With DraftKings’ acquisition of DraftStreet, I will now be using that site’s dollar values to select my players of the day.
1. Gerrit Cole ($9,400 PIT v. CHC)
Cole’s skills returned immediately after his month-and-a-half on the DL, as he’s fanned 27 batters in his 25 1/3 innings since coming off along with a 3.4 K:BB ratio. His ERA is 4.26, but that’s marred by five runs in 6 1/3 innings against St. Louis. His other three games have all been quality starts. He hasn’t quite dominated the Cubs like you might hope this year; in fact, he has a pair of six-inning outings in which he allowed four runs, but only three were earned. He has fanned 18 Cubs this year, though, including eight just five days ago. On a full slate like today’s, Cole might not be that popular of a pick, though his opponent and recent performance will earn him some attention.
2. Gio Gonzalez ($8,700 WAS at NYM)
Gonzalez hasn’t been the stud of recent years in 2014, but he’s hardly been bad. He’s toting an upper-3.00s ERA, but he’s still missing a ton of bats and his 1.26 WHIP is palatable. The strikeouts as a constant keep his value relatively high on the daily landscape because he can still score pretty well even with a baseline quality start. The Mets have been brutal against lefties this year, though Gonzalez hasn’t taken full advantage. Their .648 OPS is second-worst in baseball (Padres, .596) and while they have hung a 6.00 ERA on him in three starts this year, I’m confident that he can handle them this time around. He does have a 9.6 K/9 and 3.2 K:BB ratio in those three starts.
3. Vidal Nuno ($6,800 ARI v. SD)
Nuno has quietly been really solid for the D’backs since being traded for Brandon McCarthy. He has a 3.16 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and 3.9 K:BB ratio in 68 1/3 innings over his 11 starts. He’s been positively excellent in his last five with a 2.31 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, and 4.8 K:BB ratio. He’s gone at least seven innings in four of those five starts, including 7 1/3 against the Padres on August 23. I’ve been impressed with his uptick in strikeouts, too. He hadn’t topped six with the Yankees, but he has three outings with seven with Arizona. This is a great value play for your SP2, especially if you want to spend big on your SP1. In addition to Cole, there are six others who sit north of $9,000 with four of those at $10,300 or higher.
1. Alex Gordon ($4,600 KC v. BOS)
We are going to pick on Allen Webster a bit tonight with a guy from each side of the plate, as he’s struggled to consistently get outs. Webster has walked 17.5 percent of the lefties he has faced this year and 15.9 percent over his career (though that’s just 176 BF). Gordon hasn’t smashed righties like he did back in 2011-2012 (.905 OPS), but he has greatly improved from a horrific 2013 (.683) against them with a .787 in 408 PA. Gordon is currently ice cold (.494 OPS in 10 Sept. games) after a huge August, but this is the kind of matchup that can pull him out of it. Plus the lack of control by Webster means Gordon could score nicely without even getting a hit. Meanwhile, his lack of a platoon issue means you don’t have to worry about him being neutralized by lefty relievers later in the game.
2. Salvador Perez ($3,500 KC v. BOS)
Perez has also been chilly in September with a .590 OPS. His highs haven’t been as good as Gordon’s, but Perez also comes at a much better price. Perez has had a weird reverse split this year, doing his best work against righties (.729) while flailing against lefties to the tune of a .613 OPS. Webster was great in his small sample against righties last year, but he’s been horrible in a small sample against them this year.
3. Edwin Encarnacion ($4,900 TOR v. TB)
We are picking on an even more inexperienced pitcher with these next two hitters as the Rays will tab Nate Karns to make his 2014 in Toronto. Although you will have to choose one over the other because they are at the same position on DraftKings. Encarnacion’s power was absent in August as he amassed a .581 OPS in just 14 games, but he’s looked more like the Encarnacion of old early in September (.861). As with many Toronto hitters, Encarnacion’s best work is done at home where he has a .979 OPS in 237 PA with 16 of his 30 homers (not that his .851 on the road is anything close to bad). EE has just two scoreless games in his last 10 with double-digit totals in five of them.
4. Adam Lind ($3,700 TOR v. TB)
Consider Lind your budget-friendly backup to Encarnacion. If you go with Cole, Gonzalez, Gordon, Perez, and Lind to start your lineup, you still have over $4,000 per spot for your remaining five spots. But it drops to $3,780 with Encarnacion, so if you have some budget bats you like, you can stick with the latter. Lind isn’t a bad consolation prize, though. We are catching Lind in the midst of an upswing after essentially two dead months. He missed most of July and August to injury, but he wasn’t really that good in the 20 games he did get to play with a .635 OPS and zero homers. Lind hasn’t wasted any time in September, though. He has four multi-hit games in the month and at least one hit in four straight. The power is still on the fritz a bit as he now hasn’t homered since June 23 (114 PA), but a couple of base hits with a run or two driven in will be plenty sufficient at this price point.
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