MLB DFS Plays: Saturday 7/31

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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: Yu Darvish – Padres (vs Rockies)

As an analyst, I relish finding top plays that aren’t also the most expensive at their position. Today, Darvish is tops among pitchers in price, projection, and dollar-for-dollar value. That’s a recipe for a chalky meal, one that’s difficult to avoid. Darvish faces a Rockies lineup that performs pitifully away from Coors Field. He projects to lead the slate in innings pitched and strikeouts. Aaron Nola has a comparable innings projection but nobody is near him in expected strikeouts.

Pivot: Kyle Hendricks – Cubs (at Nationals)

This slate also includes a number of generic veterans. You the know the type, they can deliver a gem now and then but usually settle for modest competence. Say, six innings and four strikeouts. Hendricks strikes me as the likeliest to pick up the ball and carry it for nine innings. After Darvish and Nola, he’s certainly the best bet to fire six frames. Few pitchers are more consistent than Hendricks when it comes to finishing two-thirds of a game. The new Nationals offense is a one-man show.

Also Consider: Aaron Nola, Brandon Woodruff, German Marquez, Wade Miley, Joe Ross, Dallas Keuchel, Tyler Anderson, Rich Hill

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CATCHER

Top Play: Willson Contreras – Cubs (at Joe Ross)

The Cubs offense evaporated yesterday with Contreras the lone star remaining in Chicago. The good news is he’s now ensured a lineup role between second and fourth in the order. Ross makes for a neutral matchup, one that’s a tad too likely to yield ground balls. He leads catchers in expected output including a one-in-five shot at a home run. I plan to hunt for values instead.

Pivot: Cal Raleigh – Mariners (at Taylor Hearn)

The Rangers have a bullpen game planned led by Hearn. Raleigh has adjustments to make in the Majors, but he’s still shown sufficient traits to buy at a bargain basement price tag. He produces a ton of lift with his swing and runs above average exit velocities. The profile to this point is that of a more disciplined Kyle Higashioka. He’s also similar to teammate Tom Murphy – albeit with a slightly more balanced approach. Raleigh is perhaps the best opportunity to chase a discount multi-homer performance.

Also Consider: Will Smith, Mitch Garver, Omar Narvaez, Daulton Varsho, Carson Kelly, Tom Murphy

FIRST BASE

Top Play: Max MuncyDodgers (at Merrill Kelly)

I usually avoid Muncy unless I’m running a Dodgers stack. For my personal lineups, I prefer for expensive standalones to not end so many plate appearances with a walk or strikeout. Muncy’s improved in this regard over the course of the season. This also happens to be a friendly matchup. Various platoons – i.e. handedness and launch angle - are in Muncy’s favor. Kelly tends to work in and around the strike zone, cutting down on both walk and strikeout risk. Muncy is also the top play at second base.

Pivot: Brad Miller – Phillies (at JT Brubaker)

While PNC Park hurts Miller’s home run potential, he still has an interesting matchup against Brubaker. The Pirates ground ball pitcher is homer prone (1.96 HR/9). Miller is especially effective against sub-95-mph velocity fastballs. He also has enough lift to turn around a Brubaker sinker. The Pirates bullpen is populated by castaways and misfits.

Also Consider: Freddie Freeman, Jose Abreu, Jake Cronenworth, Rowdy Tellez, Christian Walker, Ty France, Curtis Terry

SECOND BASE

Top Play: Kolten Wong – Brewers (at Kyle Muller)

Yesterday, the recommendation was to use Milwaukee’s many hitters with steep launch angles. This time around, lower launch angles are better. Muller is a fly ball pitcher who’s having some success working up in the zone. Hitters like Wong have improved outcomes against his profile. It’s not a huge ceiling – again Muncy is a better top play – but Wong does offer the best combination of price and projection. The Braves used all of their lesser relievers yesterday which means the Brewers will have a tougher path through the relief corps tonight.

Pivot: Jorge Polanco – Twins (at Jake Woodford)

Polanco offers a similar value proposition to Wong. The initial matchup is also favorable. Woodford is a ground ball pitcher and Polanco has a steep launch angle. Busch Stadium saps some of the value here – it suppresses home run outcomes for hitters with Polanco’s decent but unexceptional exit velocities. Although he started slow, Polanco is hitting .307/.357/.516 with 10 home runs since the start of June. That includes four three-hit games out of his last 15.

Also Consider: Max Muncy, Jonathan India, Ozzie Albies, Jake Cronenworth, Ty France, Brad Miller, Cesar Hernandez, Luis Garcia

THIRD BASE

Top Play: Justin Turner – Dodgers (at Kelly)

There isn’t much to any Justin Turner recommendation. He’s a high-quality contact machine who plays up against pitchers like Kelly who rely on balls in play. While the DBacks starter has performed well lately, the Dodgers need only nudge him aside before feasting on an atrocious bullpen. Turner has a shot at six plate appearances.

Pivot: Patrick Wisdom – Cubs (at Ross)

Wisdom is at risk of strikeouts against Ross and a volatile Nationals bullpen. When he does connect with the baseball, he usually hammers it with loft. This is a high risk, high reward situation. Wisdom is one-in-four to homer and could bat cleanup.

Also Consider: Jose Ramirez, Manny Machado, Yoan Moncada, David Bote, Asdrubal Cabrera, Carter Kieboom

SHORTSTOP

Top Play: Corey Seager – Dodgers (at Kelly)

Seager showed no rust yesterday in his return from the injured list. He’s slightly cheaper than his teammate and fellow top play candidate Chris Taylor. Seager returned to the lineup as the cleanup hitter. He was off to a good start prior to injury, but the power outcomes he discovered in 2020 had vanished. Taylor is the better play as a one-off. Seager should be used in a stack.

Pivot: Luis Garcia – Nationals (vs Hendricks)

Garcia’s poor debut as a 20-year-old in 2020 soured much of the fantasy industry on his prospectdom. This season, he visited Triple-A for the first time and piled up 13 home runs in 159 plate appearances. For now, he remains an extreme ground ball hitter with an aggressive approach. While he’s best used against fly ball pitchers, soft-tossing command types like Hendricks aren’t a terrible match either. We know he’s going to put balls in play.

Also Consider: Tim Anderson, Chris Taylor, Trevor Story, Didi Gregorius

OUTFIELD

Top Plays: Juan Soto – Nationals (vs Hendricks)
Franmil Reyes – Indians (at Keuchel)
Avisail Garcia – Brewers (at Muller)

I usually eschew the hot hand, but I can’t overlook Soto’s performance since the All-Star Break. He’s hitting an insane .400/.524/.860 with seven home runs and nearly twice as many walks as strikeouts. Although Soto is expensive, he’s still a decent value.

The recommendation for Reyes is an unusual one. We usually focus on hitters with strong matchups. For Reyes, it comes down to Keuchel’s execution. If he hits his spots, Reyes will have a tough time of it. Especially with a loaded bullpen waiting in the wings. The right mistake could yield an easy home run. Reyes has about a one-in-three shot at a homer.

Garcia usually bats cleanup in the Brewers lineup. They know he’s especially effective against fly ball pitchers. Over his career, Garcia has stark handedness platoon splits. He works counts better against southpaws. Muller lacks an effective changeup to keep Garcia off balance.

Pivots: Lorenzo Cain – Brewers (at Muller)
Trevor Larnach – Twins (vs Woodford)

Cain is a comparable recommendation to Garcia – just cheaper and far less potent. We’re looking for multiple hits rather than power outcomes. It’s the opposite from Larnach. He makes impressively loud contact for a hitter who clearly still has adjustments to make in the Majors. Larnach is a tad too prone to ground ball contact for this to be an exciting matchup. He still fits well in a Twins stack or as a one-off power play.

Also Consider: Jesse Winker, Tyler O’Neill, Dylan Carlson, Max Kepler, Eloy Jimenez, Patrick Wisdom, Ian Happ, Adolis Garcia, Rafael Ortega, Jarred Kelenic, Andrew Vaughn