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MLB DFS Plays: Thursday 7/23

by Brad Johnson
Updated On: July 26, 2020, 6:04 pm ET

This article will outline the best daily fantasy MLB plays of the day at every position. We will 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’re working with a tiny two-game slate for Opening Day. Lingering rain in Washington D.C. should be monitored.

PITCHER

Max Scherzer – Nationals (vs. Yankees) – Yahoo: $48, DK: $8600, FD: $10700

This slate includes three aces and one schlub. While most would agree Gerrit Cole is the most talented pitcher available, aspects of the matchup favor Scherzer. Specifically, the Yankees offense isn’t shy about strikeouts. Scherzer easily projects for the most punch outs tonight. The Nationals thin bullpen should also encourage the club to get as much out of their starters as possible. Those Yankee strikeouts go hand in hand with hefty home run rates which adds a taste of volatility to this Scherzer outing.

Also Consider: Clayton Kershaw, Gerrit Cole

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CATCHER

Tyler Heineman – Giants (at Clayton Kershaw) – Yahoo: $7, DK: $3400, FD: $2000

Something of an unknown quantity, Heineman has only 12 Major League plate appearances to his name. He posted intriguing numbers at Triple-A last season including 13 home runs, four stolen bases, and a .336/.400/.590 batting line in 273 plate appearances. Sounds like a nifty catching prospect, right? Alas, Heineman is a 29-year-old journeyman who preyed on a desiccated Triple-A pitching environment. Will Smith, Gary Sanchez, and Kurt Suzuki are overpriced. Heineman is your best chance to save some cash on backstops. And despite modest expectation, Rotoworld's Player Projections expect him to outperform his peers.

Also Consider: Will Smith

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FIRST BASE

Max Muncy – Dodgers (vs Johnny Cueto) – Yahoo: $22, DK: $4600, FD: $3900

According to Rotoworld's Lineup Optimizer, various combinations of Dodgers account for most of the 20 best stacking options tonight – a result of the tiny contest and Cueto’s outlier status as easily the worst pitcher available.

Muncy is included in 80 percent of those optimized lineups. He will probably bat second and thus is an important combination piece between Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger. As a powerful fly ball hitter, he also matches up well with Cueto’s ground ball tendencies. When fly ball hitters face ground ball pitchers, it usually increases the chances of a home run. This isn’t just about network effects within the Dodgers lineup/stacks – Muncy is also legitimately the best first baseman in the pool by a healthy margin.

Also Consider: Luke Voit

SECOND BASE

Wilmer Flores – Giants (vs Clayton Kershaw) – Yahoo: $11, DK: $3800, FD: $2100

Second base is a bit of a wasteland in this slate. Flores offers an opportunity to escape with a minimal investment while claiming a cleanup hitter. He has a history of lefty mashing, including a career .276/.318/.494 batting line. He’s a fly ball hitter with the platoon advantage. Since Kershaw is a ground ball pitcher, a home run isn’t implausible.

Also Consider: Max Muncy (DK), Starlin Castro

THIRD BASE

Justin Turner – Dodgers (vs Johnny Cueto) – Yahoo: $19, DK: $4100, FD: $3100

The reasons you’ll want Muncy also apply to Turner – he’s the best available at his position, and he combos with the top hitters in the slate. Turner’s penchant for hard contact at ideal launch angles make this a doubly desirable pick. If there’s a drawback, it’s that his ownership will be through the roof.

Also Consider: Starlin Castro (DK), Chris Taylor (DK), Giovanny Urshela

SHORTSTOP

Trea Turner – Nationals (vs Gerrit Cole) – Yahoo: $22, DK: $5100, FD: $3600

If second base is a wasteland, then this is just a hole in the ground. Turner is overpriced in a general sense, but we also have to compare him to his fellow shortstops. He’s the top-projected at the position. There’s no particular reason to be bullish besides that he’ll probably put some balls in play and bats leadoff.

Also Consider: Chris Taylor (FD), Corey Seager, Brandon Crawford (cheap punt)

OUTFIELD

Mookie Betts – Dodgers (vs Johnny Cueto) – Yahoo: $26, DK: $4900, FD: $4200

Cody Bellinger – Dodgers (vs Johnny Cueto) – Yahoo: $24, DK: $5100, FD: $4500

These are the two top-projected hitters available. Virtually every straight-forward, optimized lineup will include them. Of course, this means it’s wise to submit plenty of lineups without the duo just to ensure roster differentiation. Both hitters match up fabulously against Cueto with a better than one-in-four chance to homer. Betts also ranks among the top five in projected hits, doubles, runs, and RBI. Bellinger does carry one small wart – he tinkered with his swing during quarantine. It’s hard to improve on what he’s accomplished.

Austin Slater – Giants (at Clayton Kershaw) – Yahoo: $7, DK: $3100, FD: $2000

I am assuming Slater will platoon with left-handed hitting outfielder Alex Dickerson. He might have a useful lineup role, hopefully either batting second or third. If this is the case, it will draw plenty of attention to him as a cost-saving plugin. Batting down in the lineup makes him a legitimate contrarian pick. Slater has performed much better against left-handed pitchers during his brief career (.285/.356/.404 in 216 PA). It’s a tiny sample and shouldn’t be considered meaningful. A bigger issue is that both he and Kershaw are ground ball guys. Slater will have trouble lifting the ball.

He is listed as C/1B on FanDuel.

Also Consider: Chris Taylor (Yahoo), Adam Eaton, Aaron Hicks, Hunter Pence, A.J. Pollock

Brad Johnson

You can read more from Brad Johnson on Rotoworld, FanGraphs, and RotoFanatic. Find him on Patreon and Twitter @BaseballATeam.