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Marcus Semien
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Daily Games

MLB DFS Plays: Friday 6/18

by Brad Johnson
Updated On: June 18, 2021, 1:28 pm ET

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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.

PITCHER

Top Play: Robbie Ray – Blue Jays (at Baltimore)

This slate is characterized by premium pitchers in bad situations (Carlos Rodon, Corbin Burnes) and a slew of exploitable duds. Ray shines as the top option. He frequently finishes at least six innings and contends for double-digit strikeouts. Nine of his last 10 starts have returned value. The Orioles offense is below average with a league average 23.9 percent strikeout rate. This pick is as close to a must-play as you’ll find in DFS – made all the better because projection systems still hate him based on his struggles in 2019-2020.

Pivot: Yusei Kikuchi – Mariners (vs Rays)

Although they have an above average offense, the Rays are also second in the league in strikeout rate (27.1%). Kikuchi has a desirable combination of high ground ball rate and over a strikeout per inning. Ten of his 12 outings have gone for six or more innings and he’s broached six or more strikeouts on eight occasions. Expect a tad over six innings and six strikeouts.

Also Consider: Trevor Bauer, Alex Cobb, Jose Berrios, Max Fried

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CATCHER

Top Play: Salvador Perez – Royals (vs Nick Pivetta)

Perez hammers pitches up in the zone where Pivetta prefers to work with his fastball. He has the best chance for multiple home runs at the position. Of course, you’re going to need at least one dinger at these prices. Among catchers, only hot-hitting Gary Sanchez approaches Perez’s ceiling in this one.

Pivot: Ryan Jeffers – Twins (at Mike Foltynewicz)

Jeffers is overcoming some early-season struggles with strikeouts. He’s stinging the ball with a 110.4-mph maximum exit velocity and 13 percent barrel rate. He skews towards low angle contact which makes this a fantastic matchup against a homer prone fly ball pitcher like Folty. The Rangers starter has managed just 6.13 K/9, helping to mitigate Jeffers’ greatest weakness. I’ll weep if he doesn’t start tonight.

Also Consider: Gary Sanchez, J.T. Realmuto, Omar Narvaez, Willson Contreras, Yasmani Grandal, Will Smith, Max Stassi, Eric Haase

FIRST BASE

Top Play: Shohei Ohtani – Angels (vs Jose Urena)

It’s an expensive day for first basemen.

Urena is a pitch-to-contact ground ball guy. He’s done an excellent job of limiting home runs this season. That’s the entire extent of his success. Ohtani is capable of lifting all pitch types. His 28.0 percent strikeout rate is a modest blemish, but it shouldn’t be too damaging versus Urena and a below average bullpen.

Pivot: Paul Goldschmidt – Cardinals (at Fried)

Fried has pitched better of late, but he’s still lacking the crispness he showed at times last season. The Cardinals have several hitters with a lefty mashing reputation. Among them is Goldschmidt. He has superior plate discipline when handed the platoon advantage. His swing also has ideal lift for Fried’s heavy fastball.

Also Consider: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Pete Alonso, Matt Olson, Jared Walsh, Freddie Freeman, Anthony Rizzo, Brandon Belt, Daniel Vogelbach, C.J. Cron, Carlos Santana, Lewin Diaz

SECOND BASE

Top Play: Marcus Semien – Blue Jays (at Bruce Zimmermann)

Semien has an erroneous reputation as a lefty masher. Even so, this is a fantastic matchup for him against perhaps the most homer prone pitcher in the slate. The entire Blue Jays stack stands out as a premium play. He has a one-in-three chance to homer with an array of other possible positive outcomes.

Pivot: Josh Rojas – DBacks (vs Bauer)

Bauer smells like the pitching chalk tonight versus a below average offense. He hasn’t replicated his 2020 output, nor has he exactly struggled. One thing is clear – he’s a strikeout-oriented fly ball pitcher. Rojas makes a lot of low-angle contact. He’s having a lot of success when he does lift the ball (22.5% HR/FB%).

Also Consider: Whit Merrifield, Chris Taylor, Jorge Polanco, Ozzie Albies, Jonathan India, Dylan Moore, Luis Urias

THIRD BASE

Top Play: Jose Ramirez – Indians (at Chad Kuhl)

While the venue suppresses power, Ramirez’s matchup against Kuhl and an exploitable Pirates bullpen lines up as high value. He has the best combination of ceiling and price at the position with slightly worse than an one-in-four chance to homer.

Pivot: Eugenio Suarez – Reds (at Chris Paddack)

Suarez matches Ramirez’s home run potential against a pitcher who skews towards ground ball contact and has occasional issues with home runs. Unlike Ramirez, this is a homer-or-bust situation. Strikeouts and lazy fly balls are a risk.

Also Consider: Jose Ramirez, Rafael Devers, Kris Bryant, Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado, Justin Turner, Luis Urias, Cavan Biggio

SHORTSTOP

Top Play: Bo Bichette – Blue Jays (at Zimmermann)

Shortstop is jam-crammed with potent bats this evening – many of whom are quite expensive. There ae a few bargains to be found too. The top play is actually Semien, but he’s better used at second base where there are few big plays. Bichette has better than a one-in-four chance to homer along with the obvious stack-related benefits. If you want to run all the big Toronto bats, you’ll need to sacrifice one of your pitchers or take some deep punts.

Pivot: Brandon Crawford – Giants (vs Vince Velasquez)

Velasquez has long-standing home run issues including 1.85 HR/9 this season. Visiting Oracle Park could help, but I worry he’ll still melt against certain left-handed hitters (i.e. Crawford and Belt). The launch angles don’t line up perfectly – Crawford might be prone to get a little under it. Still there’s stealthy multi-homer potential here, and he should be virtually unused.

Also Consider: Marcus Semien, Fernando Tatis Jr., Xander Bogaerts, Trea Turner, Tim Anderson, Willy Adames, Francisco Lindor, Josh Rojas, Adalberto Mondesi, Javy Baez, Jazz Chisholm, Paul DeJong

OUTFIELD

Top Plays: J.D. Martinez – Red Sox (at Jackson Kowar)
Randy Arozarena – Rays (at Kikuchi)
Randal Grichuk – Blue Jays (at Zimmermann)

Kowar has struggled in his first taste of the Majors. Meanwhile, Martinez is oddly affordable despite being in the middle of a hot streak. He’s a multi-hit and home run double-threat. Arozarena is also both hot and inexpensive. He’s binging on extra-base hits and appears to be in 2020-form. With Teoscar Hernandez on paternity leave, Grichuk should settle in as the cleanup hitter tonight. He’s the only affordable part of the main Jays stack.

Pivots: Jesus Sanchez – Marlins (at Zach Davies)
Aristides Aquino – Reds (at Paddack)

Sanchez is an aggressive, dynamic athlete capable of well-above average contact. In just five batted balls, he already has one hit 111.9-mph. Ground balls are an issue. He’s best against high or low-and-in pitches. Davies is smart enough to nibble low and away, but that doesn’t rule out the potential for a mistake. The Cubs bullpen is thin too. Aquino may not play – he doesn’t have an obvious role in the Reds outfield since he’s miscast in center field. If he does crack the lineup, this is a strong matchup with a one-in-three chance to homer.

Also Consider: Shohei Ohtani, Justin Upton, Christian Yelich, Avisail Garcia, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Ronald Acuna, Bradley Zimmer, Harold Ramirez, Bryan Reynolds, Starling Marte, Jesse Winker, Nick Castellanos, Nelson Cruz, Yordan Alvarez