Since the MLB just had the All-Star break last week, most teams roll right into this new fantasy baseball week with a fresh series starting Monday. Twenty of the 30 teams are scheduled to be on the diamond tonight. Eight of the 10 games are divisional contests, so there should be plenty of familiarity between those clubs.
As you get your Monday night fantasy baseball together, make sure to spend your salary wisely. If you end up needing to go with a bargain play, check out these five players who are set up for success based on their form, matchup and expected opportunity.
SP MAX FRIED, ATL at MIL, $7,200
Since most teams are on their fourth starting pitcher since returning from the break, there are lots of high-risk plays at the lower end of the salary structure. The one that I like the most, though, is Fried. He brings a solid strikeout rate, which gives him a high ceiling and can help cover if things go off the rails a bit. He finished the first half 9-4 with a 4.29 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 98 2/3 innings. The 25-year-old lefty has gone 5-1 on the road and produced exactly one strikeout per inning.
Before scuffling into the break, Fried had at least 17 DKFP in six of his previous 10 starts, including a good outing against the Brewers, who he’ll face again Monday. In that outing, Fried allowed just two hits in six shutout innings and posted 25.1 DKFP. He has at least six strikeouts in each of his past four starts, making him my favorite play under $8K on the board.
SP JOE MUSGROVE, PIT at STL, $5,800
Musgrove had an up-and-down first half, starting the season with no earned runs over his first three outings, getting crushed in the middle and finishing strong with four solid starts. He only allowed four runs in 22 innings (1.64 ERA) over those four strong starts, going 2-0 with 22 strikeouts and 20.3 DKFP per start.
Musgrove faced the Cardinals earlier this season and got crushed for eight runs in just three innings, but much of his issue was control, resulting in five walks. Recently, he has found his control again and only walked one batter total in those four strong starts. He definitely has high upside and will try to be the stopper for Pittsburgh, as the Pirates try to bounce back after getting swept in Chicago over the weekend.
OF A.J. POLLOCK, LAD at PHI, $3,400
The Dodgers spent big money to bring in Pollock this offseason, signing him to a four-year, $55 million contract. He struggled badly out of the gate, though, and then missed two months with an infection in his right elbow that was so bad that he needed an antibiotic catheter line. After returning from the 60-day injured list, though, he has jumped right in and made a big difference in the Dodgers series in Boston.
In his three games since returning, Pollock is 6-for-15 (.400) with two home runs and six RBI. He and the Dodgers will continue their road trip with a stop in Philadelphia, where they’ll face Zach Eflin ($8,200), who gave up 16 runs on 26 hits and six home runs over his three more recent starts.
1B JOEY VOTTO, CIN at CHC, $3,400
Votto has had a down year by his lofty standards and is hitting just .265 with eight homers and a .761 OPS. He went 2-for-10 with a double in the first two games at Coors Field after the break and was out of the lineup Sunday. He should return tonight, though, as the Reds head to Wrigley, where he’ll have a good matchup against Kyle Hendricks ($9,500).
In his career, Votto is 10-for-24 (.417) against Hendricks with two doubles, three home runs and 11 walks for a 1.475 OPS. Even though the 35-year-old isn’t in the peak of his prime anymore, he still should have enough to take advantage of Hendricks and the Cubs, who he always hits well at Wrigley Field, where he has a .333 career average and went 7-for-13 (.538) earlier this season.
2B/OF HAROLD CASTRO, DET at CLE, $3,300
Castro continues to hit well since being recalled to the majors at the beginning of June. He has gone 30-for-89 (.337) over that stretch with three doubles, three triples, a home run, 12 RBI, two stolen bases and 6.9 DKFP per contest. Castro has double-digit DKFP in five of his seven starts this month and exploded for 22 DKFP out of the second spot in the Tigers’ order Sunday.
In his seven games this month, Castro has played 1B, 2B, LF, RF and CF, so look for Detroit to keep moving him around the field to get his bat in the lineup. He doesn’t offer a ton of power but consistently hits for average and will be worth a look if he can establish himself near the top of the Tigers’ batting order.
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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.