With just a couple of days left in July and the MLB Trade Deadline looming on Tuesday, a very important weekend of baseball continues this Saturday with 13 games under the lights on the main slate for DraftKings. There are just two afternoon games this week, leaving the other 26 teams in the player pool providing plenty of options to choose from as you assemble your squad. The slate includes some fascinating matchups, a game at Coors Field and some potential playoff previews in the National League.
Throughout this Saturday, be sure to keep up with the latest weather, injury, trade and lineup news that can have a huge impact on daily fantasy contests. One way to do that is by installing the DK Live app and following DraftKings Network on Twitter (@DKNetwork). I’m also on Twitter (@ZT_Sports), where you can keep up with all my picks as playoff races continue to take shape over the next few months of the regular season.
James Paxton, Boston Red Sox at San Francisco Giants ($9,900) – Paxton’s resurgence has been remarkable this season with the Red Sox. The 34-year-old lefty pitched just 1 1⁄3 innings over the past two seasons combined, but he has been reliable this year and gone 6-2 in his 12 starts. In 65 innings, he has a 3.46 ERA and 3.70 FIP with 75 strikeouts (10.38 K/9).
The Big Maple posted over 22 DKFP in six of his past nine starts with a 5-1 record, 56 strikeouts and just 12 walks over that span. He will be facing the Giants for the first time, but they should be a good matchup for him to continue his strong form. In the past 30 days, no team in the Major Leagues has scored fewer runs than San Francisco, who has averaged just 3.3 runs per game. During that time, the Giants hit just .202 with a .273 wOBA and 71 wRC+ as a team. All of those marks are the worst in the majors over that span, and Paxton will look to continue their struggles Saturday night.
Other Option – Aaron Nola ($11,000), Logan Allen ($9,000)
Jameson Taillon, Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals ($6,800) – The lower range of pitchers includes some options with intriguing upside but all come with risk factors. Taillon is my top pick of the bunch since he has found good form recently after a rough stretch in June. In his last three starts, Taillon allowed four runs over 19 1⁄3 innings for a 1.86 ERA and 3.13 FIP. He also had 14 strikeouts in those three starts and averaged 20.1 DKFP.
Taillon’s start last Sunday was also against the Cardinals, and he worked 5 2⁄3 innings with six strikeouts and just one run allowed to pick up his fourth win of the season. His season-long numbers are still pretty ugly, with a 5.75 ERA and 4.69 FIP, but if he can pick up where he left off last Sunday, he’ll be a great play under $7K. Most of his troubles have come at home this season, where he has a 6.43 ERA, so it could actually be a good thing he’s in St. Louis for this start.
Other Options – Bryan Woo ($8,300), Julio Teheran ($7,600)
Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves vs. Milwaukee Brewers ($6,000) – Riley has caught fire coming out of the All-Star break and made the already-potent Braves offense even stronger. He has crushed seven homers in his past nine games and gone 14-for-37 (.378) with a .580 wOBA and an average of 17.1 DKFP per contest. Riley’s home run on Friday was his 23rd of the season, and 12 of those home runs have come at home, where he has a .305 average, .388 wOBA and 122 wRC+ in 52 games this season. On Saturday, he’ll face former-Brave Julio Teheran ($7,600), who has allowed nine homers in 10 starts with a 3.75 ERA and 4.70 FIP. Given his recent power surge, this should be a good spot to pay up for Riley.
Pete Alonso, New York Mets vs. Washington Nationals ($4,900) – Alonso’s salary is still lower due to a slide in production right after he returned from his hand injury. However, he has found his stride lately and has a great matchup this Saturday. He hit .400 (12-for-30) over his past eight games, with a pair of two-homer performances boosting him to a .566 wOBA and an average of 14.6 DKFP per game over that span. He smashed two homers Friday and drove in all five runs in the Mets’ 5-1 win. Alonso typically excels against lefties like Patrick Corbin ($6,900) and has gone 14-for-40 (.360) in the past in their many head-to-head meetings with five home runs. Getting him at a discount in this matchup is a great way to give your lineup a high ceiling from 1B.
Other Options – Matt McLain ($5,900), Nolan Arenado ($5,500), Nico Hoerner ($4,800)
C.J. Abrams, Washington Nationals at New York Mets ($3,900) – Abrams was on a roll until going 0-for-4 on Friday night. Prior to that, he hit .337 in his first 21 games in July with four doubles, two triples, three homers and a .401 wOBA. He added 12 stolen bases on top of that to average 12.3 DKFP per contest. Even after Friday’s letdown, he makes a good play against Carlos Carrasco ($6,400), who has worked five innings or fewer in seven of his past eight starts, including his last time out when he gave up 10 hits in just 2 1⁄3 innings to the Red Sox. Abrams should be able to get back on track in this matchup, and his combination of power and speed give him a very high ceiling.
Triston Casas, Boston Red Sox at San Francisco Giants ($3,400) – Casas is an even more affordable option at 1B, who has been showing he can be very productive. After a slow start for the Red Sox, the 23-year-old has multiple hits in five of his past six games and has hit .463 (19-for-41) with seven home runs and a .654 wOBA in his past 13 contests. He has averaged 14.4 DKFP per game over that stretch and will look to keep rolling against opener Ryan Walker ($4,000) and bulk reliever Anthony DeSclafani ($7,300). Casas has been crushing righties, so it should be a good spot for the rookie to keep rolling.
Other Options – Amed Rosario ($3,900), Christian Encarnacion-Strand ($3,200), Andruw Monasterio ($2,700)
Ronald Acuña Jr., Atlanta Braves vs. Milwaukee Brewers ($6,600) – Acuña is basically a cheat code at this point, or maybe more like one of those “Create-Your-Own” players with inhuman abilities in multiple categories. Acuña continues to be the most reliable high-end bat you can buy since he can produce with his average, his power and his speed. He is averaging 12.5 DKFP per game for the season with a .329 batting average, 23 home runs and 49 stolen bases. He had two hits and a stolen base on Friday and has hit .336 with eight homers and 19 stolen bases over his past 30 games. His numbers are impressive in just about every split and every segment, so if you have the salary, he’s usually a good investment with a high ceiling from the top of a very productive Atlanta batting order.
Cody Bellinger, Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals ($5,100) – Bellinger has had an incredible turnaround season in Chicago and has really found his stride during the month of July. For the season, he has a .319 average, 15 homers and a .384 wOBA, and this month he has stepped up with a .427 average, eight home runs and a .495 wOBA. That production bump has resulted in 12.6 DKFP per game over his 23 contests, with double-digit DKFP in five of his past seven games. He and the Cubs get a great matchup on Saturday against Adam Wainwright ($6,000), who has allowed 22 runs in 13 innings in his past three starts, including four home runs and a 39.7% hard-hit rate. Bellinger should be poised to stay hot since Wainwright has let lefties post a .466 wOBA against him this season.
Other Options – Fernando Tatis Jr. ($6,100), Kyle Tucker ($5,800), Jake Fraley ($4,800)
Ian Happ, Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals ($3,300) – Happ gets those same tasty splits since the switch-hitter will bat against Wainwright as a lefty. He also has a great personal history against Wainwright. In their past meetings, Happ has gone 13-for-34 (.382) and six of those hits have been home runs. Happ has hit .270 over his past 10 games with three doubles, two stolen bases and a home run to average 10.3 DKFP per contest. With such a great matchup and good momentum, he’s a steal at just $3.3K and makes a lot of sense as a stack alongside Bellinger.
Dominic Canzone, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Seattle Mariners ($2,100) – Canzone is the latest young Dbacks left-handed hitting prospect to join the crowded outfield mix. The 25-year-old hit .354 with 16 homers and a .449 in his 71 games at Triple-A before being called up, and he has joined the middle of the lineup on a regular basis. In his past nine games, he went 7-for-25 (.280) with two doubles, his first MLB home run and six RBI. Conazone had multiple hits on both Wednesday and Friday to produce 14 and 8 DKFP, respectively, while batting fifth and playing DH. If he continues to hit in that spot, he should be able to produce another strong performance against fellow rookie Bryan Woo ($8,300). Canzone is a great cheap outfield option with a high ceiling.
Other Options – Brent Rooker ($3,700), Luis Matos ($2,900), Max Kepler ($2,800)
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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.