MLB DFS Plays: Saturday 7/24

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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: Kevin Gausman – Giants (vs Pirates)

A fastball-splitter guy, Gausman matches up decently against a flaccid Pirates offense. On the one hand, he should pile up outs with little effort. However, Pittsburgh isn’t especially strikeout prone which cuts into his DFS projection. Other options like Corbin Burnes and Carlos Rodon are better gambles if you’re chasing double-digit strikeout potential. They’re more expensive and Gausman has a better shot at finishing seven or more innings.

Pivot: Luis Castillo – Reds (vs Cardinals)

Castillo is more of a bargain than a pivot. A crowded pitching slate and Great American Ballpark should prevent him from becoming too chalky. A frequent early-season underperformer, Castillo has redeemed himself in recent weeks. His strikeout rate remains below desired levels despite healthy swinging strike rates. He’s on par with the second-tier arms like Framber Valdez and Chris Bassitt at a much cheaper price. The matchup against the Cardinals is neutral. He should receive sufficient run support to earn an easy win bonus.

Also Consider: Corbin Burnes, Carlos Rodon, Chris Bassitt, Framber Valdez, Logan Gilbert, Jose Berrios, Hyun-Jin Ryu

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CATCHER

Top Play: Salvador Perez – Royals (vs Casey Mize)

Mize has pitched well since his first few starts. He’s held to about 50 pitches per outing, capping him around three to four innings of work. Although less atrocious than past iterations, the Tigers feature a below average bullpen. So, while Perez’s matchup against Mize runs a risk of spawning ground balls, he’ll face plenty of juicy relievers later in the game.

Pivot: Tyler Stephenson – Reds (vs Jake Woodford)

Woodford is a fairly typical depth arm. He doesn’t have the sort of carrying traits that yield instant success in the Majors, but he does have enough pitchability to occasionally survive outings. My money is on a meltdown at a tiny park. He’s a ground ball pitcher and much of the Reds stack skews to fly balls. Stephenson is not one of those fly ball guys – at least not this season. He has a track record in the minors of hitting plenty of flies. He’s mainly of interest because he hits in the heart of the lineup with an above average .278/.366/.410 batting line. The power has underperformed expectations because he’s selling out for contact.

Also Consider: Will Smith, Eric Haase, Mike Zunino, Buster Posey, Luis Torrens, Ryan Jeffers, Cal Raleigh

FIRST BASE

Top Play: Shohei Ohtani – Angels (at Jose Berrios)

Nobody will confuse Berrios for an easy opponent. He’s not especially homer prone either. However, Ohtani’s approach is well-suited to homering against pitchers with Berrios’ profile – i.e. fastball-curve guys who work down in the zone. He projects for better than a one-in-three chance for a dinger. Only Matt Olson has comparable power odds.

Pivot: LaMonte Wade Jr. – Giants (vs Wil Crowe)

Wade has long had above average plate discipline and contact ability. In the past, his punchless bat allowed opposing pitchers to attack him indiscriminately. This season, he’s added pop and launch angle to his bag of tricks. He’s not a typical slugging first baseman - most teams would use him as a fourth outfielder. He’s been hitting leadoff for the Giants. Crowe is generally terrible, allowing a luck neutral 6.12 ERA with 2.09 HR/9.

Also Consider: Joey Votto, Matt Olson, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Pete Alonso, Jared Walsh, Carlos Santana, Jonathan Schoop, Curtis Terry

SECOND BASE

Top Play: Brandon Lowe – Rays (at J.C. Mejia)

Mejia is a below average, homer prone ground ball pitcher. This is a nitro matchup for Lowe who has the appropriate launch angle to punish Mejia. Progressive Field boosts lefty power too. Lowe has nearly double the home run potential of the next best second baseman (either Schoop or Jonathan India).

Pivot: Matt Carpenter – Cardinals (at Castillo)

As lineups are announced, we’ll have some more traditional second base bargains and pivots to consider. Carpenter isn’t especially likely to start, but he does match up about as well as is possible versus Castillo. Carpenter’s swing is geared to modest fly ball contact. He no longer has the pop to regularly escape Busch Stadium, but he would still be a 30-homer threat at Great American Ballpark. Carpenter’s lofty swing is just the thing to counteract Castillo’s ground ball rate – assuming he doesn’t just whiff a bunch of changeups. If he starts, he has a one-in-five chance to homer at a near-minimum price.

Also Consider: Jonathan Schoop, Jonathan India, Jose Altuve, Chris Taylor, Whit Merrifield, Jorge Polanco, Dylan Moore

THIRD BASE

Top Play: Nolan Arenado – Cardinals (at Castillo)

This recommendation shares much with the one for Carpenter. Arenado has an extreme fly ball rate and would be a far scarier performer away from spacious Busch Stadium. As a right-handed slugger, he’ll be less susceptible to Castillo’s changeup. We also know he’ll start. Arenado has more consistent pop than Carpenter, partially making up for a hefty price tag. Still, this isn’t the most efficient use of resources.

Pivot: Eugenio Suarez – Reds (vs Woodford)

For a second straight day, Suarez finds himself with a similar situation and projection to Arenado but at a much cheaper price. They both have about a 30 percent shot for a dinger. Arenado’s advantage – and why you might consider paying the premium – is that only 20 percent of his plate appearances end in a walk or strikeout. Suarez ends close to 40 percent of his plate appearances without a batted ball.

Also Consider: Jose Ramirez, Justin Turner, Josh Donaldson, Jeimer Candelario, J.D. Davis, Dylan Moore, Abraham Toro, Wander Franco

SHORTSTOP

Top Play: Carlos Correa – Astros (vs Kyle Gibson)

This is not a deep slate for shortstops. Correa offers an acceptable combination of upside and affordability. Although Gibson has produced superb results this season, it’s important to remember he’s naturally around a 4.00 ERA pitcher. Facing a deep offense like the Astros could yield a third consecutive clunker (he flopped twice against the Tigers). Correa has enough loft to his swing that he’s not doomed to tap grounders. Still, we’re probably hoping for singles, walks, and run production versus Gibson with the bigger outcomes coming against the Rangers relief corps.

Pivot: Zack Short – Yankees (at Carlos Hernandez)

Short is 2021’s answer to Ryan Schimpf. He’s an extreme fly ball hitter with plus plate discipline that might better be described as passive. This isn’t an ideal matchup. Both Hernandez and much of the Royals bullpen work up in the zone. Short is beatable upstairs. Still, it takes only one mistake for him to turn a profit. He’s cheap at a poorly represented position.

Also Consider: Wander Franco, Taylor Walls, Trevor Story, Chris Taylor, Paul DeJong

OUTFIELD

Top Plays: Austin Meadows – Rays (at Mejia)
Nelson Cruz – Rays (at Mejia)
Jesse Winker – Reds (vs Woodford)

Everything written about Lowe applies more strongly to Meadows. The lefty slugger is one of the most extreme fly ball hitters in the league this season. It’s not exactly working out at Tropicana Field, but he does get a healthy boost from Progressive Field. Again, Mejia’s combination of ground ball tendencies and mistakes over the plate are liable to get him torched. The newest Ray, Cruz, also has comparable odds for a home run. Winker is simply an elite hitter against a Quad-A pitcher.

Pivots: Tyler O’Neill – Cardinals (at Castillo)
Aristides Aquino – Reds (vs Woodford)

As you can see, a contrarian stack of Cardinals appears to be viable versus Castillo. They don’t necessarily need to demolish Castillo either – just make it hard enough so that the Reds rocky bullpen handles the final four frames. O’Neill has the same batted ball traits that make Arenado attractive. His lack of discipline and hefty strikeout rate are impediments.

Continuing a pattern, Aquino could borrow the recommendation for Suarez. He’s ended half of his plate appearances with a walk or strikeout – not ideal for DFS purposes. However, his hefty fly ball rate and frequent hard contact promise serious power potential opposite a below average ground ball pitcher.

Also Consider: Shohei Ohtani, Justin Upton, Brandon Marsh, Brandon Lowe, Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker, Michael Brantley, Akil Baddoo, Robbie Grossman, Franmil Reyes, Tyler Naquin, Mike Yastrzemski, Steven Duggar, Alex Dickerson, Randy Arozarena