Note: Player prices are based on Thursday's games (8/14) 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
Jake Odorizzi, TB (Thu. at TEX), $8,300 Odorizzi is one of just six qualified starters with a K/9 over 10.0, and with the exception of a rocky outing against the Angels on Aug. 3, he's been fantastic since early June, despite facing a fairly difficult slate of opponents. The young righty shouldn't have much trouble with Thursday's matchup, as the Rangers' punchless lineup more than makes up for their hitter-friendly ballpark. Since the All-Star break, the injury-riddled Rangers rank 26th in wRC+ (81), 23rd in wOBA (.297) and 18th in strikeout rate (20.7 %). What's more, their two best hitters Adrian Beltre and Alex Rios are far better against lefties than they are against righties. Looking at Thursday night's options, Odorizzi and Stephen Strasburg ($9,600) both figure to be heavily used, as the other pitchers are either awful, overpriced, or both. Even in large GPPs (Guaranteed Prize Pool), it probably makes sense to go with the herd.
Madison Bumgarner, SF (Fri vs. PHI), $8,600 Bumgarner is essentially the same as ever this season, so it's odd to see him at such a reasonable price while pitching at AT&T Field. This would be hard to pass on against pretty much any lineup, and it looks like a slam-dunk against the Phillies, one of the worst offensive teams in baseball. The only downside is that Bumgarner will be facing fellow lefty ace Cole Hamels, who has given up three earned runs over this last five starts. However, Hamels will be pitching on the road against a lineup that handles southpaws reasonably well, leaving Bumgarner as the favorite to come out on top.
Jake Arrieta, CHC (Sat. at NYM) Arrieta seems to be somewhat of a forgotten man, as his torrid stretch from earlier this season has given way to a run of merely very good pitching. He was hammered for nine runs at Coors Field last week, but then bounced back by holding a strong Milwaukee lineup to two runs over 7.1 innings Monday, picking up an 11th quality start in his last 12 tries. In light of his 9.22 K/9, 2.37 BB/9, 2.36 FIP and 2.87 xFIP through 18 outings, Arrieta can no longer be written off as a fluke. He also boasts a swinging-strike (9.9 %) and contact (77.8 %) rate that are well above average, and his velocity has never been in question. Facing a weak Mets lineup at pitcher-friendly Citi Field, Arrieta who cost just $8,000 last time out will be a steal at anything less than $9,000.
Adam Wainwright, STL (Sun. vs. SD) Although Wainwright has been rather ordinary of late, that reality has been reflected in his price, which sat at just $9,500 for his last start. While I typically prefer to use someone who's been pitching well lately, the slump hasn't been so bad that I'm willing to pass on an elite starter facing the game's worst lineup at a third/fourth-tier price. If Waino struggles in this one, then it might be time to start worrying.
Other intriguing options: Stephen Strasburg, WAS (Thu. at NYM), $9,600; Wei-Yin Chen, BAL, (Fri. at CLE), $6,700; Lance Lynn, STL (Fri. vs. SD), $8,800; Gio Gonzalez, WAS (Sat. vs. PIT); David Price, DET (Sat. vs. SEA); Kyle Hendricks, CHC, (Sun. at NYM); Jon Lester, OAK, (Sun. at ATL)
Devin Mesoraco, C, CIN, $4,800 Breakout season and all, this seems like a lofty price for Mesoraco until you remember that he'll be spending his weekend at Coors Field. Yes, DraftKings does a good job accounting for the impact of Denver's atmospheric conditions, but the Rockies' atrocious pitching staff still makes it a good idea to lean on road teams in Colorado. As usual, right-handed batters get an extra boost, with the Colorado rotation featuring Jordan Lyles (Sat.) as the lone righty. While Mesoraco's rate numbers don't show any significant handedness splits this season, he owns a 16:10 K:BB against lefties, compared to a 57:15 K:BB versus righties. Though the sample size is (again) admittedly small, pre-breakout Mesoraco (2011-13) posted an .837 OPS in 125 at-bats against lefties, and a .581 OPS in 412 at-bats against righties. In the long run, Mesoraco will likely be a noticeably better hitter against southpaws.
Dee Gordon, 2B/SS, LAD, $3,900 (Fri.) While his recent performance at the plate leaves much to be desired, Gordon got back on track Wednesday, and then followed with a big game Thursday afternoon. His first-half slash line (.292/.344/.398) was better than what we can expect moving forward, but the speedy second baseman still figures to be a productive player, especially in the fantasy world. His .345 BABIP is actually quite reasonable, given that his line-drive (22.4 %), ground-ball (58.4 %), and infield-hit (11.2 %) rates are all well above league average. Excluding Javier Baez and Troy Tulowitzki, Gordon is the fourth-highest scoring player on a per-game basis at both shortstop and second base this season. At $3,900, he's an absolute steal.
Todd Frazier, 1B/3B, CIN, $4,700 Frazier's story this weekend is quite similar to Mesoraco's, only the 28-year-old third baseman has a better established preference for left-handed pitching. It would be nice if this duo had better hitters surrounding them, but even the Reds should be able to get some runners on base for their big guns this weekend, as the Rockies' pitching staff is awful, independent of Coors Field.
Dexter Fowler, OF, HOU, $3,900 Fowler's price is down a bit after he missed six weeks with an intercostal strain, and the Astros appear to have taken a cautious approach with his recovery. While he doesn't figure to benefit much from Fenway Park's dimensions, Fowler should enjoy a four-game series in Boston against the Red Sox's lousy, all-righty rotation. This series, while far from must-watch baseball, should provide some high-scoring games. There are some cheap options on both teams, namely Mike Napoli ($4,000), Robbie Grossman ($3,700), Daniel Nava ($3,000) Xander Bogaerts ($2,300), and Marc Krauss ($2,400).
Charlie Blackmon, OF, COL, $3,400 While largely a product of Coors Field, and mediocre (at best) since April, Blackmon is worth a look perhaps even a stare at this price. He steals bases, has some power, and is still hitting at the top of the lineup. If you only play him against right-handed pitchers at home, Blackmon can be a valuable tool on DraftKings for the rest of the season, though his price will likely bounce back up to the $4,000 range before long. The visiting Reds only have righties in their rotation, and while I'll avoid Johnny Cueto on Friday, the other guys are all fair game at Coors Field.
Angel Pagan OF, SF, $3,600 (Fri.) You'll have to wait a bit for this one, as Pagan doesn't play Thursday, and then faces Cole Hamels on Friday. However, come Saturday, he'll get Kyle Kendrick, followed by a matchup versus David Buchanan on Sunday. Pagan's price is down following an absence of nearly two months, but his production has been just fine since he returned, as the speedy outfielder is 8-for-27 (.296 BA) with a stolen base. While he may not be as active on the basepaths down the stretch, Pagan should be just fine at the plate, and still figures to chip in the occasional steal.
Other intriguing options:
Joe Mauer, C/1B, MIN, $3,700; Buster Posey, C, SF, $3,900; Devin Mesoraco, C, CIN, $4,800; Carlos Santana, CLE, C/3B, $4,000; Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, MIA, $3,100
Mike Napoli, 1B, BOS, $3,900; Brandon Moss, 1B/OF, OAK, $4,100; Casey McGehee, 1B/3B, MIA, $3,200; Mark Teixeira, 1B, NYY, $3,800; Jose Abreu, 1B, CHW, $4,900; Jose Altuve, 2B, HOU, $5,000; Yangervis Solarte, 2B/3B, SD, $3,100; Anthony Rendon 2B/3B, WAS, $4,100 Xander Bogaerts, 3B/SS, BOS, $2,300; Jake Lamb, 3B, AZ, $1,800; Josh Rutledge, 2B/SS, COL, $2,800; Omar Infante, 2B, KC, $3,300; Zach Walters, 3B/SS, CLE, $2,100; Erick Aybar, SS, LAA, $3,700; Jose Reyes, SS, TOR, $4,600
Mike Trout, OF, LAA, $5,500; Austin Jackson, OF, DET, $3,700; Melky Cabrera, OF, TOR, $4,300; Kole Calhoun, OF, LAA, $3,800; Corey Dickerson, OF, COL, $4,600; Ryan Ludwick, OF, CIN, $3,600; Christian Yelich, OF, MIA, $4,000; Marc Krauss, 1B/OF, HOU, $2,400; Mike Carp, 1B/OF, TEX, $2,100; Garrett Jones, 1B/OF, MIA, $3,200