After a few afternoon games, Wednesday night brings a busy, 11-game fantasy baseball slate to get us through the middle of the week. Justin Verlander ($12,000) faces his former team, the Tigers, in one of the best and most dramatic matchups of the night, but there are plenty of other matchups to check out as well. Just three of the 11 games on the schedule are divisional contests, and there are also three interleague matchups including the Blue Jays visiting the Dodgers and the Mets hosting the Indians.
As you examine the player pool and pick your roster, take a look at these five bargain plays, who can help you balance out some of the bigger salaries on the board. These options come at an affordable rate but can offer good returns since they are set up for success based on their recent form, matchup and expected opportunity.
SP ADRIAN HOUSER, MIL at STL, $5,200
The Brewers have been a disappointment this season and need to get a win in St. Louis to avoid a three-game sweep. They’ll give the ball to Houser, who has been one of their best starters lately. He doesn’t have good numbers against the Cardinals, but that outing came when he was struggling earlier in the season. In his past seven games, he is 3-1 with a 2.89 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 28 innings. After some time in the bullpen, he moved back to the rotation four starts ago and has averaged 19.2 DKFP per outing since his return. He struck out 10 against the Rangers two starts ago for a season-high 33.1 DKFP and followed that with a career-high seven innings against the Nationals on his way to 18.15 DKFP.
Houser is in a tough matchup against the Cardinals, but he has shown lately he can limit baserunners and pile up strikeouts when he’s at his best. He has had success on the road this season, so give him a look at an affordable salary with nice upside this Wednesday.
SP MIKE MONTGOMERY, KC at BAL, $4,200
Normally, a pitcher under $6K would be the cheapest option worth considering, but Montgomery is even cheaper and can set you up to stack plenty of power in your lineup. He costs barely more than the minimum but comes in with positive momentum into a favorable matchup. In his past two starts, Montgomery didn’t allow an earned run against the Tigers and the Mets, while striking out 15 in 13 innings. Twelve of those strikeouts came in a dominant outing in Detroit, where he piled up 41.4 DKFP. He only struck out three in his most recent start but still held the Mets to just five hits and an unearned run on his way to 18.7 DKFP.
At barely over $4K, Montgomery can return great value even if he doesn’t return to the dominance he showed in Detroit. He has posted a 3.68 ERA in his six starts since being traded to the Royals from the Cubs in mid-July for Martin Maldonado, who the Cubs later flipped to Houston. Montgomery gets a good matchup in Baltimore since the Orioles are second in the Majors in strikeouts against left-handed pitchers and have only a .712 OPS against southpaws.
3B VLADIMIR GUERRERO JR., TOR at LAD, $3,500
Guerrero is an affordable option since the Blue Jays have a tough matchup with Walker Buehler ($11,400). He still makes sense, though, since he offers so much upside and has been hitting the ball well after a slow start. The 20-year-old has gone 29-for-78 (.372) over his past 20 games with eight doubles, a triple, five home runs and 23 RBI.
He missed just one game with knee inflammation and went 2-for-2 with two walks and 10 DKFP on Tuesday in the first game of the series. He usually hits in the middle of the Toronto lineup and has double-digit DKFP in four of his past six starts. Paying down and still getting such a high ceiling can be a good way to keep your lineup’s upside high.
2B JOE PANIK, NYM vs. CLE, $3,300
After being waived by the Giants, Panik joined the Mets 10 games ago and quickly has settled in as the primary 2B and second hitter in the lineup against righties. He has gone 10-for-31 (.323) with nine runs scored, a double, a triple and 6.5 DKFP per contest in his time with New York. Jeff McNeil (hamstring) is expected to return soon, but until then Panik should continue to get plenty of playing time in a premium lineup spot.
Panik and the Mets face Adam Plutko ($6,400) in the second game of their three-game set. Plutko has allowed left-handed hitters to bat .284 against him with an .854 OPS. Even though Panik doesn’t offer a ton of power potential, he usually finds a way to get on base and produce some fantasy points, making him a low-risk play with limited upside who can provide salary relief to give you more space for power bats in other lineup spots.
OF TRAVIS DEMERITTE, DET at HOU, $3,300
One of the few bright spots in the Tigers’ lost season has been the play of Demeritte since the 24-year-old was acquired in a deadline deal for Shane Greene. Demeritte immediately was added to the Tigers’ Major League roster after the trade and has gone 19-for-65 (.292) with three doubles, two triples, two home runs and a .848 OPS.
Demeritte missed Tuesday’s game with groin soreness but is expected to return Wednesday against Verlander. Even though Verlander is having a great season, he has been a bit prone to giving up homers, allowing 31 in his 26 starts. While there aren’t many plays I like in the Tigers’ lineup, Demeritte makes sense since he has gone 10-for-28 (.357) with a .893 OPS in his past seven games.
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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.