MLB DFS Plays: Sunday 5/16

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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’ll focus on the 10-game main slate which excludes the Coors Field game. It’s obviously of high important this afternoon if happens to be included by your preferred platform.

UPDATE: Adam Plutko is now expected to open for the Orioles. Ostensibly, Eshelman will handle bulk relief.

PITCHER

Top Play: Lance McCullers – Astros (vs Rangers)

This is a strange pitching slate. It’s stuffed to the gills with decent, playable values – the kind of pitchers who usually perform modestly but could lead the way in this ace-less contest. There’s an obvious top two of Freddy Peralta vs the Braves and McCullers. I prefer the Houston right-hander because he more reliably completes six innings. In fact, he’s done so in each of his last four appearances. Peralta is more valuable on a per-inning basis and thus has a slightly higher ceiling. The Rangers have a league average offense with a 26 percent strikeout rate. Peralta’s opponent, the Braves, have also been league average with a 24.2 percent strikeout rate. The difference is a matter of fortune. The Braves are better than this. The Rangers are playing way above their heads.

Pivot: Robbie Ray – Blue Jays (vs Phillies)

The Phillies will be without Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto this afternoon. Didi Gregorius isn’t guaranteed to start either. With the B-Team on the field, Ray could carve through this strikeout prone (27.7% K%), below average (89 wRC+) offense. I like to call Ray a random number generator. Strikingly, he’s recorded between 21.9 and 23.9 DK points in each of his last four appearances. Even more shocking, he hasn’t walked a single batter in that span. The Jays claimed they unlocked a new gear for Ray this spring.

Also Consider: Peralta, Alex Wood, Marcus Stroman, Huascar Ynoa, Chris Bassitt, Jordan Montgomery, Kyle Hendricks, Dylan Cease

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CATCHER

Top Play: Willson Contreras – Cubs (at Matt Boyd)

Boyd is perhaps the most obvious regression candidate in baseball. His strikeout rate has collapsed, and his usual homeritis isn’t yet in evidence. There doesn’t seem to be a sufficient change in approach to explain either difference. Right-handed Cubs should be considered to have elevated home run potential against this fly ball pitcher. By batted ball profile, Contreras matches up well. He rested yesterday so we know he’ll play this afternoon.

Pivot: Kyle Higashioka – Yankees (at Tom Eshelman)

Higgy is perhaps the likeliest catcher to homer today at power friendly Camden Yards versus a slew of below average pitchers. He makes frequent pulled, fly ball contact. Eshelman is the frontline matchup, although he’s unlikely to pitch deep into this game. A soft-tossing, pitch-to-contact right-hander, Eshelman has a career 5.22 ERA in 70.2 innings. He was dreadful in his lone Triple-A appearance this season. Most importantly, Eshelman’s 4.84 K/9 means Higashioka will probably put multiple balls in play. Roughly 1-in-10 of his batted balls leave the yard.

UPDATE: Gary Sanchez is starting. He projects comparably to Higashioka but unfortunately costs considerably more.

Also Consider: Yermin Mercedes, Omar Narvaez, Andrew Knapp

FIRST BASE

Top Play: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – Blue Jays (vs Chase Anderson)

The Phillies starter is a homer prone fly ball pitcher. He’s visiting one of the few venues that’s less pitcher friendly than Citizen’s Bank Park. Toronto’s (technically Dunedin) TD Ballpark boosts home run production by roughly 20 percent. Guerrero’s low-angle, extreme hard contact makes this a nitro match up. He has a one-in-three chance to homer along with a range of other positive outcomes.

Pivot: Freddie Freeman – Braves (at Peralta)

I love hunting for elite “pivots.” Freeman should go relatively unsubscribed thanks to his matchup against arguably the top pitcher in the slate. However, making targeted bets against chalky pitchers can be a path to GPP victory. Freeman is a tad snakebit this season with an unbelievable .204 BABIP. He’s always been a high BABIP hitter - .330s and better – and there’s no sign of any skill decline. Moreover, his disciplined approach with low-angle contact matches up well against Peralta. Power, multiple hits, and a bloated boxscore are all on the table.

Also Consider: Shohei Ohtani, Jared Walsh, Luke Voit, Rhys Hoskins, Matt Olson, Pete Alonso, Freddy Freeman, Jonathan Schoop

SECOND BASE

Top Play: Marcus Semien – Blue Jays (vs Anderson)

Semien keeps showing up in high value situations. Anderson isn’t an ideal opponent since both players skew heavily towards fly ball contact. That reduces Semien’s chances for hard contact. TD Ballpark is small enough for mishit balls to leave the yard. The Phillies bullpen is exploitable too.

Pivot: Jean Segura – Phillies (at Ray)

Nobody ever looks to Segura for more than empty batting average. This is a rare instance where power could be (predictably) in play too. Between the venue, Ray’s fly ball traits, and Segura’s low-angle, high-contact approach, there’s potential for Segura to mash a ball or three. Unlike other hitters of Segura’s type, he makes hard contact (112-mph Max EV). On top of everything, Ray is homer prone.

Also Consider: Jose Altuve, Whit Merrifield, Luis Arraez

THIRD BASE

Top Play: Anthony Rendon – Angels (at Nate Eovaldi)

A brace of minor injuries have prevented Rendon from getting in a groove this season. His fly ball hitting tendencies are a minor detriment when playing at Angels Stadium, but they could help him to a cheapie home run at Fenway Park this afternoon. Eovaldi’s ground ball tendencies further improve the matchup for Rendon.

Pivot: Miguel Andujar – Yankees (at Eshelman)

Prior to his recent recall, Andujar smoked Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .350/.348/.800 batting line with three home runs in 23 plate appearances. Eshelman fits right in with the Triple-A crowd. We should see Andujar scald a couple balls today. Oddly, he’s produced below average exit velocities since his breakout in 2018.

Also Consider: Alex Bregman, Yoan Moncada, Alec Bohm, Gio Urshela

SHORTSTOP

Top Play: Bo Bichette – Blue Jays (vs Anderson)

Like Guerrero, this is another nitro matchup pitting a high caliber ground ball hitter against an exploitable fly ball pitcher at a power friendly venue. His aggressive approach is a boon to DFSers – we don’t have to worry about plate appearances wasted on unnecessary walks.

Pivot: Luis Urias – Brewers (vs Ynoa)

Playable bargain shortstops are few and far between today. Urias has more pop and lift than you’d expect from a hitter of his stature. He has an above average 111.5-mph max exit velocity, a 10.4-degree average launch angle, 11.1 percent barrel rate, and 44.4 percent hard contact rate. Ynoa, while talented, is a predictable two-pitch guy who’s bounded to run into some unexpected clunkers along the way. A contrarian Brewers stack isn’t a bad idea. Urias also works as a one-off at a thin position.

Also Consider: Xander Bogaerts, Javy Baez, Tim Anderson, Urshela

OUTFIELD

Top Plays: Shohei Ohtani – Angels (at Eovaldi)
Mike Trout – Angels (at Eovaldi)
Aaron Judge – Yankees (at Eshelman)

Oh cool, an entire outfield of premium Angels hitters who match up well against Eovaldi. All three (including Justin Upton) are low-ball mashers. While Fenway Park can be tough on left-handed home runs, Ohtani isn’t a “just enough” power guy. If he catches one, it’ll leave the yard. Once again, Judge is a better value than his teammate Giancarlo Stanton (who also might need to sit for a sore quad). The matchup against Eshelman is maxed out in terms of favorability.

Pivots: Teoscar Hernandez – Blue Jays (vs Anderson)
Randal Grichuk – Blue Jays (vs Anderson)
Austin Meadows – Rays (vs Stroman)

The Blue Jays stack continues in the outfield. Both those listed here are fly ball hitters of a less extreme version than Semien. Again, it’s not perfect – pop outs are possible – but they’re well positioned to feast on mistakes. Hernandez in particular is an affordable multi-homer target. Meadows has gone way too far in a fly ball or die direction. We need to specifically seek out ground ball pitchers like Stroman before we use him.

Also Consider: Upton, Lourdes Gurriel, Andrew McCutchen, J.D. Martinez, Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker, Michael Brantley, Kris Bryant, Mark Canha, Nelson Cruz, Trevor Larnach, Odubel Herrera