Note: Player prices are based on Thursday's games for players in action Thursday (6/12) and Wednesday's games for those who won't play again until Friday.
Teams not playing Thursday: Tampa Bay Rays, Minnesota Twins, Kansas City Royals, Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, Miami Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals
Now, on to some of the top plays for the next few days.
Jon Lester, BOS (Thu. vs. CLE), $9,300 Though Lester has predictably failed to maintain his dominant form from earlier this season, the drop off hasn't been too bad. The Tigers crushed him in his last outing, but the start before that was a 12-K gem, albeit against the Rays. Thursday's opponent ranks third in the majors with a sterling 16.8 percent strikeout rate against southpaws, but the Indians have also been completely punchless against lefties, as evidenced by a .103 ISO that ranks 28th in the majors, and a .297 wOBA that comes in at 24th. The struggles make perfect sense, given that the Indians boast a lefty-heavy lineup that was supposed to be balanced out by switch-hitting Nick Swisher and supposed lefty-masher Ryan Raburn. Swisher (knee) isn't expected to rejoin the Indians until Friday or Saturday, while Raburn has been a complete disaster this season.
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Andrew Cashner, SD (Fri. at NYM) Cashner checked in at a reasonable $9,500 in his first start following a stint on the DL, then proceeded to toss six shutout innings against the Nationals. It's a bit concerning that he was pulled after 70 pitches, but he should have some more room to work with the second time around. The Mets have been picked on nearly every week in this space, and they still provide one of the best matchups for right-handed starters. The Amazin's rank 17th in strikeout rate (20.9) against right-handers, 27th in wOBA (.291) and 25th in ISO (.122). What's more, Citi Field is one of the few ballparks that can compare to Petco Park in terms of pitcher-friendliness.
Zack Wheeler, NYM (Sat. vs. SD) Wheeler got beat up in a road start against the Giants last time out, but a home outing against the woeful San Diego lineup should get him back on track. The Padres are last in the majors in both wOBA (.277) and OPS (.622) against right-handed pitching, with a strikeout rate (22.7) that's good for 26th place. The matchup is as good as it gets, and Wheeler has pitched well over the last few weeks, despite making seven of his last eight starts away from home. Over his last four outings, the young right-hander has given up just seven earned runs, while posting a 29:5 K:BB ratio.
Ian Kennedy, SD (Sun. at NYM) Yet another pitcher from the Padres-Mets series, Kennedy looks like the best play of the bunch. His bounce-back season may not be fully reflected in his 5-7 record or 3.63 ERA, but Kennedy is the proud owner of a 91:20 K:BB ratio (86.2 innings) and 2.95 FIP. He cost just $9,000 in his last start and will likely be close to that number come Sunday.
Other intriguing options: Max Scherzer, DET (Thu. at CHW), $10,100; Justin Masterson, CLE (Fri. at BOS); Drew Smyly, DET (Fri. vs. MIN); Chris Archer, TB (Sat. at HOU); Garrett Richards, LAA (Sat. at ATL); David Price, TB (Sun. at HOU)
Buster Posey, C, SF, $4,300 Posey gets a rare second straight appearance in this space, as his price is still rather inviting, despite the fact that he carries a nine-game hitting streak into Thursday's game against the Nationals. Following a matchup against Washington's Blake Treinen, Posey and the Giants have a three-game home series against a Colorado team that lacks both starting pitching and a reliable bullpen.
Joey Votto , CIN, 1B, $3,800 In his first two games back from the disabled list, Votto went 2-for-7 with a double, a walk and two RBI. Nothing spectacular, but he appears to be healthy, and this price is quite obviously a steal. While a Thursday afternoon matchup against Zack Greinke isn't too attractive, Votto will make for a strong play in Milwaukee this weekend.
Adam Lind, 1B, TOR, $3,900 Stuck on three home runs since May 27, Lind still owns an impressive .333/.413/.524 slash line, proving that his 2013 bounce back was no fluke. The Orioles are slated to throw all right-handers in a four-game series against the Jays this weekend, and Camden Yards is about as good as it gets for left-handed batters. Hitting behind the Reyes-Cabrera-Bautista-Encarnacion quartet, Lind should have no shortage of RBI opportunities.
Kyle Seager, 2B/3B, SEA, $3,800 Seager hasn't done much since his monster performance against the Yankees on June 2, but his price has dropped far enough to make him worth a look. He's always been a tough out for right-handed pitchers, and he finally seems to be over his Safeco Field woes, with eight home runs and a .966 OPS at home this season. Seager is a particularly attractive play Thursday and Friday, as the Yankees are tossing Chase Whitley, followed by David Phelps.
Luis Valbuena, 2B/3B, CHC, $3,100 Valbuena's surprising season continues to gain momentum, as he now owns a .288/.394/.456 slash line, after picking up seven hits (three doubles) in his last three games. While the Cubs' lineup obviously isn't very intimidating, Valbuena does get to bat fifth, at least against right-handed pitching. As luck would have it, the Cubs aren't scheduled to face a lefty anytime in the next week. At this excellent price, Valbuena will be one of my favorite plays over the weekend.
Gregory Polanco, OF, PIT, $3,200 Polanco's first two games weren't particularly eventful, but the more important thing to note is that he's already batting second in the lineup. He left Triple-A Indianapolis with a .347/.405/.540 slash line for the season, despite logging just 295 plate appearances above the High-A level prior to 2014. The 22-year-old seems to catch on rather quickly, and his five-tool skill set brings the possibility of both homers and steals. A weekend series in Miami doesn't look too attractive in terms of ballpark, but Polanco at least won't have to deal with any top pitchers.
Kendrys Morales, 1B/OF, MIN, $3,400 (Wed.) The Twins surprisingly activated Morales right after signing him, and the decision to skip a minor-league stint has paid immediate dividends. Through three games, the 30-year-old slugger is 6-for-13, with three doubles and three RBI. Given both the low price and his outfield eligibility, it shouldn't be hard to fit the newest Twin into your lineup. Keep in mind that Morales' 2013 slash line of .277/.336/.449 came with Safeco Field as his home park.
Other intriguing options: Jonathan Lucroy, C, MIL, $4,600; John Jaso/Derek Norris, C, OAK, $3,800 (Wed.); Jose Abreu, 1B, CHW, $5,000; Scooter Gennett, 2B/SS, MIL, $3,500; Pablo Sandoval, 3B, SF, $3,700; Ben Zobrist, 2B/OF, TB, $3,500 (Wed.); Evan Longoria, 3B, TB, $4,000 (Wed.); Yasiel Puig, OF, LAD, $5,100; Jose Bautista, OF, TOR, $5,200; Andrew McCutchen, OF, PIT, $5,300; Jay Bruce, OF, CIN, $3,800; Seth Smith, OF, SD, $3,600; Christian Yelich, OF, MIA, $3,900 (Wed.)
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