The first full work week in August gets underway this Monday with a solid 12-game fantasy baseball slate. The Mets and Marlins are playing a doubleheader, so they are not included in the main contest but there are still plenty of plays to consider from the 24 teams in action. Four of the 12 games feature divisional opponents, and we also get some more unusual matchups like the Braves visiting the Twins and the Athletics at Wrigley Field to take on the Cubs.
As you pick your pieces to build around this Monday, you might need to save some salary at the end of your roster. If you’re planning on diving into the bargain bin, here are my top five plays who should outperform their affordable salaries and allow you to spend up for the big bats or elite arms you want to make the centerpieces of your squad.
SP VINCE VELASQUEZ, PHI at ARI, $7,800
Throughout his career, Velasquez has been a tantalizing fantasy option due to his high strikeout rate but often has disappointed with inconsistent results. This season he is 3-6 with a 4.40 ERA despite 85 strikeouts in 71 2/3 innings. He usually strikes out enough batters to be a good option but sometimes can be inefficient, leading to abbreviated outings.
Velasquez has looked solid in his two previous outings, allowing just two runs in 10 2/3 innings while striking out 15. He had 31.2 DKFP two starts ago against the Tigers and followed that with 15.1 DKFP against the Giants in his most recent start. He worked out of the bullpen earlier this season and has averaged 14 DKFP per game in his seven starts since returning to the rotation. He offers a high ceiling but remains a boom-or-bust play. Since he has been rolling lately, there is a lot of upside to like in starting him in this matchup in Arizona.
SP AARON CIVALE, CLE vs. TEX, $6,900
The Indians are bringing back Civale after trading Trevor Bauer and losing Danny Salazar (groin) back to the injured list. Civale has put together a great season in the minors, splitting time between the Columbus Clippers in Triple-A and the Akron RubberDucks in Double-A. In 13 minor league starts, the 24-year-old has gone 7-1 with a 2.35 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 72 2/3 innings.
Civale will be making his second MLB start after an impressive spot start in June. He held the Tigers to two hits and three walks in six scoreless innings while striking out six, picking up his first Major League win and posting an impressive 26.5 DKFP. He’ll look to build on that performance and stick in the rotation with a good start against the Rangers at Progressive Field.
OF NICK CASTELLANOS, CHC vs. OAK, $3,500
Castellanos complained about the way Comerica Park was impacting his offensive numbers, and the Tigers gave him a chance to prove his point by shipping him to the Cubs at the trade deadline. After joining Chicago on Thursday, Castellanos started all four games and hit in the second spot in the batting order. He hit safely in each contest, going 5-for-16 (.313) with two runs scored, two doubles and an RBI.
He should continue to get good playing time and be in a solid lineup spot as long as he keeps contributing and his intensity seems to have helped all the Cubs refocus and re-energize for the playoff run. Castellanos is up to .274 on the season with 11 home runs and a .790 OPS, but he still has potential to improve since last season he hit .298 with a .854 OPS. With a strong finish with a better home park, he could approach those numbers again, making him a great play at only $3.5K.
1B BRANDON BELT, SF vs. WAS, $3,100
The Giants are at .500 after an impressive run that has them in the middle of a crowded NL Wild Card race. One of the changes that helped get their lineup going was moving Belt into the leadoff spot. Even though he doesn’t have the speed of a typical leadoff hitter, Belt has been getting on base and producing solid numbers. He cooled off a bit toward the end of July but has gone 5-for-18 (.278) with two doubles in his first four games in August.
Belt and the rest of the Giants are in a good matchup against Erick Fedde ($5,600), who has struggled all season to get lefties out. Fedde has let lefties go 33-for-97 (.340) with three homers and a .940 OPS against him this season. Belt, Brandon Crawford ($2,700), Scooter Gennett ($2,600) and Steven Duggar ($2,600) are all good value plays as a result, but Belt is my favorite based on his spot at the top of the lineup.
3B/SS RYAN GOINS, CWS at DET, $2,900
Goins has played just 17 games for the White Sox this season but has worked his way into a productive lineup spot, hitting second in four of his past seven games and cleanup in another. He is hitting .288 (15-for-52) with nine walks, five doubles and two homers, propelling him to a .893 OPS. He has at least five DKFP in five of his past seven games and had 14 DKFP on Sunday, going 2-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI.
The White Sox get a good matchup against Spencer Turnbull ($7,000; back) and the Tigers. Turnbull will be coming off the injured list to make the start, and he was 3-9 with a 3.65 ERA in his 19 starts before hitting the IL. Turnbull has let lefties hit .289 against him with a .823 OPS, so like Belt and the Giants, Goins is a lefty worth a look based on his matchup and affordable salary Monday.
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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.