Note: Player prices are based on Thursday’s games (8/28) for players in action Thursday, and Wednesday’s games for all other players.
Here are some of the top plays on DraftKings for Thursday and the upcoming weekend:
Collin McHugh, HOU (Thu. vs. TEX), $9,200 – One of the more surprising rookie standouts of the last few years, McHugh isn’t your typical out-of-nowhere youngster benefiting from a run of extended luck. His ERA estimators (3.35 FIP, 3.29 SIERA) aren’t far off from the real thing (3.02 ERA), and his 9.5 K/9 is backed by excellent swinging-strike (10.8 %) and contact (75.9 %) rates. Wielding improved velocity and a nasty slider, McHugh should be a mainstay at the top of the Houston rotation for years to come. As for Thursday, the 27-year-old righty draws an excellent matchup against the injury-depleted Texas lineup, which had an 80 wRC+ over the last 30 days before exploding for 12 runs Wednesday afternoon. With that outburst fresh in many minds, McHugh probably won’t be as popular of a choice as he should be, though the limited pitching options mean he’ll still get plenty of run.
Jordan Zimmerman, WAS (Fri. at SEA) – Zimmerman has been one of my favorite options all year, as he’s having arguably the finest season of his career and always comes at a sub-premium price. While his low-walk, medium-strikeout profile wasn’t great for DraftKings in past seasons, Zimmerman has become a daily fantasy stud by improving his K/9 to 7.9, up from 6.8 last season and 7.0 the year before. The added Ks are backed by career-best swinging-strike (10.2 %) and contact (79.9 %) rates, as Zimmerman has avoided any dip in velocity. He’ll have a hard time earning a win against Felix Hernandez on Friday, but the matchup is still enticing enough to bite. While much better on offense over the last few weeks, the Mariners have a mediocre collection of hitting talent and still play at Safeco Field. I typically target them with left-handed pitchers, but Zimmerman’s handedness splits – both recent and career-long – show that he’s equally comfortable against righties and lefties.
Zack Greinke, LAD, (Sat. at SD) – The Padres have been surprisingly decent (103 wRC+) in August, but they still trot out lineups that offer little punch, and are still one of the top teams to target. Greinke, meanwhile, is having a fantastic season, yet should come at a reasonable price due to some mediocre performances over his last four outings, three of which were against either the Brewers or Angels. With his 9.5 K/9 backed by a career-best swinging-strike rate (11.8 %), Greinke has been at his best in terms of both piling up strikeouts and limiting walks (2.0 BB/9). Sporting a sub-3.00 ERA for the second year in a row, he’d be the unquestioned ace on most major-league teams. The veteran righty also has a strong track record against San Diego’s healthy batters, with Carlos Quentin (knee) having done most of the damage.
Francisco Liriano, PIT (Sun. vs. CIN) – The undeserving owner of a 3-10 record, Liriano owns a 2.81 ERA and 2.94 FIP since the All-Star break, with a 54:18 K:BB over 48 innings (eight starts). As much as he struggled earlier this season, it’s now been six weeks since he started to look like the 2013 version of himself again. Sunday brings an excellent matchup, as the Reds still have an unimpressive lineup sans-Joey Votto, with the extent of their struggles somewhat masked by Great American Ballpark. There will be no GABP for Cincy to fall back on this weekend, though Liriano does face a tough challenge for the win, going up against Johnny Cueto.
Other intriguing options: Jeremy Hellickson, TB (Thu. at BAL), $7,200; Mike Minor, ATL, (Thu. at NYM), $7,500; Ervin Santana, ATL (Fri. vs. MIA); Danny Salazar, CLE (Fri. at KC); Jake Odorizzi, TB (Sat. vs. BOS); Tsuyoshi Wada, CHC, (Sat. at STL); John Lackey, STL, (Sun. vs. CHC); Matt Shoemaker, LAA, (Sun. vs. OAK)
Mark Teixeira, 1B, NYY, $4,000 – Teixeira has struggled since the All-Star break, and he now sports a reduced price with some excellent matchups coming up. A weekend series in Toronto brings not only a hitter-friendly ballpark, but also at-bats against Mark Buehrle (Fri.), Drew Hutchison (Sat.) and J.A. Happ (Sun.). The first two have been particularly awful over the last couple of months, with Buehrle’s unsustainable start perhaps masking just how hittable he is. It should be a fun weekend for the Bronx Bombers, and only Jacoby Ellsbury ($5,000) is truly expensive.
Daniel Murphy, 1B/2B, NYM, $3,800 – Murphy has yet to struggle for any extended period this season, and that includes the last few weeks. While the extra-base hits have dried up a bit, his .318/.344/.420 August slash line makes it hard to worry too much. He remains underpriced by at least a few hundred dollars, though his price tag has bounced back from a ridiculously low $3,500 earlier this week. With the Phillies headed to Queens, and Cole Hamels not scheduled to pitch, Murphy and teammate Lucas Duda ($4,700) should be in for a big weekend. Unlike Duda, Murphy isn’t at his highest price point of the season. What’s more, Murphy also makes for a solid play against Atlanta lefty Mike Minor on Thursday night.
Jose Altuve, 2B, HOU, $4,600 – The Astros are this weekend’s winner of the “getting to play the Rangers” sweepstakes, just as Altuve is bouncing back from a mini-slump. Already an affordable stacking option, the ‘Stros are especially enticing while Altuve’s price is down, and it helps that Chris Carter ($4,500) is red-hot. It shouldn’t be hard to surround the two big names with cheaper options, as Houston regularly starts the likes of 3B/SS Marwin Gonzalez ($3,000), 3B Matt Dominguez ($3,100), 1B/OF Marc Krauss ($3,000) and Jake Marisnick ($2,700). While none of those four is a good hitter, they all have decent power and are all reasonably priced. On any given night, at least two of them will be in the lineup. The Rangers, meanwhile, are engaged in a fierce battle with the Red Sox to see which team can sport the more incompetent righties-only rotation.
Jhonny Peralta, SS, STL, $4,000 – Not that it ever projected as a fruitful position, but shortstop has been even tougher than expected over the last few weeks, with the productive players (ie: Danny Santana, Jose Reyes, Brian Dozier) carrying lofty price tags, and pretty much everyone else just incapable of hitting. Unless Alexei Ramirez ($4,100) and the White Sox are facing a lefty, it’s often hard to find an option you can feel good about. In comes Peralta, owner of a .266/.339/.455 slash line, as the Cardinals are set to begin a three-game series against the Cubs on Friday. The price is quite reasonable, and Peralta will face weak lefties both Saturday night (Felix Doubront) and Sunday (Travis Wood). The other matchups are also just fine, with Kyle Hendricks pitching on Friday, and Tsuyoshi Wada on Saturday afternoon.
Adam Eaton, OF, CHW, $3,800 – While the recent disabled-list discount won’t last for long, Eaton will still be a worthwhile play once his price jumps back above $4,000. He’s looked just fine in his first two games back, going 3-for-8 with a double, a triple and three runs. Other than Saturday afternoon’s contest against Max Scherzer, the White Sox’s upcoming schedule is full of mediocre (or worse) righties. Not that Eaton minds facing lefties, but it’s always nice to have the handedness advantage. I will say that he’s better used in 50/50s than GPPs, as is the case for most players that depend upon singles, doubles, runs and RBI for value.
Matt Joyce OF, TB, $3500 – As previously mentioned, the Red Sox employ an all-righty rotation that lacks anything close to an ace. Joyce has long been an excellent play nearly anytime the Rays face a lousy right-hander, and the upcoming schedule has nothing else. Before heading home to face the Red Sox, Joyce and the Rays draw Bud Norris at Camden Yards on Thursday. While many of his teammates are priced a bit too high for my liking, Joyce remains a more than reasonable option.
Other intriguing options:
Buster Posey, SF, C, $4,700; Devin Mesoraco, C, CIN, $3,800; Travis d’Arnaud, C, NYM, $3,100; Yasmani Grandal, C, SD, $2,900
Jose Abreu, 1B, CHW, $5,700; Freddie Freeman, 1B, ATL, $4,800; Chris Carter, 1B, HOU, $4,500; Marc Krauss, 1B/OF, HOU, $3,000
Marin Prado, 2B/3B, NYY, $4,300; Neil Walker, 2B/3B, PIT, $4,000; Skip Schumaker, 2B/OF, CIN, $2,600
Evan Longoria, 3B, TB, $4,800; Adrian Beltre, 3B, TEX, $4,500; Yangervis Solarte, 2B/3B, SD, $3,300
Marwin Gonzalez, 3B/SS, HOU, $3,000; Matt Duffy, SS, SF, $1,900
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, NYY, $5,000 Jose Bautista, OF, TOR, $4,900; Dexter Fowler, OF, HOU, $4,400; Mark Trumbo, OF, AZ, $4,000; Angel Pagan, OF, SF, $3,900; Seth Smith, OF, SD, $3,800; Carlos Beltran, OF, NYY, $3,800; Leonys Martin, OF, TEX, $3,500; Chris Coghlan, OF, CHC, $3,300; Jorge Soler, OF, CHC, $3,100; Daniel Nava, OF, BOS, $3,000; Travis Snider, OF, PIT, $2,900; Jim Adduci, OF, TEX, $2,300; Mike Carp, 1B/OF, TEX, $2,200.