MLB DFS Plays: Sunday 7/4

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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.

Nine games comprise the main slate. Some platforms will also include the next four games. Among those are the Coors Field game and the Angels hosting Thomas Eshelman.

PITCHER

Top Play: Lucas GiolitoWhite Sox (at Tigers)

Projection systems treat Gerrit Cole as the clear favorite today, in part because he’s pitching the first game of a doubleheader. Complete game bonuses are well within reach. Giolito has a friendlier price tag than the other aces, one that I believe properly accounts for the risk of diminished stuff related to the new grip aid rules. The Tigers are also the most strikeout prone club. Giolito is coming off an interesting start. White Sox might call it a roaring success. DFS players were less enthused because he only managed one strikeout.

Pivot: Zack Greinke – Astros (at Indians)

Cleveland is probably without Jose Ramirez this afternoon, rendering their lineup even more easily exploitable. If I had to pick one pitcher with the best chance to toss a complete game, Greinke would be on the shortlist for top honors (see also Cole, Marcus Stroman, and Kyle Hendricks). He’s proven inconsistent this season, bobbing and weaving between gems and duds. Cleveland offers a below average offense, but they aren't especially strikeout prone.

Also Consider: Gerrit Cole, Freddy Peralta, Robbie Ray, Kyle Hendricks, Charlie Morton, Tyler Anderson

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CATCHER

Top Play: J.T. Realmuto – Phillies (vs Blake Snell)

Snell isn’t a lock to start. He’s currently on the COVID-list. Padres manager Jayce Tingler is “confident” Snell will be activated. It’s obviously a challenging matchup for Realmuto despite that Snell has noticeably lost stuff this season. He still has good days such as last week when he held the vaunted Dodgers lineup scoreless in five innings. Home runs have been a problem in recent seasons including 1.36 HR/9 this year. Realmuto is at risk of hitting too many ground balls to do serious damage today. However, between Snell’s inconsistency, a homer friendly venue, and an affordable price, it’ll be tough to resist using the Phillies third hitter.

Pivot: Jason Castro – Astros (at Cal Quantrill)

Castro caught a breather yesterday in the form of a designated hitter start so he’s almost certain to catch today. The recommendation remains unchanged. Progressive Field is helpful for left-handed power. Castro delivers above average exit velocities and barrel rates. The downside is that half of his plate appearances end in a walk or strikeout. Quantrill is a mid-tier pitcher, albeit one who will likely only face Castro twice. The Indians do not have a left-handed reliever.

Also Consider: Willson Contreras, Salvador Perez, Ryan Jeffers

FIRST BASE

Top Play: Freddie Freeman – Braves (vs Zach Thompson)

Freeman is frequently just behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and/or Shohei Ohtani (not in this slate) for top billing. He dealt with an unusually low BABIP earlier in the season despite his other peripherals suggesting it was business as usual. He’s since recovered, as expected, with especially torrid numbers over the last 10 days - .450/.522/.600. Thompson is coming off an unexpected gem against the Nationals. He’s a fly ball pitcher which only improves the expected outcomes for Freeman.

Pivot: Miguel Sano – Twins (at Brad Keller)

I’m honestly unsure why Keller has struggled so much this season. He seems to be doing his usual sinker-slider combo with career worst ground ball, walk, and BABIP. Sano, an extreme fly ball hitter, matches up well against a pitch-to-contact sinker specialist. He has a one-in-four shot at a home run.

Also Consider: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Rhys Hoskins, Yuli Gurriel, Luke Voit, Alex Kirilloff

SECOND BASE

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

Yarbrough has struggled with home runs this season, allowing 1.36 HR/9. Over his last eight starts, that figure jumps to 2.17 HR/9/. As a left-handed ground ball pitcher, he matches up particularly poorly against Semien. The Jays second baseman has extreme pulled, fly ball contact. While his reputation for lefty mashing is overwrought, having the platoon advantage for most of the game won’t hurt.

Pivot: Jonathan India – Reds (vs Hendricks)

India is a balanced hitter who does everything well but currently lacks a standout trait. He has a challenging matchup against Hendricks at a power friendly ballpark. While he’s not quite on par with the top second basemen, he’s much more affordable. Put another way, he’s one of the best combinations of projection and price tag.

Also Consider: Ozzie Albies, Jose Altuve, Marcus Semien, Whit Merrifield, Jake Cronenworth, DJ LeMahieu, Jorge Polanco, Luis Arraez

THIRD BASE

Top Play: Kris Bryant – Cubs (at Wade Miley)

Bryant is both reasonably priced and high-ceilinged. Miley has proven a tough competitor, frequently finishing six or more innings. Only three of his 14 starts have included more than two earned runs. His ground ball tendencies help him to neutralize the effects of Great American Ballpark. Bryant has enough lift in his swing to do some damage. He has a one-in-four chance to homer.

Pivot: Jake Burger – White Sox (at Matt Manning)

Manning’s prospect status has drifted from boundless potential towards a more middle class reality. His stuff lacks some of the more popular interactive effects from the current pitching meta. Perhaps that explains why he’s managed a paltry 3.77 K/9 and 4.7 percent swinging strike rate through his first 14.1 big league innings. Manning works in and around the zone and is neither a fly ball nor ground ball pitcher. That’s perfect for Burger whose biggest weakness are aggression and strikeouts.

Also Consider: Manny Machado, Ke’Bryan Hayes, DJ LeMahieu, Austin Riley, Eugenio Suarez, Alec Bohm, Gio Urshela, Abraham Toro

SHORTSTOP

Top Play: Fernando Tatis Jr. – Padres (at Vince Velasquez)

Tatis leads the slate in home run potential at better than a one-in-three shot. Not only is the venue beneficial, the opposing pitching staff is struggling. I like to refer to Velasquez as a random number generator. He usually fails to complete five innings. He’ll also occasionally fire off gems like last week when he held the Marlins to two hits with seven strikeouts in seven innings. You’ll have to pay a premium for Tatis. It’s worth it.

Pivot: Jorge Polanco – Twins (at Keller)

After some early-season struggles, Polanco is putting together a rebound campaign. Most importantly for today, he’s a fly ball hitter with above average exit velocities – exactly the sort of hitter who should thrive against Keller.

Also Consider: Bo Bichette, Wander Franco, Carlos Correa, Tim Anderson, Javier Baez, Willy Adames, Dansby Swanson

OUTFIELD

Top Plays: Ronald Acuna – Braves (at Thompson)
Jesse Winker – Reds (vs Hendricks)
Nick Castellanos – Reds (vs Hendricks)

Acuna is a solid alternative to Tatis. He has around a one-in-three opportunity for a dinger. Acuna has recently dealt with some back stiffness. Incidentally, he’s also in a .191/.345/.511 slump since mid-June.

It’s strange to find several Reds among the best plays today because I also happen to like Hendricks. He’s a savvy pitcher who can neutralize even the most potent opponents. He’s had some issues with serving up long balls this season. Great American Ballpark almost ensures another today with Winker and Castellanos the likeliest culprits to deliver the damage.

Pivots: Gavin Sheets – White Sox (at Manning)
Adam Duvall – Marlins (at Morton)

Sheets projects as a roughly league average hitter with a blend of discipline, contact, and pop in equal measures. As a ground ball hitter, he’s unlikely to set the world afire. He can, however, easily outkick his current bargain basement price tag. Duvall offers a very different all-or-nothing look. Morton appears to be one of the most affected pitchers by the new grip aid rules, adding meltdown risk. Notably, he’s pitched well recently despite a decline in spin rate. If Morton does serve up mistakes, Duvall’s extreme fly ball rate could tip the balance in his favor.

Also Consider: Kris Bryant, Kyle Tucker, Chase McCormick, Nelson Cruz, George Springer, Teoscar Hernandez, Lourdes Gurriel, Michael Brantley, Tommy Pham, Trent Grisham, Franmil Reyes, Trevor Larnach, Jorge Soler, Aristides Aquino, Andrew Vaughn, Garrett Cooper