With two afternoon games, you can find and capitalize on some early contests, but the bulk of the action is with the evening slate. Those are the names we’re going to focus on here, giving you some players at every position and price range that you can consider as you’re building those lineups. Good luck.
There are plenty of MLB contests available — Get in the action!
Chris Sale vs. BOS ($13,000) – Sale is on a tear right now that makes you draft him because you’re scared. Yup, he’s expensive. Yup, other people are going to draft him. But those people might start off with a 40-point head start if you don’t choose wisely.
Chris Archer vs. MIN ($12,800) – Obviously you’re not choosing him over Sale to save money, although I guess every little bit helps. You’re drafting this guy because you’re convinced he has the better matchup and will actually end up outperforming the more expensive Sale. And sure, I get that recommending the top two pitchers on the board might be annoying, but I am doing it anyway, and doing it on purpose. And the reason is, between these two guys, there might be more than a few players in your tournaments starting off with that 40-point head start, and if you are going to shy away from either of them, you better be pretty confident in your other picks. Archer had a complete-game one-hit shutout of the Astros last time out, with 11 K’s (that’s 50 fantasy points). Including that game, he has had 20+ fantasy points in six of his last seven, and now he’s facing off against a Minnesota lineup with a 22.4% strikeout % against righties (he’s had double-digit K’s in three of five).
Jimmy Nelson @ CLE ($8,400) – With quality starts in six of his last eight, and a plus matchup with Cleveland in this one, Nelson might not have upside past the mid-20’s, but it has also been two months since he got you fewer than ten. A really solid choice to round out your pitching staff.
John Lackey @ ARI ($8,000) – Lackey had a tough start last time out, giving up four runs in six innings, and taking the loss at San Diego. Prior to that, though, he had been working on an incredible stretch of 14 straight quality starts, really helping his tam grind through this mid-regular-season months. A matchup with Arizona definitely presents some challenges, but with a win, he could easily give you 20+ fantasy points, good value for this money.
Kyle Schwarber @ Peavy ($3,900) – I just really wanted to recommend Schwarber. He’s always playing during the day, and I want him in my lineup. And since I am pretty sure he’s the best hitter since Babe Ruth based on the conversation over the past couple of weeks, I feel like $3,900 is a value. (In all seriousness, four of his last eight with more than 14 fantasy points and three over 20 makes this price a value).
Wilson Ramos vs. Ross ($2,900) – Double benefit: he’s cheap, and in this matchup, he likely won’t be very heavily owned. 3-for-6 with a double so far against Ross, the matchup maybe shouldn’t be quite as much of a deterrent as you might think.
Derek Norris vs. Gonzalez ($2,900) – The game of dueling $2,900 catchers. This stat is a bit of an anomaly, I am aware, but it has to mean something, doesn’t it? Norris is 2-for-2 with 2 home runs against Gonzalez (with a walk in his third plate appearance).
Geovany Soto vs. Porcello ($2,600) – First of all, Porcello has been bad, all season. Second of all, this is his first start in a month as he has finally recovered from a bicep injury. Suffice it to say, I don’t expect the month off to have helped. I am going to feel like I am picking on him by the end of this column, but let’s start here: Soto has upside for days. And he should be in the lineup tonight if his past success against Porcello is any kind of factor in the lineup decision – 4-for-7 with a double and two home runs.
Joey Votto vs. Anderson ($5,700) – As if you needed a reason to draft Votto other than “he’s really good,” or “Brett Anderson has been getting lit up lately,” there is evidence that Votto, specifically, is individually capable of lighting up Anderson (2-for-3 with a double and a RBI the only other time they have faced each other).
Eric Hosmer vs. Chen ($4,500) – Wei-Yen Chen has gone more than six innings only once in his last seven starts, and Hosmer has hit him well even when he was going through better stretches. 7-for-17 with a double and two home runs is enough for me to trust him.
Albert Pujols @ Verlander ($3,900) – Pujols is 6-for-12 against Verlander all-time, with four walks. That amounts to a .625 OBP, and his slugging % in the matchup is up at .750 (thanks to three doubles). He’s been hitting just fine lately, and there is no reason you should be scared off of him tonight either.
Adam Lind @ Anderson ($3,600) – He’s had a hit each of the two times he has faced Anderson, and one of those was a home run. He hasn’t been producing lately, which is why you’re getting him at a discount, but the upside is still there, and tonight is as good a night as any to think it might come through.
Dee Gordon vs. Locke ($4,600) – He is just a lot of fun to root for. It seems like things are always happening around him. And things are what you get fantasy points for. It’s simple, really.
Ben Zobrist vs. Chen ($4,100) – Zobrist is hitting .358 over his last ten games, and should feel comfortable enough to try to build on those numbers in this one. He has more experience against Chen than anyone else in this lineup, with 38 plate appearances. In those chances, he is 13-for-35
(.371) with two doubles and a home run. Sounds more like a value to me, to be honest.
D.J. LeMahieu @ Miller ($3,600) – He’s been scuffling a bit lately, but he still has that .314 average for the year, and he has had four double-digit fantasy games in his last ten – decent upside for this price. He’s also 3-for-5 against Miller, with a double and a pair of walks, so if there is any scoring going on tonight for the Rockies, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him as a part of it.
Gordon Beckham vs. Porcello ($2,000) – When it comes to Porcello, a hitter doesn’t have to have a good history against him to be a good play. If there is a small sample size, give the benefit of the doubt to the hitter, because why not. So when there IS a good history, forget about it. I mean, Beckham clearly doesn’t play every day, but if the decisions were mine, he’d certainly play today. He is 15-for-32 (.467) against Porcello all time, with six doubles and a home run. I guess he sees the ball well coming out of his hand or something. Maybe Porcello just throws meatballs.
Miguel Cabrera vs. Santiago ($5,500) – Santiago has been great and all, but Cabrera has been on fire since he returned from DL. He has had twelve games back, and after going 0-for-3 in his first game, he has had at least one hit in each of the last eleven (and more than one in ten of those eleven). That’s right – at least two hits in ten of twelve games since his return, including nine doubles and a home run.
Aramis Ramirez @ Narveson ($4,400) – Ramirez is 11 for his last 39, including four extra base hits, and he has a couple of home runs in his career against Narveson. A history of power against this pitcher and a recent run of consistency… why not?
Mike Moustakas vs. Chen ($4,000) – With a double-digit fantasy scoring average over his last ten games, Moustakas is on another run of very solid performances at the plate. Might as well take advantage before they dry up.
Adrian Beltre vs. Price ($3,500) – I know Price isn’t just any old lefty, but Beltre has always hit southpaws well, and I don’t care who is pitching – you look at a matchup between these two offenses and it is hard to imagine a low-scoring affair. Now watch a 1-0 14-inning pitchers’ duel unfold. Of course.
Jung Ho Kang @ Narveson ($4,000) – Narveson is not the kind of pitcher to make you shy away from a matchup, putting it mildly. So just look at the .320/.452/.588 slash line he’s put up over the past ten days and go with it.
Wilmer Flores @ Eickhoff ($4,000) – He went 0-for-4 last night, but before that, he had five games in a row with double-digit fantasy points, going 11-for-23 over that stretch, with three doubles and three home runs. And now he is drawing a pitcher with basically no experience. Eickhoff looked good in one start against Miami, but that doesn’t mean every outing is going to be a shutout, so I would ride Flores’ hot streak into this one without any hesitation.
Adeiny Hechavarria vs. Locke ($3,400) – There isn’t a ton of upside here, with the almost complete lack of either power or steals, but he has been hitting .295 since the All-Star break, with enough multiple-hit games to get into double-digit fantasy production three times in the past week. He’s also hit .357 in 14 at-bats against Locke, so it would be a bit surprising to see him completely blanked in this one.
Erick Aybar @ Verlander ($2,800) – He had a bit of an injury scare earlier a couple weeks back, but he never went on the DL and now he has had three multi-hit games in his past six, going for double-digit fantasy points twice over that stretch. He also has extensive experience facing off against Verlander, in a good way – 10-for-29 with a couple of doubles equates to a .345 average and a .414 slugging % in the matchup.
Bryce Harper vs. Ross ($5,100) – Over just his last five games or so, his numbers have looked a lot like they did pre-All Star break. That’s not to say he’s been bad since then, but he had seemed to slow down just a bit – but with eight hits in his last five games, including four doubles and a home run, he’s reminding us he is as elite an option as anyone. And if it’s the matchup that’s scaring you off, he is 2-for-3 lifetime against Ross, with a home run. Small sample size, yes, but at least you know he’ll come into the game confident.
Michael Brantley vs. Nelson ($4,600) – Brantley has been averaging well over ten fantasy points per game for more than two weeks now, just hitting consistently and with power. He has five hits in his last three games, and went yard twice last night. That gets you feeling confident.
Christian Yelich vs. Locke ($3,800) – Coming off a 2-hit game last night, he has multi-hit games in three of his last seven, good for a .325 average over the last couple of weeks. He’s also got a .357 average with a home run in 14 at-bats against Locke, so he should be locked in (no pun intended) and looking to continue his hot streak in this one.
Melky Cabrera vs. Porcello ($3,700) – Just one more against Porcello for good measure. In case you looked up his track record against old Ricky, 12-for-22 with three doubles, a home run, and two walks equates to a .545/.583/.818 slash line.
David Murphy @ Verlander ($2,500) – He continues to play consistently against right-handed pitching, because he continues to rake consistently against right-handed pitching (.397/.333/.438). Against Verlander in particular, he has a .300 average in 19 plate appearances – so, in other words, he does to Verlander what he does to all other righties.
Michael Morse @ Narveson ($2,500) – He also has 1B eligibility, depending on where you are having to plug and play. They can be a bit unpredictable, these pitcher-hitter matchups. Morse is, for some reason, 6-for-9 against Narveson, with two doubles and three home runs. And, somehow, no walks. I mean, if it were me pitching, he’d probably have a walk by now. Just saying.