MLB DFS Plays: Friday 8/20

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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: Chris SaleRed Sox (vs Rangers)

Sale is making his second start since the premature end to his 2019 campaign. He looked sharp against the Orioles last week. His fastball was missing a tick and a half from his peak velocity in 2018, and he also coughed up a couple solo home runs. There’s no discount Sale tonight – he’s close to his peak price. That makes this a dangerous and risky play partially offset by the league-worst Rangers offense.

Pivot: Blake Snell – Padres (vs Phillies)

There are several reasonably-priced mid-tier pitchers this evening. Snell isn’t my favorite, but he is the one I think could slip through the cracks. With Rhys Hoskins out, the Phillies offense isn’t particularly well-suited for facing southpaws. Snell has produced healthy results of late. That’s not to say he’s “solved.” He’s averaging about three solid or better outings for every disasterpiece. His current effective streak has run… three games. It could be he’s due for a meltdown. He projects for about five-and-two-thirds innings and 6.5 strikeouts. He should be considered a volatile play.

Also Consider: Walker Buehler, Robbie Ray, Lance McCullers, Lucas Giolito, Sonny Gray, Max Fried, Austin Gomber, Miles Mikolas

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CATCHER

Top Play: Gary Sanchez – Yankees (vs Charlie Barnes)

Barnes is a soft-tossing southpaw of a type Sanchez should match well against. Throughout his entire minor league career, he was a consistent ground ball pitcher. As regulars of this column know, Sanchez is best used at Yankee Stadium against pitchers with low launch angles. The curious bit is that Barnes has morphed into a fly ball guy through 18.1 Major League innings. I honestly don’t know what to make of it. A fluky fly ball rate is the likeliest explanation. In any case, Yankee Stadium is forgiving to mishit fly balls.

Pivot: Yahel Pozo – Rangers (at Sale)

Pozo is an aggressive free-swinger with a high contact rate and a healthy combination of launch angle and pop. He drove 19 home runs in 280 Triple-A plate appearances. He costs the minimum and could easily run into a mistake or two from a slightly rusty Sale. At worst, he’ll serve as a punt with a whiff ceiling. At best, he deals a highly leveraged blow to a chalky pitcher.

Also Consider: Omar Narvaez, Will Smith, J.T. Realmuto, Elias Diaz, Carson Kelly, Buster Posey, Mitch Garver, Ryan Jeffers, Cal Raleigh

FIRST BASE

Top Play: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – Blue Jays (vs Tyler Alexander)

This was a tough decision between Vladito and Shohei Ohtani made easier by the latter’s outfield eligibility. Alexander is a fly ball-oriented, soft-tossing southpaw. He’s prone to allowing hard contact. Guerrero is in line for one-third of a home run along with myriad other positive potential outcomes. He and Ohtani are tops in the slate for projected run production.

Pivot: Christian Walker – DBacks (at Gomber)

Walker hasn’t rediscovered his power stroke from 2019 or even his blandly acceptable batting line from 2020. However, a visit to Coors Field at a near-minimum price is almost always interesting. This is no exception. Walker still has a high value contact profile for the friendliest hitting environment. Both he and Gomber skew to ground ball contact, increasing the risk of ground outs.

Also Consider: Shohei Ohtani, C.J. Cron, Freddie Freeman, Max Muncy, Yuli Gurriel, Jose Abreu, Joey Votto, Mike Moustakas, Jared Walsh, Luke Voit, Ryan Mountcastle

SECOND BASE

Top Play: Trea Turner – Dodgers (vs Carlos Carrasco)

Carrasco, a former ace, has pitched abysmally through four starts. His last two outings were especially poor. While he could snap off a gem without warning, he’s always relied on refined command of offspeed stuff. His fastball was a poor offering even at his peak. This year, he’s catching way too much plate with his entire arsenal. Turner is moderately more affordable than other top second baseman. He’s always capable of filling a boxscore.

Pivot: Jorge Polanco – Twins (at Nestor Cortes)

Polanco remains dramatically underpriced. Among second basemen, he’s a borderline star. His weakness, if you can call it one, is that he makes a high quantity of fly ball contact with “merely” above average exit velocities. A visit to Yankee Stadium helps to buff his home run potential. Facing a fly ball pitcher adds some fly out or strikeout risk.

Also Consider: Ozzie Albies, Jose Altuve, Max Muncy, Marcus Semien, Brendan Rodgers, Jonathan India, Jazz Chisholm, Luis Urias, Jean Segura, Andrew Velazquez, Josh VanMeter, Garrett Hampson

THIRD BASE

Top Play: Josh Donaldson – Twins (at Cortes)

While Polanco’s swing profile could have issues with Cortes, Donaldson doesn’t come with those same concerns. Among star-caliber projections, he’s by far the best bargain in the entire slate. He comes with just shy of a one-in-three chance to homer.

Pivot: Asdrubal Cabrera – DBacks (at Gomber)

Cabrera is a competent core performer who usually bats third for the Diamondbacks. He isn’t as sharp a bargain as Walker, nor is he especially likely to homer. However, he generates enough lift to pull Gomber’s barrage of sinkers over the left side of the infield. He has comparable multi-hit potential to the likes of Manny Machado and Justin Turner – just with considerably less ceiling for power and run production.

Also Consider: Jose Ramirez, Rafael Devers, Justin Turner, Manny Machado, Austin Riley, Nolan Arenado, Mike Moustakas, Chris Taylor, Alec Bohm

SHORTSTOP

Top Play: Fernando Tatis Jr. – Padres (vs Matt Moore)

Moore is an exploitable southpaw with a 6.07 ERA and 1.92 HR/9. The Phillies bullpen is second-worst in the league. Tatis has close to a two-in-five shot at a dinger accompanied by typical contest-defining upside.

Pivot: Nick Ahmed – DBacks (at Gomber)

My instinct is the avoid the Arizona stack. Gomber has proven effective at Coors Field. However, it’s hard to overlook these prices. Ahmed often bats leadoff against southpaws. He has a long history of hitting well against lefties including a .292/.361/.509 batting line this season.

Also Consider: Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts, Trevor Story, Tim Anderson, Bo Bichette, Marcus Semien, Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, Jazz Chisholm, Jake Cronenworth, Andrew Velazquez, Otto Lopez

OUTFIELD

Top Plays: Shohei Ohtani – Angels (at Sam Hentges)
Ketel Marte – DBacks (at Gomber)
Nick Castellanos – Reds (vs Elieser Hernandez)

Ohtani has reduced plate discipline against fellow lefties, but his power is undiminished. Progressive Field buffs home run rates for left-handed hitters – not that Ohtani needs the aid. He’s the only hitter likelier to homer today than Tatis.

As with his teammates, Marte is simply underpriced for the venue. I frequently preach about the Coors Field trap with regards to visiting opponents. This is a situation where the low-price tag overrules the danger of disappointment. Marte is around the fifteenth-best hitter in the slate despite several dozen players priced above him. Castellanos remains underpriced too. Once again, he’s among the leaders in projected hits. He has a one-in-four chance to homer. Hernandez isn’t a pushover opponent nor is he somebody to fear.

Pivots: Otto Lopez – Blue Jays (vs Alexander)
Connor Joe – Rockies (vs Tyler Gilbert)
Rob Refsnyder – Twins (at Cortes)

Lopez is the latest new bargain to find his way into a top offensive lineup. He doesn’t have carrying power, plate discipline, or contact skills, but what he does possess is enough for roughly league average production bolstered by potential network effects with his teammates. He’s not yet outfield eligible on DraftKings.

Joe’s price tag has risen to the lower-mid-tier. He’s better than that, but I’m betting on discount hunters turning to fresh meat. Gilbert, despite coming off a no-hitter, projects as a below average pitcher in a normal situation. He’s liable to meltdown at Coors Field.

Refsnyder is finally doing some damage at the plate in his age 30 season. His above average contact profile matches well against Cortes. He costs the minimum with a reasonable mid-tier projection. It would be fun irony if he dealt a game-change blow at Yankee Stadium.

Also Consider: Fernando Tatis Jr., Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Joey Gallo, Jorge Soler, Franmil Reyes, Adam Duvall, Teoscar Hernandez, Randal Grichuk, Lourdes Gurriel, Justin Upton, Jake Meyers, Chas McCormick, Lewis Brinson, Harrison Bader, Lars Nootbar