With DraftKings’ acquisition of DraftStreet, I will now be using that site’s dollar values to select my players of the day.
1. Zack Wheeler ($8,700 NYM at ATL)
Wheeler has had an incredible second half and his price now reflects that, but it hasn’t risen so high that he’s no longer valuable. Even though the Nats popped him for six earned in just four innings his last time out, he still has a 3.14 ERA in his 11 second-half starts. He also has 68 strikeouts in the 66 innings of work, though an elevated walk rate (3.8 BB/9) leaves him with a solid, but unspectacular 2.4 K:BB ratio. It’s still an improvement from his 2.2 mark in 19 starts before the break.
After dominating them last year (2.89 ERA in three starts), he’s been a bit less consistent against the Braves this year with a 3.70 ERA in four starts. Even smashing the sample together leaves us with just seven games to look at, but regardless of his previous work against them, this Braves team is one to be picked on right now given how badly they have struggled down the stretch. There’s still risk with Wheeler, particularly at an upper-tier price, but the upside is too high to ignore. The Braves have baseball’s worst OPS against righties over the last calendar month at just .600. It isn’t much better for the season at large, as they sit 29th with a .657 mark.
2. Jose Quintana ($7,700 CWS at TB)
Quintana has unquestionably had a fantastic season thus far, once again improving his ERA, K/9, and K:BB, something he’s done in each of the last two years after a solid rookie season that came out of nowhere. Playing for a perennial loser has really depressed his W-L record which can hurt on the daily landscape, but it also holds his price down which is definitely a positive. He has shown his upside throughout the season with several big outings, but it was his start that really delivered for those who used him. Seven huge innings against Minnesota during which he allowed just one run on five base runners with 13(!) strikeouts netted his daily users 40.8 points! That’s even better than the 40.4 that Corey Kluber dropped on the Astros earlier this week, but not quite as good as the completely ridiculous (in a good way) 54.1 that Jake Arrieta put up against the Reds on the same night as Kluber’s gem. Q has some duds on his record this year, but he has a really high floor with a quality start in two-thirds of his 30 outings.
3. Kevin Gausman ($7,100 BAL v. BOS)
Gausman was a favorite of mine coming into the season and he’s undoubtedly had a solid season for the Orioles, but he hasn’t made a huge impact on the fantasy landscape just yet. His biggest impact has come in September as he’s been great in three starts so far this month with a 2.53 ERA in 21 1/3 innings with 21 strikeouts and a 2.6 K:BB ratio. At his price, those are really useful starts. In fact, he’s averaging 21 points per game during the run with a low of 18.3 and a high of 24.4 (in his latest outing). His price has only risen slightly in the midst of this run, going from $6,700 on September 1st, to the $7,100 that we’re paying today. He’s only seen the division-rival Red Sox once this year, but he was good against them despite just 5 1/3 innings of work. He allowed one run on six baserunners with seven strikeouts.
1. A.J. Pollock ($4,900 ARI at COL)
Pollock was in the midst of a breakout season when a broken hand put him on the shelf for three months. He was pacing toward a 20-20 campaign with a better-than-.300 average when he went down. He was also on pace for 50 doubles and 13 triples, so I’m guessing that he would’ve come down from those incredible rates, but he was still looking like a late-round sleeper who was set to pay off in a big way. He has wasted little time showing that his first two months were no fluke. He hasn’t been quite as good since returning, but no one is complaining about a .294 AVG with five extra-base hits (one HR), eight RBI, nine runs scored, and four stolen bases in just 55 PA so far. A do-everything kind of outfielder like this is pure gold, especially at a sub-$5,000 price tag AND in Coors Field against Jordan Lyles (5.02 ERA in nine home starts). We’re not done with Coors, but let’s first look at my favorite value play of the day.
2. Jimmy Paredes ($3,800 BAL v. BOS)
Hey, Allen Webster, do you even strike people out, bro? No. The answer is definitely no. Webster’s 5.4 K/9 is made worse by his horrific 5.1 BB/9, which gives him a robust* 1.1 K:BB ratio in 46 1/3 innings this year. Meanwhile, the Orioles have found their latest random journeyman who explodes once with them. Paredes has been an Oriole for a whopping 11 games, but he’s done more than he had in 72 games over the previous two seasons. He’s hitting .400 with a 1.118 OPS that includes two homers and eight RBIs. He had just one homer in those 72 games from 2012-2013 with 13 RBI. He has also stolen a couple of bases with Baltimore. He’s going to come down from this incredible run, but I like him as a low-dollar option who can fill one of two positions (3B or OF) to round out your lineup.
*not robust at all… un-robust, in fact. Or simply busted.
3. Corey Dickerson ($4,500 COL v. ARI)
I realize the bulk of it has come in Coors Field, but Dickerson’s breakout season just isn’t getting enough love. He has just been absurd this year, particularly at home and against righties. Okay, it’s actually just at home. He has a .965 OPS against righties and .786 against lefties, but those are at 1.161 and .897 at home and they fall to .741 and .661 on the road. Frankly, we needn’t care about his ineffectiveness on the road because we can choose to simply avoid using him in those situations. Chase Anderson’s home run issues make him extremely susceptible to trouble at Coors. He survived with a six-inning, one-run (although the one run was a homer) effort in Coors earlier this summer, but I’m doubtful that he can repeat that performance.
4. Michael Cuddyer ($4,500 COL v. ARI)
I’m looking to double up on Rockies because I’d like to squeeze a right-hander in there. Anderson has a reverse platoon split (though I obviously still think Dickerson can overcome that) with an .831 OPS against righties compared to .683 against southpaws. Of course we’d prefer to use Cuddyer against lefties as he’s amassed a tremendous 1.299 OPS against them, albeit in just 47 PA as he’s missed a ton of time to injury, but he’s no slouch against righties with an .803 OPS overall, which jumps to 1.065 at home. Though he’s played just 42 games, he’s picked up right where his tremendous 2013 has left off. He has posted a .968 OPS at home in three years with Colorado, including a .956 against righties. On a more micro level, he has hits in five straight including a pair of three-hit games and six runs scored.
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