MLB DFS Plays: Friday 4/16

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Brad Johnson
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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.

Tonight’s 14-game slate also includes several weather risks. I’ll be skipping the Jays-Royals game as it appears likely to be postponed. The Sox v. Sox battle royale is also endangered, but there’s a chance it’ll run. Keep an eye on New York and Colorado (possible snow/freezing rain) too.

PITCHER

Top Play: Frankie Montas – Athletics (vs Tigers)

I might have these two picks backwards.

Montas had the misfortune of facing the Dodgers and Astros in his first two outings. L.A. trounced him, but he held his own against Houston. More importantly, he threw 100 pitches, indicating he has a long leash. The Tigers have struggled with right-handed pitching dating back to the start of 2020. It’s more of less the same offense now, the odd Akil Baddoo notwithstanding. Detroit has a 27 percent strikeout rate on the season. Six innings and six or seven punch outs is the target for Montas.

Pivot: Jacob deGrom – Mets (at Rockies)

This isn’t a typical pivot. As the most expensive pitcher working at Coors Field with freezing weather, there are a number of reasons to steer clear of deGrom. The thing is, the cold weather could just as easily work in his favor. Power outcomes will be less likely, and I doubt any Rockies hitters are enthusiastic about making contact with his 100-mph heater. We’re going to see some hitters with aching hands tonight. Our DFS projections consider deGrom both the best pitcher and one of the top bargains.

Yusei Kikuchi is perhaps a more classic pivot target. He has a tough matchup against the Astros.

Also Consider: Andrew Heaney, Max Scherzer, J.T. Brubaker, Jose Urquidy, Kikuchi

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CATCHER

Top Play: Gary Sanchez –Yankees (vs Michael Wacha)

Sanchez is one of the likeliest hitters to homer in the entire slate – not just among catchers. He checks in with a better than one-in-three chance to go deep. His opponent, Wacha, likes to work down in the zone and is naturally homer prone. Sanchez made adjustments to his approach over the winter which appear to have borne fruit. Mainly, he’s swinging more in the zone and less outside of it. This could turn out to be a truly special season for him if he can maintain these improvements.

Pivot: Wilson Ramos – Tigers (at Montas)

Given his recent hot hitting, Ramos might not slip under the radar tonight. In the early going, he’s evinced a much higher launch angle than his career norm. This hasn’t been matched by any reports of a swing change so it could be a small sample artifact. If he is lifting the ball more, it’ll serve him well against Montas. Keep an eye on his lineup role, he’s a better value when batting in the heart of the order (obviously).

Also Consider: Will Smith, James McCann, Yermin Mercedes

FIRST BASE

Top Play: Pete Alonso – Mets (at Chi Chi Gonzalez)

I find myself torn regarding the Mets stack at Coors Field. The chilly weather could counteract the attractive matchup against a Triple-A-caliber pitcher. As outsiders, we never really know which players simply can’t tolerate freezing weather. Alonso certainly has the tools to dominate the slate in more ordinary conditions. And it’s even possible the Coors game is undersubscribed due to the deep slate and weather.

Pivot: Josh Bell – Nationals (vs Taylor Widener)

Bell only recently returned to the Nationals lineup where he’s hit either third or cleanup. Thus far, he’s pounding the ball into the ground. Facing a fly ball pitcher like Widener could help him drop some line drives if not pop a home run.

Also Consider: Shohei Ohtani, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Jared Walsh, Nate Lowe, Brandon Belt, Colin Moran

SECOND BASE

Top Play: Brandon Lowe – Rays (at Nick Nelson/Michael King)

The Yankees are expected to run a tandem tonight. Facing Nelson in the first is a modest hit to Lowe’s value. The matchup with King is favorable. With a power friendly ballpark in play, Lowe projects for a one-in-four chance to pop a home run. He has issues with strikeouts which makes him a more volatile play.

Under normal conditions, I would be extremely enthusiastic about Jeff McNeil at Coors Field. Certain adjustments he made over the offseason seem to be extremely detrimental, possibly counteracting the altitude bonuses.

Pivot: Rougned Odor – Yankees (vs Wacha)

Here’s an all or nothing play. Odor checks in with a better than one-in-four chance to homer in a favorable matchup. Yankee Stadium helps matters too. Of course, we’re all familiar with the frequency with which Odor zeroes out. The Yankees have played him pretty consistently at second base since acquiring him, batting out of the 8-hole.

Also Consider: Jeff McNeil, Brandon Lowe, D.J. LeMahieu, Nick Solak, Ty France, Jed Lowrie

THIRD BASE

Top Play: Jose Ramirez – Indians (at Jeff Hoffman)

Great American Ballpark is a launching pad so it should come as no surprise that Ramirez has a Coors-caliber projection tonight. Unlike some of the others discussed above, Ramirez is by no means dependent on bashing a home run. Certainly, he’s just as likely to go yard as the likes of Lowe, Alonso, and Odor. He also puts the ball in play with frequency. The Reds defense is quite poor. Hoffman has responded well to escaping Colorado, but I still expect him to be below average.

Pivot: Phillip Evans – Pirates (at Adrian Houser)

Evans has emerged as a hard contact machine with a high contact rate. This isn’t an ideal matchup for him, both Houser and Evans are ground ball guys. Expect him to burn worms. Several Brewers relievers are fly ball pitchers, and Houser might not last more than four innings.

Also Consider: Odor, Justin Turner, Josh Donaldson, LeMahieu

SHORTSTOP

Top Play: Eugenio Suarez – Reds (vs Logan Allen)

This is a classic recommendation for me – a fly ball hitter against an opposite-handed ground ball pitcher. Allen doesn’t have special stuff, although he can keep righties off balance with a changeup. He’ll have his share of gems and meltdowns. Command is a shortcoming at this stage of his career. Among shortstops, Suarez is by far the likeliest to homer.

Pivot: Gleyber Torres – Yankees (vs Wacha)

Torres has yet to homer or hit for especially hard contact. He’s lifting the ball well and batting in the heart of the Yankees lineup. It doesn’t take Stantonian contact to escape Yankee Stadium. All he needs is the right launch angle.

Also Consider: Corey Seager, Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, Isiah Kiner-Falefa

OUTFIELD

Top Plays: Austin Meadows – Rays (at Nelson/King)
Eddie Rosario – Indians (at Hoffman)
Joey Gallo – Rangers (vs Jorge Lopez)

Meadows is hitting a high volume of hard fly balls. He’s well positioned for a multi-hit or multi-homer game at Yankee Stadium. Rosario comes with a similar projection in a visit to Great American Ballpark. Gallo has curiously hit relatively few fly balls in the early going, but I expect this to regress. Any matchup against Lopez is going to be favorable for all involved. The Orioles bullpen isn’t much better.

Pivots: Mitch Haniger – Mariners (vs Urquidy)
Adolis Garcia – Rangers (vs Lopez)
Aristides Aquino – Reds (vs Allen)

Haniger typically handles pitches up in the zone well which should make this a solid contrarian matchup against Urquidy. The Astros starter has posted mixed results in the early going. Garcia is a daily must-play until his price adjusts. It’s not that he’s especially talented – he’s really no different than an Adam Duvall-type. It’s the price plus homer potential that makes him valuable. Aquino is in a similar situation if he starts against a southpaw. Unfortunately, the Reds aren’t making much effort to use him. He’s liable to be subbed out too.

Also Consider: Juan Soto, Mike Trout, Ohtani, Mookie Betts, Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, Michael Conforto, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge