Since the MLB Leadoff game gets a little bit later start this week, it’s actually included as the first game on the main featured slate on DraftKings, which gets underway at 1:05 p.m. ET. There are nine games on the main slate, including the conclusion of important series in the AL West and the AL East. Those are two of the three divisional games on this slate along with four interleague games. Most of the teams are from the East and Central divisions, and with 18 teams in action there are lots of intriguing matchups to check out and break down.
As always when playing DFS fantasy baseball, be sure to monitor for pregame updates that should impact your lineup. You can keep up with all the latest injury, weather, and lineup news by installing the DK Live app and following DraftKings Network on X (@DKNetwork). I’m also on X (@ZT_Sports), where you can keep up with all my picks as the regular season races play out and we get geared up for what should be an outstanding postseason.
Max Scherzer, Texas Rangers vs. Milwaukee Brewers ($11,000) – Mad Max has been quite happy in Texas. In his three starts after being traded to the Rangers, Scherzer went 3-0 with 26 strikeouts in 20 innings and complied a 1.80 ERA, 2.06 FIP and 0.80 WHIP. He had over 24 DKFP in each of those starts and averaged 30.5 DKFP per outing.
His best start of his Rangers’ tenure was in his most recent outing. On Monday, he dominated the Angels at home, piling up 11 strikeouts in seven one-hit innings and earning 40.55 DKFP. He has a similar upside at home against the Brewers, who have been scuffling offensively. Since the All-Star break, the Brewers have the third-lowest wOBA in the majors, and they only totaled 12 runs in their previous four games before Saturday’s contest. He is an expensive pay-up option, but he’s been so dominant that his ceiling is too high to pass up if you can find ways to make his hefty price tag fit under your salary cap.
Other Options – Hunter Greene ($9,000), Nick Pivetta ($8,200)
Nick Pivetta, Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees ($8,200) – The Red Sox have dominated the Yankees in the first two games of this series, and they’ll give the ball to Pivetta looking to complete the sweep. The 30-year-old has gone 8-6 in 29 games with a 4.34 ERA, 4.27 FIP, and 11.24 K/9 rate. He had lots of success working behind openers earlier this year and has been fine as the first pitcher in the game as well.
In his seven games since the All-Star break, Pivetta has a 3.31 ERA and 3.35 FIP while totaling 46 strikeouts in 32 2⁄3 innings. He got knocked around a little bit by the Nationals in his last outing, but still had seven strikeouts to finish with 11 DKFP. Prior to that game, he posted over 22 DKFP in five of his previous six outings, including ceiling games with 42.3 DKFP and 27.5 DKFP. Even though he’s pitching at hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium, Pivetta is in a good matchup against a thin and struggling Yankee’s lineup. Since the All-Star break, New York has hit only .231 and has scored the third-fewest runs in the majors. The Yankees are also in the top 10 in K% since the All-Star break, so Pivetta should be able to find strikeouts and fantasy points on Sunday afternoon.
Other Options – Hyun Jin Ryu ($7,300), Dakota Hudson ($6,800)
Bobby Witt Jr., Kansas City Royals at Chicago Cubs ($5,900) – Witt has been one of the best fantasy producers over the past month, and he is a nice piece to build around as he tries to finish an outstanding series at Wrigley Field. In the first two games of the series, Witt has gone 5-for-9 with a home run, two stolen bases and over 20 DKFP in each contest. Witt has multiple hits in 11 of his past 20 games and went 37-for-86 (.430) with eight homers and eight stolen bases. He has averaged an unreal 16.6 DKFP over that span and his dual-threat of power and speed give him an extremely high ceiling in any matchup. On Sunday afternoon, he’ll take on Kyle Hendricks ($7,900) in the season finale.
Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees ($5,500) – Devers had three hits in each of the first two games of this series and posted 19 and 20 DKFP. In 29 games since the All-Star break, Devers has been on fire with a .307 batting average and .406 wOBA. Eight of his 28 homers this season have come since the break, and he averaged 9.0 DKFP per game over that span. Devers and the Red Sox lefties should be in a good matchup against Clarke Schmidt ($7,700), who has allowed eight homers to lefties who have a .303 batting average and a .383 wOBA against him this season.
Other Options – Jose Altuve ($6,300), Pete Alonso ($5,400), Ke’Bryan Hayes ($4,300)
Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Cincinnati Reds vs. Toronto Blue Jays ($3,500) – Encarnacion-Strand came through in the clutch on Friday with a solo home run to give the Reds a walk-off win—it was his fourth homer since being called up at the All-Star break. In his 27 games to that point, he hit a solid .261 with a .315 wOBA and an average of 6.3 DKFP per contest. If you decide to go cheap at 1B, he’s one of the options that still gives good power potential. He’ll be on the favorable side of the splits on Sunday afternoon as he takes on lefty Hyun Jin Ryu (7,300). He’s also on the strong side of his home splits since all four of his homers have come at Great American Ballpark, where he has a .348 wOBA.
Noelvi Marte, Cincinnati Reds vs. Toronto Blue Jays ($2,500) – The most recent addition to the Reds’ youth movement is top prospect Noelvi Marte, who was called up Saturday but did not start against the Blue Jays. He could make his MLB debut on Sunday against Ryu since he is a right-handed hitter and had strong splits against lefties in the minors. Marte hit .304 against southpaws at Double-A Charlotte, where he spent most of the season. He had success at both Double-A and Triple-A, totaling 11 home runs and 18 stolen bases with a batting average of .279 and a .812 OPS. Cincinnati’s infield is crowded with young talent, but Marte brings a high ceiling to target if you go cheap at SS.
Other Options – Luis Urias ($2,700), Masyn Winn ($2,700), Rowdy Tellez ($2,000)
Julio Rodriguez, Seattle Mariners at Houston Astros ($5,600) – Rodriguez has returned to the dominant force that made him a fantasy phenom during his rookie year last year. After struggling in the early part of this season, Rodriguez is back to peak form as virtually unstoppable dual-threat option. Since July 1, he has hit .350 with eight home runs and 16 stolen bases. More recently, he has been even better, with multiple hits in 10 of his past 14 games. In that span, he went an impressive 32-for-65 (.492) with four homers, seven stolen bases and an average of 18 DKFP per contest. He had 30 or more DKFP in three straight games coming into Saturday’s game, when he picked up four more hits, a stolen base and 21 DKFP in the Mariners’ 10-3 win over the Astros. Rodriguez set the record for most hits in a four-game span with 17 over his past four games, and will look to stay scalding on Sunday. Seattle goes for the sweep behind the resurgent Rodriguez, who is a target with a massively high ceiling once again on Sunday afternoon.
Cody Bellinger, Chicago Cubs vs. Kansas City Royals ($5,800) – Bellinger has also been a great option in the outfield lately and is in a great matchup as the Cubs face Jordan Lyles ($6,500). Lyles has given up 28 homers in 23 games while going 3-13 with a 6.30 ERA and 5.54 FIP. Fifteen of those homers have been hit by left-handed hitters like Bellinger, who have a .352 wOBA against him on the season. It should be a good spot for Bellinger to stay hot after he went 36-for-99 (.364) over his past 26 games with eight home runs and now has 20 homers on the season. Two of those home runs came on Friday when he had 32 DKFP to raise his average to 10.6 DKFP over his past 10 games.
Other Options – Ronald Acuna Jr. ($6,700), Bryan Reynolds ($4,900), Giancarlo Stanton ($4,400)
Connor Joe, Pittsburgh Pirates at Minnesota Twins ($3,200) – The Pirates have used Joe primarily against left-handed pitchers this season, and he’ll likely get the start in a good lineup position against veteran lefty Dallas Keuchel ($5,200) on Sunday afternoon. Joe hit safely in 10 of his last 13 games, going 12-for-45 (.267) with three doubles, two home runs and 11 RBI. Joe has hit .263 on the season against southpaws with a .195 ISO and a .359 wOBA. He’s a cheap way to get a middle-of-the-order bat in a favorable matchup, so look to Joe if you’re shopping for some value on Sunday afternoon. He is an option to consider at 1B or in the OF.
Daulton Varsho, Toronto Blue Jays at Cincinnati Reds ($3,100) – Varsho got off to a slow start this season but has started to turn things around lately. He had two hits, a stolen base and 17 DKFP on Saturday, also going 13-for-42 (.310) over his past 14 games with three home runs, two stolen bases, and an average of 8.9 DKFP per contest. He doesn’t have catcher eligibility anymore, but he can still be a solid value play in the outfield on this slate where there aren’t many low-cost outfield plays with upside.
Other Options – Nelson Velazquez ($3,000), Rafael Ortega ($2,500), Richie Palacios ($2,000)
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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.