MLB DFS Plays: Wednesday 8/18

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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: Charlie Morton – Braves (at Marlins)

Morton is in an ideal situation – a pitcher friendly venue and a strikeout prone opponent. He consistently finishes six or more efficient innings. Tonight, he projects for a hair over six innings and seven strikeouts. It’s same projection as Freddy Peralta and Lance Lynn but at a slightly cheaper price.

Pivot: Marco Gonzales – Mariners (at Marlins)

Gonzales is coming off a complete game gem so he won’t be as pivot-ish as normal. He projects to lead the slate in innings pitched (about six-and-two-thirds) with 5.5 strikeouts. He should receive plentiful run support, putting the win bonus within reach. The Rangers have the worst offense in the last month (.192/.245/.321). They’re not strikeout prone, but they rarely do damage with the bat.

Also Consider: Jack Flaherty, Freddy Peralta, Lance Lynn, Shohei Ohtani, Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Yarbrough, Tarik Skubal, Mitch White

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CATCHER

Top Play: Will Smith – Dodgers (vs J.T. Brubaker)

As yesterday, Smith’s matchup is optimized for power outcomes. Lately, he’s hitting third in these high-value situations. Smith and Brubaker have mirrored launch angles. The Dodgers catcher has a one-in-three chance to homer.

Pivot: Cal Raleigh – Mariners (at Mike Foltynewicz)

While it’s yet to pay off, Raleigh has all the qualities of a slugging catcher with multi-homer potential. Foltynewicz pitches to contact and has been wrecked by home runs in recent seasons including 2.40 HR/9 this year. Since he doesn’t induce many whiffs, that should help Raleigh to improve upon his 30 percent strikeout rate. Several Rangers relievers are ground ball pitchers against whom Raleigh should thrive.

Also Consider: J.T. Realmuto, Max Stassi, Carson Kelly, Yohel Pozo

FIRST BASE

Top Play: Freddie Freeman – Braves (at Jesus Luzardo)

Freeman should be undersubscribed this evening due to a lefty-on-lefty matchup. Luzardo is a mess these days. He has trouble surviving even five innings. Freeman projects as an above average hitter in the frontline matchup and a star versus whichever scrubby relievers the fish turn to later. Since Freeman is supported by an almost exclusively right-handed lineup, opponents rarely call on their LOOGY relievers. He probably won’t have to deal with Richard Bleier – the only one who specifically matches up well against Freeman.

Pivot: Brad Miller – DBacks (at Bumgarner/Humberto Castellanos)

I wanted to get this explanation out of the way early. Luke Voit or Ryan Mountcastle are probably slightly better pivots.

The Diamondbacks have yet to elaborate on their plan for today. It’s Bumgarner’s turn in the rotation, but it seems he might be given an extra day of rest in favor of Castellanos. The Phillies – and Miller especially - don’t match well against Bumgarner. Castellanos, however, is arguably the worst pitcher in the slate. And this is a contest that includes Foltynewicz and Spenser Watkins. The soft-tossing right-hander doesn’t induce whiffs and had serious home run issues in 10 Triple-A starts. When he connects, Miller makes consistently high-quality contact. His issue is with whiffs. Since Castellanos and the DBacks pen don’t induce many swinging strikes, it’s a favorable situation.

Also Consider: Jose Abreu, Max Muncy, Yuli Gurriel, Jared Walsh, Ty France, Luke Voit, Carlos Santana

SECOND BASE

Top Play: Trea Turner – Dodgers (vs Crowe)

Although not an ideal matchup, Turner has his usual potential to fill the boxscore versus a mid-tier opponent backed by an exploitable bullpen. Network effects in the Dodgers lineup give their leadoff man an off-chance for six plate appearances and run production along with the usual blend of power, speed, and multi-hit potential.

Pivot: DJ LeMahieu – Yankees (vs Watkins)

The bargains at second base aren’t very interesting tonight so it makes sense to examine more expensive pivots. Since joining the Yankees, LeMahieu hits most of his home runs at Yankee Stadium. With his low angle of contact, he needs a little help from the opponent to lift the ball. Fortunately, Watkins has a 16.3-degree average launch angle. That not only edges DJLM’s power potential to an appreciable level, it also increases the chance of a multi-hit game.

Also Consider: Brandon Lowe, Max Muncy, Jose Altuve, Ozzie Albies, Enrique Hernandez, Jean Segura, Abraham Toro, Yonny Hernandez

THIRD BASE

Top Play: Kyle Seager – Mariners (at Foltynewicz)

Seager is an all-or-nothing power play with just under a one-in-three shot at delivering a dinger or more. His steep launch angle actually doesn’t mesh well against Foltynewicz. There is increased whiff and fly out risk associated with this matchup. However, Seager’s fly balls should serve him well against most Rangers relievers. If you have money to burn, you might prefer the higher floor alternative of Justin Turner.

Pivot: Yonny Hernandez – Rangers (vs Gonzales)

The Rangers leadoff man is a naked punt. He’s unlikely to walk or strike out in this matchup – it’s all about balls in play. He’s a tenacious contact-oriented hitter with almost no power potential. He uses a classic approach to put the ball in play and let his wheels put pressure on the defense.

Also Consider: Justin Turner, Rafael Devers, Chris Taylor, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Austin Riley

SHORTSTOP

Top Play: Xander Bogaerts – Red Sox (at Andrew Heaney)

The Red Sox stack might be underappreciated in this one. The Yankees will mostly be without their best relievers today. Heaney is an inconsistent and homer prone starter. Joining the Yankees is not going to improve that latter issue. He’s coughed up 1.98 HR/9 on the season including 4.80 HR/9 in three starts since joining his new club. Bogaerts has a neutral contact profile that plays waaaaaay up in this matchup.

Pivot: Dylan Moore – Mariners (at Foltynewicz)

Moore’s physical tools give him an impressive ability to fill a boxscore. Unfortunately, whiffs tend to be his downfall. Against exploitable pitchers like Folty and the Rangers bullpen, this is a rare occasion when Moore projects for better than a 25 percent strikeout rate. Simply put, more balls in play creates further opportunity for point scoring.

Also Consider: Trea Turner, Tim Anderson, Wander Franco, Corey Seager, Dansby Swanson, Carlos Correa, Didi Gregorius, Hoy Jun Park

OUTFIELD

Top Plays: Aaron Judge – Yankees (vs Kyle Hendricks)
Giancarlo Stanton – Yankees (at Smith)
Nelson Cruz – Rays (vs Watkins)

Judge and Stanton are best used against the types of fly ball pitchers who think they have control of the entire zone. They’re prone to making mashable mistakes over the heart of the plate. Pivetta is just such a pitcher. If he works to his strengths up in the zone, then the Yankees mashers have a mere one-in-three chance to homer. If he tries to pitch to their weakness (i.e. low in the zone), their homer potential increases.

Cruz has performed unevenly since joining the Rays. Seven of his 16 hits have been home runs. There’s nothing to suggest he’s suddenly declined at the plate – this semi-slump is just par for the course with sluggers. After homering twice yesterday, he may be a tad chalky in this obviously friendly matchup.

Pivots: Hunter Renfroe – Red Sox (at Heaney)
Alex Verdugo – Red Sox (at Heaney)
Justin Upton – Angels (at Skubal)

Renfroe has lowered his launch angle this season, improving his consistency at the plate at the expense of extreme power potential. It’s the same adjustment we discussed about Will Smith in yesterday’s column. The bottom line is that the old Renfroe would have been at risk of extra whiffs and pop outs against Heaney. This new version matches decently. Verdugo’s an even better fit. His natural low angle of contact will help him to sock a charge into the ball. You’ll want to make sure he’s batting second and not eighth. As for Upton, he typically bats third or fifth for the Angels. He’s back in a slump of sorts which has driven his price tag to basement territory. It’s a high risk, high reward play. Facing a fly ball pitcher at Comerica Park works against Upton.

Also Consider: J.D. Martinez, Kyle Schwarber, Enrique Hernandez, Bryce Harper, Yordan Alvarez, Michael Brantley, Chas McCormick, Austin Meadows, Randy Arozarena, Chris Taylor, A.J. Pollock, Luis Robert, Jorge Soler, Adam Duvall, Bryan Reynolds, Ketel Marte, Hoy Jun Park, Ben Gamel, Gregory Polanco, Jarred Kelenic, Jake Meyers