Note: Player prices are based on Thursday's games for players in action Thursday (6/5) and Wednesday's games for those who won't play again until Friday.
Teams not playing Thursday: Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, Seattle Mariners, Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres
Now, on to some of the top plays for the next few days.
Michael Wacha, STL (Thu. at KC), $10,700 Wacha has been even better than expected in the wake of last season's terrific debut, as his 2.45 ERA and 1.06 WHIP are backed up by a 75:19 K:BB ratio (73.1 innings) and a fantastic 11.9 percent swinging-strike rate. The Cardinals have been cautious with his pitch counts, yet Wacha is still averaging more than six innings and six Ks per start, thanks to some highly efficient outings. The pitch-count concerns may somewhat limit his upside, but the young right-hander is still the clear-cut top option Thursday night in a matchup against the punchless Royals at pitcher friendly Kauffman Stadium.
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Marcus Stroman, TOR (Fri. vs. STL) Stroman's first stint in the majors was defined by a couple of hideous outings as a reliever, but he rejoined the Jays after just two weeks in the minors, and then held the Royals scoreless over six innings in his first career start on Sunday. While the Cardinals obviously make for a tougher opponent than their Missouri counterparts, the Redbirds haven't been the same mashing squad that we saw last season. Stroman is unlikely to reach 100 pitches, but his stuff is fantastic and he should come at a dirt-cheap price.
Max Scherzer, DET (Sat. vs. BOS) With the Saturday pitching options looking rather shaky, it makes sense to go with a proven stud like Scherzer, who can perhaps be paired with either Chicago's Jeff Samardzija or a bargain-bin hurler. Scherzer hasn't been the best version of himself lately, but he's still one of the better pitchers in the game, and his price dropped all the way to $10,300 for his previous outing. If he checks in at a similar price Saturday, expect the defending AL Cy Young Award winner to be a very popular choice.
Justin Masterson, CLE (Sun. at TEX) Masterson has been one of the more disappointing pitchers this season, causing his price to drop lower than anyone could have expected. Daily gamers who took the risk last week were rewarded in a big way, as Masterson turned in a 10-K masterpiece that included a so-called immaculate inning. His price won't bounce all the way back just yet, and an outing in Arlington isn't nearly as scary as it was the past few seasons. The Rangers rank 18th in the majors in wOBA against right-handed pitching (.306), though that's mostly due to a lack of power (.118 OSO), rather than inability to make contact (18.4% K rate).
Other intriguing options: Doug Fister, WAS (Thu. vs. PHI), $7,500; Wily Peralta, MIL (Thu at MIN), $8,300; Yu Darvish, TEX (Fri. vs. CLE); Matt Cain, SF (Fri. vs. NYM); Jeff Samardzija, CHC (Sat. vs. MIA); Chris Archer, TB (Sun. vs. SEA); Felix Hernandez, SEA (Sun. at TB); Jordan Zimmerman, WAS (Sun. at SD)
Buster Posey, C, SF, $4,300 (Wed.) Following a rough month of May, Posey appears to be back on track in June, with six hits in his first four games. Take advantage of the price drop while you still can, as there aren't many catchers with a lifetime .851 OPS who get to bat either third or fourth in a solid lineup. Come to think of it, Posey is the only backstop who meets that description, and he should still be considered the preeminent offensive catcher in baseball.
Freddie Freeman, ATL, 1B, $4,400 (Wed.) Freeman's .290/.382/.498 slash line is nearly identical to what he produced last season, and a recent semi-slump has his price a bit lower than it probably should be. He also draws some excellent matchups, as the Braves are about to start a four-game series against the Diamondbacks at hitter friendly Chase Field. Helping matters even more, both Jason Heyward and B.J. Upton have been hitting well recently, providing Freeman with increased RBI opportunities.
Jason Kipnis, 2B, CLE, $3,900 (Wed.) Kipnis is universally regarded as one of the top fantasy options at his position, and he comes at a cheap price because he hasn't gotten hot since returning from the disabled list. Honestly, who cares? He's still Jason Kipnis, his plate approach is fine, and the price is about $800 cheaper than what you'll end up paying later this season. In case anyone was worried about lingering effects from the oblique injury, Kipnis stole bases in back-to-back games Monday and Tuesday, putting an end to those concerns.
Evan Longoria, 3B, TB, $4,100 Notice a theme here? Longoria is yet another proven player who has been disappointing over the last few weeks, and there don't appear to be any underlying issues at play. He also seems to be heating back up, with five hits over the last four games, including a dinger in Wednesday's contest against the Marlins.
Danny Santana, 2B/SS, MIN, $2,400 The theme comes to an end with Santana, who has been far better than expected through the first 18 games of his career. He's been leading off and playing center field lately, yet he still carries 2B/SS eligibility, at least for the time being. While you shouldn't expect much in the way of power or RBI, Santana has a .346/.393/.423 batting line and a pair of stolen bases. The peripherals indicate that tougher days lay ahead, but it's hard to pass at this price, assuming he's batting leadoff.
Adam Jones, OF, BAL, $4,200 Jones struggled early in the season and was mediocre from mid-to-late May, but he seems to be just fine at the moment. He went 4-for-5 with a home run on Tuesday, then 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI on Wednesday. The veteran outfielder may be headed for a price hike as soon as Friday, but he'll still be worth using, particularly if he stays hot.
Jay Bruce, OF, CIN, $3,500 While the 49 strikeouts in 140 at-bats are rather alarming, Bruce is a 27-year-old proven commodity who seems to be getting back on track. He has three hits (two doubles) in his last two games, and has surprisingly gone six-for-six on stolen-base attempts this season. The home runs should come soon, with a weekend home series against the Phillies looming. It's probably best to avoid Bruce in matchups against Madison Bumgarner (Thursday) and Cole Hamels (Friday), but the slugger should be unleashed against Roberto Hernandez (Saturday) and David Buchanan (Sunday).
Other intriguing options: Travis d'Arnaud, C, NYM, $2,600; John Jaso/Derek Norris, C, OAK, $3,500 Buster Posey, C, SF, $4,300 (Wed.); Victor Martinez, 1B, DET, $4,700; Todd Frazier, 1B/3B, CIN, $3,900; Ian Kinsler, 2B, DET, $4,600; Xander Bogaerts, 3B/SS, BOS, $4,100; Yasiel Puig, OF, LAD, $5,300; Aramis Ramirez, 3B, MIL, $3,900; Giancarlo Stanton, OF, MIA, $5,400; Carlos Quentin, OF, SD, $3,500 (Wed.); Cameron Maybin, OF, SD, $3,100 (Wed.); Ryan Ludwick, OF, CIN, $2,800; Jose Bautista, OF, TOR, $5,300