Note: Player prices are based on Thursday's games for players in action Thursday (5/15) and Wednesday's games for those who won't play again until Friday.
Teams not playing Thursday: Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, Detroit Tigers, Oakland Athletics, Chicago White Sox, Seattle Mariners, Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Dodgers
Now, on to some of the top plays for the third weekend of May.
Danny Salazar, CLE (Thu. at TOR), $7,400 Salazar's velocity has fallen off from last season, but he's still one of the hardest-throwing starters in all of baseball, and he's recovered nicely from an awful April. Over his last three outings all of which came against respectable opponents the 24-year-old posted a 3.48 ERA and 21:5 K:BB ratio in 18.1 innings. Though there's ample blow-up potential on the road against an excellent offense, Salazar is worth the risk at a price that undersells his talent. A matchup against Toronto's J.A. Happ only helps the cause, and the Indians put up 15 runs Wednesday night.
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Tanner Roark, WAS (Fri. at NYM) Listed at $7,500 for his last start, Roark should still carry an affordable price Friday, when he draws a matchup against the feeble Mets offense at pitcher-friendly Citi Field. As advertised, the right-hander has displayed excellent control this season, walking just 10 batters through 44.1 innings (2.03 BB/9). Even better, his K/9 mark is up to 7.31, backed by a solid 8.0 percent swinging-strike rate. With most of Friday's top starters drawing difficult matchups, a pretty good pitcher at a below-average price becomes very appealing.
Homer Bailey, CIN (Sat. at PHI) Bailey's skill set is essentially unchanged, and his 4.72 ERA doesn't look so bad once you see the teams he's had to face. His last three starts came against the Brewers, Red Sox and Rockies, yet the veteran right-hander allowed just seven earned runs over 21.1 innings (2.99 ERA), with a 15:8 K:BB ratio that wasn't bad in light of his opponents. Bailey will once again have to pitch in a hitter's park, but this time he faces the lousy Philadelphia offense, a bunch that ranks 26th in wOBA (.296) and 17th in strikeout rate (21 percent) against right-handed pitching.
Marco Estrada, MIL (Sun. at CHC) Estrada's dealt with his typical long-ball problems this season, but between his excellent control and ability to miss bats, the right-hander can afford to give up home runs. He'll carry a 3.28 ERA and 1.09 WHIP into Sunday's start against the offensively-challenged Cubs, as a 2.55 BB/9 mark has served him well in limiting the damage from 10 homers. Chicago ranks 26th in strikeout rate (23.3 percent) against right-handed pitching, and Estrada fanned nine Cubbies during an excellent April 26 outing in which he delivered 30.9 DraftKings points. As a fly-ball pitcher who piles up plenty of strikeouts, Estrada often makes for a strong play, while still providing a decent matchup for his opponent's power hitters.
Other intriguing options: Yordano Ventura, KC (Thu. vs. BAL), $9,200; Kyle Lohse, MIL (Fri. at CHC); Tim Lincecum, SF (Sat. vs. MIA); Jaime Garcia, STL (Sun. vs. ATL); Ubaldo Jimenez, BAL (Sun. at KC)
Josmil Pinto, C, MIN, $3,400 Though his price has recovered from a shockingly-low $2,700 earlier in the week, Pinto is still one of the best plays at a position that should have plenty of affordable options over the next few days. A platoon with Kurt Suzuki means he won't be in the lineup every day, but Pinto is worth the price of admission when he plays. An early-May slump raised some questions, and the young slugger has responded by piling up eight hits in his last five starts. The Twins' 2010 trade of Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps looked terrible at the time and still does to this day, but Minnesota now has its own Ramos clone, and the Pinto version will hopefully avoid the terrible luck that has plagued the Nats' backstop.
Adam Lind, 1B, TOR, $3,800 Lind has some tricky matchups ahead, but with his price this low and his bat heating up, the 30-year-old slugger is worth a look against nearly any right-handed pitcher. His improvements in plate discipline have carried over from last season, as Lind continues to prove that 2009 and 2013 weren't flukes. Odd career path aside, Lind is once again a very good hitter, and he gets to bat behind some excellent on-base guys.
Matt Dominguez, 3B, HOU, $3,400 (Wed.) Dominguez may never be an above-average hitter, but he brings plus-power and premium lineup slotting to the table at a rather reasonable price. He's been hitting either fourth or fifth in the Stros lineup, and Houston draws some favorable matchups against the White Sox's staff this weekend. Keep an eye on those Houston batters, as they should make for a good low-end stacking choice to complement a duo of high-priced hurlers.
Nolan Arenado, 3B, COL, $4,400 (Wed.) Although the sample size is a mere 692 career plate appearances, Arenado has some pretty extreme handedness and home/road splits, with a .305/.354/.508 line against lefties (.270/.295/.405 vs. R) and a
.296/.332/.494 line at Coors Field (.264/.292/.377 road). Even if his price goes up a bit this weekend, Arenado will be worth paying for against San Diego southpaws Eric Stults (Friday) and Robbie Erlin (Saturday). Looking beyond the pair of friendly matchups, Arenado has improved from last season, and his contact-heavy approach should allow him to milk every last ounce of value from the Coors Field advantage.
Jed Lowrie, SS, OAK, $3,500 (Wed.) Homerless since April 19, Lowrie has atoned for his lack of longballs by ranking third in the AL with 14 doubles. He's still one of the best hitters at his position, and the $3,500 price tag was surprisingly cheap, given that he emerged from a mini-slump nearly a week ago. While that price will likely rise in the coming days, even a decent-sized hike would leave Lowrie as one of the better values at shortstop.
Carlos Quentin, OF, SD, $3,800 It's anyone's guess how long he'll stay healthy, but Quentin has always produced when he's been able to play, despite frequently fighting through nagging injuries. Right now is probably the closest to 100 percent we'll see the big slugger this season, and he's about to spend the weekend at Coors Field after he finishes off a series in Cincinnati on Thursday. Quentin posted an OPS north of .820 in each of the last four seasons, including an .878 mark in 2012 and .856 mark in 2013 those being his only two seasons with Petco Park as a home field. Unsurprisingly, he's done most of his damage on the road since joining the Padres, posting a .914 road OPS in 2012, then upping that to 1.006 in 2013. His drastic home-road splits can partially be blamed on the injury-limited sample size, but Quentin has oddly struck out more often and walked less frequently at home since joining the Padres. Perhaps Petco Park is in his head, or maybe opposing pitchers are more aggressive in the strike zone because of the stadium's reputation. Either way, it's a problem for another day, as Quentin heads to a hitter's haven as the likely cleanup hitter in a Friars lineup that suddenly looks (almost) respectable with both him and Chase Headley back in the fold.
Yasiel Puig, OF, LAD, $5,300 (Wed.) A popular regression candidate heading into the season, Puig appears to be an even better hitter than he was in 2013, with his fantastic .324/.416/.561 line backed by vastly improved peripherals. He's got some excellent matchups against the D-Backs' awful pitching staff at hitter-friendly Chase Field this weekend, and it may not be long before the Cuban outfielder is a staple in the Trout-Cabrera price range. Speaking of which, Trout ($5,700) should break out of his strikeout-fueled slump this weekend, but a red-hot Puig at a lower price is still the superior play.
Other intriguing options: Brian McCann, C, NYY, $3,800; Wilson Ramos, C, WAS, $3,600 (Wed.); Steve Clevenger, C, BAL, $3,200; Chris Davis, 1B, BAL, $4,300; Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, TOR, $4,600; Rougned Odor, 2B, TEX, $2,000 (Wed.); Danny Santana, 2B/SS, MIN, $2,400; Manny Machado, 3B, BAL, $3,800; Pedro Alvarez, 3B, PIT, $3,900; Matt Joyce, OF, TB, $3,700; Angel Pagan, OF, SF, $4,000 (Wed.); Mike Trout, OF, LAA, $5,700