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: Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Angels, Cincinnati Reds
Now, on to some of the top plays for Memorial Day weekend.
Zack Greinke, LAD (Thu. at NYM), $12,100 – With the exception of a May 5 game that he left after three innings due to a rain delay, Greinke hasn't had a poor outing since July of last season. If he holds the Mets to two runs or fewer, he'll own the stand-alone MLB record for most consecutive starts (22) holding the opponent under three runs. And that doesn't even include his starts from last postseason, all of which met the criteria. The matchup at pitcher-friendly Citi Field is an excellent one, as the Mets rank 28th in wOBA (.280) and 24th in strikeout rate (22.1 percent) against right-handed pitching.
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Robbie Erlin, SD (Fri. vs. CHC) – Erlin cost just $7,100 in his last outing and should carry a very reasonable price Friday. He'll be back at the friendly confines of Petco Park, after allowing four runs at Coors Field in his previous start. The lefty still does an excellent job of limiting walks (2.1 BB/9), while his K/9 is up to 7.4 after sitting at 6.6 last season. The improved strikeout rate is backed by a 9.3 percent swinging-strike rate (6.5 in 2013) and 80.1 percent contact rate (85.8 in 2013). The Cubs have actually had some success against lefties this year, but their 26.4 whiff rate against southpaws ranks last in all of baseball.
Mike Minor, ATL (Sat. vs. COL) – The Rockies make for a tricky matchup even on the road, but Minor's price should be low enough to make him one of the top pitching options for Saturday. The talented lefty cost just $8,300 in his previous start, and he's proven his health through his first four outings of the season. While his numbers – 3.80 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 21:6 K:BB – through 23.3 innings may not impress, Minor faced the Brewers, Cardinals and Giants (twice) in his first four outings of the season. His velocity is unchanged, and his peripherals don't stick out, so we can safely assume that Minor is back to his old self after topping 100 pitches in each of his last two starts.
Doug Fister, WAS (Sun. at PIT) – While a price bump is probably coming after Fister cost just $6,800 for his last start, it would take a huge increase to push him off the list of Sunday's top pitching options. After struggling in a 79-pitch season debut in Oakland, Fister looked like his usual self in his subsequent two outings, allowing three runs over 14 innings with an 11:1 K:BB ratio. Any post-injury pitch-count concerns can be put to rest, as he reached 100 pitches in both of those starts. Fister doesn't draw a great matchup, but it isn't a terrible one, either.
Other intriguing options: Wei Yin-Chen, BAL (Thu. vs. CLE), $7,300; Felix Hernandez, SEA (Fri. vs. HOU); Marco Estrada , MIL (Fri. at MIA); David Price, TB (Sat. vs. BOS); Ubaldo Jimenez, BAL (Sat. vs. CLE); Masahiro Tanaka, NYY (Sun. at CHW)
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, MIA, $3,300 – While the .267 batting average is a bit fluky, Salty still has excellent power and is an above-average hitter for his position. He suffered through an awful slump in mid-May but appears to have turned the corner, with at least one hit in each of his last four games, including a four-hit performance last Friday. A weekend series against the Brewers means three consecutive games against right-handed pitching, so Salty should be a viable option all weekend, assuming he's in the lineup. Get the slugging backstop while his price is still down, as he's always one of the better options to provide a home run from a generally unproductive position.
Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, TOR, $5,100 – I typically avoid a hot batter once the price hike comes through, but Encarnacion looks absolutely unstoppable right now, and his price has merely worked its way back up following a poor start to the season. Heading into Thursday, EE is coming off back-to-back multi-homer performances, of which he now has three in his last six games. With apologies to Yasiel Puig and Troy Tulowitzki, the Jays' first baseman has put together the best stretch of hitting we've seen so far this season. The $5,100 price tag isn't cheap, but it's also not too bad for a red-hot batter coming off consecutive 35-homer seasons.
Kyle Seager, SEA, 2B/3B, $4,000 – Corey Hart's absence means Seager will likely bat fourth or fifth in the order, which is where he probably should have been in the first place. The third baseman hasn't been as productive as expected this year, but his peripherals indicate that we're looking at the same player we saw the last two seasons. With the Houston rotation headed to Seattle for a four-game series, Seager draws a trio of favorable matchups, albeit with a difficult one (Sat. vs. Keuchel) thrown in to keep him honest. Dual position eligibility should help Seager sneak into plenty of lineups, particularly given the seemingly constant lack of mid-price options at second base.
Everth Cabrera, SS, SD, $3,800 – Cabrera isn't going to live up to what he did last season, but he's finally managed to cut down on all the strikeouts, and both of his homers have come within the last 10 days. After whiffing 33 times in his first 131 at-bats, Cabrera has struck out just 11 times in his subsequent 58 at-bats. While the walks are still nowhere to be seen, it's hardly the end of the world if the speedy shortstop continues to put the ball in play on a frequent basis. The Padres have a four-game series against the Cubs this weekend, and Jeff Samardzija pitched Wednesday.
Derek Dietrich, 2B, MIA, $3,700 – Dietrich struggled as a rookie last season and owns a mostly unspectacular minor-league track record, but it's hard to dismiss what he's doing. It was never a secret that he has plus power for a middle infielder, and the Marlins second baseman has made huge strides in terms of plate discipline. Last year, he swung at 40.3 percent of the pitches he saw outside of the strike zone, and pitchers had no real reason to throw him strikes. This year, he's swung at just 22.1 percent of pitches out of the strike zone and has unsurprisingly seen more pitches over the plate. Dietrich's .250/.355/.462 slash line may actually be sustainable given his improved plate discipline and obvious power.
Jason Heyward, OF, ATL, $3,800 – Heyward has finally pulled things together at the plate, though his last 11 hits are all singles. Still, we know he has 20-homer power, and he's already attempted 10 steals (eight successful) this year. The multi-talented outfielder may not have the huge bounce-back season many were expecting, but he's a bargain at $3,800, given that he looks just fine in the batter's box. A weekend series against the Rockies will provide some nice matchups, and the Braves aren't scheduled to face a southpaw until Sunday.
Coco Crisp, OF, OAK, $3,900 – Crisp left Tuesday's game with a neck injury (after hitting two doubles) and was held out of the lineup Wednesday. While his health obviously bears watching, it won't be surprising if he returns within the next couple of days. Rarely will I use this space to discuss an injured player, but Crisp offers excellent value at $3,900 while batting atop a powerful lineup. Should Crisp remain out of the lineup, fourth outfielder Craig Gentry ($3,200) will make for an excellent play against southpaws, assuming he's in the leadoff spot.
Other intriguing options: Jonathan Lucroy, C, MIL, $4,000; Wilson Ramos, C, WAS, $3,500; Adam Lind, 1B, TOR, $3,900; Chris Davis, 1B, BAL, $4,700; Yonder Alonso, 1B, SD, $3,700; Rougned Odor, 2B, TEX, $2,000; Wilmer Flores, SS, NYM, $2,000; Manny Machado, 3B, BAL, $3,800; Pedro Alvarez, 3B, PIT, $4,100; Jose Reyes, SS, TOR, $4,900; Carlos Quentin, OF, SD, $3,800; Shin Soo-Choo, OF, TEX, $4,900; Michael Cuddyer, OF/1B, COL, $4,500; Dexter Fowler, OF, HOU, $4,300; Matt Joyce, OF, TB, $3,700