The MLB has eight games on the fantasy baseball slate this Wednesday after six games earlier in the day. Most of the contests are non-divisional games with the Red Sox-Orioles and Rockies-Giants matchups the only exceptions. Both starting pitchers from Game 1 of last year’s World Series are scheduled to be on the mound as Chris Sale ($10,400) and Clayton Kershaw ($10,200) headline the starting pitching options as they continue to round into their true ace form.
As you take a look at the 16 teams in action under the lights this Wednesday and assemble your squad, you might find yourself short on salary at a spot or two, especially if you build around one or both of those aces. If you need to go with a bargain pick, check out these top five who offer nice potential at affordable salaries.
SP TRENT THORNTON, TOR vs. MIN, $7,300
Thornton has been up and down for the Blue Jays through his first seven starts, but he has been much better than his 0-3 record indicates. After joining Toronto from the Astros via trade, he started his Blue Jay career with a pair of strong starts, then he hit a rough patch of three straight losses before righting the ship for his two most recent outings. His 4.08 ERA and 1.19 WHIP are inflated by those three bad outings, but he has allowed two runs or fewer in four of his seven starts.
In his two most recent outings, Thornton allowed a total of just one run on three hits in 12 innings. He walked seven during those two starts but also struck out 12. He has 38 strikeouts in his 35 1/3 innings this season, so there is solid potential for punchout production in what should be a decent matchup at home against the Twins. He did lose to the Twins earlier this season in Minnesota, but I think he has a strong shot to continue his recent form and get his first win of the season in this matchup.
SP BRETT ANDERSON, OAK vs. CIN, $6,500
Anderson will try to build on the success of Mike Fiers, who opened the A’s series against the Reds with a no-hitter Tuesday. Cincinnati has hit just .212 as a team this season, last in the majors. The Reds do have a little bit of power and have gotten a boost from Nick Senzel ($4,400), but overall they are still a very favorable matchup to target.
In his seven starts this season, Anderson has allowed two runs or fewer five times. He doesn’t pick up a ton of strikeouts with just 22 in 37 innings but still has been serviceable as a bargain option in the right matchup. He had 19.9 DKFP in his most recent start, which resulted in a win on the road in Pittsburgh. He threw six innings and allowed one run on four hits while improving to 4-2 on the year. Anderson has enjoyed pitching in Oakland the past two seasons while struggling at times on the road. Since he’s at home for this matchup against the Reds, he’s worth a look if you have to go cheap for one of your SPs Wednesday.
OF MAC WILLIAMSON, SF at COL, $3,400
The return of Mac went well Tuesday night in Colorado, as Williamson went yard in the Giants’ 14-4 win at Coors Field. The 28-year-old started the season in Triple-A with the Sacramento River Cats, where he hit .378 (31-for-82) with 23 runs scored, 22 RBI, nine home runs and a 1.215 OPS.
San Francisco has been searching for any kind of production from its corner OF spots all season long, and Williamson has a chance to show he belongs in the majors if he can stay hot. He jumped right into the starting lineup and hit sixth Tuesday, and he probably will be in a similar spot at Coors Field again Wednesday as the Giants face Jon Gray ($8,000), who Williamson has gone 2-for-2 with a double against in their limited previous track record. To get a hot bat at Coors Field for this price is a deal too good to ignore.
1B RYAN O’HEARN, KC at HOU, $3,600
O’Hearn has hit safely in four of his past five games, going 7-for-17 (.412) with two doubles, a home run and five RBI. He has four home runs on the season and has lifted his average above .200 to .202 with his recent success. Most of his struggles have come against lefties, though, who he is 0-for-18 on the season against. Against righties like Astros starter Brad Peacock ($8,600), O’Hearn is hitting a more respectable .244 (21-for-86) with five doubles, a triple, four homers and a .815 OPS.
Usually, O’Hearn hits in the middle of the lineup against right-handed starters, putting him in a solid run-producing spot in Houston. Peacock has allowed lefties to hit .277 against him this season while holding righties to just .192, and all four of the home runs he has given up have been to left-handed batters. O’Hearn and the other Royals lefties could be a nice source of value in Houston.
2B JURICKSON PROFAR, OAK VS. CIN, $3,200
A little like his teammate mentioned above, Profar has had an up-and-down start to the season in Oakland. He joined the A’s this offseason and has jumped right into a full-time role at 2B. Profar is hitting only .193 through his first 32 games, but he has started to turn things around lately and is trending in the right way.
On Tuesday, Profar had his second straight multi-hit game and accounted for all of Oakland’s runs with a two-run home run to back Fiers’ no-hitter. Profar has gone 7-for-20 (.350) during his current five-game hitting streak with a double, home run, five RBI and a walk. He is also a perfect 3-for-3 in stolen base attempts this season and has three home runs as well. Profar can give you a nice power-speed combo at his best, and he will get an interesting matchup tonight as the A’s face Sonny Gray ($8,200) for the first time since he joined the Reds this past offseason.
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