With just over a week before the MLB Trade Deadline, several teams are still deciding if they’ll be buyers or sellers. The next week will be critical as pennant races begin to take shape for the final two months of the season. Monday gets new series underway with eight games on the featured slate on DraftKings. The action starts at 7:05 p.m. ET with a matchup in Washington, D.C. before three divisional matchups and an interleague matchup from Los Angeles to close out the evening.
Throughout the day on Monday, be sure to keep up with the latest weather, injury and lineup news. One way to do that is to install the DK Live app and follow DraftKings Network on Twitter (@DKNetwork). I’m also on Twitter (@ZT_Sports), where you can keep up with all my picks as the regular season keeps rolling.
Yu Darvish, San Diego Padres vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($9,400) – Darvish has been locked in lately for the Padres after an up-and-down season overall. He has shown a high ceiling but also has had a few ugly outings. In his two starts since the All-Star break, Darvish has allowed just one run on nine hits in 12 innings with 16 strikeouts against the Phillies and Blue Jays. He had 27.3 DKFP in his most recent start after opening the second half with 29.3 DKFP in Philadelphia.
Darvish has been better at home than on the road this season and has been especially effective against right-handed batters, holding them to a .231 average. On Monday, he’ll look to keep rolling in a favorable home matchup against the Pirates. Pittsburgh has an MLB-low .126 ISO over the past 30 days while hitting just .226 with a .285 wOBA. The team also has a 26.3% K%, which is the fourth-highest of any team in the Major Leagues over that span. The Pirates are one of the best matchups on the slate, and Darvish’s upside makes him a strong option to build around.
Other Option – Luis Castillo ($10,600)
Logan Allen, Cleveland Guardians vs. Kansas City Royals ($8,700) – Allen gets a great matchup as well, as he and the Guardians take on the Royals, who are 2-8 since the All-Star break. Allen has flashed a very high ceiling in his 13 starts for Cleveland, although the 24-year-old rookie has had some rough outings as well. In his most recent outing, he re-joined the Guardians’ rotation after a stint back in Triple-A and looked dominant with eight strikeouts in five shutout innings against the Pirates for 30.1 DKFP and his fourth win of the season.
Overall, he has averaged 15.8 DKFP per contest, highlighted by three starts with over 27 DKFP. In 67 1⁄3 innings, he has produced 71 strikeouts to go with his 3.21 ERA and 3.49 FIP. His biggest hurdle has sometimes been his lack of control and resulting elevated pitch count. When he started against the Royals earlier this season, he only lasted 3 2⁄3 innings before reaching 98 pitches. He didn’t give up a run and had five strikeouts but couldn’t go any deeper due to his lack of efficiency. To take his game to the next level, he’ll need to work deeper into games, but with his strikeout potential and favorable matchup, Allen stands out as the best SP under $9K on Monday night’s slate.
Other Options – Patrick Corbin ($7,300), Ryne Nelson ($6,700)
Freddie Freeman, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Toronto Blue Jays ($6,300) – Freeman has hit .388 over his past 20 games with 10 multi-hit performances. He has eight doubles, six homers and a .504 wOBA during that span and has averaged an impressive 14.1 DKFP per game. He will look to stay hot as the Dodgers come home to take on Toronto and face Jose Berrios ($9,200) in their series opener. Berrios has had some trouble this year with left-handed batters, allowing a .329 wOBA and seven homers. Freeman and Max Muncy ($4,900) should be on the strong side of the split as a result and bring great power potential. Freeman is a pricey pay-up play, but he’s been hot enough to be worth it over the past few weeks.
Manny Machado, San Diego Padres vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($5,200) – Machado has been much better at home than on the road this season, and he has been heating up since the start of July. He has hit exactly .300 (21-for-70) in his 18 games this month with 10 home runs, a .443 ISO and a .471 wOBA. Four of those 10 homers came in his six home games this month in which he went 11-for-23 (.478) with a .644 wOBA. He has hit well at Petco Park all season, with a .296 average and .362 wOBA compared to a .218 road average and .306 wOBA. Getting to come home and face the Pirates should put Machado in a good spot to put up a big number, especially against Quinn Priester ($6,000), who is considered a good prospect but doesn’t look ready for MLB competition just yet. In his first start, Priester was tagged for seven runs on seven hits in just 5 1⁄3 innings after posting a 4.31 ERA and 3.86 FIP in his 18 starts at Triple-A.
Other Options – Matt McLain ($5,700), Ha-Seong Kim ($4,200)
C.J. Abrams, Washington Nationals vs. Colorado Rockies ($3,600) – Abrams has had a great July as well, and it has been a blast to watch the 22-year-old settle in at the Major League level. He has moved to the leadoff spot for Washington as a result of his recent surge and brings a very high ceiling in multiple areas in Monday’s matchup with Karl Kauffmann ($5,200) and the Rockies (more on the matchup below). Abrams has shown good power and plenty of speed while hitting .353 in July with three doubles, two triples, three home runs and 10 stolen bases. His .413 wOBA along with expanded opportunities in the leadoff spot have helped him average 12.8 DKFP per contest this month. Getting him under $4K still seems like a great value, so I’m going to keep driving the Abrams hype train until his salary catches up with his production.
Edouard Julien, Minnesota Twins vs. Seattle Mariners ($3,300) – Julien is another young lefty who has found his stride lately and outproduced his salary. Julien was recalled from Triple-A on June 10 and has hit .356 in his 33 games since then with nine doubles, five homers and a .438 wOBA. Over his past 14 games, he has taken it to another level and gone 20-for-43 (.465) with five homers and a .586 wOBA resulting in 11.3 DKFP per game. Julien is only hitting .190 against lefties but is thriving against righties like Luis Castillo ($10,600). Even against the most expensive starting pitcher on the slate, Julien has been hot enough to look past the matchup and see the value for a 2B under $3.5K.
Other Options – Ezequiel Duran ($3,400), Christian Encarnacion-Strand ($3,200)
Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers ($6,200) – Tucker has hit safely in each of his nine games since the All-Star break and gone 15-for-35 (.429) with four homers, three stolen bases and a .560 wOBA. During that span, he has produced 16.2 DKFP per game, highlighted by his 44-DKFP outburst last Friday. Tucker and the Astros come home for the first time since before the break and host the Rangers as they face Jon Gray ($8,700) to start this important AL West in-state showdown. Tucker can produce big games in multiple ways since he brings a blend of speed and power, and his recent surge is enough to make him my top OF pay-up play on this slate.
Lane Thomas, Washington Nationals vs. Colorado Rockies ($4,800) – Pairing Thomas with Abrams is a strong option to consider in a great matchup against Kauffmann, who could start or work as a bulk reliever out of the bullpen. Either way, he should be a good matchup for Washington after he gave up 21 runs in just 17 2⁄3 innings earlier this season for a 10.19 ERA and 6.62 FIP. Thomas is in the middle of a breakout season and has hit .295 with 16 homers, 12 stolen bases and a .357 wOBA in his 98 games this season. Four of those stolen bases came on Sunday, as he ran wild against the Giants and produced 37 DKFP. His ceiling will get a nice boost if he stays that aggressive on the basepaths, and he makes a nice play under $5K with an elite ceiling Monday.
Other Options – Corbin Carroll ($6,000), Juan Soto ($5,500), Julio Rodríguez ($4,900)
Travis Jankowski, Texas Rangers at Houston Astros ($2,900) – In the two games since Corey Seager (thumb) landed on the IL, Jankowski has moved into the second spot in the Rangers order, which puts him in a prime run production spot. The versatile veteran outfielder has been on a nice roll and has hit .352 (19-for-54) with two doubles, a home run and seven stolen bases over his past 17 games. At least against righties like Brandon Bielak ($7,800), Jankowski should continue to hit second and his speed and good plate approach give him a great ceiling for a play under $3K.
Taylor Kohlwey, San Diego Padres vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($2,000) – Kohlwey is a good punt play at the minimum price for the Padres and is expected to continue to get playing time against righties like Priester. Kohlway has gone 2-for-8 in his three games since being called up last week for his MLB debut. He showed good potential in Triple-A, hitting .261 with nine homers, 10 stolen bases and a .368 wOBA in 78 games this season. He has a good matchup and is an excellent way to save salary to spend in other spots while still getting some upside from a player at the minimum salary.
Other Options – Randal Grichuk ($3,600), Henry Davis ($3,100), Sal Frelick ($3,000)
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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 skills 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.