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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.
Keep an eye on the weather leaguewide tonight. There are around eight venues with low-grade rain risk. Probabilistically, one of those may morph into a serious threat and others could affect pitcher value.
Top Play: Max Scherzer – Dodgers (at Phillies)
This slate is jam-crammed with overpriced pitchers. Scherzer is among them. However, he’s likely to lead the contest in production. His downside is better than a dozen starters. His median projection is around six innings and 7.5 strikeouts. While several pitchers could match his innings, none come close to his strikeout potential.
Pivot: J.A. Happ – Cardinals (at Pirates)
Down in the bargain bin are a number of high risk, medium reward options. Happ is the likeliest of those to approach 100 pitches, giving him the best opportunity to deliver a surprisingly valuable outing. Spacious PNC Park and a tepid Pirates lineup should help him to squeeze a little extra value. While he projects to throw over six innings, he’ll probably finish with fewer than five strikeouts.
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This is a battle of extremes. Few hitters have a steeper launch angle (over 20 degrees) than Garver. Among qualified pitchers, only three induce a lower angle of contact than Keuchel. These divergences strongly favor power outcomes for hitters. That Garver also makes frequent barreled (16.3%) and hard (49%) contact increases the potential for positive results.
No longer scalding hot, Stassi remains one of the better-hitting catchers in the league. Batting cleanup adds bonus run production to his projections too. He produces above average exit velocities although his 109.5-mph max is relatively tame. Stassi adds value through quantity. Stripling is a homer prone fly ball pitcher. Since Stassi generally makes low angle contact (around 10 degrees), his home run potential is maximized in this matchup.
This is the second game of a doubleheader, thus why it qualifies as a pivot. His price tag tonight would be a deep bargain for a full game. It’s merely par value over seven innings.
When McKenzie had a successful debut last season, he featured a four-pitch repertoire, all of which were above average offerings, coupled with average command. This season, he’s lost his changeup and command. On his best days, he’s effectively wild. He’s shown better command of late which has yielded a few solid outings. There’s serious meltdown risk, making an Athletics stack attractive. Olson leads the slate in home run potential with nearly a two-in-five shot at a dinger. Progressive Field helps power outcomes.
Watch out for storms.
Espino is a soft-tossing, pitch-to-contact right-hander. He’s liable to have trouble with this Mets lineup. There are two reasons why this is a pivot. CitiField is absolutely crushing power outcomes this season. It’s the most pitcher friendly venue by some measures. Alonso’s prodigious power is sufficient to clear a wall, but it’s still a strike against him. Both Alonso and Espino have elevated launch angles which puts Alonso at risk of hitting easy fly outs.
Honestly, I’m inclined to go with a mid-tier play at second base today. The trio of Dodgers have to contend with Aaron Nola. The other pricey plays have issues too. India is in a favorable situation against Smyly and a roughly average bullpen. Smyly is hit and homer prone. He’s lost most of the velocity that led to his 2020 breakout. India’s lone weakness is that he makes a lot of pulled, ground ball contact. Facing a fly ball-inducing southpaw renders India one of the safest plays of the slate.
Pivot: Jorge Polanco – Twins (vs Keuchel)
While Polanco has natural lift to his swing, it’s not on par with Garver. This wouldn’t be a valuable play if not for the ridiculously cheap price tag associated with Polanco. He’s one of the most productive second basemen despite being priced below the likes of Nick Maton (vs Scherzer and Rougned Odor (vs lefty Daniel Lynch). Simply put, he’s a fantastic value. The White Sox have a difficult bullpen which puts a damper on Polanco.
Setting aside a tepid start, Machado has close to a 1.000 OPS since late-April. In limited Major League action, Garrett has struggled with right-handed hitters. They’ve posted 1.93 HR/9 (120 batters) as a group. Machado is obviously superior to the average hitter Garrett has faced. He has a one-in-four shot at homering while also projecting to be among the slate leaders in run production.
Pivot: Jack Mayfield – Angels (vs Stripling)
Mayfield bats down in the lineup. He has the walk and strikeout rates of Salvador Perez without the high-quality contact. One thing he does do reasonably well is put the ball in the air. That could work out against a pitching like Stripling. Like many punts, we’re chasing an inexpensive home run – ideally with a low rostership rate. Mayfield will achieve the latter condition, but can he homer?
While Gray is a solid mid-tier starter, the Astros are capable of eating such pitchers for breakfast. The Rockies really don’t have anything in the bullpen to slow down the Houston advance if they best Gray. Even though Correa’s frontline matchup isn’t desirable, his 75th percentile outcome is tops at the position – and he costs far less than comparable alternatives like Tim Anderson and Trea Turner.
Pivot: Hoy Park – Pirates (vs Happ)
It’s unclear if the Pirates will start Park against a left-handed pitcher. If he’s in the lineup, he’ll probably bat leadoff. He’s nearly minimum priced and has multi-hit potential comparable to that of Machado and Polanco. Despite hitting 10 home runs in Triple-A, power isn’t Park’s game. He slashes line drives to fuel an elevated BABIP while avoiding strikeouts. Think of him as a poor man’s Luis Arraez. Perhaps a very poor man’s version.
It’s one of those days for Judge and Stanton. Lynch, a southpaw, likes to ride his fastball at the top of the zone which helps to maximize the Yankees right-handed sluggers. Some of the Royals relievers also work high fastballs. Lynch isn’t exactly a fly ball pitcher so it’s not quite a perfect matchup – merely very favorable. As for Castellanos, he remains comically inexpensive on at least one platform despite projecting to lead the slate in hits with a 25 percent shot at a home run to boot.
Since his most recent recall, Olivares has three home runs in 26 plate appearances. He frequently puts the ball in play, makes above average quality contact, and has the speed to cheat out mistakes from the defense. The Yankees don’t have the sharpest infield, nor is Cortes an especially difficult matchup. The New York relief corps is another matter. If you use Olivares, you want to see him doing damage early.
Brault looked like a breakout candidate last season, but we’ve seen many of those regress to their norms this year. He made his 2021 debut last week, delivering a solid four-inning performance. His already fringy fastball has lost two-mph. He’ll likely make another short start – perhaps five innings this time if unchallenged. Brault depends on his infield defense. Carlson, a switch-hitter, is more comfortable from the right-handed batters box. He punishes southpaws. The Cardinals leadoff man should enjoy facing shaky Pirates relievers too.
Also Consider: Juan Soto, Jesse Winker, Aristides Aquino, Cedric Mullins, Tyler O’Neill, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Adam Engel, Starling Marte, Mark Canha, Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker, Chas McCormick, Robbie Grossman, Akil Baddoo, Nelson Cruz, Tommy Pham, Trent Grisham, Bryan Reynolds, Jorge Soler