On a jam-packed sports Saturday, Major League Baseball has games lined up throughout the afternoon and evening, including an eight-game main slate on DraftKings, which gets underway at 7:10 p.m. ET. It looks like a beautiful day and night for baseball for the most part with almost no weather issues in the forecast. There are some fun and fascinating matchups, and you can find my top targets of the day listed below.
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 $175K Relay Throw [$50K to 1st]
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Spencer Strider, Atlanta Braves vs. Baltimore Orioles ($11,500) – Strider has been one of the best pitchers in the Majors this season, and he is an especially good option for fantasy baseball since he racks up so many strikeouts. In his six starts, he has 57 strikeouts in 35 innings. He leads the Majors in K/9 with 14.7 and could move to the top of the rankings in total strikeouts as well with a strong outing against the Orioles.
Strider has won four of his six starts and has a 2.57 ERA and 2.21 FIP. In his most recent start, he had a little bit of a rough outing by his high standards, but he still managed a win and 17.9 DKFP by striking out eight and retiring nine straight after allowing a three-run homer to Pete Alonso. Before that outing, Strider hurled back-to-back gems against the Padres and Marlins, allowing only three hits in 14 shutout innings with 22 strikeouts and producing 32.5 and 46.8 DKFP, respectively. He should be able to bounce back against Baltimore, even though the Orioles’ lineup has been in a nice groove lately. His ceiling is too high to overlook even though he’s at the top of the salary structure, so consider spending up for Strider on Saturday.
Other Options – Nathan Eovaldi ($9,300), Alex Cobb ($9,000)
J.P. France, Houston Astros at Seattle Mariners ($5,200) – There are many sketchy starting pitching options towards the bottom of the salary structure, so I’m ready to take a risk and roll with a rookie in his MLB debut. The World Series Champions have had awful injury news to start the year and found out Friday that Luis Garcia will need Tommy John surgery and miss the rest of the season. José Urquidy (shoulder) is also shut down for a while and Lance McCullers (forearm) is still a ways from returning. All the injuries in the rotation open the door for France’s call-up on Saturday.
France is the Astros’ No. 21 prospect according to Baseball America after being drafted in the 14th round of the 2018 draft. He has never had elite prospect pedigree since he doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but he has five different pitches he mixes together very well and has been effective in doing so this season. In his five games for the Sugar Land Space Cowboys, France fanned 26 batters in 19 1⁄3 innings while allowing just five earned runs and holding opponents to a .136 batting average. He’ll look to translate that success to the Majors in this matchup, and his salary of barely over $5K means he doesn’t have to do much to return great value. He’s a nice way to balance out Strider’s hefty price tag and still leave yourself room in your lineup for plenty of big bats taking on the other questionable starting pitchers taking the mound Saturday night.
Other Option – Colin Rea ($6,800)
Manny Machado, San Diego Padres vs. Los Angeles Dodgers ($5,100) – Machado and the Padres finally seem to be rolling after a sluggish start to the season. The Friars started their weekend set against the Dodgers with a nice win Friday night, giving them five wins in their last six games since the start of their series in Mexico City. In a related trend, Machado has been heating up and gone 9-for-24 (.375) over his past six games with three home runs and a double giving him a .527 wOBA during that span, along with a 55.6% hard-hit rate. He should be able to keep crushing since he gets a good matchup against Dustin May ($8,200) on Saturday. In their past meetings, Machado has a pair of home runs while going 7-for-22 (.318).
Bobby Witt Jr., Kansas City Royals vs. Oakland Athletics ($4,800) – The Royals and Athletics have been two of the worst teams in the Majors this season, but they reminded everyone on Friday that they can still have good fantasy nights as the two teams combined for 20 runs on 27 hits including three home runs. Witt missed out on that action, getting the day off, but he’s expected to be back in his typical spot atop the Royals’ lineup in another good spot on Saturday. He’ll face lefty Ken Waldichuk ($6,500), who has surrendered 10 home runs in his six starts while posting a 7.26 ERA and 7.39 FIP. Righties have nine of those homers and a .425 wOBA against him. It should be a good matchup for the 22-year-old Witt, who is starting to deliver on his top-prospect pedigree. He is hitting only .237 on the season but does have five homers and eight stolen bases. He has one extra-base hit and at least 14 DKFP in each of his three most recent games with a double, triple, home run and a stolen base. He should be fresh and ready to go and brings a high ceiling in this great matchup.
Other Options – Marcus Semien ($5,700), Jeremy Peña ($4,500), Christian Walker ($4,300),
Emmanuel Rivera, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Washington Nationals ($3,000) – Rivera was a trade deadline pickup for the Dbacks last summer from the Royals, but he started this season at Triple-A before being called up in late April. Since then, he has made the most of his chances, going 9-for-22 (.409) with a pair of doubles and a .411 wOBA. He typically starts and bats second against left-handed pitchers like MacKenzie Gore ($8,700) and has hit .270 with a .328 wOBA and .158 ISO against southpaws in his career. Rivera is affordable at just $3K and flexible since he can fill either 1B or 3B on your roster. He doesn’t bring a ton of power but has hit safely in each of his six starts this season while averaging 7.8 DKFP per start.
Miguel Vargas, Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres ($2,500) – Vargas has filled in at 2B pretty well for the Dodgers, who had to accelerate the 23-year-old prospect’s arrival in the Majors after a season-ending knee injury to Gavin Lux. In his 31 games, Vargas is hitting .240 with two homers and two stolen bases with a solid .348 wOBA. He has gone 6-for-12 (.500) over his three most recent games with a home run, a triple, three doubles and a stolen base resulting in 19.7 DKFP per game over that short stint. He often moves higher in the order against lefties like Blake Snell ($8,800), and after adjusting to the Majors, he seems to be settling into a good groove. Vargas has great run production potential in the Dodgers lineup and getting so much upside with both power and speed at only $2.5K is a great way to go at 2B.
Other Options – Josh Jung ($3,800), Kiké Hernández ($3,500), Ryan Noda ($2,800)
Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros at Seattle Mariners ($6,000) – Alvarez didn’t escape the Astros injury bug, missing four games with a neck injury in April. When he’s been healthy, though, he continues to smash. He has a .390 wOBA in his 26 games with seven homers, 30 RBI and a .263 batting average. His overall numbers are a little down, but he has been trending in the right direction since returning from injury. In his six games back, he has gone 6-for-20 (.300) with two doubles, a home run, a .419 wOBA and a 46.7% hard-hit rate. He homered on Friday in the series opener and should be in a good matchup against soft-tossing lefty Marco Gonzales ($7,700). Even though it’s a lefty-vs.-lefty matchup, Alvarez has had success against him in the past, going 7-for-16 (.438) with a pair of home runs. If you have the salary to spend up in the outfield, Air Yordan!
Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Washington Nationals ($4,200) – Gurriel has been a great addition to the DBacks and has helped balance out their outfield with some right-handed pop to go with their young lefty prospects. He came over from Toronto. in the Dalton Varsho trade and has hit .276 in his first 28 games in Arizona with two homers, a stolen base and a .324 wOBA. He has been especially effective against lefties, going 14-for-42 (.333) with a .340 wOBA, and has also been very good at Chase Field, going 13-for-44 (.295) with a .369 home wOBA. With those splits in his favor against Gore, he can be a nice mid-range option Saturday night.
Other Options – Fernando Tatis Jr. ($6,200), Masataka Yoshida ($4,900)
Esteury Ruiz ($3,000), Oakland Athletics at Kansas City Royals – Ruiz has locked himself in atop the Athletics order and has been a solid fantasy option due to his 15 stolen bases, which ties him for the MLB lead with Ronald Acuña Jr. ($6,500). Ruiz swiped two bags on Friday while going 3-for-6 and posting a total of 27 DKFP. He has multiple stolen bases in two of his past three games and a total of 10 thefts over his past nine games. He isn’t just a speed threat, though, since he has also hit .324 (12-for-37) with three doubles, a triple and a .375 wOBA over those nine contests. The A’s lineup still isn’t good, but they have a great matchup against Brady Singer ($7,000), so Ruiz brings a high ceiling Saturday.
Maikel Garcia, Kansas City Royals vs. Oakland Athletics ($2,500) – Another cheap play from that matchup is 23-year-old rookie Maikel Garcia, who has gone 6-for-15 (.400) in his four games since being called up to fill in while Nicky Lopez (appendicitis) is sidelined. Before being called up, he hit .242 in his 24 games in Triple-A with the Omaha Storm Chasers, with one home run and four stolen bases. He specifically excelled against southpaws, going 9-for-29 with five doubles against lefties. He gets a good matchup against Waldichuk and can be a cheap play either at 3B or in the OF. If he bats ninth like he did Friday, there’s even a sneaky mini-stack with him and Witt back-to-back in the order with some nice added correlation.
Other Options – Brent Rooker ($3,700), Stone Garrett ($3,300), Rob Refsnyder ($3,000)
Set your DraftKings fantasy baseball lineups here: MLB $175K Relay Throw [$50K 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.