The MLB regular season has only three weekends remaining before what is shaping up to be a great postseason. Several playoff races are still undecided with plenty of interesting storylines across the league on just about every roster. This weekend gets underway with a 13-game on the main slate for DraftKings, which gets underway at 7:05 p.m. ET on Friday night. Four of the matchups on the slate are divisional contests and several series have potential playoff impact. For some of the teams out of the playoff hunt, the last few weeks of the season give them a chance to take a look at some exciting prospects to see if they’re ready to contribute.
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Justin Steele, Chicago Cubs at Arizona Diamondbacks ($10,100) – One of the marquee matchups this weekend is the Cubs visiting the desert to take on the Snakes. Chicago currently holds the second of the three NL Wild Card spots while Arizona is tied with the Reds and Giants for the third and final Wild Card spot with the Marlins just 1⁄2 game behind. The Cubs give the ball to their Ace on Friday night to start the series. Steele has emerged as a legitimate Cy Young candidate with a remarkably consistent season on the North Side. He has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 25 of his 27 starts and leads the MLB with a 2.49 ERA. He has backed that ERA up with a 2.91 FIP, a 1.13 WHIP and a 9.0 K/9.
Steele has been even stronger down the stretch, allowing just one run over his last three starts spanning 21 innings with 26 strikeouts. He put up over 22 FPTS in each of those three outings, highlighted by a dominant outing against the Giants with a season-high 12 strikeouts and 43.6 FPTS. Steele will search for similar results against this NL West opponent and should get a boost from facing the Dbacks since their lineup is so lefty-heavy. He allowed just one run in seven innings on his way to 22.2 FPTS in a no-decision in this same matchup against the Diamondbacks in his most recent start last week. Given his recent dominance, building on Steele is a great strategy for Friday.
Other Options – Aaron Nola ($10,400), Hunter Greene ($9,100)
Tarik Skubal, Detroit Tigers at Los Angeles Angels ($9,000) – Normally, I reach lower into the salary structure for my value play, but with all the cheap options available as batters, it’s possible to build around an SP stack of Steele and Skubal. Skubal got a late start to the season but has been excellent in his 12 starts. The 26-year-old has gone 5-3 with a 3.47 ERA and 2.20 FIP, but his main fantasy asset is his strong 10.83 K/9 rate.
Skubal has at least seven strikeouts in five straight starts, totaling 32 strikeouts in 24 innings over that span and producing at least 23 FPTS in four of those five outings. He is coming off his second start of the season with over 30 FPTS and should be in a great spot to succeed against the Angels, who have scored the fifth-fewest runs in the majors over the past 30 days with a K% in the top 10 over that span.
Other Option – Brayan Bello ($7,600), Zack Thompson ($6,200)
Marcus Semien, Texas Rangers at Cleveland Guardians ($5,600) – Semien and the Rangers finished a huge sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday and come into their series in Cleveland back in playoff position. They hold the second AL Wild Card spot with a one-game lead over the Seattle Mariners and 2 1⁄2 games clear of the Blue Jays. Semien has been a big reason why their offense has rediscovered its groove, going 15-for-40 (.375) over his nine most recent games with four homers, a stolen base and a .490 wOBA to average 14 FPTS per contest. The Rangers have scored at least nine runs in four of their last five games and should be in a smash spot on Friday against Lucas Giolito ($8,300), who has given up 26 runs while going 0-5 with a 7.48 ERA and 7.41 FIP in his five most recent starts.
Kris Bryant, Colorado Rockies vs. San Francisco Giants ($4,900) – Remember Kris Bryant? After a forgettable first two seasons with the Rockies marred by injury, Bryant returned from his most fractured finger on Monday. He went 1-for-4 in his return but then went off for multiple hits with a home run on both Tuesday and Wednesday to produce 25 and 20 FPTS. He can slot in at either 1B or in the outfield in Friday’s matchup with Logan Webb ($8,600), and he looks like he finally might be ready to post the monster numbers everyone expected when he opted to sign with Colorado as a free agent. Getting him for under $5K in a matchup at Coors Field is a great option since his power potential is off the charts when he’s healthy and at his best. It’s nice to finally get to see a little bit of what that looks like.
Other Options – Jose Altuve ($6,200), Rafael Devers ($5,400), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. ($5,100),
Edmundo Sosa, Philadelphia Phillies at St. Louis Cardinals ($2,800) – The Phillies acquired Sosa from the Cardinals last season, and the utility man has been regularly finding his way into the lineup lately. In his last 12 games with multiple at-bats, Sosa has gone 12-for-41 (.292) with three doubles, a pair of home runs and a stolen base to average 8.0 FPTS. On the season, Sosa has hit six of his nine homers against lefties with a .274 batting average and a .352 wOBA. In this revenge game against his former team, he’ll offer good value at 3B and SS if he starts against lefty Zack Thompson ($6,200).
Matthew Batten, San Diego Padres at Oakland Athletics ($2,700) – Batten is another utility option that has been getting extra playing time and smashing lefties. Since being called up 15 games ago, Batten has gone 12-for-47 (.255) with five doubles, a home run and a stolen base for an average of 6.8 FPTS per game. On the season, he has an impressive .391 batting average against lefties with a .465 wOBA and 203 wRC+. Part of that is definitely due to the small sample size, but he should still be a good option against lefty Sean Newcomb ($5,500). Batten can fit in at either 2B or 3B, and his roster versatility should work in multiple builds.
Other Options – Ryan O’Hearn ($3,500), Ronny Mauricio ($3,500), Jordan Lawlar ($2,500)
Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros at Kansas City Royals ($6,400) – Alvarez crushed his 27th homer of the season on Wednesday against Oakland and still has a good chance for his third straight season of 30+ homers despite being limited by injury this season. His 27 homers have come in just 99 games, and he has hit .298 with a .418 wOBA on the year. The postseason hero from last year has been heating up again down the stretch. He crushed six homers in his past 15 games while going 21-for-51 (.412) with a .412 ISO and .554 wOBA. He has averaged 13.3 FPTS per game over that stretch. He’s the outfield bat I like the most as a pay-up option Friday since he brings that red-hot form into a tasty matchup against Zack Greinke ($5,000), who has let lefties like Alvarez hit 14 homers off him this season with a .399 wOBA.
Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies vs. San Francisco Giants ($4,800) – Blackmon might seem like a blast from the fantasy past, but he is a very solid current play under $5K in this Coors Field matchup. He hit .300 (27-for-90) over his 25 games since returning from the IL with three doubles, two triples, two homers and an average of 8.1 FPTS per contest. He has hit .299 in his 45 home games this year with a .381 wOBA. He also has a great history against Webb, going 12-for-30 (.400) in their past meetings with five extra-base hits.
Other Options – Julio Rodriguez ($6,600), Juan Soto ($5,600), Nolan Jones ($5,000)
Ceddanne Rafaela, Boston Red Sox at Toronto Blue Jays ($3,100) – With the Red Sox moving on from Chaim Bloom on Thursday, it appears they’re ready to focus on 2024 and forward. If that’s truly the case, look for Rafaela to get plenty of playing time down the stretch. The 22-year-old prospect is eligible at both OF and SS and is the No. 3 prospect in the Boston system and No. 72 in all of baseball, per MLB Pipeline. He had two hits in both halves of Thursday’s doubleheader with a double and a home run. He has at least nine FPTS in four of his last six games with multiple at-bats, and he brings upside in both power and speed as he showed with 20 homers and 36 stolen bases in 108 minor league games before getting called up.
Heston Kjerstad, Baltimore Orioles vs. Tampa Bay Rays ($2,000) – Kjerstad was the second overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft but has had limited work in the minors due to a heart condition and a serious hamstring injury. However, when he has been able to get on the field, the 24-year-old has been productive. In 45 games in Double-A, he had 11 homers and a .422 wOBA before being moved up to Triple-A. In 76 games at that level, he had 10 homers and a .381 wOBA before being called up for his MLB debut on Thursday. Kjerstad is the No. 24 prospect in all of baseball and the No. 3 prospect in Blatimore’s system, per MLB Pipeline. Kjerstad didn’t start on Thursday and struck out in his first MLB at-bat. He is expected to find his way into the lineup on Friday and brings a lot of upside for a player at the minimum salary. Using salary savers with strong ceilings like Kjerstad should enable you to spend up on the stars you want to build around.
Other Options – Wilyer Abreu ($3,300), Evan Carter ($3,000), Pete Crow-Armstrong ($2,600)
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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.