MLB DFS Plays: Sunday 4/18

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Brad Johnson
·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.

We will focus on the nine-game main slate today. Some platforms will also include the late-afternoon games in their main contest. Pay close attention to Coors Field and T-Mobile Park for hitter targets. You might consider checking in on the Dodgers lineup and/or using Trevor Bauer too.

PITCHER

Top Play: Gerrit Cole – Yankees (vs Rays)

It’s a day of aces with Cole leading the way. On DraftKings specifically, aces become bargains on days when they pile up. Cole, Shane Bieber, Stephen Strasburg, Aaron Nola, and Freddy Peralta comprise the top five pitchers by projection and salary. They’re also excellent dollar-for-dollar values.

I’ve tabbed Cole over Bieber mainly because the Yankees ace will be pitching at home. Yankee Stadium and Great American Ballpark (where Bieber starts today) are similarly hitter friendly. The Rays offense is slightly weaker than the Reds. I think Cole will edge out Bieber by just enough to make up for the tiny difference in their price. The opposite conclusion is also easily supported – our DFS Projections are Team Bieber.

Pivot: Pablo Lopez – Marlins (vs Giants)

Lopez is coming off a stinker of an outing against the division rival Braves and should slip through the cracks. He’s one of the cheapest pitchers in this nine-game slate and projects to finish among the top nine (half). He’s not a better value than Cole or Bieber, but he is considerably more affordable. The Giants have a mid-tier offense with plenty of left-handed hitters. Lopez has mild issues against opposite-handed foes.

Bonus: Tanner Houck – Red Sox (vs White Sox)

Some platforms award additional points for a complete game. Houck is pitching the first half of a doubleheader and thus has an elevated chance to finish a game. He went 85 pitches in his season debut on April 3 and hasn’t pitched since a relief appearance on April 6. I am guestimating a 70-pitch count which would effectively prevent him from completing the game. Even if I’m right, it’s sensible to take a shot if you enter many lineups.

Dallas Keuchel also benefits from this same effect. His lack of strikeout potential makes him a little less interesting.

Also Consider: Bieber, Strasburg, Nola, Peralta, John Means, Ryan Yarbrough, Kyle Gibson, Brady Singer

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CATCHER

Top Play: J.T. Realmuto – Phillies (vs John Gant)

Honestly, this is almost a choice by default. We know most of the first-string catchers will sit today, but we won’t have confirmation for a couple more hours. Realmuto makes the Sunday lineup more often than most backstops. This isn’t an especially valuable matchup and he’s certainly overpriced. On the plus side, almost nobody will have cash to use him with all these aces available. If he goes off, you’ll be one of the few beneficiaries.

Pivot: Kyle Higashioka – Yankees (vs Andrew Kittredge/Ryan Yarbrough)

Higgy is a favorite target of mine when he starts for his all-or-nothing power potential. He makes an excessive amount of pulled fly ball contact. Roughly one-in-10 plate appearances is expected to end in a home run. He matches up relatively well against Yarbrough too.

Also Consider: Salvador Perez, Carson Kelly, Alejandro Kirk

FIRST BASE

Top Play: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – Blue Jays (at Singer)

The breakout is finally happening. Guerrero has adjusted his average launch angle from “worm burn” to “frozen ropes.” The best part is he’s done this without more swinging strikes. He’s on his way to a huge season. This particular matchup is slightly below average for Vladito. He’s a poor value even though he’s expected to lead first basemen in output.

Pivot: Ryan Zimmerman – Nationals (vs Madison Bumgarner)

Zimmerman would be the top play if not for the risk of a substitution once Bumgarner leaves the game. The career-long National is swinging a hot bat to start the season, but he has to compete with Josh Bell for playing time. Zimmerman has a long history of lefty-mashing with even more extreme results in recent seasons.

Also Consider: Rhys Hoskins, Phil Evans, Colin Moran

SECOND BASE

Top Play: Whit Merrifield – Royals (vs Robbie Ray)

Second base offers two types of players – overpriced/high-floor/modest-ceilinged or empty punts. Merrifield is the best of the first category. In this era of true outcomes, he’s a throwback who lives and dies on balls in play. He’s not completely devoid of power potential and regularly rates among the likeliest for multiple hits. Ray is volatile and backed by an injury-plagued relief corps.

Pivot: Adam Frazier –Pirates (at Peralta)

This is one I honestly would have overlooked without our DFS tools. Frazier is an extreme contact hitter who generally keeps the ball on the ground. Peralta likes to slip his fastballs above opposing hitters’ bats. Frazier is more likely than most to stay on top and shell liners into the shallow outfield. There’s very little power potential to speak of, but a surprise multi-hit game could be in the cards.

Also Consider: Jace Peterson, Keston Hiura, DJ LeMahieu

THIRD BASE

Top Play: Jose Ramirez – Indians (at Wade Miley)

See if you can spot the pattern. Ramirez is far and away the best third baseman on the docket. He’s also considerably overpriced. Miley is a soft-tossing nibbler who has excelled in two starts. Still, it’s not hard to imagine Ramirez jumping on a mistake or benefiting from a ballpark aided fly ball into the stands.

Pivot: Travis Shaw –Brewers (vs Chad Kuhl)

Shaw appears to have adjusted his swing to feature less lift. His peripherals look similar to 2017 which could indicate a rebound season in the offing. His swinging strike rate is currently at a career-low rate too. American Family Field (formerly Miller Park) is power friendly. Kuhl has performed poorly, struggling with command and failing to induce whiffs. The much-diminished Brewers stack as a whole is a great way to combine aces with high value bats.

Also Consider: Cavan Biggio, Alec Bohm, Evans

SHORTSTOP

Top Play: Trea Turner – Nationals (vs Bumgarner)

Turner is always a threat to fill up the boxscore. A pairing against Bumgarner is quite favorable. He’s one of the best hitters in the entire slate and projects roughly 25 percent better than any other shortstop. As with the other top plays, he’s not a value.

Pivot: Jazz Chisholm –Marlins (vs Alex Wood)

Chisholm might not shake out as a true pivot. He’s demonstrated some feats of strength at the plate and thus could be popular. Surprisingly, he’s cut down on his whiff rate in the early going while maintaining plenty of hard contact in the air. Wood is making his season debut and has a reputation for inconsistent performance.

Also Consider: Eugenio Suarez, Isiah Kiner-Falefa

OUTFIELD

Top Plays: Juan Soto – Nationals (vs Bumgarner)
Aaron Judge – Yankees (vs Kittredge/Yarbrough)
Giancarlo Stanton – Yankees (vs Kittredge/Yarbrough)

Look! More overpriced studs. Soto is unperturbed by left-handed pitchers. His combination of price and lefty-on-lefty matchup could create an opportunity for leverage in GPPs. Yarbrough tends to be a difficult opponent despite his throwback soft-tossing southpaw profile. Judge and Stanton are among the likeliest hitters to homer today, but I’m inclined to bet against them both homering. In other words, I wouldn’t try to stack them.

Pivots: Jackie Bradley Jr. – Brewers (vs Kuhl)
Billy McKinney – Brewers (vs Kuhl)
DJ Stewart – Orioles (vs Kyle Gibson)

After a cold start, Bradley is showing signs of initiating one of his patented hot streaks. He has a seven-game hitting streak and popped three hits yesterday. He’ll likely bat leadoff. McKinney, a former prospect who never panned out, is swinging a hot stick, costs next to nothing, and will probably bat sixth. Stewart will probably hit cleanup or fifth. He’s a powerful fly ball hitter who matches up excellently against Gibson.

Also Consider: Andrew McCutchen, Austin Meadows, Starling Marte, J.D. Martinez, Dylan Carlson, Kole Calhoun, Jordan Luplow

Editor’s Note: Don’t forget to download the NBC Sports EDGE app to receive real-time player news and updates. Plus, it allows you to easily track your favorite players. Get it here!