Only the Cubs and Cardinals are missing from Friday night’s 14-game, 28-team fantasy baseball slate. While there are a few unusual matchups like the Diamondbacks traveling to Toronto, there are also some very familiar opponents since eight of the 14 games feature divisional opponents. There are some big-name pitchers in great matchups including Gerrit Cole ($12,200) against the Orioles, Clayton Kershaw ($11,200) against the Giants and Mike Soroka ($11,600) against the Marlins.
If you pay up for the big arms, though, you might find yourself short on salary in some other spots. Getting production from the places where you invest less salary is extremely important for the success of your fantasy lineup, so consider the following five bargains, who can save significant salary cap space but still offer strong potential production.
SP BRANDON WOODRUFF, MIL vs. PIT, $7,800
Woodruff was in great form coming into his most recent start, but the Pirates knocked him around in Pittsburgh, piling up six runs on 10 hits in just four innings. It was a startling break in form since he had allowed only six runs in 38 innings over his previous six starts. During that run, the righty was 5-0 with a 1.42 ERA and 43 strikeouts while holding batters to a .178 average. He had over 20 DKFP in each of those starts and averaged 26.7 DKFP per contest.
He’ll look to bounce back in a rematch with the Pirates at Miller Park, where he is undefeated with a 5-0 record and a 3.66 ERA in seven starts this season. Woodruff offers solid strikeout upside and is only available under $8K as a result of his rough outing. He should be ready to turn things back around in a head-to-head matchup with Rookie Davis ($5,700).
SP ZACH PLESAC, CLE vs. NYY, $7,000
Indians rookie Zach Plesac has been impressive in his first two Major League starts, producing 11 and 24.8 DKFP in road starts against the Red Sox and White Sox, respectively. He has allowed a total of just two runs on eight hits in 12 1/3 innings while striking out nine.
The only reason to be careful with Plesac is he does have a tough matchup against the Yankees. While he did have some success against the Red Sox, he remains a boom-or-bust play since things can go sideways in a hurry against the power-packed New York lineup. However, even with that risk factor, he has the best upside of any pitcher at $7K or under on the slate.
2B/OF CHRIS TAYLOR, LAD at SF, $3,400
Taylor hit in the leadoff spot in two of the past three games for the Dodgers and likely will be back in that spot against lefty Drew Pomeranz ($6,700) as the Dodgers open their series by the Bay. When hitting leadoff this season, Taylor is 5-for-16 (.313) with a .476 OBP and 1.039 OPS.
Despite a down year overall, Taylor has continued to hit southpaws well, going 17-for-70 (.243) with five doubles, a triple, three home runs and a .792 OPS. He has gone 2-for-5 with a homer in his career against Pomeranz and projects to be a nice way to get a cheap leadoff hitter at the top of a strong lineup.
3B/OF MARWIN GONZALEZ, MIN at DET, $3,300
The only lineup in the Major Leagues with more runs scored than the Dodgers’ is the Twins’, so grabbing an affordable option from their lineup is also an opportunity to consider. Gonzalez started the season in a horrible slump, which might have been a result of signing as a free agent late in the offseason. He hit just .169 in April before bouncing back with .299 in May including a solid .813 OPS. His power has been even more apparent so far in June since he already has homered twice and has a 1.108 OPS in the first week of the month.
Gonzalez and the Twins take on lefty Matt Boyd ($10,400) as they start their series in Detroit. Boyd has been good this season, but Gonzalez is 4-for-9 (.444) with two doubles and a triple against him in the past. The 30-year-old switch-hitter also has put up good numbers against all lefties this season, going 14-for-46 (.304) with two of his seven home runs and a .782 OPS.
2B/OF HAROLD CASTRO, DET vs. MIN, $2,300
If you’re diving to the bottom of the bargain bin and looking for an ultra-deep sleeper, check out Castro, who costs less than $2.5K and can be used as either your 2B or one of your OF slots. He was recalled earlier this week when Jeimer Candelario (shoulder) was placed on IL, and the lefty went 2-for-4 with a walk and a stolen base in the past two games against the Rays. If the Twins start Michael Pineda ($6,400) — expected but not yet announced — Castro likely will get another start against the righty and could hit as high as sixth, which is where he batted in his start Wednesday.
Castro would have been called up earlier this season when the Tigers needed some middle infield help but was battling an oblique injury in the minors. Since returning from his injury, though, he has shown he’s ready for the call-up. In 31 games for the Toledo Mud Hens, he hit .328 with five doubles, four home runs and a .855 OPS. He doesn’t have to do much to be worth his extremely affordable salary, so give him a shot if he’s in the lineup Friday and you need some serious salary relief.
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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.