Note: Player prices are based on Thursday’s games for players in action Thursday (7/10) and Friday’s games for those who won’t play again until Friday.
Teams not playing Thursday: Boston Red Sox, Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Seattle Mariners, New York Mets, Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres
Now, on to some of the top plays for the next few days….
Bartolo Colon, NYM (Thu. vs. ATL), $7300 – Colon struggled in his last two starts, but everything is aligned for a bounce-back performance. He draws the strikeout-prone Atlanta lineup at Citi Field, where he owns a 2.72 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 45:6 K:BB in 49.2 innings this season. While the big righty has undoubtedly been hit-or-miss this year, the good starts have easily outnumbered the bad ones. What’s more, Colon has the good fortune to matchup against Aaron Harang, the weak link in Atlanta’s otherwise stout rotation.
Corey Kluber, CLE (Fri. vs. CHW), $9200 – Kluber’s price took a major dive following a stretch of mediocre performances in June, but the 6-4 righty has since regained his dominant form, allowing just two runs over his last three starts and six runs over his last five. Come Friday, he gets to face a Chicago team that has MLB’s third-highest strikeout rate (22.7 percent) against right-handed pitchers, and Kluber himself was dominant in two starts against the White Sox earlier this season, striking out 19 and allowing three runs over 15.1 innings. On a day loaded with excellent pitching options in the $8000-9500 range, Kluber is the best of the bunch.
Stephen Strasburg, WAS (Sat. at PHI) – While the Philadelphia offense has actually been borderline competent against left-handed pitching this season, it’s been a complete disaster versus righties, ranking 29th in wOBA (.288) and OPS (.649), 28th in wRC+ (79) and ISO (.117), and 19th in strikeout rate (20.9). Of course, we also have a decent sample size of Strasburg facing the Phillies, and he’s posted a 40:5 K:BB against players currently on the roster, while allowing a meager .552 OPS. For those worried about Strasburg’s middling 3.47 ERA, keep in mind that he owns a 2.78 FIP, 2.51 xFIP and 2.59 SIERA.
Sonny Gray, OAK (Sun. at SEA) – Gray’s middling strikeout numbers scared me off for a while, but he’s finally starting to pile up the K’s, and he was excellent in his last two starts. While he won’t get to pitch at the spacious O.co Coliseum this time around, a matchup against the Mariners at Safeco Field makes for one heck of a consolation prize. Seattle ranks 29th in home wOBA (.288), wRC+ (80) and OPS (.649) this season, ahead of only the Padres in each of those categories. Best of all, Gray cost just $8100 for his last outing, and will almost certainly sit south of $9000 come Sunday.
Other intriguing options: Clayton Kershaw, LAD (Thu. vs. SD), $13,400; John Lackey, BOS, (Fri. at HOU), $8400; Jake Arrieta, CHC (Fri. afternoon vs. ATL), $9300; Jeff Samardzija, OAK (Fri. at SEA), $8,200; Jesse Chavez, OAK (Sat. at SEA); Justin Verlander, DET (Sun. at KC); Julio Teheran, ATL (Sun. at CHC)
Stephen Vogt, OAK, C/OF, $2800 – Vogt has been batting second against right-handed pitching lately, and he hasn’t given the Athletics any reason to move him down in the order. Sporting a .366/.394/.538 slash line through 99 plate appearances, he’s shown a nice mixture of contact skills and power, with three home runs, two triples and three doubles. Both underappreciated and versatile, Vogt has spent the better part of the last two years destroying Triple-A pitching. While he draws some tricky matchups in Seattle this weekend, the price is so friendly that I’ll still use him, just not on Friday against King Felix.
Matt Adams, 1B, STL, $4000 – There’s really no question that Adams is an excellent hitter, and he happens to be on fire at the moment. With 10 hits in his last four games entering Thursday’s contest, the big first baseman has upped his slash line to .336/.350/.538. Given that walks are only worth two points apiece on DraftKings, Adams’ walk allergy isn’t a bad thing. If not for the 15 games he’s missed, Adams would be on track for a 200-hit season, with plenty of those going for extra bases. Most important of all, the Cardinals face four right-handers over the next four days, with nary an ace on the docket.
Daniel Murphy, 1B/2B, NYM, $3900 – I’m still mad at Murphy for making the All-Star game over Anthony Rendon, but there’s no denying that the Mets’ second baseman represents excellent value at this price. After starting the season a bit slow, Murphy posted a .293/.376/.455 slash line in May, followed by a .313/.339/.435 line in June. He owns a modest .235/.257/.441 line through the first eight games of July, but he has four hits in his last two games entering Thursday, with three of those going for two bases.
Brian Dozier, 2B/SS, MIN, $4100 – Dozier has been slumping for the last few weeks, but his price reflects that reality, and a weekend trip to Coors Field should help him turn things around. While his price will jump to $4400 come Friday, Dozier still makes for an excellent play against the Rockies’ atrocious, lefty-heavy rotation. The star second baseman may not be an exciting candidate for the upcoming Home Run Derby, but he’s always been a nightmare for southpaws, even at sea level.
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, NYY, $4300 – A weekend series in Baltimore means that Ellsbury will get to face a slew of mediocre right-handed pitchers, all while playing in one of the few parks that’s nearly as friendly to left-handed hitters as his home stadium. Just don’t expect much in the way of stolen bases, as Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph has thrown out 15-of-29 runners (51.7 CS%).
Kole Calhoun, OF, LAA, $4200 – Calhoun’s slow start is a distant memory, and his immediate future includes a four-game series in Arlington. With the Rangers scheduled to throw shaky right-handers in each of the first three games, Calhoun should be in for a feast. Other Angels hitters are also in for a fruitful weekend, as they’ll be facing Colby Lewis, Nick Tepesch and Miles Mikolas, with the starter for Sunday’s game still undecided as of Thursday afternoon.
Other intriguing options: Travis d’Arnaud, C, NYM, $2600; Derek Norris/John Jason, C, OAK, $3600; Kendrys Morales, MIN, 1B/OF, $3600; Neil Walker, 2B/3B, PIT, $3700; Pedro Alvarez, 3B, PIT, $3700; Zelous Wheeler, 3B, NYY, $2000; Jhonny Peralta, SS, STL, $3500; Jed Lowrie, SS, OAK, $3600; Dee Gordon, 2B/SS, LAD, $4600; Michael Brantley, OF, CLE, $4700; Gregory Polanco, OF, PIT, $4000; Carlos Gomez, OF, MIL, $4600; Garrett Jones, 1B/OF, MIA, $3800 (Fri.); Ender Inciarte, OF, AZ, $2700 (Fri.); David Peralta, OF, AZ, $3700 (Fri.)
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