The MLB is ready to put an exclamation point at the end of the month of May with a jam-packed fantasy baseball slate for Friday night with all 30 teams scheduled to be in action. The Red Sox and Yankees will try to get their series underway as one of six divisional matchups on the board. There are also three interleague games, including the Blue Jays making the trip to Denver to play in the rarified air of Coors Field.
As you examine each matchup and get ready to finish the month with a fantasy baseball flourish, take a look at these five players who are available at affordable prices but still offer very nice upside. If they come through, they’ll offer a big return on minimal investment and could help boost your team to a big win.
PLR JALEN BEEKS, TB vs. MIN, $7,600
Beeks is expected to carry most of the innings load for the Rays after Ryne Stanek ($4,800) serves as opener against the Twins. Beeks had a rough outing against the Dodgers 10 days ago but has been excellent aside from that game. He has allowed one run or no runs in the other five of his six most recent games, lowering his ERA to 2.83 on the season and picking up four wins. He has 40 strikeouts in 41 1/3 innings this season, resulting in at least 16 DKFP in four of his past six outings.
The Twins have been hitting very well lately, but the Rays got a 14-3 win Thursday to start the series. Both small market teams have gotten off to strong starts to the season, so it will be fun to see them go head-to-head this weekend. Somewhat surprisingly, none of the Twins’ batters have ever faced Beeks except for Jonathan Schoop ($4,000), who has gone 1-for-3. Beeks will look to continue his recent success and take advantage of their unfamiliarity this Friday. His role as a long reliever instead of starter does come with some extra risk along with a better chance at a win.
SP MILES MIKOLAS, STL vs. CHC, $6,500
Mikolas has had a bumpy start to the season and comes into his 12th start of the year 4-5 with a 4.76 ERA. He has put together some strong outings lately with more than 23 DKFP in three of his past four starts, but, on the other hand, his one bad outing during that stretch was a -13 DKFP performance against the Rangers. Most of his roughest outings have come on the road, where he has allowed a .350 batting average, and he has been much better at home, going 3-3 with a 3.15 ERA and holding opponents to a .196 batting average.
This will be the first time this season Mikolas has faced the Cubs, but he did have success against them last year, going 3-0 in four starts with a 1.38 ERA. The 30-year-old doesn’t have an elite strikeout rate but is coming off a season-high with nine strikeouts in his most recent outing last Friday against Atlanta. He brings the most upside of the options under $7K even though he’s facing a tough lineup.
OF DEREK FISHER, HOU at OAK, $3,400
If you’re a regular reader of my bargains, you know I always am excited about cheap leadoff hitters, so when a cheap leadoff hitter is a promising prospect hitting at the top of one of the best lineups in baseball, you know I’m ready to buy in. Fisher has started all four games for the Astros since being called up earlier this week and has led off in each of the past two games. In those four games, Fisher has gone 4-for-15 with a walk, a triple, two RBI and two runs scored to average 8.0 DKFP per contest.
The 25-year-old has struggled to adjust to the majors in his previous call-ups and has a .199 career batting average. However, he has continued to mash in the minor leagues and was hitting .314 with eight home runs and a .938 OPS for the Round Rock Express in Triple-A before being called up. Fisher was a highly regarded prospect a few years ago but hasn’t been able to make the final transition to the majors. With the offensive struggles of the Astros’ depth outfielders, though, he could play his way into a permanent role if he fills in effectively while George Springer (hamstring) is on IL.
2B JASON KIPNIS, CLE at CWS, $3,400
Kipnis has hit safely in seven of his past eight games and brought his average up to .230 on the season. In May, he is 25-for-103 (.243) with nine doubles, nine RBI and a pair of home runs. Both those home runs came in one game May 16 against the Orioles, and most of his success has come after that performance in the second half of the month.
He typically hits in the heart of the Indians’ order, and Cleveland gets a favorable matchup against the cheapest starting pitcher on the board, Dylan Covey ($4,600). Kipnis has gone 5-for-12 (.417) against Covey in the past with a home run, and Covey has allowed lefties to put up a .829 OPS against him so far this season. There is some good value potential in the left-handed bats for the Tribe, starting with Kipnis at a nice salary under $3.5K and including Jake Bauers ($3,400) and Leonys Martin ($3,600).
1B/OF STEVE PEARCE, BOS at NYY, $2,900
Before he won the World Series MVP, Pearce already was on his way to being a fan favorite in Boston as a result of his success against the arch-rival Yankees. In the regular season, Pearce went 11-for-37 (.297) against New York with two doubles, 14 RBI, five home runs and a 1.152 OPS. He also has specific success against scheduled starter J.A. Happ ($7,400), going 11-for-35 (.314) against the veteran lefty with six home runs and 16 RBI.
The reason Pearce is so affordable is he has struggled badly to start the season and is hitting just .182 with one home run and 31 strikeouts in his first 28 games. However, he has started to turn things around lately. He has at least one hit in each of his past seven games with multiple at-bats, including the home run and a pair of doubles. As bad as his average is now, it was all the way down at .111 before he started his recent run. With Mitch Moreland (back) on the IL, Pearce should get some extra playing time over the next week and can prove his worth, especially against lefties like Happ.
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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.