After an action-packed weekend, Monday presents another abbreviated slate with only a half dozen contests. The lack of elite arms helps keep the streamers strong despite a dearth of options.
Keep in mind the best way to approach a quiet slate is filling your holes early to beat the rush. There are more fantasy rosters with holes and fewer active players to take their spot for a day. Here are some players to target to help get your week off to a strong start.
Logan Allen (L), rostered in 23% of ESPN leagues, San Diego Padres vs. San Francisco Giants: The Padres offense has been making noise lately, masking the fine job Allen has done since getting the call to the Bigs. The southpaw isn't dominant, fanning just 10 in his first 13 frames, but he doesn't beat himself with the walk and a huge ground ball tilt helps keep the ball in the yard. On Monday, the rookie draws the league's weakest offense with a lefty on the hill.
Adbert Alzolay (R), 10%, Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh Pirates: With Cole Hamels hitting the IL, Alzolay will stay in the Cubs rotation at least through the All-Star break. The 24-year old righthander has started two games, working only 8 2/3 frames, albeit with nine whiffs. He's allowed two runs, both on long balls. The Pirates offense has been hitting righties well the past month so there's some risk, but on a short slate, Alzolay deserves some consideration for those chasing wins and strikeouts.
Jeff Samardzija (R), 7%, San Francisco Giants at San Diego Padres: Samardzija's 5.93 ERA in June is obviously unimpressive, however 27 strikeouts with just seven walks in 27 1/3 innings for the month portended better results. The Padres have been explosive lately but still offer a high strikeout platform for the opposing pitcher.
Tyler Mahle (R), 5%, Cincinnati Reds vs. Milwaukee Brewers: Speaking of strikeouts, Mahle has 84 in 82 2/3 first half innings. The Brewers offense facing righties has been mid-pack the past month, fanning the third most against righthanders over that spell.
The Rays will call upon a familiar duo, opening with righty Ryne Stanek before handing the ball to lefty Ryan Yarbrough for the bulk innings. Yarbrough started off slow, but after a trip to the farm he's returned to last season's form when he vultured 16 wins. He's almost halfway there now with seven and in good shape for another facing the Baltimore Orioles. That said, the Orioles have been scoring runs lately, though more of the damage has been with a righty on the hill.
Catcher -- Martin Maldonado (R), 1%, Kansas City Royals at Toronto Blue Jays (LHP Clayton Richard): As you might imagine, the available catcher pool is rather thin. Richard is one of the weakest arms on the ledger so why not go with a option enjoying the platoon edge.
Second Base -- Scooter Gennett (L), 48%, Cincinnati Reds vs. Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Adrian Houser): Gennett was activated from the IL last week. It's still not clear how the Reds plan on divvying up playing time, but Gennett will almost assuredly be active against righthanded pitching.
Third Base -- Colin Moran (L), 4%, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago Cubs (RHP Adbert Alzolay): Moran belted four homers in June, though all before the 15th. Still, he's in play against a raw righty who has served up a pair of homers in his inaugural 8 1/3 innings.
Shortstop -- Eric Sogard (L), 12%, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Kansas City Royals (RHP Glenn Sparkman): The underlying numbers say Sogard has been lucky and is due for a tailspin. However, all he does is produce. He's even ramped up running lately, swiping a pair of bags about a week ago.
Corner Infield -- Renato Nunez (R), 12%, Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays (Bullpen game): The Rays are expected to use Ryan Yarbrough as the primary pitcher, setting Nunez up with the platoon bump during the middle innings. This is a good thing considering Nunez has posted an OPS of .877 versus southpaws.
Outfield -- Avisail Garcia (R), 38%, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Jimmy Yacabonis): The Rays are towards the bottom in terms of homers per game with Garcia being on of their top sources of power. In fact, he smashed six homers in June and is in a good spot to start July with more, facing the staff responsible for a record setting pace of long balls over the first half.
Outfield -- Manuel Margot (R), 5%, San Diego Padres vs. San Francisco Giants (RHP Jeff Samardzija): Brandon Belt's struggles have resulted in more playing time for Margot and he's responding. Margot is in a great spot to add onto his ten first half steals as Samardzija is one of the easiest pitchers to steal on in the league.
Outfield -- Eric Thames (L), 4%, Milwaukee Brewers at Cincinnati Reds (RHP Tyler Mahle): Thames slashed .328/.417/.705 in June, taking advantage of the playing time afforded via Jesus Aguilar's continued struggles. Mahle may miss a lot of bats, but when hitters do connect, they've launched 15 out of the yard in 82 2/3 innings.