September usually means call-up season in Major League Baseball with exciting prospects joining their teams for the final month of the regular season to see if they’re ready to step up to the Majors. Several exciting young players have arrived in the Majors over the past few days, and they provide nice value on DraftKings. With just four games on the Thursday night slate, it’s a great chance to get to build around some of the rising stars while mixing in just the right veteran options as well. Check out my top studs and values listed below.
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Spencer Strider, Atlanta Braves vs. Colorado Rockies ($8,800) – There are actually several nice options on the mound on this limited slate, but my favorite balance of high upside and low risk is Strider, who gets a good matchup at this salary under $9K. Strider has been excellent this season, compiling a 2.87 ERA and 2.04 FIP while striking out 13.33 K/9. He has allowed exactly one run in five of his past six starts, going 4-1 with a 2.51 ERA, 2.04 FIP and 44 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings. He has been especially effective at home, where he has a 38.3% K rate and has averaged 27.8 DKFP over his past six starts. He also has the advantage of facing the Rockies without the Coors Field effect. On the road, the Rockies have scored the fewest runs and have hit the fewest home runs of any team in the Majors while hitting .235 with a .281 team wOBA and 78 wRC+.
Other Options – Brandon Woodruff ($10,000), Shane Bieber ($9,600)
Rich Hill, Boston Red Sox vs. Texas Rangers ($7,000) – After returning from a knee injury, Hill had a few rocky starts, but he has bounced back in his two most recent outings and is coming off an 11-strikeout gem vs. the Rays that resulted in a season-high 39.4 DKFP. Those 11 strikeouts came over seven shutout innings, and the 42-year-old veteran improved to 6-5 with a 4.32 ERA, 4.00 FIP and 7.43 K/9. While his strikeout numbers have been down on the season, he has 15 strikeouts in his past 12 innings and seems to have found a good groove. The Rangers rely on some big lefty bats, and Hill is especially effective against left-handed batters. He’ll hope to keep Texas’ underrated offense in check and build on that strong start against Tampa Bay to reach his high ceiling at only $7K.
Other Options – Merrill Kelly ($8,100), Kyle Bradish ($6,400)
Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox vs. Texas Rangers ($5,000) – Bogaerts finished August with three straight multi-hit performances, including a grand slam, five RBIs and a stolen base on Wednesday night, which resulted in a massive 34-DKFP performance. He has six multi-hit performances in his past seven games while going 13-for-28 (.464) with two homers and a .528 wOBA. He has been better at home than on the road this year and has a good matchup highlighted in stacks below. I’m a little surprised his recent surge hasn’t resulted in more of a salary increase, so grab him at $5K while you still can.
Christian Walker, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Milwaukee Brewers ($4,100) – Walker started the season with some of the worst BABIP and hard-hit luck of any player in the Majors, but he made that become more of a distant memory with a strong August. In strong contrast to his .147 average in March and April, he hit .346 in August with seven doubles, seven homers, a .438 wOBA and 182 wRC+. He has hit safely in eight of his past nine contests and offers a nice middle-of-the-order power bat without having to pay an elite salary.
Other Options – Matt Olson ($5,300), Trevor Story ($4,900)
Kolten Wong, Milwaukee Brewers at Arizona Diamondbacks ($3,300) – Wong has also been heating up lately, hitting safely in six straight starts with three home runs, a .455 average and a .630 wOBA during that short span. He has been pretty awful (.133 with a .212 wOBA) against lefties but very usable against righties most of the season, and he’ll probably be in the middle third of the Brewers’ lineup vs. righty Merrill Kelly ($8,100) on Tuesday night.
Gunnar Henderson, Baltimore Orioles at Cleveland Guardians ($2,600) – With a shot to return to the postseason for the first time since 2016, the Orioles are making a strong push for the playoffs and giving their prospects a chance to jump in and contribute. Henderson didn’t take long to produce, homering in just his second Major League at-bat on Wednesday and producing 17 DKFP in his debut. Henderson hit .288 with 11 homers, 10 steals and a .393 wOBA across 65 games in Triple-A before being called up, and he brings a nice power-speed combo, which gives the 21-year-old lefty a good ceiling.
Other Options – Ramón Urías ($3,000), Vaughn Grissom ($3,000)
Ronald Acuña Jr., Atlanta Braves vs. Colorado Rockies ($6,000) – Acuña returned from a three-game absence due to knee discomfort and smashed his 11th homer of the season on Wednesday. The home run extended his hitting streak to six games and put a bow on his best month of the season so far. In August, he hit .316 with a .383 wOBA, three home runs and three stolen bases. Even with fewer stolen bases due to his ongoing knee issues, he’s still an elite option at the top of one of the best lineups on the slate and brings a high ceiling with his dual-threat abilities.
Tommy Pham, Boston Red Sox vs. Texas Rangers ($4,600) – Pham has filled a need for the Red Sox and quickly settled in as the team’s everyday leadoff hitter. Since coming from the Reds in a trade at the deadline, Pham is 31-for-106 (.292) with eight doubles, four home runs, a .351 wOBA and 19 runs scored in 25 games. He has hit safely in 10 of his past 11 starts, with five multi-hit games during that run of success.
Other Options – Adolis García ($4,700), Michael Harris II ($4,300)
Jake McCarthy, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Milwaukee Brewers ($3,100) – McCarthy has recently jumped up to the second spot in the D-backs’ order after hitting .357 (25-for-70) with six stolen bases, five doubles, three homers and a .429 wOBA over his past 20 games. He homered in each of his past two games and has averaged 17 DKFP over his past five games.
Corbin Carroll, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Milwaukee Brewers ($2,000) – Carroll is another promising young OF prospect in Arizona and is still available at the minimum salary after going 3-for-10 with a pair of doubles, five RBIs and 31 DKFP in his first two games in the Majors. Carroll is just 21 years old but quickly climbed through multiple levels of the system after starting the year in rookie ball. Carroll was ranked the No. 3 overall prospect in all of baseball by MLB Pipeline in their mid-season update, so he has an extremely high long-term ceiling. He also makes a ton of sense for a player available at the minimum salary given his early success in the Majors.
Other Options – Oscar González ($3,500), Leody Taveras ($2,200)
TEAMS TO STACK
Atlanta Braves vs. Colorado Rockies – The Braves and Rockies split the first two games of the series, but Atlanta should be set up well to go for the series win behind Strider as they take on Chad Kuhl ($5,700). Kuhl is 6-7 in his 21 starts with a 5.17 ERA and 5.22 FIP. He pitches to contact, which is bad news when you give up a 42.9% hard-hit rate. He has given up 18 homers this season and 10 of those have come in his six most recent starts. His numbers are actually much better at Coors Field than on the road, which is surprising for a pitcher and sets up well for the Braves in this matchup. Kuhl has been hit especially hard by lefties, who have a .365 wOBA and 10 homers against him on the year. Look for Matt Olson ($5,300), Michael Harris II ($4,300) and Eddie Rosario ($3,000) to take advantage of that split while top-of-the-order bats Acuña (discussed above), Dansby Swanson ($5,400) and Austin Riley ($5,700) are worth considering in just about any matchup. If you need value, Vaughn Grissom ($3,000) and even Robbie Grossman ($2,400) can help complete the stack.
Boston Red Sox vs. Texas Rangers – Even in a down year, the Red Sox have put up good offensive numbers at home. They have the second-best home batting average in the Majors and have a .328 home wOBA that ranks in the top 10. They’ll face Glen Otto ($6,000) in their series opener in one of the better matchups on the slate. Otto has struggled with his command lately, issuing 11 walks with just five strikeouts over 16 2/3 innings in his past three starts. He has allowed righties to post a .348 wOBA against him, so it’s a good spot to attack the reverse splits with Pham (discussed above), Bogaerts (discussed above), J.D. Martinez ($4,500) and Trevor Story ($4,900). Like the Braves, Boston also has some value to round out your stack with a surging Alex Verdugo ($3,700) usually hitting second and Franchy Cordero ($2,000) bringing some power potential at the minimum salary.
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