On Sunday, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays get things started with the Leadoff game just before 12:00 p.m. ET. In the afternoon, there are eight games on the main slate for daily fantasy baseball on DraftKings. The contests get underway at 1:35 p.m. ET with four games starting in the first wave and the other four games getting underway around 2:10 p.m. ET. There are a pair of divisional matchups and three interleague contests in the mix, giving us plenty of great matchups to break down with the 16 teams in the Sunday afternoon games.
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.
Yu Darvish, San Diego Padres at New York Yankees ($9,700) – Darvish will go head-to-head with Gerrit Cole ($11,500) as the two most expensive starting pitchers on the slate face off in the series finale in the Bronx. Cole has had some great starts this year, but he has also had a few rough outings recently with under 12 DKFP in three of his past four games. Darvish has been more consistent with over 11 DKFP in every one of his last seven starts with a high point of 34.2 DKFP against the Brewers.
He has three quality starts in his past four games with at least six strikeouts in four of his past five. Darvish has dominated the Yankees in his career, going 3-1 in six starts against them with a sparking 1.64 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 38 1⁄3 innings. Three of those starts have come at Yankee Stadium, where he has a 2.70 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 16 2⁄3 innings. While his ceiling may not be quite as high as Cole’s, he has been much steadier and comes at almost $2,000 cheaper, so he’s my preferred play at the top of the SP salary structure.
Other Options – Gerrit Cole ($11,500), Eduardo Rodriguez ($8,800)
Drew Smyly, Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds ($7,900) – Smyly has been excellent for the Cubs this season, allowing two runs or fewer in each of his past nine starts dating back to his first start of the season. In that first start of the year, he faced these same Reds, and they roughed him up for seven runs on nine hits in 4 2⁄3 innings. He’ll be looking to avenge that performance, which resulted in his only loss of the season. Since then, he has gone 5-0 with a 2.13 ERA and 3.27 FIP while accumulating 48 strikeouts in 50 2⁄3 innings. While his strikeout numbers aren’t enough to make him an elite stud play, his consistently strong production is enough to make him a very solid value play, especially compared to the other options available Sunday afternoon.
Smyly has had two ceiling games with big strikeout totals that show his upside. He had 10 strikeouts and 40.7 DKFP in a dominant outing against the Los Angeles Dodgers in a game in which he carried a perfect game into the eighth inning. He also had an outstanding outing against the Houston Astros two starts ago, posting 25.1 DKFP with eight strikeouts over six one-run innings. His start against the Dodgers was one of three day-time starts this season for Smyly, and in those three games, he has a 1.62 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 16 2⁄3 innings. With good daytime splits and a Reds’ lineup that is significantly weaker against lefties, Smyly should be set up for some Sunday afternoon success.
Other Option – MacKenzie Gore ($7,500), Daniel Lynch ($6,200)
Marcus Semien, Texas Rangers at Baltimore Orioles ($5,800) – The Rangers' offensive surge this season has been in part due to a great start to the year from Semien. With two more hits on Saturday, he’s up to a .299 batting average on the season with eight home runs, seven stolen bases, a .369 wOBA and 138 wRC+. He has averaged 10.6 DKFP per game and scored 46 runs, tied for the MLB lead with Ronald Acuña Jr., Semien has been good all year but has been especially hot in May, going 33-for-99 (.333) with six doubles, two triples three home runs and a .395 wOBA. He has favorable splits on the road and against righties, so his matchup with Kyle Bradish ($6,400) in Baltimore should be a good one.
Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays at Minnesota Twins ($5,000) – Bichette has homered in each of the Blue Jays’ first two games in Minnesota, giving him 11 long balls on the season. He increased his hitting streak to seven games with three hits on Saturday, falling just a double short of the cycle while piling up 31 DKFP. He has averaged 13.9 DKFP per game over his current streak and reached double-digit DKFP in seven of his past 12 contests. Bichette is up to a .335 batting average and .392 wOBA and has been flexing his muscles with 12 extra-base hits, including five home runs in his 25 games in May. He almost always makes strong contact and now that his power numbers are coming back as well, he can be a regular stud consideration at SS in your lineups.
Other Options – Bobby Witt Jr. ($5,600), Josh Jung ($4,800)
Joey Meneses, Washington Nationals at Kansas City Royals ($3,300) – If you pay up in the middle infield, you may be looking for some value at the corners, and Meneses is an option who seems to be always underpriced. Part of his lack of respect is that he plays for the light-hitting Nationals, but the 31-year-old has been locked into the middle of the lineup all season. He doesn’t provide the prototypical power expected from first base (just two home runs), but is hitting .305 with a .324 wOBA in his first 48 games this season. He has been good against lefties, going 20-for-70 (.303) with a .325 wOBA against southpaws, so he should be ready to deliver against lefty Daniel Lynch ($6,200), who is expected to be activated off the injured list prior to Sunday’s game to make his season debut.
Maikel Garcia, Kansas City Royals vs. Washington Nationals ($2,500) – On the other side of that value special, Garcia and the Royals will take on lefty MacKenzie Gore ($7,500). Garcia has definitely not looked overmatched since being called up to the Majors, and the 23-year-old has fared especially well against southpaws, hitting .455 (10-for-22) against lefties with four doubles and a .470 wOBA. Overall, he is hitting .286 with eight doubles, four stolen bases and an average of 7.2 DKFP per contest. Like Meneses, he doesn’t bring a ton of power, but he has made good contact and usually finds ways to chip in contributions. At this price, he can fill in either at 2B or 3B, providing even more versatility to your lineup constructions.
Other Options – Owen Miller ($3,000), Rougned Odor ($2,900), DJ LeMahieu ($2,800)
Adolis García, Texas Rangers at Baltimore Orioles ($5,400) – García has also been a huge part of the Rangers’ offense all season, hitting .249 with 14 homers and a .350 wOBA. Five of his dingers have come in his 12 most recent games, and he has a .421 wOBA over that stretch. Eleven of his 14 homers have come against righties, so a matchup with Bradish plays to the power side of his splits. García is priced just below the elite bats but has shown he can provide elite power production at the heart of one of the most productive batting orders in the Majors.
Riley Greene, Detroit Tigers vs. Chicago White Sox ($5,100) – Greene joined the Tigers last season as one of the most hyped prospects of the season and was solid but not spectacular. He started slowly with more of the same this season, but the 22-year-old caught fire in May and seems to be settling in and poised to deliver on his potential. In May, he is hitting .373 with eight doubles, three home runs, three stolen bases and a .439 wOBA. The left-handed hitter still struggles against lefties at times, but is hitting .294 with a .361 wOBA against righties. He’ll be on the strong side of those splits against Dylan Cease ($8,500) on Sunday afternoon.
Other Options – Fernando Tatis Jr. ($6,100), George Springer ($4,700)
Eloy Jiménez, Chicago White Sox at Detroit Tigers ($3,200) – Jiménez could be ready to return from the IL on Sunday after missing three weeks following an emergency appendectomy. While there’s definitely the risk of some rust, getting his power potential at this salary is too good to pass up without at least considering taking a shot on him. Jiménez was hitting .258 with four homers in his 25 games this season before being sidelined and was hitting .300 (6-for-20) with a .341 wOBA against lefties like Eduardo Rodriguez ($8,800) in his very limited sample size. Jiménez had an eight-game hitting streak in his most recent action and had double-digit DKFP in five of his six most recent games. This is a good matchup and if he comes back in that form, he’ll be a bargain barely over $3K.
Mitch Haniger, San Francisco Giants at Milwaukee Brewers ($2,500) – Haniger has homered in two straight games for the Giants, who are looking to close out a four-game road sweep of the Brew Crew on Sunday afternoon. Haniger started May in an abysmal funk, going just 5-for-48 (.125) over a 12-game stretch. He has turned things around over his past nine games, though, averaging 10.3 DKFP per game while going 12-for-33 (.363) with two doubles, two homers, a stolen base and four games with at least 12 DKFP. Haniger and the Giants will look to stay hot against Colin Rea ($5,800). Haniger’s homer potential makes him worth considering at this low salary.
Other Options – Michael Conforto ($3,500), Austin Hays ($3,500), Clint Frazier ($2,200)
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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.