Crunch time is approaching for the 2015 daily fantasy baseball season. With the postseason just over one month away and myriad teams still vying for playoff spots, the pressure has been ratcheted up in baseball.
What does it all mean for daily fantasy owners? Well, let's just say there are some stars emerging who simply can't be left out of lineups. Here is a look at some players who need to be picked up for Monday's slate of games.
Pitcher: Taijuan Walker, Seattle Mariners ($8,100)
Hello, Taijuan Walker. Once a top minor league star for the Seattle Mariners, Walker has blossomed into one of the best young MLB pitchers over the last month. He may only have one win to show for his efforts in his last four starts, but Walker has been a steady starter for the Mariners.
A huge component of Walker's recent success has been his curveball.
"[David Price] told me, 'Your stuff is really good, you throw hard, but everything's hard so you have to be able to mix stuff in,'" Walker said, per Andrew Erickson of MLB.com. "Once I started doing that, I saw the swings I was getting. ... After I showed that I could throw my curveball for strikes, that was another pitch they had to look for."
Averaging 23.3 fantasy points over his last four starts, Walker is pitching against a lineup he had off balance earlier this year. Facing the Texas Rangers again, expect another great night after he tallied 25.6 points against them the last time around.
First Baseman: Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh Pirates ($3,600)
Pedro Alvarez has shown vast improvement over the last week since getting off to a slow start to the season. He's still hitting below the .250 mark but has 18 homers and 58 RBI. So when he runs into the ball, he hits it a long way.
Over his last five starts, Alvarez has four multi-hit games with three homers, three runs and five RBI. Oh yeah, and that equates to 14.2 fantasy points per game over that stretch. Now that he's returning home against the erratic Jeremy Hellickson, look for Alvarez to mash again Monday night.
Second Baseman: Jace Peterson, Atlanta Braves ($3,300)
During his time with the Atlanta Braves, Jace Peterson has proved he can truly do it all. While he had a slump earlier this season that dropped his average below .245, Peterson is a clutch player coming off a great weekend.
Kevin McAlpin @KevinMcAlpin
Jace Peterson now hitting .306 (26x85) with 6 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR & 48 RBI with RISP this season. #Braves2015-8-15 00:29:50
In the series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the second baseman had a double, triple, single, two runs and a walk. That was good for eight fantasy points per game over the last three starts. Going up against a right-handed pitcher in rookie Colin Rea, expect good things from Peterson Monday night.
Shortstop: Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants ($3,700)
Brandon Crawford might not be the flashiest player on your fantasy team. Hell, he's not even a huge power hitter to target. But when you need consistent fantasy points out of a shortstop, the Giants middle infielder is your man.
Since taking a day off on Aug. 5 in Atlanta, Crawford has been on a tear. After going hitless in three of the previous six games before the off day, he has a hit in 10 straight contests. Even with a tough matchup against Michael Wacha Monday evening, expect Crawford to come away with solid points.
Outfielder: Justin Upton, San Diego Padres ($4,600)
Something tells me Justin Upton is going to continue his recent hot streak this week. Upton had reason to be frustrated Sunday when his eight-game hitting streak came to an end, but he can quickly start another one Monday against his former team.
During the offseason, the Atlanta Braves traded away Upton to the Padres for prospects. Now, he gets a chance at revenge in San Diego against rookie pitcher Williams Perez. Averaging 11.6 fantasy points per game over his last nine starts, Upton is a great value for a No. 1 outfielder or high-end No. 2.
DraftKings is hosting one-day MLB contests! Claim your free entry by clicking on the link and making a first-time deposit!
Follow R. Cory Smith on Twitter for more MLB DraftKings advice.