Remember when Jon Lester wasn't mowing down offenses every fifth day?
Since that ugly three-game start in which he went 1-2 with a 6.89 ERA, the Cubs' $155 million ace has strung together five consecutive quality starts (4-0 with a 2.18 ERA). Friday night's start against the Diamondbacks will be just his third road start of the year, but in his two other trips to the hill away from Wrigley Field he's allowed just four earned runs in 13 innings. And still, five starters cost more than Lester heading into tonight's action. Yes, they're all aces with solid matchups, but Lester gives you excellent value for how he's pitching; yes, the Diamondbacks have scored the second most runs in the National League, but I'll take Lester, especially when considering most of the hitters in Arizona's lineup have little to no experience against the southpaw.
Ride the hot (and relatively) cheap hand and go with Lester.
[SHOP: Buy a Jon Lester jersey]
Here's some more advice to get you ready to earn cold hard cash for the weekend.
I'm riding the hot hand of Lester, and I'm going to pair him up with David Ross, too. Jose Abreu has hits in his last three games and is really starting to see the ball well, and he's still relatively cheap at $3,500. A-Rod can't seem to get that average up but I think he'll find Yankee Stadium much more fun to hit in following a nine-game road trip. As always I've got my speed going in the outfield, with Carlos Gomez earning my weekly Russell Westbrook Honors. The only thing going right for the Brewers, Gomez is 6-for-16 in his last four games, and has steals in two of his last three games. A guy like that could explode at a moment's notice...maybe it happens tonight in Atlanta.
John "The Professor" Paschall
Pineda has been a strikeout machine lately and is facing a Rangers' team that is only hitting .237 this year. Gonzalez has been hitting well against both righties and lefties this year but he's had much better power numbers against righties, making him a nice play tonight against Cashner. Soler, Ramos and Cano are slight gambles but the matchups against the weaker starters in both opposing rotations makes me feel confident that both can at least pick up a hit this evening.
My intriguing play of the night is Tomas. He's been on fire lately since being called up, recording six (!!) mult-hit games in a row. Lester won't be an easy opposition but Tomas may be too hot to slow down right now. Get him in your lineup now while he's hot and cheap.
Jones is five for 11 in his career off Alvarez in his career and isn't that expensive tonight.
The foundation of my lineup today is the San Francisco Giants offense, going with Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Norichika Aoki and Hunter Pence. Their game features the highest over/under on the day at 10 runs, and after watching the Giants offense explode last weekend in Cincinnati, it will not be unexpected to the Giants put up big numbers at Coors’ Field. With so many “ace” starting pitchers going tonight, I wanted to pick someone who may have a lower level of ownership than the household names like Max Scherzer and Felix Hernandez. Gerrit Cole is one of the best young strikeout pitchers in baseball, and the Mets at Pirates game has the lowest over/under on the schedule today at 6.5 runs. The combination of strikeouts and the Mets’ offensive struggles give Cole the potential to be an elite starting pitcher today. To fill out my lineup I went with a couple of my favorite plays in daily fantasy baseball, Jimmy Paredes and Ender Inciarte. Paredes is a switch hitter who does almost all of his damage against right handed pitching, slugging .425 vs RHP, but only .250 vs LHP. Inciarcte is in one of my other favorite spots, at the top of a lineup facing Jon Lester. Lester’s problems are well known to Cubs’ fans, so if Inciarte is able to get on base, it should lead to stolen base opportunities.