This week is one of the fullest fantasy baseball weeks on the calendar this season, and it gets off to a busy start with 12 MLB games scheduled under the lights Monday night. There aren’t any ultra-ace pitchers on the mound with giant salaries, but there are three pitchers who check in at $10K or higher. It’s the bats that are expensive on this slate with 24 hitters with a salary of at least $5K.
If you’re planning on going in on one or more of the big bats, you’ll need to balance things out with some less expensive options in other spots. Check out the following five players who are in a position to succeed and come at a very affordable salary.
SP MIKE FIERS, OAK vs. BAL, $7,700
Fiers went 2-2 in his first six starts of the season despite a ghastly 8.28 ERA and .314 batting average against. Since then, though, he has turned things around going 4-1 over his nine most recent starts with a 3.02 ERA, a .184 batting average against and an average of 17.4 DKFP per contest. Included in that stretch is his no-hitter against the Reds, but he has continued to put together solid outings aside from that one great game. He has allowed three runs or less in each of those nine starts, including picking up road wins against the Angels and Rays in his two most recent outings.
Fiers gets a great matchup to start the week against Andrew Cashner ($6,200) and the Orioles. While Baltimore’s bats have been a little better lately, the team still has dropped five in a row and nine of its previous 11. Fiers has a good chance at a win and should be able to limit damage at Oakland Coliseum, where he is 4-2 with a 3.60 ERA in seven starts. He doesn’t have an elite strikeout rate but should thrive in this matchup and offer a solid return under $8K.
SP ELIESER HERNANDEZ, MIA at STL, $5,900
Hernandez is more than just a punt play even though he comes in under $6K. He looked pretty good in his first Major League start of the season last Tuesday against the Cardinals, going 5 2/3 and allowing three runs on five hits. He ended up with the loss but only allowed one run through the first five innings before the bullpen and his defense let him down in the sixth.
Most promising for the 24-year-old; he generated 18 swinging strikes and struck out seven in his 5 2/3, continuing his good strikeout rate from Triple-A. In 48 innings with the New Orleans Baby Cakes, he struck out 69 batters while posting an impressive 1.13 ERA. He struggled badly in the Majors last season, but he has been much sharper this year. He’ll look to continue his solid work and pick up where he left off with another start against St. Louis. He’s extremely affordable, so even if he just matches his previous start’s 16.6 DKFP, he’ll be a solid value option.
1B/3B CHESLOR CUTHBERT, KC at SEA, $3,400
Cuthbert had a rough weekend series in Minnesota but did finish strong with a 2-for-5 game Sunday. Since being called up from Omaha on May 31, Cuthbert has gone 15-for-54 (.278) with two doubles, three home runs, a stolen base and a .797 OPS. He also was hitting well in the minors with a .310 average, eight homers and a .898 OPS.
In Monday’s matchup against lefty Tommy Milone ($6,900), Cuthbert is on the right side of the splits since he is a career .283 hitter against lefties with a .751 OPS. Cuthbert has played both corner infield spots during his time with the Royals and typically hits in the fifth or sixth spot in the order. With Hunter Dozier (chest) starting a rehab assignment, Cuthbert could be squeezed for playing time by the end of the week, so he will look to start strong in this good matchup Monday.
2B/3B HANSER ALBERTO, BAL at OAK, $3,200
While the Orioles have been a mess, Alberto has been one of the few bright spots. He went 3-for-6 Sunday in the series finale against Boston to raise his average to .310 on the season and .365 so far in June. Alberto doesn’t bring a ton of power with just three home runs and 16 RBI, but he makes consistent contact and gets on base.
He has seven multi-hit games in his past 11 contests and actually has fared better on the road than at home. Away from Baltimore, Alberto has hit .374 and picked up two doubles and two stolen bases. He doesn’t have as high a ceiling as some bigger bats, but his positional flexibility and consistent contact make him a nice play — especially in double-up formats or other spots where you’re looking to minimize risk.
2B JASON KIPNIS, CLE at TEX, $2,700
Kipnis is extremely affordable since he has struggled all season and is hitting just .218 on the season and .171 this month. However, there have been some recent signs of him turning things around, including three multi-hit games in his past six contests.
On Sunday, he went 3-for-5 with a double, three RBI and his third home run of the season, resulting in 26 DKFP. Kipnis will look to build on that impressive line as he and the Tribe head to Texas to face the Rangers. He should be in his usual spot in the middle of the order against righty Lance Lynn ($9,500), and the left-handed Kipnis has hit .242 with a .686 OPS against righties this year. He also has enjoyed his previous trips to visit the Rangers, going 34-for-106 (.321) in the ballpark now known as Globe Life Park in Arlington with five home runs and an .885 OPS.
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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.