After a busy afternoon of baseball throughout the day, there are four games on center stage for the DFS fantasy baseball main slate on DraftKings, which gets underway at 7:15 p.m. ET. The Dodgers and Cardinals continue their big National League series in St. Louis, while the Angels and Twins square off in the American League. In the two interleague contests, the Red Sox and Mariners are on the road to face the Padres and Braves, respectively.
Make sure to keep a close eye on pregame lineups and the latest player news by installing the DK Live app and following DK Live on Twitter (@dklive). I’m also on Twitter (@ZT_Sports), where you can keep up with all my picks as the season continues.
Set your DraftKings fantasy baseball lineups here: MLB $100K Relay Throw [$25K to 1st]
For up-to-the-minute news, analysis, and lineups, download the DK Live app. You also can follow DK Live on Twitter @dklive.
Louie Varland, Minnesota Twins at Los Angeles Angels ($8,100) – Varland has been very good since joining the Twins rotation due to multiple injuries in Minnesota, and the 25-year-old will look to continue his success as the Twins take on the Angels in Anaheim. He made a cameo in April, but since joining the rotation full-time in May, he has gone 17 innings and allowed eight runs on 16 hits for a 4.24 ERA and matching 4.24 FIP. He has totaled 27 strikeouts in his 23 innings in the Majors this season, offering good upside with his punchout potential.
Varland’s two best starts have been his two most recent outings. He went six innings and allowed just one run against the San Diego Padres to earn 19.3 DKFP, and then he followed that up with even stronger production in his most recent start, going 6 1⁄3 innings and striking out seven to pick up his first win of the season and total 23.3 DKFP against the Chicago Cubs. Varland will look to build on that start in this outing against the Angels. While he doesn’t have a perfect matchup or a long track record of success, he stands out as the best option on this limited slate, given his price and his potential production.
Other Option – Logan Gilbert ($9,600)
Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox at San Diego Padres ($7,600) – Sale’s comeback this season has been remarkable. After not pitching at all in 2020 and only pitching 5 2⁄3 innings in 2022, Sale has returned to strong form after a litany of injuries. He has made eight starts, and overall, he has been effective despite some bumps in the road. Those bumps have resulted in a 5.40 ERA, but his 3.80 FIP shows that some of that is due to some bad breaks.
Throughout his 43 1⁄3 innings, his strikeouts have been there. He’s averaging 11.2 K/9, which is below his Cy Young level, but still more than serviceable. In his past two starts, he was even sharper with 19 strikeouts in 14 innings against the Philadelphia Phillies and the St. Louis Cardinals. He went eight innings against the Cardinals just as they were starting to get hot and held them to three hits with nine strikeouts last Saturday. He left in line for the win in a game that would have netted him 35.6 DKFP if it wasn’t for a bullpen collapse in the ninth. His 31.6 DKFP still represents his best fantasy start of the season and gave him over 23 DKFP in three of his past four outings. To get that level of production from a pitcher under $8K would be huge on any slate, but especially with such limited other options, Sale brings a ton of upside to his matchup at Petco Park against the Padres. San Diego has hitters, but they rank in the middle of the pack against lefties so far this season.
Other Option – Patrick Sandoval ($7,000), Miles Mikolas ($6,700)
Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox at San Diego Padres ($5,500) – Devers hit a pair of home runs on Friday in the series opener and is up to 13 dingers in his 44 games this season. He had some rough breaks early in the season that led to a low batting average, but he has turned that around lately, going 18-for-50 (.360) over his past 13 games with five doubles, three home runs, 17 RBI and a .436 wOBA during that span while averaging 10.4 DKFP per contest. Devers’ power numbers have been good all season and he has a .293 ISO. Now that his batting average is coming around, he’s back to being an elite DFS play. In Saturday’s matchup, he’ll face Joe Musgrove ($7,400), who has allowed 15 runs and five home runs in his 19 innings this season. Musgrove is too good of a pitcher not to turn it around eventually, but this is definitely not a matchup to avoid at this point based on his current form.
Freddie Freeman, Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals ($4,700) – Freeman has produced an astounding 16.7 DKFP per game over his past nine contests, going 16-for-36 (.444) with five doubles, a triple, three home runs, 13 RBI and a .557 wOBA. He has posted double-digit DKFP in seven of those nine games, including in four of his past five. He will look to stay hot on Saturday against Miles Mikolas ($6,700), who has let left-handed hitters post a .371 wOBA over his first eight starts of the year. It’s surprising that Freeman’s salary is under $5K given his form and upside, so take advantage of the discount on the top-tier 1B.
Other Options – Nolan Arenado ($5,200), Xander Bogaerts ($4,600)
J.P. Crawford, Seattle Mariners at Atlanta Braves ($3,100) – Since the Mariners slid Julio Rodríguez ($5,300) down in the batting order, Crawford has been the usual leadoff option for Seattle against right-handed pitchers like Jesse Chavez ($4,000), who is expected to open a bullpen day for the Braves. Crawford has reached base safely in 12 of his past 13 games, going 13-for-48 (.271) with three doubles, seven walks and a .326 wOBA to average 7.0 DKFP per game over that span. If he’s in the leadoff spot in one of the softest matchups of the day, he should again be able to return reliable value.
Miguel Vargas, Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals ($2,800) – The 23-year-old Vargas has been forced to step in as the Dodgers’ primary 2B this season after the injury to Gavin Lux (knee) this spring. Vargas has proven that he can return good fantasy value from under $3K, hitting .239 on the season but providing four homers and a .339 wOBA. He started slowly while adjusting to Major League pitching, but he has been heating up lately, going 11-for-37 (.297) over his nine most recent games with three doubles, two home runs and a .381 wOBA. If you’re attacking the Mikolas matchup, he’s a cheap way to get more Dodgers exposure.
Other Options – Alex Kirilloff ($3,200), Paul DeJong ($3,000)
Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals ($5,600) – Betts’ season-long numbers are still down overall, but he has been turning things around lately, and it looks like his power production may be ready to return as well. He homered on Friday night and now has four homers in his past 10 games while going 9-for-37 (.243) with three doubles, a triple and a .433 wOBA. Even his outs have been loud during that surge, with a 54.5% hard-hit rate per Statcast. Despite his batting average of just .251 on the season, he has still produced 9.3 DKFP per game and is usually in the middle of any success the Dodgers have on offense. Since Freeman comes at a reduced salary, this seems like a good chance to build around the two stars at the top of the Dodgers’ batting order.
Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins at Los Angeles Angels ($4,900) – A little like Betts, Buxton has put up uninspiring season-long numbers, including a low batting average of .237 in Buxton’s case. He has been turning things around lately, though, after going 0-for-30 in a seven-game stretch earlier this month. Since then, he has gone 8-for-22 (.364) with two doubles, a home run and a .432 wOBA over his past five games. He and the Twins will face lefty Patrick Sandoval ($7,000) in the second game of their series in Anaheim after losing Friday, 5-4.
Other Options – Ronald Acuña Jr. ($6,200), Julio Rodríguez ($5,300), Alex Verdugo ($4,500)
Jarren Duran, Boston Red Sox at San Diego Padres ($3,700) – Duran brings a high ceiling since he can pile up stolen bases and has also shown quite a bit of power potential. He is hitting .356 in his 29 games this season with three homers, seven stolen bases and a .420 wOBA. Three of those stolen bases have come over his nine most recent contests, during which he’s hitting .333 with a .398 wOBA. He has even been starting against lefties lately, which hasn’t helped his overall numbers but shows how far he has come since his disastrous call-up last season. Against righties like Musgrove, Duran is hitting .372 this season with a .444 wOBA and all three of his home runs.
Teoscar Hernández, Seattle Mariners at Atlanta Braves ($3,500) – Hernández has four multi-hit games in his six most recent contests after going 2-for-3 on Friday night. He is still tied for the MLB lead in strikeouts with 63 Ks in his 44 games, but he’s starting to raise his average and wOBA after a slow start. Over his past 15 games, he’s hitting .328 (19-for-58) with two doubles, a triple, a home run and a .353 wOBA. He and the Mariners should have one of the better matchups on this limited slate, so adding him at only $3.5K gives some good upside based on his power potential.
Other Options – Taylor Ward ($3,600), Kyle Garlick ($2,300)
Set your DraftKings fantasy baseball lineups here: MLB $300K Relay Throw [$100K to 1st]
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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 do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. 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.