and eight steals. Cain is also one of the hottest hitters in baseball, going 10-for-21 with two homers on his five-game hitting streak. He has multi-hit games in eight of his last 11 contests. Finally, we round things out with an affordable Maybin, who has slowed down predictably over the last week, but still matches up quite well with Pineda. He also gives us a mini-stack by joining Cabrera in our lineup.