After a dozen teams get things going in the afternoon, the MLB wraps up Wednesday with a nine-game fantasy baseball slate under the lights. With no late games on the West Coast, it’s a fairly compressed schedule and has the feel of a turbo slate since all the games start within about an hour of each other. There are four pitchers on the mound with five-figure salaries and plenty of big-name bats to consider, but there are also some nice plays on the lower side of the salary spectrum.
Whether you’re balancing out some big salaries or trying to fill that final roster spot on a limited budget, check out my top five bargain plays, who I think set up well to return high value.
SP ZAC GALLEN, MIA vs. WAS, $7,100
Gallen is the latest Marlins prospect to get the call to join the rotation, and he looked solid in his Major League debut. The Marlins acquired Gallen as part of the Marcell Ozuna trade, and he flourished in his 14 starts for the New Orleans Baby Cakes in Triple-A, going 9-1 with a 1.77 ERA and 112 strikeouts in 91 1/3 innings.
He made his debut last Thursday against the Cardinals, the team that drafted him, and went five innings allowing five hits and one run while striking out six and posting 17.1 DKFP. He’ll make his first start at Marlins Park against the Nationals, and his strikeout rate gives him a high ceiling if he can work his way to his first MLB victory.
SP FRAMBER VALDEZ, HOU vs. PIT, $6,900
Valdez got knocked around a little bit in his most recent start, allowing five runs in 3 1/3 innings and ending up with -0.7 DKFP. However, he was in a brutal matchup against the Yankees in Yankee Stadium, so it is understandable how he had a rough outing. In his three starts before that, he allowed a total of three runs over 17 innings while striking out 18 and averaging 22.2 DKFP. His two best starts came at home against vulnerable lineups, when he put up 24.2 DKFP against the Orioles and 25.9 DKFP against the Blue Jays.
He gets a great matchup in this outing against the Pirates, going head-to-head with recent call-up Dario Agrazal ($5,300). He should be able to bounce back and return to the form he showed before his outing in the Bronx, which would make him an excellent play under $7K. If you go with both Gallen and Valdez, you can build a power-packed lineup, so it seems like a good day to save some salary at SP.
OF JACOBY JONES, DET vs. TEX, $3,400
After a brutally slow start, Jones has been red-hot lately and is only this affordable because he is doing his work in a struggling Tigers lineup. Jones spent most of April and May with a batting average below .200 and was hitting just .148 on May 12. He has turned things around since late May, though, and has gone 34-for-95 (.358) while averaging 10.1 DKFP per game over his 26 most recent starts with four stolen bases, nine doubles, two triples, five home runs, 15 RBI and an OPS over 1.000.
Jones’s hot hitting has resulted in an improved lineup spot, as he moved from the bottom of the order to the leadoff spot for eight of his past 10 contests. The move to the top of the lineup hasn’t cooled him off, and he collected multiple hits in four straight games and an extra-base hit in each of his past five. Jones and the Tigers are in a tough matchup against Mike Minor ($11,000), but Jones has hit lefties well this season with a .278 average and .742 OPS, so there’s still a good chance he keeps rolling.
2B/SS LUIS ARRAEZ, MIN VS. TB, $3,400
Since getting called back up from the Rochester Red Wings on June 18, Arraez has impressed, hitting safely in each of his five games and going 8-for-15 (.533) with two doubles and three walks. He has hit for a high average at each of his stops this season, hitting .342 for Double-A Pensacola in 38 games and .348 in 16 games with Triple-A Rochester. He lost the 2017 season to a torn ACL but has done his best to make up for lost time since then.
Ultimately, he likely will settle into a super-utility role for the Twins but since being called up he has been playing mostly 2B and SS. He went a perfect 4-for-4 with a double Sunday filling in for Jonathan Schoop (ankle), and manager Rocco Baldelli likely will find ways to keep his hot bat in the lineup moving forward, including this matchup against the Rays’ Charlie Morton ($10,200).
1B RONALD GUZMÁN, TEX AT DET, $3,100
Guzmán is in a lefty-lefty matchup but still offers good value as he goes up against Matthew Boyd ($10,000). While he does sometimes struggle or even sit out against southpaws, he is 2-for-2 with a home run against Boyd in the past, so I think he’ll be in the lineup for this matchup.
He homered in the series opener Tuesday and has been hitting the ball much better lately. In May he hit just .177 but has gone 18-for-70 (.257) with a .763 OPS so far in June. In his limited career action, he has raked at Comerica Park, going 8-for-14 (.571) with two home runs and six RBI. He brings some nice power potential at this salary and is a rare low-cost option at 1B.
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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.