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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.
Top Play: Luis Garcia – Astros (vs Braves)
Pivot: Max Fried – Braves (at Astros)
We’re reaching the end of the line. Both teams have proven that their starters won’t go more than four or five innings in all but the most blown-out circumstances. We should see most of the best relievers on both sides. The Astros especially have no reason to leave their top arms on ice. The Braves could be sufficiently pummeled to reserve Tyler Matzek, Luke Jackson, and Will Smith for tomorrow. It’s tempting to skip the starters in lieu of relievers and big bats.
Fried is the only pitcher in this series to average more than five innings a start during the postseason. Part of the reason he’s had longer outings was to spare an overtasked bullpen. As a ground ball pitcher who avoids hard contact, his inning-to-inning performance often isn’t indicative of his ability on a given night. For instance, if he allows three runs in the first, it could just be a symptom of bad sequencing of events rather than a damning reason to remove him. Such pitchers are difficult to manage, especially in this err-with-the-bullpen meta. For DFS purposes, he has potential for long-tail positive outcomes. The median is still something like four innings.
Garcia has the better price tag and strikeout rate of the two starters, but he’s also more prone to meltdown innings. He’s selling out for strikeouts this postseason. Or perhaps it’s nerves that have affected his usually above average command. Garcia has allowed quite a few fly balls this postseason, and Minute Maid Park is unforgiving to such pitchers.
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The top play came down to Freeman or Riley. While Freeman has a slightly better projection, Riley is a sharper dollar-for-dollar value. Both sluggers match well against Garcia, although we should be mindful that they may only face him once. Thanks to ideal launch angles and some of the best hard and barreled contact rates in the league, they’re also useful all-purpose plays against whoever the Astros call out of the bullpen. The Crawford Boxes offer Riley a modest advantage.
Pivot: Martin Maldonado – Astros (vs Fried)
Maldonado is having a miserable postseason after a comparably painful 2021 campaign. The one thing he has going for him is a steep launch angle which should help him to lift Fried’s bowling ball sinker. He may only face Fried once. Maldonado also struggles to make hard contact. Since Fried avoids barrels too, a home run feels like a long shot - which is precisely why this is a pivot. We’re chasing a long-tail outcome in a slate where such plays are necessary to win a big GPP.
As I warned at the outset of this series, Alvarez and Tucker are once again the top outfielders. Notably, they project comparably to Freeman, Riley, and Altuve. While Riley is much cheaper, Alvarez and Tucker are more affordable than Freeman and Altuve. They’ll probably be undersubscribed due to the initial lefty-on-lefty matchup. Avoiding them for this reason is doubly wrong. Not only do they lack platoon splits, they’re unlikely to see Fried for more than one or two plate appearances. To be sure, many of the Braves best relievers are lefties. Again, that doesn’t matter since neither Astros slugger has issues with same-handed pitchers.
It should be noted Eddie Rosario is an incredible value for this matchup. He might be rather chalky as a result; perhaps even the most-chosen captain. The hot-swinging lefty is having an incredible postseason. He rarely zeroes out.
Pivot: Michael Brantley – Astros (vs Fried)
Unlike his fellow left-handed outfielders, Brantley does have a history of lesser production against southpaws. And that’s exactly what renders him a pivot tonight. DFS analysts and their readers should pick up on this shortcoming. What they might miss is the potential for two plate appearances against right-handed pitchers. The swath of hitters from seventh through third in the Astros lineup includes five right-handers. Only Brantley is lefty. Moreover, just because Brantley has less effect against same-handed pitchers doesn’t mean he’s hopeless. He’s still a decent play for a multi-hit and multi-run game.