There is only one afternoon game on Friday, which means you won’t get to use any Cardinals or Cubs unless you enter an “All Day” contest. Here are some players from the evening contests for you to consider, at every position and price range. Good luck.
Zach Greinke @ PIT ($12,300) – The fact is, Greinke, Chris Sale and Scherzer are all good options tonight. They all have favorable matchups, and could turn in masterful performances. The fact that they are all possibilities might mean you should really consider it – you could end up pretty far behind a whole bunch of your competition if you don’t. And for me, if you do, Greinke is the guy. As much as the Pirates have some great individual performers, they also have a K% of almost 22% and if he gets some run support, Greinke could definitely reach the higher end of his upside.
Masahiro Tanaka @ NYM ($10,800) – Coming off two phenomenal performances, against a, frankly, terrible lineup, in a road game that’s really only kinda-sorta a road game. I like it.
Andrew Heaney @ MIN ($7,400) – He has fifteen starts on the year, and only a few of them have been bad, and usually against good offenses, which the Twins are not. The 23% strikeout rate for the Twins and Pelfrey on the mound opposite giving him a good chance at a win means you might see Heaney’s upside in this one, which could net you 20+ fantasy points.
Williams Perez vs. PHI ($4,000) – Less than two weeks ago, he went seven innings with seven strikeouts and only two earned runs against these Phillies. It was a performance good for 25 fantasy points. The Phillies have since proceeded to make every single pitcher from then until now look good against them. He could definitely do it again, while saving you some serious cap space.
Buster Posey vs. De La Rosa ($4,500) – Posey is always a stud, and a consideration, so when you see him facing a pitcher he’s done well against, even in a small sample size, it becomes hard to pass him up (unless you like one of the cheaper options a lot, which I happen to tonight). He only has six at-bats against De La Rosa, but he was able to turn them into four hits, including a home run.
J.P. Arencibia vs. Wilson ($4,200) – As of about a month ago, I’d venture a guess and say there’s a solid chance you’d never heard of him. Well, don’t worry, almost no one had. But he has now been behind the plate for the O’s for 17 games, and it’s been hard not to notice. With a .364/.370/.733 slash line to go along with five home runs, it’s a wonder he doesn’t cost more.
A.J. Pierzynski vs. Morgan ($3,400) – Look, I don’t understand what’s happening any more than you do, but the proof is in the pudding. The chickens have come home to roost. A bird in the hand is worth… something. His upside is limited, sure, but for this price, he has been consistently giving you 5-8 points all year long.
Salvador Perez @ Verlander ($3,300) – You have to love it when a player who has a good history against a pitcher he’s facing also happens to be on a little hot streak right now – it makes for an easy lineup choice. And Perez has hit safely in six straight (nine hits over that span) with a great track record over the years against Verlander: 20-for-41 (.488) with seven doubles and a pair of home runs.
Edwin Encarnacion vs. Porcello ($5,000) – The problem with the Blue Jays is that they’re all so good you can’t afford them all. One of the critical decisions you’re going to have to make tonight is “which Blue Jays do I want to start against Porcello?” Apologies to him in advance, because there are going to be recommended options facing him at virtually every position, starting here: Encarnation has a .391 average with five extra base hits in 23 at-bats against Porcello for his career.
Prince Fielder vs. Paxton ($4,600) – I never really need a good reason to start Fielder. But here are two anyway: 11.5 fantasy ppg over his last ten, and four hits (including two doubles) in just five at-bats against Paxton.
Greg Bird @ Matz ($4,000) – He is up to seven home runs in only 29 games played, including three in the past week. This is also only Matz’ fourth start, and while he’s been good, it’s tough to know how he’ll respond in this matchup. And he is a fly-ball pitcher, having given up four home runs already on the year, so the potential is there for one useful blast even if it is a low-scoring game.
Justin Smoak vs. Porcello ($2,600) – Yes, the matchup is so good you can start two Blue Jays first basemen! Smoke has been getting the DH at-bats, and making the most out of them when he sees Porcello, that’s for sure. He has five hits in thirteen at bats in the matchup, which is impressive. But not as impressive as the fact that three of those five were home runs.
Dustin Pedroia @ Stroman ($4,200) – He is 4-for-7 against Stroman in the past, which is clearly a small sample size. But it is evidence enough that if anyone is going to fight back against the Toronto offense in this one, the spark plug second baseman is probably going to need to lead the way. He is dangerous as the kind of top-of-the-order hitter equally capable of scoring or driving in runs to provide you with fantasy value.
Dee Gordon @ Scherzer ($4,200) – Some players, no matter how good they are, eventually it gets boring just recommending them over and over. But for me, that’s just not happening with Gordon. He is as consistent as they come, and his speed is a weapon just as deadly (and providing just as much fantasy upside) as any slugger’s power. He has hit over .300 with a couple of extra-base hits in 20+ at-bats against Scherzer, and in just his last four games, he has ten hits (including a home run and a double), four RBI, five runs scored and a pair of steals.
Robinson Cano @ Gallardo ($3,800) – The power has returned in the second half, as he now has 10 home runs and 35 RBI since the All-Star break, so the upside you remember from his more dominant years is not altogether gone. It doesn’t show up quite as often anymore, but this could be a game where the Seattle offense in general bests it’s averages, and Cano could benefit from having some more base-runners than usual on around him.
Martin Prado @ Scherzer ($2,900) – He’s really playing 3B for the Marlins right now, out there at the same time as Gordon. And, I know, the odds are against hime going deep three nights in a row. But one in each of the last two nights tells me he is swinging the bat well right now, and in this matchup he could be a nice contrarian play for you, coming in at probably less than 1% owned. He is 9-for-19 lifetime against Scherzer (.474) with two doubles and a home run, so crazier things have happened.
D.J. LeMahieu vs. Ian Kennedy ($4,200) – When the Rockies are home, you basically have to expect at least one of them to show up here. The home-park advantage is built into their price, so you might as well use them when their value is highest. And for LeMahieu, that might be tonight, facing a pitcher he has dominated in the past, hitting .400 with six extra-base hits in 25 career at-bats.
Adrien Beltre vs. Paxton ($4,000) – He is averaging over 10 fantasy points per game over the past two weeks, hitting for average and power at a much better clip than he was earlier in the season. He also has three hits in just six tries against Paxton when he’s had the chance to see him – no reason to expect either of those streaks of success to end tonight.
Xander Bogaerts @ Stroman ($3,900) – Someone is going to have to do something for the Red Sox tonight, or this one could get ugly, and there really is no better candidate. I feel like he has been a solid value play for months now, and I keep expecting to see his price tag rise more than it has. This guy is slashing .345/.372/.419 since the break, and so far in September, he’s been even better, at .375/.417/.500. For under $4K, every night? It’s hard to pass up.
Brett Lawrie @ Fiers ($3,100) – It’s never easy to find these cheap infielders and actually be confident in them heading into the evening’s slate. So it helps when you find a guy who has been consistently averaging just about seven fantasy ppg all season long. Coming off a 3-for-4 performance (including a double), he is drawing a pitcher he’s done well against in two appearances (3-for-5 with a walk, a double and a triple in six total plate appearances).
Jose Reyes vs. Kennedy ($4,200) – Of course, you sort of just always want Correa in your lineup, but his production has dropped off in relation to players at his price point playing different positions, which can leave you vulnerable in any kind of contest. It’s all about resource allocation, after all, and $4,200 represents enough of a savings that Reyes’ production starts to look mighty appetizing. He has been consistently giving you seven points a night for a while now, with 12-15 point upside. It’s not elite, but it’s usable.
Brandon Crawford vs. De La Rosa ($3,700) – He has missed some time with a calf muscle, but he has been almost ready to come back for a few days now. He almost played Wednesday, but with the off day yesterday, there was no rush. Especially when you could wait and bring him back with a great chance to succeed and start off this stretch run right. In De La Rosa, he would be getting a pitcher he has owned in the past, with a .417 average and two home runs in just twelve at-bats. Check to see if he’s active, but if that calf is sufficiently healed, I would expect to see him out there.
Marwin Gonzalez vs. Doubront ($3,000) – Back in the lineup after a couple of days off with a minor finger injury, he has performed well against Doubront in the past, in a very limited sample, going 4-for-6 with two doubles. You know he’ll want to build on that history to start this stretch run off on the right track.
Cliff Pennington vs. Porcello ($2,000) – If there is a high scoring game, everyone benefits, and Pennington has a .400 OBP against Porcello in 15 plate appearances, so he could give himself plenty of opportunities to be involved. He’s been playing pretty much every day, and he has now homered twice in the past week. That’s cheap upside.
Nelson Cruz @ Gallardo ($5,300) – When you go looking for values and hunting out the cheapest pitchers, it’s so you can afford plays like this. With 42 home runs on the season, the upside is obvious, and in this particular matchup, you really have reason to be confident. Even if Cruz and Gallardo have a relatively short history against one another, that history is compelling: 6-for-8 with two home runs. Yes, please.
Jose Bautista vs. Porcello ($5,200) – He is one of about ten Blue Jays it seems like averaging double digits in fantasy points over the past couple of weeks. You know why that is? Because they have been scoring a lot of runs. Pretty simple. I, in case you haven’t noticed, expect that trend to continue. Another Blue Jay who has owned this matchup in the past, he is hitting .400 with a home run in 25 at-bats against this particular starter. Like pretty much everyone else.
Ben Revere vs. Porcello ($4,100) – Not only is he hitting in an offense with seemingly unlimited upside lately, even if he is the 27th Blue Jay on this list, the potential is there. He is hitting .352 and averaging over 11 fantasy points per game over the last week and a half, and he’s also hitting .346 and slugging .423 head-to-head against Porcello in 26 at-bats. And you’re not breaking the bank.
Mark Trumbo @ Gallardo ($3,900) – He is hitting .256 for the year, but .274 since the All-Star break, so at this point, that .270+ hitter is really who you should be expecting. In short, he’s been swinging the bat well for a while, and tonight he gets a pitcher against whom he has a hit in exactly half of his (albeit limited number of) at-bats.
Colby Rasmus vs. Doubront ($3,700) – Even with his .235 average, he is hitting with just enough power (22 doubles and 19 home runs) to return value at this price. And with a .412 batting average in seventeen at bats that includes a home run, two doubles and two triples, this is a matchup I might like to use him in, even in a smaller contest, because I wouldn’t be so scared off by his typical inconsistency.
Alex Rios @ Verlander ($3,000) – With a .370/.420/.573 slash line against Verlander in 50 career plate appearances, as well as 10 straight days of getting on base safely since he returned from injury, he should be one of the Royals you trust the most in tonight’s contests.
Tyler Collins vs. Cueto ($2,700) – He doesn’t play every single day, but I’d be surprised if he wasn’t out there tonight. Obviously Cueto is a quality pitcher, and the Tigers will be looking to take every advantage they can find, and for whatever reason, Collins has had decent success against him in limited exposure. In just ten at-bats, he has three hits (.300), but notably, all three of those hits were doubles. Clearly he is making solid contact. He is also slashing .351/.415/.541 so far in 37 September at-bats, so there hasn’t been a better time this season to trust him.