MLB DFS Plays: Saturday 5/15

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·8 min read
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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.

Rain could interrupt the action in Chicago and Denver, but it doesn’t appear as if either game is a postponement risk. We’ll focus on the 10-game evening slate.

PITCHER

Top Play: Trevor Bauer – Dodgers (vs Marlins)

Between Bauer and Carlos Rodon, there’s a distinct top two in this slate followed by a handful of decent pitchers and a bushel of scrubs. Bauer easily projects as both the top projection and the best bargain. The Marlins have the sixth-worst strikeout rate. Their offense is 10 percent below average. Part of Bauer’s appeal is his workload. He’s the safest bet to throw over 100 pitches. Expect about seven innings and eight strikeouts with plenty of ceiling for more.

Pivot: Triston McKenzie – Indians (at Mariners)

Yankees starter Domingo German is a safer target, but I believe he’ll also be too popular relative to his talent. He’s coming off four straight strong outings, and DFS players are prone to oversubscribing hot streaks.

McKenzie offers a similar projection of roughly five innings and six strikeouts. He’s opposed by the Mariners, a team whose offense has performed almost identically to the Marlins. They have the exact same 26.3 percent strikeout rate and a batting line roughly 10 percent below league average. McKenzie has struggled with command this season. Expect a wide range of possible outcomes tonight.

Also Consider: Rodon, Aaron Nola, Ian Anderson, Luis Garcia, German

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CATCHER

Top Play: J.T. Realmuto – Phillies (at Anthony Kay)

Realmuto’s stay on the COVID list was brief. He’s arguably the top-hitting catcher set to face one of the worst starting pitchers in the league at one of the most hitter friendly venues. A handful of catchers are more expensive even though Realmuto carries the top projection and a cleanup role. If there’s any downside, it’s that the Blue Jays bullpen is the fifth-best relief corps (by ERA) in the league. Even that caveat is a stretch - ERA estimators like SIERA and xFIP consider their bullpen to be decidedly mid-tier.

Pivot: Yermin Mercedes – White Sox (vs Mike Minor)

This isn’t a pivot, but it needs to be addressed. DraftKings has restored Mercedes’ catcher eligibility. He immediately jumps to fore as a must-play candidate for his combination of high contact rate and power. At least on the DK platform, his price tag seemingly still reflects first base prices. His opponent, Mike Minor, is homer prone and frankly struggling with lesser opponents than the White Sox.

Also Consider: Tucker Barnhart, Tyler Stephenson, Salvador Perez, Daulton Varsho

FIRST BASE

Top Play: Rhys Hoskins – Phillies (at Kay)

Hoskins has a double-platoon advantage. The right-handed fly ball hitter is set to face a left-handed ground ball pitcher, one who can’t seem to avoid throwing cookies over the plate. visiting a venue like TD Ballpark is a big aid to his projection.

Pivot: Connor Joe – Rockies (vs Tyler Mahle)

Yesterday, Joe was interesting because he was cheap and playing at Coors Field. Today, he gets the bonus of facing a homer prone fly ball pitcher. Joe makes hard, low angle contact. In a small sample (28 PA) this season, he’s shown extreme plate discipline with a 5.6 percent swinging strike rate.

Also Consider: Mike Moustakas, Freddie Freeman, Jose Abreu, Josh Bell, Luke Voit, Rowdy Tellez, Pavin Smith

SECOND BASE

Top Play: Ryan McMahon – Rockies (vs Mahle)

Coors Field will draw a lot of traction tonight with McMahon among the best plays for those seeking multiple home runs. The matchup against Mahle isn’t ideal – they’re both fly ball guys. However, McMahon’s tendencies aren’t extreme enough to reduce his value tonight.

Pivot: Jonathan India – Reds (at Jhoulys Chacin)

After a scalding Spring Training, India has held his own in his MLB debut. He could probably use a little more Triple-A seasoning once Nick Senzel is healthy enough to return to action. While India’s plate discipline, contact rate, and power have all underperformed expectations, we can expect a healthy uptick in all facets tonight with the aid of Coors Field. Chacin has pitched poorly in 12.1 innings of relief work. Don’t expect him to last long. The rest of the Rockies bullpen is just as exploitable.

Also Consider: Marcus Semien, Nick Senzel, Eduardo Escobar, Garrett Hampson, Josh Harrison, Nick Madrigal

THIRD BASE

Top Play: Mike Moustakas – Reds (at Chacin)

Moustakas is also the top play at first base. A Hoskins/Moose combo offers more value than a similar allocation in the other direction (Eduardo Escobar is the best fit). The Reds current first baseman left yesterday’s game with a heel contusion so we do need to confirm he’s healthy. If so, he’s one of the top home run threats in the slate against a slew of bad pitchers.

Pivot: Starlin Castro – Nationals (at Seth Frankoff)

If you’re avoiding Coors Field and/or desire a bargain stack, take a gander at the Nationals. They’re set to face Frankoff, a 32-year-old journeyman who works in the low-90s and has yet to experience any success stateside. He did have a solid two season tenure in the KBO. Frankoff’s Triple-A season debut last week included five innings, five strikeouts, and five runs allowed. The Diamondbacks bullpen will be without three of their most frequently-used relievers – Kevin Ginkel, J.B. Baukauskas, and Caleb Smith. Castro is best used as a connecting piece or bargain patch. He has sneaky pop, but his ground ball tendencies match up poorly with Frankoff.

Also Consider: Eugenio Suarez, Escobar, Jose Ramirez, McMahon, Alec Bohm

SHORTSTOP

Top Play: Trea Turner – Nationals (at Frankoff)

Turner is the only shortstop projected to outperform the Coors Field middlemen. I prefer to use him as part of a stack rather than a one-off. While batting outcomes are our chief concern, Turner also has a friendly running matchup. Since the start of 2020, Carson Kelly has caught just six of 37 would-be base thieves, a 16.2 percent caught stealing rate.

Pivot: Ha-seong Kim – Padres (vs Adam Wainwright)

The desirable shortstops are pricey today. Until lineups are released, Kim is the lone punt with upside. While he’s yet to accomplish much in the Majors, we know from his KBO days that he can flash the triple-threat of plate discipline, contact, and power. Wainwright is a solid veteran but by no means an opponent to avoid.

Also Consider: Trevor Story, Suarez, Corey Seager, Bo Bichette, Carlos Correa, Tim Anderson

OUTFIELD

Top Plays: Juan Soto – Nationals (at Frankoff)
Nick Castellanos – Reds (at Chacin)
Bryce Harper – Phillies (at Kay)

Harper is the odd man in this mini-collection. We know Reds and Nationals stacks are going to be hot tonight, and you’ll want to anchor them with Castellanos and Soto respectively. They’re probably the top two hitters in the entire slate. Harper could fly under the radar thanks to a lefty-lefty matchup. His power plays just fine against fellow southpaws. A Phillies stack offers a high ceiling and should be undersubscribed due to more obvious alternatives.

Pivots: Kyle Schwarber – Nationals (at Frankoff)
Franmil Reyes – Indians (at Justus Sheffield)
Jarred Kelenic – Mariners (vs McKenzie)

Kelenic is far from a pivot. Due to an incorrect minimum pricing, he might be the chalkiest player in the entire slate on DraftKings. Kelenic easily projects as the best bargain available. The matchup isn’t especially friendly, nor is the venue. He roped three extra base hits in an even less advantageous situation yesterday. There’s a reason he’s a top prospect. By contrast, Reyes is a pivot. Between the slew of elite outfielders, many high value stacks, and bargains like Kelenic, nobody is going to have room for a homer-or-bust guy with a mid-tier price. Reyes is always among the best bets for a multi-homer performance. If you catch one tonight, you’ll be one of the few holding a ticket. Schwarber could be kicking off one of his patented hot streaks. It’s certainly a beneficial situation against a highly exploitable opponent. He has a one-in-four chance to homer.

Also Consider: Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Senzel, Jesse Winker, Charlie Blackmon, Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker, Mookie Betts, Tyler Naquin, David Peralta, Franmil Reyes, Josh Rojas, Joey Gallo, Harrison, Hampson, Victor Robles, Tyrone Taylor