We’re in the first big week of MLB DFS, and there’s a great slate on tap for Thursday, 4/3/19. Below is a list of our best pitchers, hitters, and stacks to target (Three Up) and fade (Three Down) in MLB DFS contests. Note that some of these plays are recommended for Cash and some are best reserved for GPP lineups on DraftKings and FanDuel.
Please note the advice below is relevant for daily fantasy purposes. A player or team might be better or worse from a fantasy perspective than in real life due to matchup, price, and lots of other factors. This is important to consider when constructing a roster. Remember that more than in other sports, variance is a huge part of baseball. Even Mike Trout can go 0-for-4 on a given night, and Max Scherzer can get lit up by a weak team.
Weather can also play a huge role in MLB DFS on a nightly basis, and lineups are constantly shifting. So always, always check the starting lineups and weather reports when playing for an MLB slate. If a game gets rained out, your player gets zero points!
BEST MLB DFS TOURNAMENTS FOR 4/4
Relay Throw: $15 entry, $150k guaranteed (DraftKings) – $50,000 to 1st!
Four Seamer: $4 entry, $25k guaranteed (DraftKings)
Squeeze: $5.55 entry, $75k guaranteed (FanDuel) – $15,000 to 1st!
Grand Slam: $44 entry, $30k guaranteed (FanDuel)
Three Up for April 4, 2019
Trevor Bauer vs. TOR ($11.3k DraftKings)
Don’t overthink the most important position on this short slate. Instead, pay up for the only true stud on the DraftKings board in Trevor Bauer. One of several elite arms in the Indians’ rotation, Bauer broke out in 2018 by drawing a 21% swinging strike rate on his filthy slider. Bauer posted a 1.84 ERA with a 32.2% K-Rate in home starts last season and faces one of the weakest offenses in baseball tonight. Toronto is hitting just .182 with a .249 wOBA and 23.1% K-Rate on the young season. Bauer is essentially a must-play in Cash formats with a projection of 25.8 DraftKings points tonight per FantasyLabs.
Max Fried vs. CHC ($7.3k DraftKings, $5.5k FanDuel)
Yu Darvish was absurdly wild in his Opening Day debut and could continue his struggles against the Braves while battling an apparently debilitating blister. If you want to double down on bets against Darvish and the sputtering Cubs, deploy young LHP Max Fried tonight. Fried made two relief appearances last year and primarily came out of the bullpen. But he flashed longevity with 24 Ks and just 2 ER allowed over three starts against the Mets, Cardinals, and Dodgers last summer. Fried posted a 2.40 ERA and .192 BAA over 15 IP at Turner Field in 2018 and struck out 16 lefties over 8.2 IP (16.63 K/9 ratio).
The former No. 7 overall pick has a cut fastball that is very tough for LHBs to handle. Thus, Anthony Rizzo and other lefties could struggle tonight. As the cheapest option on FanDuel, Fried owns the highest per-dollar rating on that site with a projected plus/minus of 9.19 according to FantasyLabs.
Other pitchers to consider: Yu Darvish, Matt Harvey
Joey Votto @ PIT ($4.7k DraftKings, $4.2k FanDuel)
Joey Votto is arguably the top option for Cash lineups tonight as an on-base machine facing a pitcher who’s historically struggled against the platoon. Pirates RHP Jordan Lyles has posted a 4.19 BB/9 ratio and .278 BAA in his career against lefties. Votto is 7-for-14 with 2 doubles, 2 HR, and 5 BB in his career against the former eighth-round pick. Then, Lyles recently landed on the DL with discomfort in his right side and is unlikely to find a way to get Votto out if he’s pitching at less than 100 percent. Votto has reached base in 7 of his first 14 plate appearances this season and has hit .322 with a .435 OBP on the road over the last three seasons.
Brad Miller vs. TOR ($4.2k DraftKings)
The Indians offense has been nothing short of anemic to open the season. This puts them under the radar as a stacking option on DraftKings tonight. Yet some of their lefty bats could serve as great values against RHP Aaron Sanchez. Brad Miller is a GPP target to consider while Leonys Martin and Tyler Naquin are OF values with decent floors. Miller owns a 14.5% HR/FB ratio and 35% hard contact rate in his career against righties. Sanchez walked 7.26 BB/9 and posted a notable 6.20 xFIP against LHBs last year. Miller has drawn 4 walks with 2 singles over 15 plate appearances against Sanchez but has plenty of pop to justify his deployment in tournaments.
Other hitters to consider: Mike Trout, Javier Baez, Eugenio Suarez, Ozzie Albies, Scott Schebler, Kole Calhoun, Leonys Martin, Nomar Mazara, Johan Camargo, Adam Frazier, Colin Moran, Andrelton Simmons, Jonathan Lucroy
Pirates vs. Tyler Mahle
While Votto is a great individual play and the Reds have stack appeal tonight, the Pirates stand out as the top stack on this short slate. Pittsburgh dominated RHP Tyler Mahle last year over two meetings. Mahle coughed up 4 HR with a .409 BAA and 9.58 ERA in those starts, including a 6-run shelling at PNC Park. Overall, Mahle allowed a .291 BAA on the road, and Pittsburgh was top 10 in the Majors with a collective .257 average at home.
Adam Frazier has led off against vulnerable righties this year and could serve as a great value atop this stack. Corey Dickerson is a boom-bust option with extreme power and is questionable tonight with a shoulder. Starling Marte is still quite dangerous in RvR matchups and is a stud worth paying up for. Melky Cabrera could serve as a cheaper OF option and bat in a more favorable position if Dickerson sits. Finally, Chris Moran is a powerful lefty and will be an elite option at 3B if starting tonight. He’s 4-for-5 in a small sample against Mahle and is 3-for-4 with a HR and 2 BB in a part-time role this year.
Other stacks to consider: Angels vs. Edinson Volquez (Rangers), Reds vs. Jordan Lyles (Pirates)
Three Down for April 4, 2019
Pitcher To Fade
Edinson Volquez @ LAA ($6.4k DraftKings, $6.8k FanDuel)
Edinson Volquez is 35 years old and coming off Tommy John surgery. He allowed 6 ER with 10 Ks and zero walks this spring, and that aggressive approach clearly isn’t going to work with a fastball that rated at least 5 runs below average in his last three full campaigns from 2015-2017. Current Angels are 39-for-112 (.348) with 13 BB to post a combined OPS of .914 in their careers against Volquez.
That includes great splits from Albert Pujols (5-for-12, HR) and new Angels catcher Jon Lucroy (10-for-30, 5 BB). Mike Trout is 1-for-3 over a very small sample size against Volquez, but baseball’s best player absolutely crushes fastballs (33.1 rating per Brooks Baseball last season) and should be all over any offerings over the plate. Volquez posted a rough 1.74 WHIP with a 41.3% hard contact rate against LHBs in 2017, so consider Kole Calhoun (who is highly-rated in FantasyLabs models tonight) and Justin Bour to round out a potential Angels stack.
Hitter To Fade
Josh Donaldson vs. CHC ($4.4k DraftKings, $3.4k FanDuel)
Yu Darvish can’t seem to find the plate, and his confidence may be shot. Still, he has the tools necessary to dominate righties. He was able to use his plus slider to post a .192 BAA and 12.86 K/9 ratio against RHBs last year and threw that pitch 38.7% of the time in his season debut. Josh Donaldson has struggled to lay off that pitch and is now 4-for-18 with 9 Ks in his career against Darvish. All four hits have been singles, so there’s not a lot of upside to be found in this matchup. While Darvish could stay wild and depart this game well before the fifth inning, that’s a longshot to bank on if paying up for Donaldson at third base.
Stack To Fade
Rangers @ LAA (RHP Matt Harvey)
It might seem like Matt Harvey is an easy target and will be for the remainder of his career, but he’s only 30 years old and is showing signs of revitalizing his career with a far more savvy franchise. The pressure is on Harvey to earn more security beyond his one-year, $11 million deal, and he resembled an ace in his season debut. While he only recorded one strikeout, Harvey didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning against a relentless A’s lineup and gave his Angels a chance to win.
Joey Gallo is the high-profile hitter to consider fading against Harvey. Gallo has limitless power from the left side of the plate, and Harvey yielded a 1.94 HR/9 ratio to LHBs last season. But Harvey’s velocity was up in his debut, and his cut fastball ranked 2.02 runs above average after his fastball rated -15.6 and -8.7 the last two seasons. As long as he locates his pitches, he should be able to contain the Rangers at home.