All but four teams take the field on Monday, with weather a potential factor in Atlanta, Detroit and Minnesota. The 13 games on Monday’s slate are all under the lights, so we won’t have to make any tough early calls. The biggest question of the day could be which pitcher priced north of $10,000 do you want anchoring your roster? For our ultimate lineup, we turn to Cleveland.
Starting pitcher: Danny Salazar ($10,700) @ Minnesota and Drew Pomeranz ($6,600) @ San Francisco
The Twins have struck out in 24.6% of their plate appearances this season. Last week, Tanner Roark, a pitcher with a career strikeout rate of 17.3% who had never fanned more than eight hitters in a game, struck out 15 Twins. This is a team that can’t help but swing and miss a lot, and Salazar can miss bats with the best of them. In a vacuum, Salazar might not measure up to Madison Bumgarner or Noah Syndergaard, both of whom are also taking the ball Monday, but the matchup with Minnesota makes him the best play on the mound.
Pomeranz is starting to look like the pitcher he was always supposed to be after he was selected with the fifth overall pick in the 2010 amateur draft. He has 25 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings this year, using a filthy curveball to repeatedly put away hitters. The Giants don’t strike out much, but this has little to do with them. Pomeranz’s performance this season, coupled with his incredibly friendly price tag, make him a great gamble in a tough matchup.
Catcher: Welington Castillo, ($3,100) vs. St. Louis, Jaime Garcia
Castillo is one of the most underappreciated DFS assets, evidenced by a $3,100 price tag because of an admittedly tough matchup with Garcia. After hitting 19 homers last year, Castillo is already up to six this season, carrying a .596 slugging percentage into Monday’s game. As tough a matchup as Garcia presents, at least Castillo has the platoon advantage. Put simply, a catcher with Castillo’s pop is never a bad idea when he costs just $3,100.
First base: Edwin Encarnacion ($4,200) vs. Chicago White Sox, Miguel Gonzalez
Gonzalez is making his White Sox debut on Monday against a familiar foe. He knows the Blue Jays well after spending the first four years of his career with the Orioles, and has faced only four hitters more frequently than Encarnacion. While the pitcher has gotten the better of their matchups, Encarnacion has taken Gonzalez deep three times in 29 plate appearances. Getting the Blue Jays in Toronto is a brutal draw for anyone, let alone a pitcher making his first start of the season. Encarnacion gives you a cheaper avenue of investment in Toronto than Josh Donaldson or Jose Bautista.
Second base: Rougned Odor ($3,800) vs. New York Yankees, Nathan Eovaldi
At the end of play on April 13, Odor was hitting just .167/.231/.306. Nine games later, he’s up to .246/.278/.391 Odor continues to chip away after a rough start to the season, going 11-for-33 with a homer, two doubles and seven RBI in those nine games. Eovaldi, meanwhile, has surrendered four homers in 17 2/3 innnings this year. He had his best outing of the season against the A’s his last time out, but he still gave up three runs to a below-average offense. The Rangers should be able to get after him.
Third base: Nolan Arenado ($4,700) vs. Pittsburgh, Jeff Locke
Seeing Arenado in Coors Field against a left-handed pitcher should be enough justification to get him into your lineup. He has had a ton of success against Locke, though the sample is far too small to be predictive. Still, you can’t help but be encouraged when you learn he’s 6-for-11 with a homer and two doubles against Pittsburgh’s starter on Monday. Arenado is always one of the best third base plays, and today you get the bonus of at least considering a Colorado stack against Locke.
Shortstop: Xander Bogaerts ($3,400) @ Atlanta, Julio Teheran
Teheran has been a mess this season, allowing 14 earned runs on 23 hits and eight walks in 22 1/3 innings. He has had the bad fortune to face Washington twice and St. Louis once, and it gets no easier for him with the Red Sox in town on Monday. Bogaerts is showing signs of coming out of his early-season rut, going 8-for-16 with three doubles and two walks in his last four games. Rarely do you find a shortstop of his caliber at $3,400.
Outfield: Starling Marte ($5,000) @ Colorado vs. Chad Bettis; Gregory Polanco ($4,600) @ Colorado vs. Chad Bettis; Nomar Mazara ($3,500) vs. New York Yankees, Nathan Eovaldi
Marte and Polanco make up a mini-Pittsburgh stack in the Pirates first game at Coors Field this year. While Andrew McCutchen is off to a slow start again this season, Marte and Polanco have carried Pittsburgh’s offense. Marte is slashing .333/.381/.526 with two homers and a league-leading nine doubles. Polanco, meanwhile, is turning into a star before our eyes, hitting .313/.427/.493 in his first 83 plate appearances. Both should keep it rolling in Colorado on Monday. Mazara can’t stop raking, belting his second homer of the season on Sunday. He’s now up to a .356/.404/.533 slash line, effectively hitting his way into the Rangers’ plans for the rest of the year, even when Shin-soo Choo returns.