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Daily Games

MLB DFS Plays: Tuesday 5/4

by Brad Johnson
Updated On: May 4, 2021, 1:40 pm ET

This article outlines the best daily fantasy MLB plays of the day at every position. We take a comprehensive look to uncover these core recommendations, factoring respective salaries into the analysis.

Please note, these player picks were organized early in the day. For MLB contests, always check lineups and weather closer to game time. Rain, wind, or unexpected managerial decisions could open up additional sources of value. Be sure to keep an eye on the MLB Headlines and Injuries desk.

PITCHER

Top Play: Trevor Bauer – Dodgers (at Cubs)

The Dodgers and Cubs have a doubleheader, and the wind is blowing in at a leisurely seven mph. Bauer is of special interest on platforms that award bonuses for complete games and shutouts. He even has a decent shot to nab double-digit strikeouts.

Jacob deGrom would still be the top play if not for a 60 percent chance of light rain throughout the entire game. If any of that turns into a delay, it could set your investment sideways. Still, deGrom has broken all the major platform pricing models. On DraftKings for example, he costs $11,100 but should run closer to $14,000 (above their max).

Pivot: Adbert Alzolay – Cubs (vs Dodgers)

This is purely a GPP play. Everybody is going to be piled in on the Bauer side of this one. Alzolay has maxed out at six innings and 94 pitches in his most recent appearance. If he’s a touch more efficient, he has a chance to notch a complete game. He also records about a strikeout per inning. The matchup against the Dodgers clearly isn’t ideal. Because he’s both talented and affordable, this is still a neutral-value situation even before considering complete game potential.

As above, the Mets-Cards game offers a better value/pivot if it turns out to be drier than expected. Johan Oviedo is drawing rave reviews. He’s a mid-tier pitcher not unlike Alzolay or Huascar Ynoa with a price in the Michael Fulmer/Jorge Lopez range.

Also Consider: Jacob deGrom, Aaron Nola, Huascar Ynoa, Nick Pivetta, Mike Minor, Johan Oviedo

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CATCHER

Top Play: Salvador Perez – Royals (vs Sam Hentges)

We have very limited information about Hentges. He’s shown relief-caliber stuff in 5.2 innings including a 96-mph fastball and two breaking balls. This will be a very short start. While the back end of the Cleveland bullpen is imposing, much of the depth is targetable. There is potential for the Royals to run away with this game. Perez is a popular DFS pick for his ability to hit for average and power without drawing many walks.

Pivot: William Contreras – Braves (at Joe Ross)

The Braves have some catcher depth issues at the moment. Contreras has some modest ability to slug, although he’s not the same caliber of hitter as his brother Willson. He has a history of high line drive rates in the minors which can improve multi-hit potential. Opponents probably lack detailed scouting reports.

Also Consider: J.T. Realmuto, Sean Murphy, Kyle Higashioka

FIRST BASE

Top Play: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – Blue Jays (at Cole Irvin)

The Athletics latest pitching find is a classic soft-tossing, command-and-control southpaw with a five-pitch repertoire. Some tryhard DFSers might notice Guerrero’s reverse platoon splits and fade him. I can assure you, those small sample splits are pure noise. Our DFS Projections believe him to be the best first baseman in the slate.

Pivot: Alex Kirilloff – Twins (vs Kyle Gibson)

This ride is coming to a close. After a slow start, Kirilloff has scalded the ball. The glaring weakness in his approach is aggression, something Gibson has the experience to exploit. The Rangers starter is using a new cutter which has proven more effective than his changeup. We still should treat him as a mid-4s ERA pitcher. The Twins and Kirilloff in particular are well-suited to this matchup.

Also Consider: Freddie Freeman, Rhys Hoskins, Carlos Santana, Trey Mancini, Josh Bell

SECOND BASE

Top Play: Ozzie Albies – Braves (at Ross)

Albies is a very slightly better value than some of the other top second basemen. Since an icy start to the season, he has rebounded to his career norms. Ross makes for a volatile matchup – the right-hander has a habit of delivering extreme results. The Nationals bullpen is also prone to meltdowns, offering the Braves multiple opportunities to toss up crooked numbers. Albies has settled in as the cleanup hitter lately.

Pivot: Josh Harrison – Nationals (vs Ynoa)

Honestly, we’ve likely already witnessed the best Harrison has to offer. A supposed swing change could be behind his early season success, but I’m not seeing evidence of improvement in his peripherals. He hits far too many fly balls for someone with his total and utter lack of power. My theory is that he’s made an adjustment to go the other way with better efficacy (career high 37.7% Oppo%). If the old scouting report said he’d roll over on anything away (he would), then perhaps it’s time for opposing pitchers to bust him inside.

Also Consider: DJ LeMahieu, Whit Merrifield, Nick Solak, Marcus Semien, Jose Altuve, Brandon Lowe

THIRD BASE

Top Play: Jose Ramirez – Indians (at Mike Minor)

Minor has performed inconsistently. Home runs have been a particular weakness, one extending back for years and years. The Indians offense is top heavy, but the batters clustered around Ramirez are sufficiently talented to make a serious dent tonight. Kauffman Stadium is below average for power outcomes, especially when it’s chilly. It’ll be in the high-50s tonight.

Pivot: Starlin Castro – Nationals (vs Ynoa)

Contrary to indications, I have no desire to stack against Ynoa. The Braves righty is more likely to be a hero than a zero tonight, although he certainly has some meltdown characteristics. Nationals hitters just so happen to be very well-priced for their expected roles. Castro bounces between fourth and sixth in the order. He mostly makes ground ball contact. If he does happen to lift the ball, his exit velocities are sufficient for a surprise home run.

Also Consider: Alex Bregman, Manny Machado, Alec Bohm, Rafael Devers, Hunter Dozier

SHORTSTOP

Top Play: Trea Turner – Nationals (vs Ynoa)

Again, I like Ynoa tonight. I’ll strongly consider using him. However, Turner is flat mispriced on at least one major platform. In addition to the usual multi-hit potential with power, it’s quite possible the Nationals will seek to put additional pressure on the basepaths. Turner is positioned to fill up the boxscore tonight.

Pivot: Willy Adames – Rays (at Alex Cobb)

Adames is showing breakout traits in his peripherals even as his miserable .181/.214/.340 batting line leads to calls for Wander Franco. Adames is making sizzling quantities of hard and barreled contact, but they aren’t falling for hits or flying over walls. He’s turned into an extreme fly ball hitter which pairs well against Cobb.

Also Consider: Fernando Tatis Jr., Bo Bichette, Dansby Swanson, Xander Bogaerts

OUTFIELD

Top Plays: Ronald Acuna – Braves (at Ross)
Christian Yelich – Brewers (vs Nola)
Franmil Reyes – Indians (at Minor)

Acuna scarcely requires explanation. He is the top-projected hitter in the slate thanks to a friendly matchup. Yelich is a more difficult selection coming off an injury and set to face one of the aces of the slate. He was struggling with contact rate prior to his time on the shelf. I consider it a high risk, high reward play. When he’s right, he’s a top five outfielder against virtually any opponent. Reyes is the classic power-or-bust play. He’s nearly always one of the best shots for multiple home runs. Against a homer prone southpaw like Minor, he’s even more attractive.

Pivots: Austin Meadows - Rays (at Cobb)
Kyle Tucker – Astros (at Domingo German

Season-long fantasy managers are losing patience with Meadows, but I continue to target him in all formats. He’s adopted an extreme launch angle which puts him in that same all-or-nothing category as Reyes. Cobb is struggling to execute his pitches lately, although home runs have not been an issue for him. The Angels bullpen is thin. Tucker, like Meadows, is an underperforming, young player with scintillating upside. Presently, an improbable .179 BABIP is all that separates him from above average production. His fly ball and contact tendencies are ideally suited to Yankee Stadium.

Also Consider: Kirilloff, Byron Buxton, Nelson Cruz, Yordan Alvarez, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Mike Trout, Marcell Ozuna, Tommy Pham, Kevin Kiermaier, Victor Robles, Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler

Brad Johnson

You can read more from Brad Johnson on NBC Sports Edge, FanGraphs, and RotoFanatic. Find him on Patreon and Twitter @BaseballATeam.