MLB DFS Plays: Saturday 8/21

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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.

We have a nine-game early slate and a five-game main slate so we’ll split our attention today.

PITCHER

Top Play: Hyun-Jin Ryu – Blue Jays (vs Tigers) Early

Ryu hasn’t been at his sharpest lately yet he seemingly represents the best combination of value and ability in the early slate. Since he faces a strikeout prone and exploitable Tigers offense, his projection isn’t too far below the big aces while his price tag offers a significant savings. If you have the cash and prefer not to pull your punches, Max Scherzer and Gerrit Cole both have a higher median and ceiling projection.

Late: Eduardo Rodriguez

Pivot: J.A. Happ – Cardinals (vs Pirates) Late

Happ may not truly be a pivot since there simply isn’t much from which to choose. Depending on how you look at it, up to five of the main slate pitchers aren’t really usable. Happ has pitched well since joining the Cardinals. He benefits from facing a lite-hitting Pirates offense at pitcher friendly Busch Stadium. Expect between five and six innings with about five strikeouts.

Early: Reid Detmers

Also Consider Early: Aaron Nola, Joe Musgrove

Also Consider Late: Max Scherzer, Gerrit Cole, Sean Manaea, Kevin Gausman, Eric Lauer, Jake Odorizzi

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CATCHER

Top Play: Robinson Chirinos – Cubs (vs Kris Bubic)

With Salvador Perez likely to be out of the lineup with a neck injury, Chirinos leaps to top play status. This is as much about the venue as the matchup. Winds of 15-mph and over are gusting out to center at Wrigley Field. Chirinos is an extreme fly ball hitter so anything he puts in play will feel the kiss of the jet stream. As a bonus, Bubic works down in the zone and doesn’t induce many whiffs, adding to Chirinos’ power potential.

Pivot: Yohel Pozo – Rangers (at Rodriguez) Late

So long as he’s minimally priced, Pozo will be a standing recommendation. While he doesn’t have Stantonian power, he makes up for it with an optimized batted ball profile, aggression, and low strikeout rate. A series of projections I ran yesterday suggest he could deliver between 30 and 40 home runs per 650 plate appearances. While this matchup is challenging, swinging at the Green Monster improves his chances of a home run or double.

Also Consider Early: Gary Sanchez, Omar Narvaez, Alejandro Kirk, Mitch Garver, Ryan Jeffers, Wilson Ramos, Cal Raleigh

Also Consider Late: Carson Kelly, Elias Diaz, Travis d’Arnaud, Pedro Severino

FIRST BASE

Top Play: Trey Mancini – Orioles (vs Drew Smyly)

The Braves southpaw skews very slightly to fly ball contact which is a slight boost to both Mancini and Ryan Mountcastle’s home run potential this evening. Camden Yards is power friendly too. Mancini is essentially neck-and-neck with expectations for Freddie Freeman, but he comes at a slight discount.

Pivot: Frank Schwindel – Cubs (vs Bubic) Early

The early slate has no shortage of quality first basemen at all price points. Schwindel is the best value of those available. Like Chirinos, he frequently lifts the ball marking this as a doubly advantageous matchup. Not only is Bubic susceptible to fly ball hitters, Wrigley Field is rarely more power friendly.

Also Consider Early: Shohei Ohtani, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Jose Abreu, Yuli Gurriel, Jonathan Schoop, Jared Walsh, Anthony Rizzo, Ty France, Lourdes Gurriel, Carlos Santana, Rowdy Tellez

Also Consider Late: Freddie Freeman, Ryan Mountcastle, C.J. Cron, Christian Walker, Paul Goldschmidt,

SECOND BASE

Top Play: Marcus Semien – Blue Jays (vs Wily Peralta) Early

Peralta has turned pumpkin. Over his last five starts, he’s allowed a 6.65 ERA backed by an identical 6.65 FIP. He’s averaged fewer than five innings per outing with 2.35 HR/9 during his slump. As a ground ball pitcher, Peralta matches especially poorly against Semien. The Jays second baseman has better than a one-in-four chance to homer.

Pivot: Jorge Polanco – Twins (at Gerrit Cole) Early

For once, Polanco’s cheap price tag is merited. Despite the obviously difficult matchup, Polanco’s lineup role and frequent fly ball contact create some serious GPP leverage. Cole will be one of the most-used pitchers. If his outing turns sour on his DFS managers, Polanco will likely be a part of the equation.

Also Consider Early: Trea Turner, Jose Altuve, David Bote, Whit Merrifield, Luis Urias, Jonathan Schoop, DJ LeMahieu, Abraham Toro, Luis Arraez

Also Consider Late: Ozzie Albies, Enrique Hernandez, Brendan Rodgers, Ramon Urias, Garrett Hampson

THIRD BASE

Top Play: Patrick Wisdom – Cubs (vs Bubic) Early

There’s only so many ways to say that Cubbie fly ball hitters versus Bubic are in a ludicrously attractive position. Wisdom is an all-or-nothing play. If he connects three or four times this afternoon, then he’s extremely likely to homer. It’s the whiffs that introduce danger. Roughly half of his plate appearances end in a walk or strikeout which can be frustrating for fantasy purposes.

Pivot: Asdrubal Cabrera – DBacks (at Kyle Freeland) Late

Cabrera probably isn’t truly a pivot despite some tempting third base options in the late slate. He’s one of the sharpest multi-hit threats available. Even Coors Field doesn’t add much to his home run potential. Yesterday illustrated the risks of targeting multi-hit plays in a weak lineup. Cabrera went 2-for-5 with a double – objectively a strong performace at the plate - yet still underperformed his projection. Freeland is a similar but easier matchup than Austin Gomber.

Also Consider Early: Jose Ramirez, Justin Turner, Chris Taylor, Kyle Seager, Luis Urias, Josh Donaldson, Hunter Dozier, Emmanuel Rivera, Carter Kieboom

Also Consider Late: Austin Riley, Manny Machado, Nolan Arenado, Ryan McMahon, Ramon Urias

SHORTSTOP

Top Play: Trevor Story – Rockies (vs Zac Gallen) Late

This isn’t the Gallen of years past. He’s lost effectiveness with his entire repertoire. At sea level, that’s yielded a roughly league average arm. At Coors Field, he’s likely to melt before the fifth inning, ushering in Arizona’s league-worst bullpen. Story is the lynchpin of what should prove to be a highly popular Rockies stack. It’s a rare day he projects to outperform Fernando Tatis Jr.

Pivot: Nick Ahmed – DBacks (at Freeland) Late

Across the aisle, Ahmed usually bats leadoff against southpaws. In a continuation of career-long trends, he’s batting .284/.353/.495 with the platoon advantage. One obvious issue is that both Freeland and Ahmed are ground ball guys. Worm burners don’t benefit (much) from altitude.

Also Consider Early: Bo Bichette, Willy Adames, Tim Anderson, Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, Marcus Semien, Otto Lopez, Andrew Velazquez, Dylan Moore

Also Consider Late: Fernando Tatis Jr., Jake Cronenworth, Xander Bogaerts, Dansby Swanson, Didi Gregorius

OUTFIELD

Top Plays: Rafael Ortega – Cubs (vs Bubic) Early
Ketel Marte – DBacks (at Freeland) Late
Kyle Schwarber – Red Sox (vs Jordan Lyles) Late

Yeah, this is the same recommendation – a fly ball hitter against a ground ball pitcher at wind-swept Wrigley Field. We at least have a small consideration to discuss. In hardly any opportunities, Ortega has been close to hopeless against fellow southpaws. I’m inclined to wave this off as a small sample fluke. I also anticipate him receiving up to three plate appearances against a mostly right-handed Royals bullpen.

Marte isn’t quite as sharp a value as yesterday, but he’s still underpriced for his ability and venue. He’s a serious multi-hit threat with enough power to deal damage – as he did yesterday. While we didn’t discuss the Red Sox stack, they’re mighty interesting opposite Lousy Lyles and His Lousier Bullpen. Schwarber and teammate Hunter Renfroe have around a one-in-three shot at a dinger. Schwarber happens to be a slightly cheaper play.

Pivots: Ryan O’Hearn – Royals (at Keegan Thompson) Early
Andrew Benintendi – Royals (at Thompson) Early
Sam Hilliard – Rockies (vs Gallen) Late

Obviously, Cubs bats aren’t the only ones to benefit from the Wrigley Field conditions. Thompson has performed well in relief despite coughing up 1.55 HR/9. He’s not stretched out for more than four or five innings. As a starter, he’s a fly ball pitcher which should all but ensure O’Hearn and Benintendi put some balls in the air. Of the two, O’Hearn is likelier to produce the sort of contact that soars over a wall. Benintendi is more of a higher floor play who just might fill the boxscore.

While I’d like to tab Connor Joe again, he was actually more popular than I anticipated yesterday. In a smaller slate, he should be rather chalky. Since Hilliard usually hits eighth, he’s more likely to slip through the cracks. Since his recall in mid-July, Hilliard is batting .267/.345/.587. Strikeouts are the main risk.

Also Consider Early: Shohei Ohtani, Teoscar Hernandez, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Joey Gallo, Brett Gardner, Tyrone Taylor, Patrick Wisdom, Rafael Ortega, Ian Happ, Michael Hermosillo, Michael Taylor, Hunter Dozier, Corey Dickerson, Michael Brantley, Yordan Alvarez, Jake Meyers, Chas McCormick

Also Consider Late: Fernando Tatis Jr. Trent Grisham, Jorge Soler, Adam Duvall, Hunter Renfroe, Enrique Hernandez, J.D. Martinez, Alex Verdugo, Charlie Blackmon, Connor Joe, Harrison Bader, Lars Nootbaar, Tyler O’Neill, Austin Hays, DJ Stewart, Garrett Hampson