This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
Note: Player prices are based on Friday's (Sept. 5th) games.
Here are some of the top plays on DraftKings for Friday night and the upcoming weekend….
Dan Haren, LAD (Fri. vs. ARI), $6600 – While his days as an above-average starting pitcher are presumably numbered, Haren has been a serviceable option for the Dodgers this season, with his success in April and August making up for an extended rough stretch from May through July. His issues with the long ball are both well documented and likely to continue, but he still has plenty of appeal against the punchless Arizona lineup at pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium. The Diamondbacks aren't all that prone to striking out, but they also lack the power bats to make Haren pay for his mistakes, which should allow the veteran to toss up six or seven decent innings. Though there isn't a ton of upside here, Haren is very cheap, and will likely find his way to 12-20 DraftKings points.
Alex Wood, ATL (Sat. vs. MIA), $9200 – Wood put up 43 points on DraftKings in his last start, which was a zero-run, 12-strikeout gem against these very same Marlins. He also still carries a mid-range price tag, as about half of the appearances in his young career have come from the bullpen. Oddly enough, Wood has been much better as a starter this season, holding his opponents to a gruesome .233/.285/.349 slash line, compared to .302/.362/.444 out of the bullpen. His 2.92 ERA is backed up a 3.29 FIP, 3.19 SIERA and 142:38 K:BB over 145 innings. The strikeouts aren't even inflated by his time in the bullpen, as Wood owns a 123:32 K:BB in his 129.2 innings as a starter. And, while I'm not a huge fan of relying on BvP numbers, it's rather striking that Wood owns a 29:1 K:BB against players currently on the Miami roster. Also encouraging is his lack of notable handedness splits, as the Marlins figure to trot out a righty-heavy lineup. Wood has held right-handed batters to a .236/.287/.360 slash line this year, backing it up with a 101:27 K:BB.
Jason Hammel, OAK, (Sun. vs. HOU) – A disaster in his first four starts with his new team, Hammel has been excellent since the end of July, allowing either one or zero runs in four of his last five outings. With his second "breakout" season in three years back on track, the 32-year-old righty should make for a strong, cheap option in his next few starts. He cost just $7600 last time out, and while an increase may be coming, it probably won't put him over $8000. A home outing against the strikeout-prone Astros is about all you can ask for, and it doesn't hurt that Hammel held the same team to one run over seven innings less than two weeks ago. He was excellent in that start, striking out six while allowing just three hits and a walk.
Felix Hernandez, SEA (Mon. vs. HOU) – With his price well over $12,000 for much of the season, Hernandez has typically been the second-most expensive hurler, behind only the incomparable Clayton Kershaw. Well, Hernandez was all the way down to $11,000 for his last start, albeit with the caveat that he hasn't gotten his usual results the last few weeks. He does seem to suffer through a couple of these mediocre stretches each season, and while the latest run has coincided with some tricky matchups, there's no real reason to think the King will fall from his throne. While he only notched four strikeouts, Hernandez did hold the A's to one run over eight innings last time out, providing some encouragement that he'll get back on track. A matchup against the Astros should provide as good a chance as any for Hernandez to record his first double-digit strikeout game since July 25. There's no reason to pass on him at this price, especially when he can be paired with a dirt-cheap Marcus Stroman, who looked rejuvenated in his last two starts.
Other intriguing options:Stephen Strasburg, WAS (Fri. vs. PHI), $11,100; Jeff Samardzija, OAK (Fri. vs. HOU), $9600; Matt Shoemaker, LAA (Fri. at MIN), $9000; Johnny Cueto, CIN (Sat. vs. NYM), $11,200; Zack Greinke, LAD (Sat. vs. ARI), $10,900; Tanner Roark, WAS (Sat. vs. PHI), $8600; Hyun-Jin Ryu, LAD (Sun. vs. ARI); Carlos Carrasco, CLE (Sun. vs. CHW); Marcus Stroman, TOR (Mon. vs. CHC)
Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, TOR, $4600 – Encarnacion gets to spend his weekend at Fenway Park, which means he'll face lousy pitching at a hitter-friendly venue. His poor performance since returning from the DL in mid-August has led to a reduced price, but we know it's only a matter of time before the slugger heats up again, as he hasn't shown any lingering signs of injury. He also hasn't been striking out, as he owns an 8:9 K:BB over 63 at-bats since returning from the DL. What's more, Encarnacion has two homers in his last four games, hinting that a return to form is near.
Jedd Gyorko, 2B/3B, SD, $3000 – Gyorko will spend the weekend at Coors Field, where the Padres are scheduled to face three lefties over the next three days. If there were any team that could fail to take advantage of such an excellent hitting matchup, it would be these Padres. Still, while he's having an awful season in an awful lineup, Gyorko offers some pop from the middle infield, and his price is reflective of his struggles. As a likely No. 3 hitter with the platoon advantage at Coors Field, Gyorko is a fantastic option at $3000, .574 OPS and all.
Ryan Rua, 1B/SS, TEX, $2200 – Rua has consistently hit fifth for the Rangers since he was called up last week. While not an elite prospect by any means, he's quickly risen through the minors, finding success at both the Double-A and Triple-A levels this season, after belting 29 homers for Low-A Hickory last year. In his most recent stop at Triple-A Round Rock, the 24-year-old Rua posted a .313/.382/.505 slash line over 241 plate appearances, with eight home runs, an 8.7-percent walk rate and 17.4-percent strikeout rate. His shortstop eligibility probably won't last long, but it makes him all the more attractive for the time being.
Jordy Mercer, SS, PIT, $3100 – Mercer all but disappeared from the daily-fantasy grid the past few weeks, as it's been a while since the Pirates faced a lefty. With the team scheduled to face southpaws both Saturday and Sunday, the lefty-mashing shortstop should be back with a fury. As expected, he hit second in the lineup Friday afternoon, with the Cubs tossing the first of three lefties this weekend. Mercer is perhaps the best example of a player that offers excellent value in nearly any opposite-hand matchup, as he's far better against lefties and typically bats second against them, as opposed to seventh or eighth against right-handers.
Yasiel Puig, OF, LAD, $4200 – This is too cheap for Puig! Yes, he's been awful the past few weeks, but we're still talking about a guy with a .296/.381/.483 slash line, just one year removed from a .319/.391/.534 rookie showing. The cold streak might outweigh the price if he had tough matchups coming up, but Puig will spend his weekend teeing off against the lousy Arizona pitching staff. Just make sure that he's in the lineup, and not batting sixth or seventh, as the Dodgers continue to do unnecessary tinkering.
Melky Cabrera OF, TOR, $4200 – Another dangerous, slumping outfielder, Cabrera doesn't quite elicit the same emotions as Puig, but the two are actually pretty similar as hitters, at least in terms of results. Cabrera's slump hasn't been as egregious, but it is pretty odd that he hasn't walked since drawing five on Aug. 10. Whatever the cause of his walk-less semi-slump, I'm betting that Cabrera breaks out of it this weekend against the horrid Boston pitching staff. This should be a fruitful road trip for all the Jays, including a red-hot Jose Bautista ($5600), who admittedly doesn't come cheap.
Other intriguing options:
Jose Bautista, OF, TOR, $5600 Andrew McCutchen, OF, PIT, $4900; Lucas Duda, 1B/OF, NYM, $4200; Kole Calhoun, OF, LAA, $4000; Bryce Harper, OF, WAS, $4000; Matt Joyce, OF, TB, $3200; Rymer Liriano, OF, SD, $2600