MLB Top Plays: Friday 4/2

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Brad Johnson
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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.

Tonight’s slate consists of six games.

HITTING STACKS

Dodgers at Antonio Senzatela – It doesn’t take a genius to use arguably the top offense at Coors Field against what is probably the weakest starting pitcher in the slate. The Rockies bullpen is also rather poor.

Rockies vs Trevor Bauer – The opposite end of the Coors matchup has a “pivot” feel to it. Bauer is the most expensive player, but he doesn’t have much experience at altitude. He also projects as one of the top performers. If it goes wrong for him, you’ll be sitting pretty in GPPs.

Giants at Yusei Kikuchi – The Giants were the third-best offense against left-handed pitching last season. Their offense has returned with scarcely any changes. It’s fair to chalk some of their success up to small sample noise, but they do have quite a few right-handed hitters with a long history of lefty-mashing like Evan Longoria, Wilmer Flores, and Buster Posey.

PITCHER

Top Play: Pablo Lopez - Marlins (vs Tampa Bay Rays)

Our DFS Projections will tell you Bauer is the top pitcher today, but I find myself enraptured by Lopez. He records a strikeout per inning while effectively limiting opposing baserunners and inducing 50 percent ground balls. Several key Rays like Brandon Lowe and Randy Arozarena scuffled this spring. It might take this potentially dangerous offense a couple weeks to catch its stride.

Pivot: Yusei Kikuchi - Mariners (vs San Francisco Giants)

Since Kikuchi is a stacking target in a small slate, it automatically qualifies him as a savvy pivot. This is all the more certain because he’s shown signs of being a much better pitcher than his career 5.39 ERA suggests. Thanks to adjustments he made last season, he has the components to piece together a strikeout per inning with over a 50 percent ground ball rate. The Giants lefty-mashing bonafides are built upon just 650 plate appearances.

Also Consider: Bauer, Blake Snell, Ryan Yarbrough

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CATCHER

Top Play: Will Smith – Dodgers (at Senzatela)

Smith loves pitches down in the strike zone. It’s his nitro zone. For that reason, a matchup against Senzatela at Coors Field is pure profit. The Rockies right-hander leans on a heavy fastball. He survives his home park by inducing over 50 percent ground balls. However, fly ball hitters tend to feast on such pitchers. Only a couple fellow Dodgers are likelier to deliver a home run.

Pivot: Sean Murphy – Athletics (vs Cristian Javier)

For a thin slate, there are quite a few interesting catchers at varying price points. Murphy is smack dab in the middle of the cost spectrum, and he’s liable to be overlooked due to a seemingly difficult matchup. Javier is a young fly ball pitcher who primarily leans on a fastball and slider. Murphy has an optimized launch angle and one of the highest exit velocities for a catcher. Even if he doesn’t get to Javier, I anticipate a short outing. The Astros bullpen appears to be a weakness.

Also Consider: Kurt Suzuki, Yasmani Grandal, Luis Campusano, Buster Posey

FIRST BASE

Top Play: Max Muncy – Dodgers (at Senzatela)

Muncy is one of those “fellow Dodgers” with nearly a one-in-three chance to homer tonight. Like Smith, he’s a fly-ball hitter who mashes pitches down in the zone. As a bonus, he’ll have the platoon advantage.

Pivot: C.J. Cron – Rockies (vs Bauer)

Cron was locked in all Spring and comes with a surprising tame price tag tonight. Bauer was a fly ball pitcher last season. For all his accomplishments, he’s not skilled at suppressing home runs. Overall, this is a fairly neutral matchup for Cron. The Dodgers do have an imposing bullpen lurking behind Bauer.

Also Consider: Jose Abreu, Edwin Rios, Evan White

SECOND BASE

Top Play: Ketel Marte – Diamondbacks (at Snell)

After a smoking Opening Day, Marte remains an obvious bargain target tonight. The second base position isn’t especially deep, although there are a number of interesting, low-cost options available. Plan to use this position to save money. This isn’t an ideal matchup for Marte since both he and Snell are ground ball guys.

Pivot: Jed Lowrie – Athletics (vs Javier)

Lowrie is expected to fill a top-of-the-order lineup role. Prior to his lost years as a New York Met, he was a consistent if boring source of hits, on base skills, and run production. It might be too much to expect the 37-year-old to pick up where he left off in 2018, but he doesn’t have to at his current price tag.

Also Consider: Gavin Lux, Dylan Moore, Ryan McMahon, Ty France, Jazz Chisholm

THIRD BASE

Top Play: Justin Turner – Dodgers (at Senzatela)

Turner has learned to make the most of his limited skills. His 107-mph max exit velocity is below average. Instead, his particular talent is frequent hard contact. It’s this trait that should draw our attention tonight. While there’s upside for a home run, we want to capitalize on his prime lineup role and multiple hits. He’s better used as part of a Dodgers stack than as a one-off.

Pivot: Evan Longoria – Giants (at Kikuchi)

Longoria is a career .280/.357/.509 hitter against left-handed pitching, and he’s maintained similar levels of success over the last two seasons. Much of his platoon success can be traced to a higher fly ball rate against southpaws. That trait will be essential for him to provide value against a ground-baller like Kikuchi.

Also Consider: Rios, McMahon, Josh Fuentes, Manny Machado

SHORTSTOP

Top Play: Corey Seager – Dodgers (at Senzatela)

Since his breakout last season, Seager has emerged to challenge Juan Sot, Freddie Freeman, and Christian Yelich for the title of best left-handed hitter. A valuable DFS trait of his is that he doesn’t work many walks. An ability to hit for a high average and power maximizes his potential point generation. He has one of the lowest launch angles among Dodger regulars, taking some of the sizzle out of this particular matchup.

Pivot: Nick Ahmed – Diamondbacks (at Snell)

This one depends on lineup role. Ahmed is a career .281/.331/.467 hitter against southpaws and should be strongly considered if he bats near the top of the lineup. It’s possible he’ll still hit in the bottom three in which case you should look elsewhere. Both Ahmed and Snell skew towards ground balls. Snell could possibly be the most popular pitcher tonight, making Ahmed doubly interesting as a pivot.

Also Consider: Trevor Story, Fernando Tatis Jr., Tim Anderson, Chisholm

OUTFIELD

Top Plays: Cody Bellinger – Dodgers (at Senzatela)
Mookie Betts – Dodgers (at Senzatela)
A.J. Pollock – Dodgers (at Senzatela)

Well, no surprises here. These are more exceptionally talented fly ball hitters in a juicy situation. Pollock is almost a pivot because everybody will want the shinier aspects of the Dodgers stack. It’s worth noting he’s more of a balanced hitter, delivering around 20 percent liners, 40 percent grounders, and 40 percent fly balls.

I’m inclined to fade Bellinger. He scuffled this spring – supposedly due to his repaired shoulder. While he did deliver a wacky “just enough” home run yesterday, that might serve as a false confirmation of his health. Or maybe he is actually completely unhindered. These mini-bets are what make DFS so much fun!

Pivots: Adam Duvall – Marlins (vs Yarbrough)
Austin Slater – Giants (at Kikuchi)

Duvall has a valuable lineup role as the Marlins cleanup hitter and a history of torching left-handed pitchers. While I don’t consider this a perfect matchup for him – Yarbrough is talented when it comes to flummoxing right-handed bats – Duvall is one of the cheapest players with better than a one-in-four chance to homer.

Slater is around the same cost and is expected to lead off for the Giants. He’s a serious all-around talent with the ability to hit for average, power, work counts, and steal bases. From my perspective, he’s their best hitter despite that he current projects as a part-timer.

Also Consider: Mike Trout, Mitch Haniger, Luis Robert, Austin Meadows, Sam Hilliard, Andrew Vaughn, Taylor Trammell