Chris Sale (SP-BOS)
After tossing six scoreless innings on Friday, Sale has now allowed one total run in his last six starts! One. Run. Six. Starts. He struck out 10 batters in the win over Minnesota, his sixth double-digit K performance in his last seven outings. In other words, this guy is amazing. The clear frontrunner for the AL Cy Young, Sale is everything the Red Sox could ever have hoped for. In fact, he's better. Despite going to a tougher division, Sale's numbers with Boston are much better than they were in Chicago. He is second only to Max Scherzer in swinging strike rate but allows less contact than any pitcher in the majors. He's actually exhibiting his highest velocity since he was a reliever and that makes his devastating slider that much more nasty. He threw it 44% of the time on Friday: 77% of his sliders were strikes, inducing 10 swings and misses and no hits. He leads the AL in ERA, xFIP and strikeouts. The debate is only Sale v Scherzer. There is no other argument.
Francisco Lindor (SS-CLE)
Lindor hit a pair of home runs on Friday, upping his season total to 27. Who would have thought there would come a day when the Indians would have two of the top-five home run leaders in the American League, neither of which is Edwin Encarnacion. As July rolls to a close, Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez, both under 6'0" (hooray for small guys!), have a combined 57 dingers. Friday's long balls were Lindor's first in over two weeks, but he is still producing. Nobody was complaining about Lindor's 2017 numbers, yet he has bumped his batting average back up near .300 while actually improving his power. His swinging strike rate is up and his contact rate is down, but it doesn't really matter with a hard hit rate of 43%. Ultimately, he had some bad luck in 2017. His .273 average should have been higher, but things are more in line this year. The .277 ISO is legit and his near-.300 batting average is in line with his advanced metrics. He is being overshadowed by his teammate, but Lindor is a no-doubter for the 1st round in 2019 fantasy drafts.
Mallex Smith (OF-TB)
Smith reached base once in four trips to the plate on Friday, via a HBP. Unfortunately, he was promptly picked off, zapping any possibility of a stolen base, which is really what we're looking for. He only has three steals in July, despite hitting .391 during the month. In fact, he's been caught stealing eight times this year in 26 attempts. His wSB score on Fangraphs is 0.2. That's not even in the top-40 in the American League. Unless he contributes steals, and a lot of them, he holds such little value because he doesn't really do anything else. The Rays have never really gone all in on this guy, and you can see why. He doesn't do any one thing great. He has a lot of speed but isn't an elite base stealer. Drop him like he drops stolen base opportunities.
Eduardo Nunez (2B-BOS)
Nunez had his first multi-hit game in over two weeks, going 2-4 with a run scored on Friday. He has three runs and two RBIs in his last 11 games. Even more frustrating is his precipitous drop in steals. After swiping 64 bases in the previous two seasons, Nunez has only four thefts in 2018, and that's on a Red Sox team that ranks 3rd in all of baseball in stolen bases. After compiling a .341 OBP in 2017, Nunez is getting on base at a .276 clip in 2018. That is down to .246 in July. If he's not on base, he can't steal. Plus, his .103 ISO is the lowest of his career. It's a wonder why, at 31 years old, Nunez's plate discipline is worse than it's ever been. It's a wonder he's hitting the ball so weakly. It's a wonder the Red Sox haven't already acquired an infielder to replace him in the everyday lineup.
Luis Severino (SP-NYY); DraftKings: $12,200
Severino is coming off his worst start of the year, and hasn't gone more than five innings in his last three starts. Perhaps that's enough to get some owners off him on Saturday's slate. However, he was on the road for those three starts, and he's back home where he has a 1.64 ERA with 75 strikeouts in 65.2 innings. Furthermore, the Royals are the worst offense in baseball, made even less potent with the trade of Mike Moustakas. You can get Severino as the third-highest value on the board. He's my top play.
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