Everything you’ll need to stay above the payline in today’s DFS MLB Cash Games!
One down, 183 to go. I will admit, yesterday was a tough one. It had been almost two years since I had done a DFS MLB Cash Game Breakdown, and the process was rusty. It took quite a while to compile all of my data points, even longer to sort through the pitch mix data, and then even longer to find the connections in hot zone matchups.
Despite the awkwardness of the Opening Day writeup and our core four pitcher Kyle Hendricks sucking, we managed to beat the ever-loving shit out of the competition. As I write this, I have no idea who the chalk wound up being yesterday because my lineup wasn’t that great yet was a top-eight finisher in every contest we entered. Sure, we crushed our projected target on FanDuel of 140 points by a cool 25 points, but the paylines were slightly lower, as well. Shout out to Whit Merrifield and Joey Gallo for accounting for 40% of that total and being the catalysts for us starting the 2021 season on the right foot.
It’s not always going to be like this. As the season progresses, our competitors will eventually realize things like Kyle Gibson sucks and paying up for pitching is a bad idea. Their optimizers will get sharper and will help them produce better lineups. But we have a secret too. We’ll be ready for them and will adjust, as well. In the meantime, let them all build lineups based on preseason ADP (seriously) and what Las Vegas tells them. We’ll just keep stockpiling cash even on an off night when our pitcher craps the bed.
So, we go from a massive 11-game slate on Opening Day to a real straightforward six-game slate here tonight. I love Fridays in DFS MLB. It has historically been our best night, and there just isn’t anything better than winning money going into the weekend. But the smaller slate is a disappointment to me. This makes it easier for our competition. We have already seen them unable to identify the Rangers/Royals game as ripe for an offensive explosion, so now they have fewer games to guess upon. Bummer.
The larger the slate, the better it is for cash games. We do not play cash games when there are less than five games in a slate. So, this six-game slate tonight is as thin as it gets for our cash game purposes. I do like the fact that there are a couple of starting pitchers who nobody is going to touch yet grade out very highly in my model here. I have absolutely no doubt that ownership in the Dodgers/Rockies game will be sky high as well, with the majority of that on the Dodgers’ side. We will have exposure there for sure, but this high ownership creates a great opportunity to diversify our lineups in other games.
As fun as it was to get started in the win column yesterday, two in a row begins a winning streak. Will we run the table and go undefeated this MLB season? I’d say no way, but if the competition continues to be this weak, you never know. The focus here is on building and propelling our lineups over the payline on this fabulous Friday night. Let’s get to it!!
REMINDER: This is our daily content plan for this DFS MLB season.
Cash Game Breakdown – The article you are currently reading.
DFS MLB Lineup Coach – Daily coaching session assisting with all aspects of DFS MLB.
DFS MLB Cheatsheet – A quick guide to the top plays at each position and salary level.
GPP Writeup – Using experience, game theory & advanced stats to uncover low-owned stars.
Core 4 Livestream – Daily Livestream that covers all DFS sports featuring guests from throughout the Elite Sports Network.
Be Sure to Bookmark:
Friday, April 2nd
There are no weather concerns for any of the six games tonight or for the Orioles/Red Sox early game today.
For more info and updated forecast, please check out our MLB Weather Center.
- Los Angeles Dodgers: -280
- San Diego Padres: -240
- Oakland A’s: -150
- Seattle Mariners: -130
- Tampa Bay Rays & Los Angeles Angels: -120
Highest Run Expectancy
- Los Angeles Dodgers: 6.33
- Colorado Rockies: 5.52
- San Diego Padres: 4.83
- Oakland A’s: 4.69
- Seattle Mariners: 4.65
Lowest Run Expectancy
- Arizona Diamondbacks: 3.07
- Miami Marlins: 3.37
- Chicago White Sox: 3.88
- San Francisco Giants: 3.89
- Houston Astros: 3.92
Today’s Best Pitchers
1) Blake Snell, LHP, Padres – Snell is one of the better pitchers in baseball and definitely one of the hardest to hit. He has been dominant this Spring, going 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA, 0.63 WHIP and 13 K’s in 14.1 innings. This Diamondbacks lineup has a career batting average of .053, .104 wOBA and a 36.3% strikeout rate against Snell. Being at home where the pitcher will hit, facing a team with the fifth-worst wOBA against LHP in 2020, and opposing one of the worst pitchers on the slate (Merrill Kelly), Snell is the guy to pay up for in cash and in GPP tonight.
2) Yusei Kikuchi, LHP, Mariners – I’m curious as to how many of our competitors will land on Kikuchi this evening. Mostly because it takes quite a bit of advanced research to uncover what makes him attractive to us in this spot. For starters, Kikuchi has changed his pitch mix this Spring, deciding to throw a cut fastball at the direct expense of his four-seam fastball. He also is barely throwing his slider, which was a pitch that just didn’t have much effectiveness, specifically to RHH. This Spring, he went 0-2 but with a 3.24 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and nine strikeouts in eight innings. This game has the lowest expected total of the entire slate, and with these two offenses, runs will likely be hard to come by. In fact, the Giants had the second-most strikeouts in MLB this Spring at 285. Kikuchi is the lowest-priced pitcher on DK and extremely cheap on FD tonight, as well. He’s an obvious choice to pair with Blake Snell on DK, while on FD, we might come up short of the 40 points we are looking for from our pitcher. But the price is so low that, on a slate like this, it may be beneficial to pay up for all the bats we want while limiting the damage on the mound.
3) Ryan Yarbrough, LHP, Rays – Using an opener this early in the season feels like poor form, but on this six-game slate, it makes a lot of sense. Just as I said with Kikuchi, we aren’t going to get the 40 points (20 on DK) from Yarbrough, but a baseline of three innings, four strikeouts and no runs against won’t hurt us much unless one of the big dogs like Trevor Bauer or Blake Snell goes off for 50+. I’d be willing to take that chance in order to maximize my upside with bats.
4) Johnny Cueto, RHP, Giants – I am elevating Cueto up to cash game status today mostly just to mention that he really makes a good GPP (tournament) option for us. There is much more downside here than I would normally take on. But screw it. I am walking tall and confident in attacking the Mariners bats tonight. Kevin Gausman dominated Seattle for 6+ innings last night, and what stood out to me was just how weak the contact was by the Mariners. A deeper look into their Spring numbers shows us that indeed Seattle posted an average exit velocity of 87.2, dead last in MLB. Cueto is a savvy veteran who loves to enact deception into his delivery, and this Mariners lineup has a total of just 10 AB’s against him. He is the second-least expensive pitcher on FD and just $7200 on DK tonight. If you don’t want to rely on the “opener” in Ryan Yarbrough and would like a bit more upside on the mound tonight, Cueto is your guy. Pray for us all.
Pitchers to Target Against
1) Antonio Senzatela, RHP, Rockies – 4.81 xFIP, .253 BAA, 84.2% Med/Hard contact against, 37.9% hard hit rate in 2020.
2) Cristian Javier, RHP, Astros – 52.2% FB%, 15.3% HR/FB%, 1.82 HR/9 & only 8.7% swinging strike rate in 2020.
3) Merrill Kelly, RHP, Diamondbacks – 36.7% FB%, 15.2% HR/FB%, 1.44 HR/9, 43.3% hard contact rate, 40.2% hard hit rate against, 9.7% swinging strike rate against.
We have a brand new stolen base target tool on the site. I strongly recommend looking it over in order to find a value play or to properly assess how likely a player is to steal tonight. (click on link above)
Hot Streaks (Hottest Hitters at Each Position)
Last seven days of Spring Training
C – Jorge Alfaro, Marlins – .500/.500/.500
1B – C.J. Cron, Rockies – .500/.600/1.375, 2 HR
2B – Ketel Marte, Diamondbacks – .286/.444/.571, 4-5, HR, 2B, 2 R, 1 RBI on Opening Day
3B – Yoan Moncada, White Sox – .333/.333/.833, HR, 2B, 3B, 2-3 on Opening Day
SS – Willy Adames, Rays – .545/.545/.1.455, 3 HR, 3 RBI, 1 2B
OF – Starling Marte, Marlins – .600/.600/1.200, 1 3B, 2 RBI
OF – Wil Myers, Padres – .600/.600/1.200, 1 HR, 4 RBI
OF – Ramon Laureano, A’s – .500/.600/.875, 1 3B, 1 2B, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 SB
Batter vs. Pitcher
C – None
1B – Yuli Gurriel, Albert Pujols, Jose Abreu
2B – Gavin Lux, Tommy La Stella, Joey Wendle, Yoan Moncada
3B – Justin Turner, Anthony Rendon
SS – Tim Anderson, Fernando Tatis Jr., Corey Seager
OF – Charlie Blackmon, Mookie Betts, AJ Pollock, Mike Trout, Tommy Pham
For more, visit our BvP Matchup Page!
Overall Hitter Rankings
- Will Smith, Dodgers ($3400/$5200)
- Max Stassi, Angels ($2500/$3100)
- Victor Caratini, Padres ($2100/$2900)
Notes: Will Smith surprisingly didn’t get the start on Opening Day but did get in the game late and got hit by a Daniel Bard pitch. He will be in the lineup tonight and in a tremendous spot in Coors Field against a well below-average pitcher. Max Stassi went 2-3 last night, including launching a monster HR over the center field fence against Lucas Giolito, and should earn another start against Dallas Keuchel tonight. Caratini is still basically free tonight, a day after driving in three runs against the D-backs. We want to attack Merrill Kelly, and a minimally priced backstop with power is a good place to scratch that itch.
- Max Muncy, Dodgers ($4100/$5300)
- Eric Hosmer, Padres ($3500/$4800)
- Matt Olson, A’s ($3400/$5100)
- Andrew Vaughn, White Sox ($2000/$2000)
Notes: The multiple position eligibility on FanDuel this year is something that we will have to get used to, especially when it comes to the many who are eligible at 1B. Max Muncy, for instance, is probably more valuable at 2B on FD, but he’s 1B only on DK. He will be heavily owned on both sites tonight. Hosmer has caught fire at the end of Spring Training and carried it into the first game of the season, going 3-4 with a HR, 2B and 3 RBI. Olson and the A’s offense were shut down by Zack Greinke yesterday but should come back to life against flyball pitcher Cristian Javier. Keep an eye on Andrew Vaughn, who is a power-hitting prospect who also put on muscle this offseason and showed well enough to make the team out of Spring Training.
- Jake Cronenworth, Padres ($2600/$3400)
- Jose Altuve, Astros ($3700/$5600)
- Gavin Lux, Dodgers ($3000/$4100)
- Ty France, Mariners ($2600/$3800)
Notes: Jake Cronenworth hit sixth for the Padres yesterday and went 2-2 with a triple and a pair of walks. He is a fiery player who is an on-base machine with power and speed. He’s going to get a lot of run-producing opportunities if he continues to hit in the middle of the order, and his price today is well below what his projection is in this spot. Altuve is a good option most of the time, but I would prefer to pay up at OF instead of 2B today. Lux is a nice cheap way to gain exposure to Coors Field. He had two hits yesterday and has three hits in seven at-bats against Anthony Senzatela. Ty France is hitting second and coming off a monster Spring where he hit .327/.421/.714.
- Justin Turner, Dodgers ($3500/$5300)
- Alex Bregman, Astros ($3700/$5800)
- Anthony Rendon, Angels ($3900/$5400)
Notes: There is plenty of value at other positions tonight, and 3B is packed with high-end talent in great situations. We used Turner yesterday, and he thanked us with a near 3x return. Bregman returned our preseason draft faith by posting the fourth-most fantasy points of anybody on Opening Day. Rendon is a great hot zone matchup here against Keuchel as the Angels’ third baseman owns a .378 wOBA and .222 ISO against offspeed pitches in the lower third of the zone. He’s going to drill at least one Keuchel changeup into the right center field gap tonight.
- Corey Seager, Dodgers ($4500/$5800)
- Willy Adames, Rays ($2400/$4400)
- Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres ($4300/$6000)
Notes: Neither Seager nor Tatis need much explaining as they are by far the best overall shortstops on the board tonight. But they are also crazy expensive and might restrict a cash build too much tonight. Adames is our pay-down option, but please make sure he is in the lineup against Pablo Lopez tonight. Adames had a lights-out Spring, hitting .390/.457/.805 with 4 HR, 2 2B, 1 3B, 7 RBI and 5 BB.
- Mike Trout, Angels ($4500/$5900)
- Wil Myers, Padres ($3000/$4900)
- Mookie Betts, Dodgers ($4800/$6200)
- Tommy Pham, Padres ($3200/$3200)
- AJ Pollock, Dodgers ($3300/$4800)
- Yoshi Tsutsugo, Rays ($2600/$3200)
Notes: It’s a surprising slate in that there are only six games but features four of the best players in baseball. So, Mike Trout and Mookie Betts at Coors are no-brainers but will cost a ton. In order to use either one of them, we need to find value, and that is where Pham and Pollock come into play. Pham hit leadoff on Opening Day and showed signs of breaking out of his Spring long slump. Pollock is hitting .438 against Antonio Senzatela in his career and also hits .316 with 9 HR’s at Coors Field. Tsutsugo is hitting leadoff for the Rays but isn’t eligible at OF on DK unfortunately. He is a classic on-base guy with power, which is exactly the profile we love in DFS, especially when they are at the top of the lineup.
DFS MLB Core 4
FANDUEL CORE 4
P – Blake Snell, Padres ($9500)
2B – Gavin Lux, Dodgers ($3000)
OF – AJ Pollock, Dodgers ($3300)
OF – Mike Trout, Angels ($4500)
DRAFTKINGS CORE 4
SP1 – Blake Snell, Padres ($9700)
2B – Gavin Lux, Dodgers ($4100)
OF – AJ Pollock, Dodgers ($4800)
OF – Mike Trout, Angels ($5900)