After celebrating July 4th with fantasy baseball throughout the day Thursday, Major League Baseball is back to a more traditional summer slate on Friday with almost all the teams in action under the lights. There are 13 games on the slate while the White Sox, Indians, Reds and Cubs have a scheduled day off before starting brief two-game series tomorrow.
The other 26 teams provide plenty of options to consider as you build your fantasy baseball team. Nine of the 13 games feature divisional contests, so there should definitely be some familiarity in many of the head-to-head matchups. With so many options to choose from and matchups to attack, make sure to check out these top five bargains if you run short of salary for your final roster spot or two.
SP MICHAEL PINEDA, MIN vs. TEX, $7,900
EDITOR’S NOTE: Martín Pérez will start instead of Michael Pineda tonight vs. the Rangers.
Pineda has been solid most of the season for the Twins, going 5-4 in 16 starts with a 4.78 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 86 2/3 innings. He has been a little more dialed in lately, allowing only one run in three of his past four starts including his most recent outing against the White Sox in which he picked up 27.9 DKFP.
The Twins have dropped five of their past seven games and Pineda’s start was one of those wins. They’ll hope he can put together a similar outing as they start their home series against the Rangers, which will bring them right up to the All-Star break. Pineda hasn’t faced the Rangers yet this season, but it is worth noting that Texas ranks second in the Major Leagues in strikeouts, which gives Pineda a high ceiling if he can keep his momentum going from his most recent start when he matched his season-high with eight punchouts.
SP DREW POMERANZ, SF vs. STL, $6,800Speaking of strikeouts, Pomeranz has suddenly become a fantasy baseball option due to a recent strikeout binge. He has 77 strikeouts in 15 starts for the Giants this season but 34 of those came in his past five starts after picking up 43 over his first 10 outings. He had his first double-digit strikeout performances of the season against the Rockies on his way to 25.1 DKFP and followed that up in his most recent outing with seven strikeouts in five shutout innings for 20.5 DKFP.
The spike in strikeout rate has resulted in over 20 DKFP in four of his past five starts, and all four of those strong outings have come in games at Oracle Park. Being at home lowers the risk for Pomeranz, despite a 6.25 ERA overall, he has a 3.53 home ERA and 49 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings in San Francisco. The Giants bats have also come alive lately, so Pomeranz should get the run support he needs to improve on his unattractive 2-8 record.
OF VICTOR REYES, DET vs. BOS, $3,300With Jacoby Jones (back) landing on the injured list, the Tigers recalled Reyes and put him right into the leadoff spot Thursday against the White Sox. The 24-year-old went 2-for-5 with an RBI, two runs scored and a stolen base for a solid 17 DKFP. He provided a nice spark at the top of the lineup and should continue to get the opportunity to do so until Jones returns.
In his time in Triple-A with the Toledo Mud Hens, Reyes hit .302 with nine home runs, 55 RBI, seven stolen bases and a .806 OPS. He and the Tigers will host the Red Sox in a three-game set before the All-Star break, starting with a matchup against Eduardo Rodriguez ($8,700) on Friday. Reyes speed and lineup spot give him lots of potential upside.
1B NATE LOWE, TB vs. NYY, $2,800The Rays recalled Lowe when Brandon Lowe (no relation) landed on the injured list with a shin injury that will keep him sidelined through the All-Star break. With Ji-man Choi (ankle) also out, Lowe should get some playing time against the Yankees this weekend. The big, left-handed hitting 1B is rated the No. 9 prospect in a stacked Tampa Bay system by MLB Pipeline. He burst onto the scene with a breakout 2018, hitting .330 with an .898 OPS moving from Class A Advanced all the way to Triple-A while piling up 27 home runs, 32 doubles and 102 RBI along the way.
This season, Lowe hit .290 in 241 at-bats for the Durham Bulls in Triple-A with 12 home runs, 46 RBI and a .938 OPS. The 23-year-old is a patient hitter and was fourth in the International League with 50 walks already this season. Lowe is still looking for his first Major League home run after a brief stint with the club earlier this season. He has gone 10-for-39 (.256) in his 11 games in the Majors. If he does get the start, he’ll have a favorable matchup against Masahiro Tanaka ($9,500), who has allowed lefties to hit eight of the 14 home runs he has surrendered this season. He has held righties to a .606 OPS but lefties like Lowe have a healthy .822 OPS against Tanaka, who posted a 5.08 ERA in five starts in June.
3B RIO RUIZ, BAL at TOR, $2,800Ruiz is a very affordable way to get into one of the games that could turn into a high-scoring slugfest Friday. The former-Brave is hitting only .237 on the season with five home runs but has been hitting better lately and establishing himself in the middle third of the Orioles lineup.
The left-handed hitter has hit safely in each of his past five starts, going 8-for-17 (.471) with a double, a home run, five RBI and an average of 9.8 DKFP per contest. He blasted a three-run shot on Wednesday before he and the O’s had a scheduled off day Thursday. If he can pick up where he left off before yesterday’s break, he has the potential to be a great value option under $3K.
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.