MLB DFS Plays for 4/5/16

Two rainouts from Monday will carry over into an early Tuesday slate, as the Yankees, Astros, Red Sox, and Indians will all get early afternoon starts. The morning slate is now full of pitching options, while the night games include a pair of teams attempting to bounce back from Opening Day shutouts.

Currently, we are using xFIP simply to compare one pitcher’s performance against another. We aren’t using these numbers for calculation. We are also pulling some statistics – such as team strikeout rate – from last season’s totals until a better foundation is built in 2016. To help with some calculations, we have assumed that each hitter and pitcher has played at least one game. Each pitcher was assigned an innings total relative to his average projection.

Check the starting lineups and weather reports prior to making any plays, as these change without notice.

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One of the most lopsided pitching matchups of Tuesday comes with a high risk-reward play in Noah Syndergaard. His personal strikeout rates are fantastic, but he is facing a Royals lineup that was not only extremely resistant to strikeouts in 2015, but struck out only twice against Matt Harvey on Opening Night. In terms of win potential, Syndergaard and the Mets – especially after a loss that featured a late-inning rally – are a nice play. In a morning slate, Syndergaard’s basement is more than enough to warrant a start, with a high ceiling if the bats start missing.


The opposite of Syndergaard is Martin Perez of the Rangers. His opportunities to grab a win are diminished by Hisashi Iwakuma starting for the Mariners, but Perez is surprisingly effective against left-handed hitters. He should neutralize Robinson Cano and rack up a nice strikeout total against Seattle. Like Syndergaard, however, he is a one-trick pony on Tuesday, presenting a nice contrarian play.

If Johnny Cueto is expected to get a boost from pitching his home games in San Francisco, he suddenly takes a big hit when traveling to Milwaukee for his season debut. Regardless, the ballpark appears to be Cueto’s biggest hurdle, as the Brewers are a free-swinging group that struck out six times in Bumgarner’s five innings on work on Monday. In addition, Milwaukee hitters were swinging early-and-often with an all-or-nothing approach.

The Astros follow a similar methodology as the aforementioned Brewers, and Houston ranks second in team strikeout percentage from 2015 – out of teams playing Tuesday. Yankees’ starter Masahiro Tanaka should have no issue bringing in a high strikeout total – especially since many of Houston’s best hitters bat from the right side of the plate. Tanaka is prone to give up the long ball, however, and Houston can pile up runs in a hurry. Tanaka should be towards the bottom of the list of pitchers to own, but his strikeouts should offset the risk of runs he might allow.

Opposing Tanaka is Dallas Keuchel, the same Cy Young-winning pitcher that stymied the Yankees in the Wild Card game, last year. He is virtually impossible to hit as a left-handed batter, and the Yankees’ lineup already includes Ellsbury, McCann, and Gregorius. The odds are extremely low that enough of the right-handed hitters can damage Keuchel, and he is among the safest plays of the day.

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Mike Trout/Albert Pujols – In what should come as a surprise to few, Mike Trout leads the hitters in potential for Tuesday. Facing the left-handed Lester presents a solid matchup, but the bigger contributing factor is Los Angeles’ shutout from the night before. Runs are coming, and Trout will undoubtedly be part of the mix. Pujols receives a similar projection at a discounted price, and both players should be in a late lineup.

Edwin Encarnacion/Jose Bautista/Russell Martin – Although it has only been two games, Encarnacion and Bautista are added to the list of sluggers to watch without a home run. Using simple rates as projections, neither will go much longer without putting a ball over the fence. Against Odorizzi – the second-most likely pitcher to allow a home run against Tuesday’s top-50 hitters, owning one of the two is a must. Russell Martin follows suit at a premier position if he is in the starting lineup.

Chris Carter/Colby Rasmus – The prototypical DFS hitters, on websites that don’t penalize for outs at the plate, at least one of the two should be owned. Indeed, Carter is facing Cueto, while Rasmus draws Tanaka – two pitchers we listed for Tuesday – but their price for power potential is outstanding. Rasmus is a relative steal for an all-or-nothing play, and is already listed as Tuesday’s cleanup hitter.

Rougned Odor/Ian Desmond – After facing Felix Hernandez on Monday, the Rangers get a comparative reprieve with Hisashi Iwakuma. Both provide a nice opportunity for a solid price on Tuesday, and Desmond is still listed as a shortstop – filling a potential need for the day.

Starlin Castro/Addison Russell – If Desmond is too pricey, Starlin Castro is risk-reward play against Keuchel – although he bats at the bottom of the lineup. Addison Russell also loses an extra plate appearance by his lineup position, but his price, matchup, and position eligibility makes him too good to not own on Tuesday. Finally, Trevor Story cannot realistically be expected to follow-up his unreal Opening Day with another big outing, but his price is attractive enough to make him worth consideration. The suggestion is to stay away unless no other option fits the budget.

Corey Seager – Seager opened up the 2016 season by continuing to validate his status as a ‘Top Prospect,’ and earns a start in daily fantasy lineups for his price, versatility, probable lineup slot, and short-term production. Seager put the ball in play five-out-of-six times on Monday night, and should not be victimized by James Shields’ strikeout prowess for Tuesday.

Kris Bryant/Brett Lawrie – Bryant took a relatively long time to hit his first home run in 2015, but he will remain as a player to track for the foreseeable future. If he can be afforded, Bryant slots in nicely against the left-handed Heaney. For a discount, Brett Lawrie is available – at multiple positions, too – against Chris Bassitt. His low lineup position is not ideal – especially hitting in Oakland – but he might be a necessity based on lineup construction.

Justin Bour/Yangervis Solarte – On the insanely cheap side, Bour is facing Verlander – the second-most likely pitcher to allow a home run – and slotted to bat sixth on Tuesday. Solarte appears to be a mainstay near the top of the Padres’ lineup and, after a shutout at the hands of Clayton Kershaw, San Diego will not be completely dominated on back-to-back nights.

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Featured Image Credit: By Arturo Pardavila III from Hoboken, NJ, USA (Lester vs. Tanaka) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Mario Mergola
Mario Mergola is a writer, avid sports fan, former ESPN Radio producer, husband, and father who specializes in finding the hidden gems of the less-explored option. Follow @MarioMergola