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Daulton Varsho
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Daily Games

MLB DFS Plays: Friday 4/30

by Brad Johnson
Updated On: April 30, 2021, 10:22 am ET

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: Gerrit Cole – Yankees (vs Tigers)

This slate has insane pitching options. All of the best hurlers are underpriced relative to their expected output. Cole is perhaps the most incorrectly priced of them all. The Tigers offense is one of the worst in the league, and they’re strikeout prone. He can be expected to deliver nearly seven innings, 10 strikeouts, and two-third of a win. That’s a mean/median projection, not a ceiling.

Pivot: Andrew Heaney – Angels (at Mariners)

Heaney stumbled way back on April 2, and it’s apparently still affecting his price. He’s the only pitcher with a better dollar-for-dollar value than Cole. Since his 2021 debut and against tough opponents – the Blue Jays, Twins, and Astros – Heaney has spun a luck neutral 1.53 EA with 12.74 K/9 and 2.55 BB/9. His success is built on incremental improvements to his pitch usage rather than a fresh breakout.

Also Consider: Shane Bieber, Yu Darvish, Lance McCullers, Freddy Peralta, Pablo Lopez, Nate Eovaldi, Brady Singer

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CATCHER

Top Play: Daulton Varsho – Diamondbacks (vs Jon Gray)

Varsho critically mispriced to the extent that he’s a must play for all but the most contrarian lineups. The key, of course, is that he has to draw the start. He should take injured outfielder Kole Calhoun’s spot in right field and near the top of the lineup. Varsho has a tantalizing blend of contact skills, plate discipline, pop, and speed. His profile isn’t especially exciting as an outfielder, but he’s instantly the most dynamic catcher available – especially now that Yermin Mercedes has been reclassified as a first baseman.

Pivot: Carson Kelly – Diamondbacks (vs Gray)

The ultimate pivot, Kelly is hidden behind his shinier (and much cheaper) teammate. His hot start is built upon premium plate discipline, plenty of well-hit fly balls, and a fluky 31.6 percent HR/FB ratio. Don’t worry about the fluke for now. It’s Kelly’s fly ball tendencies that make him an excellent target against a ground ball pitcher like Gray. Only Sanchez and Higashioka are more likely to among catchers (and Smith in the unlikely event he starts).

Also Consider: Will Smith, Gary Sanchez, Kyle Higashioka, Alejandro Kirk, Victor Caratini

FIRST BASE

Top Play: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – Blue Jays (vs Drew Smyly)

Although fantasy analysts have spent much time this April celebrating Vladito’s new launch angle, it’s still skewed towards ground ball contact. Facing an opposite-handed fly ball pitcher like Smyly is the ideal situation for multi-homer potential. Guerrero is both expensive and underpriced. Quite a few of the spiciest bats are cheaper than they should be tonight.

Pivot: Alex Kirilloff – Twins (vs Singer)

The Twins have hidden from the main slate for quite a while. Kirilloff has managed to maintain his bargain price by scuffling at the plate. His performance has been a mixed bag. He’s whiffing at borderline ridiculous rates, but he’s also making loads of hard and barreled contact. The hits will begin to fall, and home runs should follow at some point. The matchup against Singer isn’t ideal – they’re both ground ball guys.

Also Consider: Freddie Freeman, Pete Alonso, C.J. Cron, Brandon Belt

SECOND BASE

Top Play: Ozzie Albies – Braves (at Robbie Ray)

If anything was ever wrong with Albies earlier this month, it’s no longer the case. He’s locked in lately, contributing three straight multi-hit games. Ray is a challenging opponent for aggressive hitters. Since Albies typically ends plate appearances with a batted ball, he might bail out the always-wild southpaw. He’s also less likely to strike out by trying to be too patient.

Pivot: Eduardo Escobar – Diamondbacks (vs Gray)

Already, this is the third DBack to appear in today’s column. I don’t really believe an Arizona stack is merited – Gray is a solid pitcher right now. However, Escobar’s extreme fly ball traits pair brilliantly against the Rockies starter. And their bullpen is a pile of busted-open stink bombs.

Also Consider: Nick Solak, Marcus Semien, Jose Altuve, Christian Arroyo, Keston Hiura, Mike Moustakas

THIRD BASE

Top Play: Jose Ramirez – Indians (at Dallas Keuchel)

This is another case of a fly ball hitter facing a ground ball pitcher. Value at the third base position is rather flat today by which I mean the players are well-priced across the board. Keuchel is typically stingy with home runs. The Sox bullpen is one of the toughest in the league.

Pivot: Austin Riley – Braves (at Ray)

Riley has made big adjustments in two consecutive offseasons. Prior to 2020, he adjusted his swing for more contact and a less elevated launch angle. This year, his plate discipline has improved dramatically. He’s swinging at fewer pitches in and out of the zone. Both of these traits along with his above average exit velocity should serve him well as a cheap option against Ray.

Also Consider: Rafael Devers, Josh Donaldson, Justin Turner, Alex Bregman, Gio Urshela, Moustakas

SHORTSTOP

Top Play: Bo Bichette – Blue Jays (vs Smyly)

Like Vladito, Bichette’s relatively low launch angle should serve him well against Smyly’s fly ball tendencies. Bichette has set a career high with a 115-mph max exit velocity, on par with some of the best power hitters in the league. If he can generate any lift at all tonight, it has a good chance to leave tiny TD Ballpark.

Pivot: Dansby Swanson – Braves (at Ray)

To be honest, Swanson’s struggling and wouldn’t usually cross my radar as a pivot. However, this column has revealed a sort of down-lineup Braves stack that could fit with a double-ace strategy. Targeting (or using) Ray is always on the table in GPPs. Few pitchers offer his volatility. Although Swanson is hitting just .198/.277/.330, his peripherals are all in line with his breakout 2020 campaign. Better days await.

Also Consider: Trea Turner, Trevor Story, Gleyber Torres, Nico Hoerner, Eugenio Suarez

OUTFIELD

Top Plays: Ronald Acuna – Braves (at Ray)
George Springer – Blue Jays (vs Smyly)
Jesse Winker – Reds (vs Jake Arrieta)

The TD Ballpark game tonight offers targets across the aisle at every position. Acuna, like Vladito, is comically underpriced for an uber-elite hitter. Springer has been installed as the leadoff hitter. While we can expect a hefty coating of rust, that’s fully reflected in his price. I’m unsure how we got this far without talking about the many fly ball hitting Reds against a bad ground ball pitcher at Great American Ballpark. The Cincy stack is a safer, equally high ceiling alternative to the Braves and Jays. (We also somehow missed favorable stacks for the Red Sox, Cubs, and Angels).

Pivots: Mike Tauchman - Giants (at Darvish)
Avisail Garcia – Brewers (vs Alex Vesia

Vesia is expected to open a bullpen game for the Dodgers tonight with the likes of Mitch White, Jimmy Nelson, and Dennis Santana serving in long relief. It’s a passable setting to use Garcia who has turned into something of a Statcast darling despite a tepid .190/.270/.329 batting line. His sprint speed has improved dramatically, and he’s scalding baseballs left and right. His 54.5 percent hard hit rate is one of the best in the league. As for Tauchman, this is obviously a difficult matchup. His minimum price and mid-tier ability are what render him borderline usable against Darvish. He hit seventh in his Giants debut on Wednesday but could bounce up the lineup tonight.

Also Consider: Nick Castellanos, Marcell Ozuna, Randal Grichuk, Lourdes Gurriel, Varsho, Byron Buxton, Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Jared Walsh, David Peralta, Nelson Cruz, Kirilloff

Brad Johnson

You can read more from Brad Johnson on NBC Sports Edge, FanGraphs, and RotoFanatic. Find him on Patreon and Twitter @BaseballATeam.