It’s time to get the final weekend in July and the run-up to the MLB trade deadline underway with a jam-packed 14-game fantasy baseball slate this Friday. Only the Rockies and Reds are missing from the player pool with 28 teams scheduled to be in action on the diamond under the lights. Most of those players will be facing familiar foes since 16 of the teams are in divisional matchups, including the Red Sox taking on the Yankees and the Cubs visiting the Brewers in key series with playoff implications.
As you break down each matchup and find just the right spots to attack, check out these five bargains who can help fill in your roster while saving you salary and presenting nice upside. They come at affordable rates but have good form, matchup and opportunity ahead of them on Friday’s slate.
SP ZACH PLESAC, CLE at KC, $7,300
For a second straight start, Plesac will face the Royals in a favorable matchup. He picked up 21.9 DKFP and his fourth win of the season in his most recent outing by holding Kansas City to two runs on four hits in six innings. He has allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of his three most recent starts and in eight of his 10 appearances this season. He was sent to the minors around the All-Star break but has pitched well in both his starts since returning, with a long rain delay costing him a better result in his start against the Tigers.
While he hasn’t been as dominant as some of the Indians’ more well-known starting pitchers, Plesac has been consistently solid, going 4-3 with a 3.50 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. The Royals are hitting just .206 over the past week with 21 runs scored in six games. They still rank in the bottom 10 in the Majors in runs scored and almost every other significant offensive category.
SP JOSE URQUIDY, HOU at STL, $5,000
Urquidy had struggled in his first two starts of the season, totaling just 6.5 DKFP and allowing seven runs in just six innings coming into his most recent outing. The 24-year-old stepped up in that start, though, and broke through with an impressive 34.6 DKFP against the Rangers. He struck out nine and allowed just two hits and one run in seven strong innings to get his first win in the Majors.
In 16 games in Double-A and Triple-A, Urquidy went 5-4 with a 4.08 ERA, which would seem to indicate the kind of dominance he showed last time out will be more the exception than the rule. However, he struck out 109 batters in 81 2/3 innings in the minors and has 17 punchouts in 13 innings in the Majors. With such a high strikeout rate and a great lineup behind him, he has a high ceiling and plenty of upside as the Astros open their series in St. Louis. At only $5K, he doesn’t have to be as good as he was in his most recent start to still offer a strong return on investment.
OF FRANMIL REYES, SD vs. SF, $3,800
Reyes has earned his way into regular playing time in the Padres’ crowded outfield with his good power production this season. The big righty already has 26 home runs and is hitting .252 with a solid .844 OPS in 96 games.
He has homered only twice this month, which is why his price is down a little bit coming into the Padres’ series against the Giants. However, most of his success this year has come at home, where he has a .901 OPS and against right-handed pitchers, who he has roughed up for 23 of his 26 home runs. Reyes is in a solid matchup against Jeff Samardzija ($8,300), so take advantage of his reduced salary on this slate.
2B JASON KIPNIS, CLE at KC, $3,300
The Indians have stuck with the veteran Kipnis in the middle of their lineup in spite of a slow start, and their loyalty is paying off as the 32-year-old has raised his average from .235 to .250 over his past 15 games by going 18-for-57 (.316) with two doubles, a home run and 7.3 DKFP per contest.
Kipnis has hit safely in nine of his past 10 games after going 3-for-5 with two walks and 17 DKFP in the series opener in Kansas City on Thursday. As a left-handed batter, he has hit righties much better than southpaws all season with a .263 average and .751 OPS. He’ll go up against a righty on this slate as he faces Jakob Junis ($8,500), who has allowed lefties to produce a .806 OPS against him this season.
3B ZACH GREEN, SF at SD, $2,000
If you have to go ultra-cheap at one of your lineup spots, check to see if the Giants give Green a start at the hot corner against lefty Joey Lucchesi ($7,700), who has given up 11 runs and four home runs in 15 2/3 innings over his three most recent starts. Green just was called up by San Francisco earlier this week and went 2-for-3 with a double and 10 DKFP in his only previous Major League start.
Green was tearing up Triple-A in order to earn his call-up, hitting .302 in 64 games for the Sacramento River Cats with 23 home runs, 59 RBI and a 1.099 OPS. Six of those 23 homers came off of left-handed pitchers, who he hit .308 against. The 25-year-old joined the Giants on a minor-league contract this offseason but should get some playing time while Evan Longoria (foot) is sidelined. At just $2K, Green costs the minimum but is more than just a punt play given the upside his success at Triple-A demonstrates.
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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.