Monday starts another important week for MLB teams trying to make a push for the playoffs and another great week of fantasy baseball action with a solid eight-game slate. Teams that have fallen out of the race are also important to monitor for fantasy baseball purposes since there are many players getting a chance to prove their potential and earn future playing time by seizing current opportunities.
As you consider the options from the 16 teams scheduled to be in action, there are plenty of high-priced options to consider led by Zack Greinke ($10,700) in his second Astros start and a host of big bats playing at Coors Field, where the Rockies host the Diamondbacks. If you find yourself stretched for salary, check out these five bargain options, who come with significant upside despite their affordable salaries.
SP MITCH KELLER, PIT at LAA, $8,400
If you are looking for a high ceiling and don’t mind some risk, give Keller a look as he returns to the Majors and starts against the Angels. He is considered the Pirates’ top prospect and was ranked No. 28 overall in the latest top 100 prospects from MLB Pipeline. Keller has gone 7-5 in 19 starts in Triple-A with a 3.56 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. He has racked up 123 strikeouts in 103 2/3 innings.
Keller definitely comes with long-term potential and a great strikeout rate, which gives him a high ceiling in this matchup. However, he has struggled in two of his three starts in the Majors this season, allowing six runs to the Reds in his debut and six runs to the Braves in his next outing. He did look much better against the Tigers on June 18, when he put up 15.7 DKFP by striking out six in five innings while allowing two earned runs. He’ll be a boom-or-bust play in his return to the Majors, but his upside is intriguing. He’s at least someone to keep an eye on for the rest of the Pirates’ lost season even if he’s not in your lineup Monday.
SP ARIEL JURADO, TEX at TOR, $6,800
Jurado has had an up-and-down season for the Rangers, mixing some encouraging outings with a few starts where he got bombed. He seems to have found a little bit of rhythm recently, going at least seven innings in two of his past three starts and posting 22.8 DKFP against the Athletics and 18.8 DKFP against the Indians. In the middle of those two outings, he did struggle with just 3.6 DKFP against the Mariners, but that start was at hitter-friendly Globe Life Park, while his two good outings came on the road.
When he has been on the road this season, Jurado has gone 4-3 with a 4.10 ERA, so it’s actually a good thing for him that this game is in Toronto. He’s a high-risk play, but the other cheap options are even less proven and more prone to implosion. Compared to the other options on the slate, Jurado has a good chance at a win and should be able to limit damage enough to make him a nice cost-saving SP2.
C FRANCISCO MEJÍA, SD vs. TB, $3,400
Mejía was a top prospect with the Indians for several seasons before being traded to San Diego at the trade deadline last season for Brad Hand. He is still just 23 years old and is establishing himself as part of the Padres’ developing young core. He had struggled for most of the season, hitting just .223 as of July 30, but he has taken off since then and reminded everyone of his potential to hit at the Major League level.
In his eight games this month, Mejía is 15-for-25 (.600) with two doubles, two home runs and a 1.520 OPS. He has collected multiple hits in all six of his August starts and averaged 14.3 DKFP in those contests. He got Saturday off, but returned Sunday and went 3-for-4 with 22 DKFP. He could get the majority of playing time behind the plate ahead of Austin Hedges ($2,600) the rest of the season while also working his way into the outfield mix after the departure of Franmil Reyes ($3,200).
1B JESUS AGUILAR, TB at SD, $3,300
The Rays added Aguilar in a trade from the Brewers at the deadline, and so far the former All-Star has turned things around in his time in Tampa Bay. After hitting .274 with 35 homers and a .891 OPS last season, Aguilar was hitting just .225 with a .694 OPS in his 94 games with Milwaukee this season. Since the trade, though, he has gone 10-for-26 (.385) with a home run and a .933 OPS. He has played in every game since the trade and started seven of those nine contests.
As the Rays start an interleague set in San Diego, they won’t have the luxury of the DH, but Aguilar still likely will get the start against lefty Joey Lucchesi ($10,000). While Aguilar hasn’t killed lefties this year, the Rays usually play platoon splits fairly aggressively, which means they likely will roll out a predominantly right-handed lineup, including Aguilar against Lucchesi. He comes with a high ceiling due to his power potential and could be a great value if he continues to find his form.
2B/OF PABLO REYES, PIT at LAA, $2,700
The Pirates have fallen off the map since the All-Star break, going just 4-24 and losing eight straight coming into their series with the Angels. Now that they’ve faded out of the playoff race, they’ll take the rest of the year to get a look at some younger players like Keller and Reyes, although Reyes isn’t considered to be an elite prospect like Keller. The 25-year-old has made the most of his opportunities recently, going 5-for-12 over his past five games with a double and two home runs with three games in double-digit DKFP.
Reyes hit a solid .286 in 51 games in Triple-A with the Indianapolis Indians. He had 15 doubles, 10 home runs, five stolen bases and a .885 OPS, so his recent production doesn’t exactly come out of nowhere. He didn’t start any of the Pirates’ three-game sweep at the hands of the Cardinals but did enter in the fifth inning Sunday and hit a home run. With the Pirates facing a lefty Monday in José Suarez ($7,900) and the added bat of the DH since they’re playing in Anaheim, Lopez could get into the lineup and be a great value play under $3K.
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