The MLB heads into the third week of the regular season with a busy Monday night fantasy baseball slate featuring nine games under the lights. The weather looks fairly clear overall, and three of the games are being held in stadiums with the option of playing indoors. With so many options to choose from, you’ll want to pinpoint just the right matchup to maximize production.
If you are looking to pay up for big bats or expensive starting pitching, you might need to balance our your roster with some bargain plays. Here are my top five options with affordable salaries but significant upside.
SP TREVOR CAHILL, LAA at TEX, $7,100
Cahill was a late addition to this fantasy baseball slate after the Angels and Cubs had their game postponed Sunday. Cahill now gets a two-start week facing the Rangers today and the Mariners on Saturday. The 11-year veteran has started the season strong, lasting exactly six innings in each of his three starts. He struggled a little bit against Oakland in his first start but bounced back with strong outings against the Mariners and Brewers. He had more than 19 DKFP in each of those starts and picked up 13 strikeouts in 12 innings.
A week ago, Cahill earned his first win of the season, allowing two runs on five hits against the Brewers and striking out eight. His 25.3 DKFP was a season-high and shows where his ceiling is at this point. He hasn’t thrown more than 90 pitches in any start but still has been very productive due to his efficiency.
SP MARTÍN PÉREZ, MIN vs. TOR, $6,400
Pérez will get his first start of the season as the Twins welcome in the Blue Jays to start the week. The former Rangers lefty has made some mechanical adjustments for this season and has picked up some added velocity. He has appeared in three games out of the bullpen and struck on 12 in just 8 1/3 innings with a high whiff rate. However, he also has struggled with control, walking nine batters and posting a 7.56 ERA.
In this start, he’ll be in a solid matchup against Toronto’s lineup, which is hitting just .207 against southpaws this season with 46 strikeouts in 150 at-bats. If Pérez can minimize his wildness and stay consistent, he has a high ceiling and a good shot at a win, but he will be a boom-or-bust play given his inconsistencies out of the bullpen so far this season.
C WILSON RAMOS, NYM at PHI, $3,600
Ramos will face the Phillies for the first time since he left them and signed with the Mets this offseason. In his time in Philadelphia, he enjoyed Citizens Bank Park, going 19-for-50 (.380) with four doubles, a triple and a .946 OPS. He has continued to be one of the best hitting catchers in fantasy baseball this season, starting 15-for-44 (.341) with a double, six walks, eight RBI and a .784 OPS.
Sometimes catcher can be a tricky spot, but Ramos offers solid value as he faces his former battery-mate Aaron Nola ($9,600), who he is 3-for-8 against with a double in his career. Ramos usually hits in a good run-producing spot in the Mets’ lineup and just had a day off Saturday, so he should be in the lineup in Philadelphia for the Mets’ first game this season against their NL East rivals.
OF MATT KEMP, CIN at LAD, $3,300
Like Ramos, Kemp will be making his return to where he played last year as the Reds roll into Los Angeles to face the Dodgers. Kemp was traded to the Reds in the Yasiel Puig ($3,600) trade and has continued to show he still can chip in production when given the chance. Kemp is just 6-for-37 (.162) on the season but all six of those hits, including a home run, have come in his past 10 games. He has hit safely in three of his past four starts and will try to continue producing as he takes on his former teammate Clayton Kershaw ($9,800) coming off the DL.
Kemp should get the start against the lefty, and has gone 2-for-4 with a homer against southpaws in an extremely small sample this season. Against southpaws last season, Kemp had 11 homers and a .828 OPS while also hitting 11 of his 21 homers at home at Dodger Stadium. In his career, he is 3-for-12 against Kershaw with a double, three RBI and a walk.
3B BRIAN ANDERSON, MIA vs. CHC, $2,900
I get that Anderson got off to a slow start and is in a very thin lineup for the Marlins, but this salary seems very, very low for a solid bat near the top of the order. Anderson hit .273 last season with 11 homers and a .757 OPS and has seemed to start to find some of that form over the past week. Since sitting a game last Wednesday, Anderson has gone 7-for-15 with two home runs, four walks and two stolen bases. He had 25 and 21 DKFP in his past two games over the weekend.
As the Marlins welcome in the Cubs, they’ll take on Yu Darvish ($7,800). While Darvish could get plenty of attention in a favorable matchup, he has struggled this season, allowing 11 walks, 12 hits and 11 runs in 12 innings. While it might be a good matchup for Darvish, there also should be some value in the Marlins’ lineup. Of all the Miami bats, Anderson is my favorite value and is available for less than $3K, making him a great way to save some cap space at the hot corner.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Z.Thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.