Note: Player prices are based on Thursday’s games (Aug. 8) for players in action Thursday night, and Friday’s games for all other players.
Here are some of the top plays on DraftKings for Thursday night and the upcoming weekend.
Jon Lester, OAK (Thu. vs. MIN), $11,000 – With Adam Wainwright ($9500) and C.J. Wilson ($6300) slumping, the Thursday night pitching options don’t look particularly attractive. The aforementioned veterans might be worth the risk at those prices, but Lester is easily the safest play of the night while also offering the highest ceiling. Though the lefty was average in his Oakland debut, he’s been fantastic throughout the season, posting a 2.59 ERA and 152:33 K:BB over 149.2 innings. The Twins aren’t a terrible offensive team, but they’re heavy underdogs (+245) Thursday night, with Lester drawing an excellent matchup against Yohan Pino.
Jose Quintana, CHW (Fri vs. SEA), $8300 – The Mariners tried to address their struggles against left-handed pitching by acquiring Austin Jackson and Chris Denorfia at the trade deadline. However, Denorfia has been beyond awful this season, and Jackson’s handedness splits indicate that he’s about the same versus lefties and righties, unless you ignore everything but this year. Looking at the lineup the Mariners put out against Atlanta southpaw Alex Wood on Tuesday, this is still a team that should be picked on pretty much any time they face a lefty. As for Quintana, the 25-year-old southpaw is quietly having a fantastic season, even if we acknowledge that his 4.7 percent HR/FB is far from sustainable. He owns a 125:42 K:BB over 142.1 innings, with a 3.04 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 3.42 xFIP and 3.58 SIERA. Quintana has been one of the more consistent pitchers in the game, tossing at least five innings while allowing three runs or fewer in each of his last nine starts.
Francisco Liriano, PIT (Sat. vs. SD) – Though he was terrible in his first start back from the disabled list, Liriano has looked like the 2013 version of himself in four subsequent outings, allowing just four earned runs over 24 innings while posting a 29:7 K:BB. And, it’s not as if he took advantage of exceptionally easy matchups, as those four starts came against the Rockies, Dodgers, Giants and Diamondbacks. After facing the other four teams in the NL West, Liriano draws the woeful San Diego lineup Saturday, when he’ll be matched up against Eric Stults (4-13, 4.94 ERA).
Johnny Cueto, CIN (Sun. at MIA) – Cueto cost a very reasonable $9500 in his last start, which saw him toss a complete game against the Indians. He has an excellent case to be the non-Kershaw NL Cy Young recipient, as he’s posted an ERA of 2.58 or less in each month, with his 2.04 mark for the season backed by a 172:45 K:BB. Incredibly, Cueto has allowed more than three earned runs in a start only twice, and has only given up three or more runs in just four of his 24 outings. The Marlins play in a pitcher’s paradise, and their offense has gone from respectable early in the season to sub-par over the last couple of months.
Other intriguing options: Collin McHugh, HOU (Thu. at PHI), $8,400; Bartolo Colon, NYM, (Fri. at PHI), $7200; Stephen Strasburg, WAS (Fri. at ATL), $9900; Corey Kluber, CLE (Sat. at NYY); Cole Hamels, PHI (Sat. vs. NYM); Alex Cobb, TB, (Sun. at CHC)
Matt Adams, STL, 1B, $3700 – Adams seems to be perpetually underpriced, and he’s coming up on an excellent string of matchups. Following Thursday’s game against Boston right-hander Brandon Workman, Adams will head to Baltimore for a three-game series at one of the top parks for left-handed batters. With the Orioles slated to throw right-handers Chris Tillman, Ubaldo Jimenez and Kevin Gausman, ‘Big City’ should be in for a big series. I’m also a fan of Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong ($3800), who has been batting second against righties for quite some time now. Wong and Matt Carpenter ($4300) both get a boost this weekend, with RBI opportunities increased due to the lack of a pitcher in the No. 9 hole.
Wilmer Flores, 2B/SS, NYM, $2300 (Fri.) – Perhaps this won’t come to fruition, but it certainly appears that some of Ruben Tejada’s playing time should go to Flores, who actually has some upside at the plate. While that has sort of happened over the last few weeks, Tejada still gets most of the playing time at shortstop. Flores may only be in the lineup once or twice over the next 4-5 days, but he’s incredibly cheap and was sixth in the batting order Thursday afternoon. While he’s struggled through his first 100 or so major-league plate appearances, Flores posted a .323/.367/.568 slash line for Triple-A Las Vegas this season, with 13 home runs in 241 plate appearances.
Adrian Beltre, 3B, TEX, $4400 (Fri.) – Out of action Thursday, Beltre draws a trio of favorable matchups this weekend, with Houston lefties Brett Oberholtzer (Friday) and Dallas Keuchel (Sunday) sandwiched around right-hander Scott Feldman. Beltre is one of the more notorious lefty mashers in the game, and his price is quite friendly following a mediocre stretch the last few weeks. Even with minimal help in the lineup, Beltre should be in for a huge weekend at Minute Maid Park, otherwise known as heaven for right-handed power hitters.
Christian Yelich, OF, MIA, $3700 – Yelich draws three mediocre right-handers over the next three days, before facing Reds ace Jhonny Cueto on Sunday. The price here is excellent, as Yelich is averaging 8.4 DraftKings points per game, and recently broke out of a mini-slump. Yes, he’s been far better on the road this season, but he should get it done at pitcher-friendly Marlins Park this weekend, given the favorable matchups. Yelich’s is ranked 10th among DraftKings outfielders on a point-per-game basis, tied with Houston’s George Springer and ahead of Baltimore’s Adam Jones.
Kole Calhoun, OF, LAA, $3700 – Calhoun has appeared in this space more often than any other player, but I simply couldn’t ignore him with the Red Sox headed to Anaheim this weekend. ‘Mediocre’ would be the kind word for Boston’s all-righty rotation, which is headed by an ice-cold Clay Buchholz. Calhoun should be passed on Thursday night against Dodgers lefty Hyun Jin-Ryu, but the 26-year-old outfielder will be a strong play against the Red Sox all weekend. I’m also high on teammates Albert Pujols ($4300) and Mike Trout ($5600), even though both will be at a platoon disadvantage all weekend.
Brandon Moss 1B/OF, OAK, $4100 – Moss has been mediocre for the last two months and awful over the last two weeks, but at this price, with the Twins coming to town for a four-game series, the late-blooming slugger makes for a strong play. While he didn’t start the last two times Oakland faced a lefty, Moss has still been batting cleanup against right-handers. The Twins are schedule to throw three righties in four games, with the fourth starter (Saturday’s) undecided as of Thursday afternoon.
Other intriguing options:
John Jaso, C, OAK, $3800; Stephen Vogt, C/OF, OAK, $3300; Caleb Joseph, C, BAL, $2600; Travis d’Arnaud, NYM, C, $2600 (Fri.); Robinson Chirinos, C, TEX, $3300; Albert Pujols, 1B, LAA, $4300; Logan Morrison, 1B/OF, SEA, $3300; Kolten Wong, 2B, STL, $3800; Dee Gordon, 2B/SS, LAD, $4300; Jason Kipnis, 2B, CLE, $4400; Robinson Cano, 2B, SEA, $4800; Yangervis Solarte, 2B/3B, SD, $3300; Kyle Seager 2B/3B, SEA, $3900 Matt Carpenter, 2B/3B, STL, $4300; Todd Frazier, 1B/3B, CIN, $4200; David Wright, 3B, NYM, $3900 (Fri.); Ian Desmond, SS, WAS, $3800 (Fri.); Mike Trout, OF, LAA, $5600; Josh Reddick, OF, OAK, $430; Melky Cabrera, OF, TOR, $4300; Garrett Jones, 1B/OF, MIA, $3600; Dustin Ackley, OF, SEA, $3500; Oscar Taveras, OF, STL, $3200; Angel Pagan, OF, STL, $3900 (Fri.); Alex Rios, OF, TEX, $3800 (Fri.); Seth Smith, OF, SD, $3600 (Fri.)
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