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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: Zack Wheeler – Phillies (vs Rays)
A smattering of aces is available this eve with Wheeler my favorite of the bunch. He’s the best bet to finish seven or more innings. Wheeler (barely) trails only Brandon Woodruff and Robbie Ray in projected strikeouts per inning. The Rays offense is one of the most strikeout prone in the league (25.7% K%). There are cheaper alternatives with the same or better ceiling – they just don’t come with the same degree of surety. Only three of Wheeler’s 25 starts have lasted fewer than six innings. Two of those happened in April. The other was a 5.2 inning performance on July 7 marred by errors.
Pivot: Edward Cabrera – Marlins (vs Nationals)
Cabrera is your best opportunity to chase a bargain. It could be an uphill battle – I don’t expect him to finish the five innings necessary to qualify for a win. Cabrera is a strikeout pitcher with three double-plus offerings. Expect him to chase whiffs in his debut, offering an alternate path to DFS value. Best case is something like five innings and 10 strikeouts. The projection is around five innings and five strikeouts. There’s appreciable risk that he could zero out. The Nationals offense has proven surprisingly tenacious since sending away their veterans at the trade deadline.
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I’ll be the first to admit, I might be overthinking this one. Stassi is ice cold to the extent that we should suspect he’s nursing an injury. Strikeouts have been the biggest issue of late. Other top play candidates are performing well but will have to overcome more difficult matchups – like fly ball hitting Omar Narvaez opposite ground ball pitching Luis Castillo. The Orioles will supposedly some combination of Kremer and Ellis, both of whom are well below average pitchers. Kremer at least pitched well last season. They both have an over-6.00 ERA in Triple-A this season.
Pozo remains practically free despite a regular mid-tier profile. He’s liable to put four balls in play. Projection systems aren’t as bullish as me – I think he has a roughly one-in-four chance to homer tonight (and most days). That would make him the best value in the slate. The aforementioned projections consider him a more typical bargain with around a 10 percent shot at a dinger. Plesac has coughed up 15 home runs in his last 11 starts.
Top Play: Jared Walsh – Angels (at Kremer/Ellis)
Walsh is almost a pivot even though he’s among the top-projected first basemen. That’s because an Angels stack is difficult to build when Shohei Ohtani pitches. So many of the offensive points are trapped outside of the contest. Of course, the Angels offer low-cost alternatives at several positions. Walsh can also be used as an affordable one-off.
Pivot: Nate Lowe – Rangers (at Plesac)
Lowe is having a solid season at the plate even though he’s underperformed expectations. He’s rarely popular due to a tepid 13 home runs in 496 plate appearances. You need more than a .258/.351/.397 line out of your first baseman in most slates. There is some potential for Lowe to weave a strong performance opposite Plesac. They’re both ground ball guys which favors the pitcher. However, Plesac has been known to make mistakes over the plate.
This is a day to save at second base. Even my favorite play is a bargain. Polanco doesn’t actually match particularly well against Pivetta because they’re both fly ball guys. Fortunately, the Green Monster is forgiving to certain types of high flies – the sort Polanco will be more prone to hitting this evening. He also doesn’t have the sort of whiff issues usually associated with fly ball hitters. Pivetta has pitched poorly in five of his last seven appearances.
Pivot: Luis Arraez – Twins (at Pivetta)
Unlike Polanco, Arraez does have a swing built to punish pitchers like Pivetta. He might luck into a home run, but the real play here is for multiple hits and run production. He’ll probably bat second, cleanup, or fifth. He leads the slate in expected hits.
The Twins are finally trying to stretch Ober beyond the fifth inning. While the right-hander is an interesting mid-tier pitcher, working deeper into games is only going to reduce his effectiveness. Devers in particular matches fantastically against the fly ball pitcher. He’s easily the top third baseman. Once again, only Jose Ramirez is similarly ceilinged.
Pivot: Luis Urias – Brewers (vs Castillo)
This is a they’ll-never-see-it-coming type of pivot. Urias should run a low single-digits rostership in big GPPs. Despite his diminutive stature, he has enough lift and a sufficient power profile to whack a homer off Castillo. Like Pozo, this is another one where I’m veering from the consensus. Since the launch angles are reasonably favorable, I think he has a one-in-five chance at a home run. Projection systems credit him for around only 10 percent of a home run.
Latz is a southpaw who performed decently at Double-A (4.69 ERA, 11.94 K/9, 3.98 BB/9) before getting knocked around in two Triple-A appearances. He’s not ready for this callup. The Indians stack should be strongly considered with Rosario playing a key role. Since the All-Star Break, the slappy utility man is batting a .407 BABIP-fueled .352/.382/.531. Don’t get too hyped about the performance – all of his fatal flaws remain in evidence.
Pivot: Jack Mayfield – Angels (at Kremer/Ellis)
Like his teammate Stassi, Mayfield is in a deep slump of late. He’s losing playing time too. Over his last 40 plate appearances, he’s batting jus t.143/.250/.171. Of course, prior to the slump, he was performing as a league average hitter with a DFS-friendly aggressive profile and seven home runs in 116 plate appearances. Facing pitchers who struggle to record outs in Triple-A should help. Teammate Jose Iglesias is a slightly pricier, higher floor, lower ceiling alternative.
Latz’s most obvious issue in the minors this season was home runs. He allowed 13 in just 72.1 innings (1.62 HR/9). Despite his light tower power, Reyes actually has a low average launch angle. Latz is a fly ball pitcher, maximizing Reyes’ power potential. Similarly, Schwarber has a reputation for moon balls, but his 14.8-degree launch angle isn’t all that wild. Ober is a fly ball pitcher who will try to get above Schwarber’s bat. There’s increased potential for home runs, easy fly outs, and whiffs. It combines in such a way that Schwarber is a flat out better play than most of the more expensive outfielders – and he's a sharper value to boot.
I could be wrong about Angels being a pivot. At least in single-entry GPPs, I expect most entrants who consider using more than a couple Angels will eyeball the downside and go with something safer. Upton isn’t on one of his patented hot streaks so should be unpopular despite an affordable mid-lineup role. Adell is coming off a notable four-RBI game and could therefore catch unwanted attention – especially if he sneaks out of the eight-hole. Either hitter should do well against pitchers who failed in Triple-A. As for Garcia, he has as good a chance as anybody to be the guy who homers off Plesac tonight. He’s deep-bargain priced despite being around the fifteenth-best outfielder.