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MLB DFS Plays: Saturday 4/9

Freddie Freeman

Freddie Freeman

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Johnson finds the best MLB DFS Plays for Saturday, April 9.

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.

It’s a fractured day for DFS slates. I’ve opted for focus on the five-game evening slate as it would have dominated the analysis anyway.


Top Play: Justin Verlander - Astros (at Los Angeles Angels)

The reports I’ve received place Verlander in top form. I’ve not received any confirmatory data, though I’m moving ahead with the expectation for typical results versus the Angels. We obviously have to be mindful of a shortened start – something which afflicts all starting pitchers thanks to the quick ramp-up to the season. Verlander is a solid bet to lead this modest-sized slate in strikeouts.

Pivot: Joan Adon - Nationals (vs New York Mets)

Conditions in D.C. are cold and damp this evening. It sure ain’t hitting weather! Adon is a hard-thrower with an effectively two-pitch repertoire (he rarely uses his changeup), suspect command, and limited upper-minors experience. Most teams would view him as a reliever, but the Nationals need to make use of his youthful endurance to get through the season. He’s shown an ability to induce whiffs and could offer upwards of six strikeouts in four innings for a minimum price tag on DraftKings. He almost certainly won’t lead the slate, but he looks like a perfectly tolerable value play.

Also Consider: Joe Musgrove, Chris Bassitt


Top Play: Will Smith – Dodgers (at German Marquez)

Smith is going to be very popular tonight. Not only is he the best available catcher by a wide margin, he’s only slightly more expensive than his fellows. It’s almost as if the platforms forgot to add the Coors Field penalty. Marquez tends to work down in the zone with a bad fastball. Smith likes to mash fastballs and breaking balls on the inner-half. His swing is geared for lift and hard contact – perfect for slugging at Coors.

If Austin Barnes happens to start, he’s an excellent value play.

Pivot: Elias Diaz – Rockies (vs Tony Gonsolin)

Every time a Coors Field game is in the slate, we see countless recommendations for the visiting team. We actually have a ton of data showing the home team benefits more from these contests. Case in point, the Rockies – with their demonstrably below average lineup - were on par with the Astros and Blue Jays in wOBA when playing at Coors Field last season. Diaz is a roughly league average hitter with just enough lift and pop to offer considerable upside on his reasonable price tag. Flashier names at the same price point should prevent Diaz from being over-rostered.

Also Consider: Travis d’Arnau, Daulton Varsho, Tyler Stephenson, Austin Nola, Jorge Alfaro


Top Play: Freddie Freeman – Dodgers (at Marquez)

DraftKings in particular really muffed the Dodgers pricing so it’s going to be hard to look away from them if you’re building a first-order lineup (i.e. if you don’t worry about rostership). Freeman is easily the top-projected first baseman – only teammate Max Muncy can be expected to perform comparably. Whereas Muncy’s projection is distributed in a power-or-bust kind of way, Freeman’s includes a lofty chance for multiple hits. And power too. Amazingly, there are five first baseman who are more expensive than Freeman on DK, none of whom are Muncy of the next guy.

Pivot: C.J. Cron – Rockies (vs Gonsolin)

As I said about Diaz, it’s the home team that often finds itself underrepresented at Coors Field. With Freeman and Muncy available for a similar price, Cron could very well slip through the cracks, making him the perfect pivot. Not only is he expected to perform well, he’s a fine value AND a contrary choice to what’s certain to be an uber-popular Dodgers stack.

Also Consider: Max Muncy, Matt Olson, Joey Votto, Pete Alonso, Jared Walsh, Jake Cronenworth, Luke Voit, Cody Bellinger, Dominic Smith, Connor Joe


Top Play: Brendan Rodgers – Rockies (vs Gonsolin)

Gonsolin is a fly ball pitcher whose signature offering is a splitter. It’s not a pitch that performs reliably at altitude, lending Gonsolin a certain degree of meltdown risk. Rodgers is an aggressive hitter who jumps on early-count strikes. He has a low angle of contact which matches well against Gonsolin. Oddly, he was one of the only Rockies to struggle at home last season, though his peripherals don’t indicate any home/road platoon split.

Pivot: Jake Cronenworth – Padres (at Zach Davies)

Some folks have taken to calling him Jake Cromulent because he’s so predictably acceptable. Excellent 2020 notwithstanding, Davies is at best an innings eater. Let’s not pull any punches – he throws glorified batting practice. A Padres stack is a strong pivot in this Coors-infested mini-slate, and Cronenworth is a valuable part of it.

Also Consider: Trea Turner, Chris Taylor, Gavin Lux, Jonathan India, Ketel Marte, Ozzie Albies, Jose Altuve, Robinson Cano, Nick Senzel, Drew Ellis


Top Play: Max Muncy – Dodgers (at Marquez)

Yes, yes. More words about the Dodgers and Muncy in particular. As mentioned, his projection is built around power – just shy of a two-in-five shot to homer. That implies good multi-homer potential as well. The reasons are simple enough. Not only is this the one and only Coors Field, Marquez’s pitch tendencies match to Muncy’s strengths.

Pivot: Mike Moustakas – Reds (at Kyle Wright)

Nobody is looking at Moustakas in this slate. He’s cheap and set to face an exploitable starting pitcher. While Braves media are doing their best to talk up Wright’s postseason performance, that’s in the past. Also in the (nearer) past is a terrible Spring Training. More distantly, four regular season stints of sub-replacement level output. Yes, he has the stuff and pedigree to put it together, but the smart money is to bet against him. Moustakas was a regular 30-homer threat prior to an injury-riddled 2021 campaign. Beware the bullpen – he’ll probably face a slew of tough southpaw relievers.

Also Consider: Justin Turner, Edwin Rios, Manny Machado, Ryan McMahon, Austin Riley, Alex Bregman, Drew Ellis


Top Play: Trea Turner – Dodgers (at Marquez)

I can’t not pick Turner. He’s projected to supply roughly 30 percent more output than any other shortstop. He leads the slate in projected hits and also carries a one-in-four shot to homer. Unlike some of the others, there’s nothing special about the Marquez matchup for Turner. He doesn’t need anything to be special. Let’s not forget, Marquez is backed by a bad bullpen. Shortstop is shallower than second base in this slate which is why I’ve included him here.

Pivot: Garrett Hampson – Rockies (vs Gonsolin)

This is a bet on a characteristic I’m not so sure Hampson can repeat. On the road last season, he hit .180/.247/.284. Truly execrable. But at home, Hampson was a perfectly respectable .286/.331/.472 hitter. It’s unclear if he’ll even crack the lineup which could further depress his rostership since he isn’t showing as a projected starter at this early hour. I would have picked Jeremy Pena here, but he’ll be popular after yesterday’s outburst.

Also Consider: Brendan Rodgers, Francisco Lindor, Jeremy Pena, C.J. Abrams, Ha-Seong Kim


Top Plays: Kris Bryant – Rockies (vs Gonsolin)
Mookie Betts – Dodgers (at Marquez)
Yordan Alvarez – Astros (at Noah Syndergaard)

Do I really need to say more? Good hitters. Coors Field. Try it.

Let’s not overlook an Astros stack in all these mispriced Coors bats. Syndergaard’s velocity was down in Spring Training, and he’s already lost his edge as a fireballer as hitters continue to adjust to elite velocity. Even if Thor manages something like five decent innings, the Angels bullpen isn’t exactly deep. Alvarez comes equipped with a one-in-three chance to homer.

Pivots: Cody Bellinger – Dodgers (at Marquez)
Trent Grisham – Padres (at Davies)
Randal Grichuk – Rockies (vs Gonsolin)

It’s going to be interesting watching Grichuk at elevation. Will his power play up, or will he look much the same as his sea-level self? Gonsolin offers a reasonable first test against a normal-quality opponent. Bellinger appears to be completely lost. He actually has minor league options and with the way it’s going, the Dodgers might have to use them. We also saw in the postseason that even a broken Bellinger can burst for power. Grisham hit ninth on Opening Day and the pessimism is palpable. Of course, he immediately returned to leadoff with a right-hander on the bump yesterday. Davies is a soft opponent backed by a softer bullpen. The Padres and Grisham in particular look mighty tempting.

Also Consider: Any Dodgers or Rockies, Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout, Juan Soto, Kyle Tucker, Tommy Pham, Tyler Naquin, Eddie Rosario, Alex Dickerson, Marcell Ozuna, Brandon Nimmo, Adam Duvall


Goodbye my friends. After seven seasons, this will be my last DFS column for NBC SportsEDGE. In the very first Top Plays I penned in April of 2015, I recommended Ben Zobrist, Joc Pederson, and Adam Lind as “Diamonds in the Rough.” “Viable Punts” included Kennys Vargas, Austin Jackson, and Carlos Ruiz (who I noted had “no sex appeal”). My “Tournament Gambles” consisted of Justin Smoak, Jonathan Schoop, and Marlon Byrd with Brad Miller, Khris Davis, and Travis Snider in the “also consider” section. Ah, the good ol’ days. It’s amazing Pederson, Schoop, and Miller are still around.

I’ll still be around with DFS and other fantasy content. Check out my personal Patreon for The Daily Grind Invitational (no purchase necessary!) and stay tuned there for further updates as to where you can find my DFS content in the coming weeks.