MLB DFS Plays for 4/25/16

Nearly the entire league is back in action on Monday, with the entire slate of games taking place at night. Simply based on matchups, there are an abnormal amount of pitching options to use, with a slimmer pool of hitters to target. This works out well for roster construction.

Currently, we are using xFIP and wOBA simply to compare one pitcher’s performance against another – especially against opposite-handed hitters. We aren’t using these numbers for calculation. 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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As always, Madison Bumgarner commands the day whenever he pitches at home. Against the Padres, Bumgarner is the no-doubt starter of the day, and has absolutely everything in his favor, from the park factor to opponent’s strikeout rates and low run output.

For a savings in price, the next pitcher that cannot be overlooked on Monday is Danny Salazar. His numbers have been outstanding, so far, and a regression is possible, but he will face an offense that is conveniently high in strikeouts and low in runs scored. In addition, Salazar’s win potential is enhanced by his opponent – Tommy Milone – who is, statistically, one of the worst pitchers of the day.


It is time to recognize Taijuan Walker as the pitcher that might be developing as expected in front of our eyes. Now with three quality starts under his belt – as a whole, he has been excellent with only three earned runs allowed in eighteen innings – Walker has an opportunity to increase his strikeout rate when facing the Astros – don’t forget that Houston just played an extra inning game on Sunday night. As always, Houston’s power makes the team a threat to score, but the lineup continues to strike out enough to warrant using opposing pitchers. Most importantly, Walker has eclipsed 100 pitches in each of his first three starts. A long leash is necessary for success in a daily fantasy lineup.

It would be unforgivable to analyze a slate of games that includes Noah Syndergaard and not consider him for use. Against the Reds – who were the victims of a no-hitter a few days earlier – Syndergaard is in position to dominate yet another opponent. Oddly enough, Cincinnati actually strikes out at a respectable rate and has scored enough runs to put the offense towards the middle-of-the-pack. With that, Syndergaard’s ceiling might actually be somewhat capped, although his floor is as high as anyone else’s. In addition, Raisel Iglesias is every bit capable of matching Syndergaard’s performance from the other side of the game, and could be used with or without Syndergaard on Monday.

Without considering his name, the Tampa Bay Rays’ pitcher sports a high ERA – regression is likely – the highest strikeout rate of all pitchers on Monday, and will face a team that is currently high-scoring, but strikes out at a reasonable rate. Said team normally plays in a hitter’s park, but will shift to a pitcher’s park on Monday. The matchup is excellent, until the name is added to the equation. Should the fact that Chris Archer is starting against the Orioles illicit fear or indifference? Unless Archer is actually hurt – his strikeout totals suggest that he is still dominating in one aspect – he remains one of the game’s better pitchers. Don’t be surprised when Archer puts together a gem.

Like Archer, Zack Greinke is in the middle of a regression towards a more respectable ERA. Unfortunately, Greinke does not get the same benefit of Archer in terms of the ballpark, but he does draw a Cardinals team that is scoring runs at an unsustainable pace. Greinke against St. Louis is purely a play for both pitcher and team returning to normal.

The final pitching option – among many on Monday – is Ian Kennedy, who will face the light-hitting Angels. Indeed, Mike Trout can cause damage, but the threats end there, as the Angels are the lowest-scoring offense of the day. Unfortunately, they basically never strike out, so Kennedy’s ceiling is extremely low, but his floor is exceptionally high, as he has pitched into the seventh inning in each of his three starts.

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Toronto Blue Jays Hitters – Toronto, as a whole, is beginning to heat up. After taking two-of-three from the Athletics over the weekend, the Blue Jays will host Miguel Gonzalez and the White Sox on Monday. Gonzalez is, quite frankly, among one of the worst pitchers on Monday, and will be making his season – and team – debut. All Blue Jays hitters are on our radar.

David Ortiz – Until Julio Teheran can get left-handed hitters out at a reasonable rate, they will remain targets. David Ortiz tops the list, as his hard hit percentage against right-handed pitching is astounding. (UPDATE: Ortiz is not in the starting lineup tonight)

Nolan Arenado – It is going to be difficult – likely, impossible – to find a better matchup than Nolan Arenado versus any left-handed pitcher in Denver. When Jeff Locke’s peripheral numbers against right-handed bats are added to the mix, Arenado becomes the play of the day. Surprisingly, Locke does limit hard contact to an extent, so Arenado may not leave the yard, but he will almost certainly deliver enough fantasy points to justify his high salary.

Troy Tulowitzki/Francisco Lindor/Carlos Correa – After Trevor Story running away and hiding with his outlier salary, shortstop receives a position-wide discount. Even at a reasonable price, Troy Tulowitzki, Francisco Lindor, and Carlos Correa are excellent options, but their respective salaries makes it disappointing that we can only start one. Lindor would get the nod over the group, but the left-handed Tommy Milone might keep Lindor from running. Tulowitzki slides into the top spot.

Andrew McCutchen/Starling Marte/Francisco Cervelli – What’s the best way to reinvigorate a power bat? Put him in Colorado. Andrew McCutchen is off to a comparatively slow start, but that stands to change on Monday. McCutchen, Starling Marte, and Francisco Cervelli all look to benefit from their matchup with Chad Bettis. (UPDATE: McCutchen is not in the starting lineup tonight)

Yan Gomes/Buster Posey – The chart continues to pick on Tommy Milone and, considering his price, Yan Gomes is a top option for Monday – especially after an off-day. For a big jump in salary, Buster Posey is the next-best option, as he faces Drew Pomeranz. Posey typically destroys left-handed pitching, and is long-overdue for a breakout – despite four hits in his last three games, Posey only has one extra-base hit since April 10th.


Be sure to check the above chart for more of the expensive hitters – and the statistics of their matchups. Below, we focus on some of the best upside plays for their price.

Ezequiel Carrera – How? Ezequiel Carrera continues to bat at the top of a dangerous – and, previously, dormant – lineup, yet his price refuses to rise with his production. In fact, it has decreased. If Carrera is leading off again, he must be owned. Even if he bats towards the bottom of the order – which seems unlikely given his success – how can he not be used, given his salary?

Travis Shaw/Jackie Bradley, Jr./Brock Holt – As noted in David Ortiz’s brief write-up, left-handed Red Sox hitters are among the best plays of the day. Unfortunately, many of Boston’s best hitters bat from the right side of the plate, but days like Monday provide opportunities for Travis Shaw, Jackie Bradley, Jr., and Brock Holt to shine. With their low salaries, the trio can fill the bargain bin, alone.

Starlin Castro – Starlin Castro has been relatively quiet after his explosive start to his Yankee career, but he tops the list, again, for second base options on Monday. More importantly, his price remains so low that he is a ‘bargain buy,’ and his matchup against the left-handed Cesar Ramos is ideal. If Castro hits towards the top of the lineup, he is another must-play for Monday.


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