MLB Early Targets

This is an extremely risky four-game afternoon slate with multiple top options sporting injury designations and giving us a lot of grey areas to work with. The stud pitchers are in a hitter’s ballpark and dealing with injuries while the cheap pitchers are awful, making the bats seem more important. It’s an interesting game-theory spot, so let’s take a look at our options and see what sticks out.

PITCHER

Stud

James Paxton, NYY vs. SD, $10,700 — This is an incredible nerve-racking slate with the two highest pitchers coming out with injury designations. As much as I believe Chris Paddack ($10,100) is probably the less injured of the two studs, the matchup is magnitudes better for Paxton. Before injury Paxton was averaging 21 DKFP per game and even in 75 pitches he still has a better floor against the Padres.

Other Options — Chris Paddack ($10,100)

Value

Anthony DeSclafani, CIN vs. PIT, $7,000 — DeSclafani is a flyball-prone pitcher who carries his fastball high in the zone looking for whiffs and it can come around to bite him in the wrong matchup. Against the Pirates he’s probably going to give up a long ball to Josh Bell ($5,800), but outside of that, his strikeout upside (five or more in six starts) is enough to make him a worthy play at his price.

Other Options — Steven Brault ($5,500)


CATCHER

Stud

Omar Narvaez, SEA vs. TEX, $4,200 — Averaging a healthy .287/.357/.473 in 2019 with eight home runs and 20 RBI, Narvaez is having one of the better seasons at his position and certainly the best of his career. A recent cold spell (just two games over 10 DKFP in the past 10) might have people off him, but the matchup is great for power and even lefty-on-lefty he’s a threat for a home run at a premium price.

Other Options — Gary Sanchez ($5,100)

Value

Isiah Kiner-Falefa, TEX at SEA, $3,200 — I’m assuming Kiner-Falefa gets the start today with Jeff Mathis ($2,200) taking the past couple starts as they have split time exceptionally evenly this season. If he starts, Kiner-Falefa is in a fantastic spot. Wade LeBlanc ($6,600) is a shell of his former self and even his former self was a home run prone mess, making this one of the better spots on the slate to attack. I like Kiner-Falefa in all formats as an important piece of salary relief with extra-base hit upside.

Other Options — Austin Hedges ($3,000)


FIRST BASE

Josh Bell, PIT at CIN, $5,800 — I mentioned Bell in the DeSclafani blurb earlier in the article and I meant what I said about him being a threat to go yard in this game. He’s hitting RHPs better than anyone in the league right now and is averaging 10.9 DKFP per contest with a 1.137 OPS while getting a massive park upgrade. He’s a fantastic piece to build around on this short slate.

Other Options — Danny Santana ($4,700), Daniel Vogelbach ($5,300)

Value

Kendrys Morales, NYY vs. SD, $2,700 — I understand Morales has had no upside lately, but his price is plummeting while he continues to maintain a modest floor. He has at least two fantasy points in his past 10 games with six games of four or more — and the price is extremely forgiving. It’s a tough matchup, but he helps you fit the stud pitching, and that’s what matters on this slate.

Other Options — Albert Pujols ($3,500)


SECOND BASE

Stud

Danny Santana, TEX at SEA, $4,700 — As much as I would love to write up Derek Dietrich ($4,900) and his insane play as of late, he’s got only 11 at-bats against LHPs and might not play, so I’ll go with Santana. Danny has been respectable this season, hitting in the meat of the Rangers’ order with a slash of .303/.347/.495 and draws the best matchup on the slate. He fits nicely at a lame position and gives you plenty of upside.

Other Options — Gleyber Torres ($4,500)

Value

Jose Peraza, CIN vs. PIT, $3,100 — I’m not a huge fan of Peraza’s skillset as he is a fringe utility guy who has speed but little contact skills, making it difficult for him to find his ceiling often. However, he has found some power reserves lately with two home runs in his past 24 at-bats and just two strikeouts in the frame. He’s got a matchup with a pitcher who barely belongs in the majors and a tired bullpen, so he’s worth a shot.

Other Options — Shed Long ($3,200)


THIRD BASE

Stud

Matt Chapman, OAK vs. LAA, $4,300 — The Athletics have been heating up as they’ve gotten healthier, and they owe a lot of that to the bat of Chapman. He’s got four home runs on 12 hits in the past 10 contests while averaging 11 fantasy points and has given a solid boost to his now .552 SLG%. The matchup with Griffin Canning (8,300) is rough, but he can give up some dongs and Chapman has one of the highest chances on the team to take him yard.

Other Options — Eugenio Suarez ($4,900)

Value

Manny Machado, SD at NYY, $3,600 — Machado has been really unimpressive on the surface, but the underlying skills are still there. He has nearly as many walks as strikeouts in the past 10 games and has scored less than five fantasy points in just two of those games. The only thing missing has been the power. I expect that to come back soon, and in a great park against an injured pitcher, it’s worth a gamble on his skills.

Other Options — Kyle Seager ($3,700)


SHORT STOP

Stud

Elvis Andrus, TEX at SEA, $4,800 — Coming off the IL, Andrus has been on a tear with three stolen bases and 12 hits while averaging 8.4 DKFP. He will continue to hit in a desirable spot in the batting order and faces a pitcher that bleeds upside to opposing batters. For the money, there is no other option that contains the upside and matchup of Andrus, so he is the cash-game play at the position.

Other Options — Gleyber Torres ($4,500)

Value

J.P. Crawford, SEA vs. TEX, $3,200 — Crawford continues to be underpriced and I continue to write him up and take advantage of it. He’s cooled off a bit since a torrid start to his major league stint but still is averaging 5.6 DKFP over the past 10 games with just one output of zero fantasy points and two of 10+. For the money, you get someone with a solid floor and decent upside, making him very valuable.

Other Options — Luis Rengifo ($2,900)


OUTFIELD

Stud

Hunter Pence, TEX at SEA, $5,300 — There were a lot of people who said Pence couldn’t possibly keep up his pace a month ago, but here we are with him pushing a slash line of .302/.295/.651 with 11 home runs and an average of 9.7 DKFP. He’s a monster, and he’s especially good against LHPs, making him one of my favorite spends on the slate.

Other Options — Joey Gallo ($5,600), Mike Trout ($5,500)

Value

Josh Naylor, SD at NYY, $3,300 — Naylor is a kid with a lot of power who is earning his stripes in the major leagues. He’s got four hits thus far with two doubles and three RBI, however, he also has struck out eight times. He’s going to have his ups and downs but in a fantastic offensive park and at a bargain price he’s a lotto ticket on a short slate that has the upside necessary to pay off big.

Other Options — Ramon Laureano ($3,300), Cameron Maybin ($3,400)


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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Multichem) 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.