MLB Top Plays: Sunday 4/4

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Brad Johnson
·9 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’ll focus our attention on the eight-game afternoon slate.

HITTING STACKS

Yankees vs T.J. Zeuch – A pitch-to-contact sinkerballer, Zeuch matches up poorly against virtually any opponent. Some of the Yankees more potent hitters like Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and DJ LeMahieu produce low average launch angles, leaving them more exposed to grounding out against Zeuch. Even if the frontline matchup doesn’t go in the Yankees favor, they’ll get a shot at the lesser relievers in the Jays bullpen.

Royals vs Jordan Lyles – The Rangers are expected to use a tandem of Wes Benjamin (a left-hander) and Lyles (a righty) to get them deep into this game. Neither pitcher exhibits what I’ll term as run-prevention traits. They share just one helpful attribute – a low walk rate. The Royals offense is relatively aggressive and shouldn’t struggle with either pitcher. The Rangers bullpen is highly exploitable as well.

Red Sox vs Bruce Zimmermann – Like Zeuch, Zimmermann is another uninspiring pitcher with a high ground ball rate. The Red Sox lineup is mostly right-handed. Only Rafael Devers and Alex Verdugo are dinged for facing a southpaw.

PITCHER

Top Play: Ian Anderson - Braves (at Philadelphia Phillies)

Anderson projects as far and away the best pitcher in the slate according to our DFS Projections. He’s also the most expensive hurler by a small margin. The right-hander picked up where he left off this spring and is the closest thing to an ace pitching today. While he has the potential to run away with this game, the Phillies offense is a difficult matchup.

Pivot: Zach Davies - Cubs (vs Pittsburgh Pirates)

In the current DFS meta, a decent rule of thumb is to draft strikeouts and hope the innings are up to snuff. Call it the Corbin Burnes Plan. Davies offers us an alternate track. He’s an efficient pitcher and has the best chance to finish six frames today. The Pirates offense projects as one of the worst in the league. During his excellent 2020 campaign, Davies used his changeup as his primary offering. He threw his ineffective 88-mph fastball just 38.5 percent of the time. Sometimes, pitchers of this profile have a sort of matchup-neutralizing effect. They can make good lineups look worse but weaker opponents get a small bump in expected results.

Watch out for the mild six-mph breeze blowing out to left field at Wrigley.

Also Consider: Aaron Civale, Zach Eflin, Brady Singer

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CATCHER

Top Play: Gary Sanchez – Yankees (vs Zeuch)

This is a matchup made in heaven – assuming Sanchez isn’t stuck with an early Sunday rest day. The adjustments he made over the offseason and reaped early rewards as he’s homered in each of the first two games. His hefty fly ball rate counteracts Zeuch’s ground ball tendencies. Strikeouts are Sanchez’s kryptonite, and Zeuch isn’t talented at missing bats. Sanchez is the top-projected catcher.

If it happens to be Kyle Higashioka’s day, he’s an excellent pivot play. He’s a very similar hitter to Sanchez – just with less raw pop.

Pivot: Alejandro Kirk – Blue Jays (vs Domingo German)

Despite a reputation as a quality pitcher, German hasn’t quite pieced it all together yet. He’s missed considerable time for off-field issues, and it’s uncertain just how sharp he is at this stage. He has some fly ball tendencies which should aid Kirk’s effort to lift the ball. The Jays bowling-ball backstop is a unique talent with the body of Willians Astudillo and a hitting profile similar to David Fletcher. Assuming he starts, he can fill the role of Yermin Mercedes this afternoon as a cheap catcher with all kinds of multi-hit potential.

Also Consider: Sal Perez, Christian Vazquez, Tyler Stephenson

FIRST BASE

Top Play: Trey Mancini – Orioles (at Garrett Richards)

While Mancini isn’t the best first baseman by projected point total, he’s exceptionally inexpensive to the point of making him a must-play in cash games. He was effective this spring and should be expected to perform as an average first baseman this season. His delivers a cacophony of loud contact, helping to make up for a low average launch angle which cuts into his home run potential. Richards has a long history of volatile, short outings. Mancini should get at least two shots at middling Red Sox relievers.

Pivot: Jay Bruce – Yankees (vs Zeuch)

Bruce works as part of a Yankees stack or a standalone gem. As a left-handed hitter with a hefty fly ball rate, he matches up brilliantly with Zeuch. Yankee Stadium doesn’t hurt matters either. He has a one-in-four chance to homer – on par with the best first basemen today but at half the cost.

Also Consider: Freddie Freeman, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Carlos Santana, Rowdy Tellez

SECOND BASE

Top Play: Whit Merrifield – Royals (vs Benjamin/Lyles)

Second base is a weak position today with Merrifield’s multi-hit ability offering the best path to a high point total. The potential for big savings at other positions means you can afford to including a pricey Merrifield even if he’s isn’t the best dollar-for-dollar value. This is doubly true if you’re pondering a Royals stacks. Merrifield isn’t a traditional Statcast darling. His strength is dunking liners at open spaces.

Pivot: Mike Moustakas – Reds (vs Carlos Martinez)

The Cardinals-Reds game as thus far gone overlooked as a potential high-scoring matchup. Martinez was exceptionally ineffective as a starter last season, though he has a long track record of above average output. He fell afoul of home runs (2.70 HR/9) in 2020 despite usually preventing big flies. Great American Ballpark isn’t an ideal place to test if the old Martinez is back – anybody can homer in that bandbox. Moustakas rates as a one-in-four chance to go deep – the highest among second basemen.

Also Consider: Marcus Semien, Jorge Polanco, Enrique Hernandez, DJ LeMahieu

THIRD BASE

Top Play: Nolan Arenado – Cardinals (at Jeff Hoffman)

It’s a matchup of former Rockies. Both could be affected by leaving the friendly confines of Coors Field behind. Hoffman, once a top prospect who never found success at altitude, earned plaudits this spring for his pitch usage. Despite that, he coughed up 17 runs in 18 innings and should be viewed as a prime stacking target. Arenado is showing no ill-effects from playing at sea level through two games. He already has a homer and four hits in 10 plate appearances. His muted output last season appears to be an aberration resulting from an unusually low .241 BABIP.

Pivot: Alec Bohm – Phillies (vs Anderson)

So long as he remains cheap, Bohm will consistently rate as one of my preferred bargain targets. He’s reminiscent of an early-career LeMahieu – a version less committed to opposite field contact. While his home run totals are liable to always undershoot his raw power, he’s also not a zero in the category. Most days, he’ll quietly rate among the likeliest hitters to deliver multiple hits. There’s no mistake this is a tough matchup. Bohm offers an opportunity in GPPs to hedge against a poor outing from Anderson without fully committing to a Phillies stack.

Also Consider: Moustakas, Guerrero Jr., Jose Ramirez

SHORTSTOP

Top Play: Eugenio Suarez – Reds (vs Martinez)

With his penchant for pulled, fly ball contact, Suarez is an omnipresent multi-homer threat. Shifting his bat from third base to shortstop will make it all the easier to bet on him again and again this season. Martinez is a ground ball pitcher, marking this a strong matchup for Suarez.

Pivot: Willi Castro – Tigers (vs Civale)

The Indians starter might be the most-used pitcher. Castro’s aggressive approach could serve him well against a nibbler like Civale. His best trait is lineup role: he’ll bat third. While he has decent pop for a shortstop, he isn’t especially likely to homer today.

Also Consider: Xander Bogaerts, Paul DeJong, Dansby Swanson

OUTFIELD

Top Plays: Joey Gallo – Rangers (at Singer)
Jorge Soler (vs Benjamin/Lyles)
Christian Yelich – Brewers (vs Michael Pineda)

Gallo is the best target for a home run today, offering a one-in-three chance to lift a Singer sinker into the stratosphere. This is a fairly classic recommendation for me – an extreme fly ball hitter versus a ground ball pitcher. Soler also ranks highly on the home run list. He matches up well against the Rangers stockpile of sacrificial arms. Yelich continues to scald every ball he puts in play. Pineda likes to work his fastball up in the zone where Yelich’s power really comes to life.

Pivots: Kyle Isbel – Royals (vs Benjamin/Lyles)
Cedric Mullins – Orioles (at Richards)

Isbel is a balanced talent with a profile not unlike a less-disciplined Brett Gardner. Despite lacking experience above High-A, he’s the exact kind of hitter who races out to a fiery start before scouting reports have an opportunity to adjust. Now is a great time to ride the bargain wave until it crests. Confirm he’s in the starting lineup as there’s some risk the Royals will sit him until Benjamin is out of the game. Mullins is a classic, low-cost GPP play. His leadoff role helps his value. Hope for multiple hits rather than a home run.

Also Consider: Merrifield, Byron Buxton, Bryce Harper, Marcell Ozuna, Aaron Hicks, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Jordan Luplow, Tyler Naquin