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Fantasy Baseball Rankings: DraftKings MLB DFS Picks for April 8

Timothy Finnegan ranks the top fantasy baseball plays in each salary range for Thursday’s main DraftKings MLB slate.

Minnesota Twins v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

Thursday’s main DraftKings MLB slate has an early start time of 1:10 p.m. ET due to a lot of day games, so fantasy owners should take note of the early lock. Day games can also result in many regulars being rested, so be sure to verify lineups before lock. For up-to-the-minute news related to today’s DraftKings MLB slate, download the DK Live app and follow DK Live on Twitter at @dklive.

The idea of this fantasy baseball rankings page is to rank the top DraftKings options in each salary range, helping you make quick decisions when debating which players to roster for the upcoming main DraftKings MLB slate. Players are sorted from top to bottom in order of preference.

The players listed in the tables below are players that I’m considering rostering based on their price and matchup. If a player is not listed in these rankings but is in the lineup, that just means I am not focused on paying for this player today due to the combination of their matchup and price. They might still be a viable option, but I’m looking to spend my DraftKings capital elsewhere today.

One of the best ways to find hitter value in DraftKings MLB contests is through lineup slot upgrades after pricing has been set. These lineup slot upgrades often do not happen until teams release lineups a few hours before the game locks. Check back before lock to see potential updates to the rankings.

Follow me on Twitter at @timfinn521 for nerdy baseball stats and Mets tweets.


Set your DraftKings fantasy baseball lineups here: MLB $150K 18th Hole Special [$50K to 1st]


Notable Lineup Absences

  • Red Sox SS Xander Bogaerts is not in the starting lineup today vs. the Orioles.
  • Diamondbacks OF Ketel Marte (hamstring) is not in the lineup today vs. the Rockies. OF Tim Locastro ($3,400) is batting leadoff in place of Marte at Coors Field, making him a value option given the high run-scoring environment.
  • Cardinals 1B Paul Goldschmidt (back) is not in the lineup for today’s game vs. the Brewers.

Pitchers

All

Player Name Position Opp Salary
Player Name Position Opp Salary
Lance McCullers Jr. SP DET $9,900
Dustin May SP COL $9,400
Carlos Rodon SP CLE $8,900
Josh Fleming SP TEX $8,200

Pitcher Notes

Jose Berrios, Minnesota Twins ($9,800)

Berrios shoved in his first start of the season, striking out an obscene 12 of the 19 batters he faced while allowing no hits and no walks. Berrios was yanked with a no-hitter after 84 pitches, and this quick trigger has been fairly common league wide as teams ease off the gas in April due to the shortened 2020 season.

Digging deeper into Berrios’ start, a few notable things jump out. One, Berrios’ four-seam fastball had more backspin. Berrios added about 110 RPM on his four-seamer from last season, taking his average fastball spin rate from a subpar 2,190 RPM to a solid 2,300 RPM. This is significant because the more backspin a four-seam fastball has, the more “rise” and “lift” the pitch has, which increases the potential to generate swinging strikes above the barrel. It also creates more movement separation from his curveball.

Berrios’ curveball also had more movement than last season, breaking about three more inches to the left on average. The boosted movement made the pitch more effective, and Berrios generated a swinging strike on nine of his 22 curveballs, an elite rate.

As long as this game doesn’t get rained out, Berrios has a strong matchup today against a Mariners offense that is projected to be the least productive offense in the American League. Seattle has also struck out a lot in a small sample to start the season, striking out in nearly a third of their plate appearances and swinging and missing at pitches at the sixth highest rate. Berrios is worth paying up for in this soft matchup that has upside for strikeouts and run prevention.

Corbin Burnes, Milwaukee Brewers ($9,400)

The other side of Berrios’ first start of the season was Burnes, who dazzled with ridiculous high-octane stuff that resulted in a ton of missed bats. Burnes was throwing 96 mph cutters and 98 mph two-seamers that moved in opposite directions, making it difficult to put the barrel on the ball because both pitches look the same out of the hand before darting to the left or to the right.

Burnes’ cutter is currently one of the filthiest pitches in the entire sport. When Burnes runs it off the plate to the glove side, he starts it in the zone and lets the movement take the pitch out of the zone, putting hitters in a bind because the pitch looks like a strike at first.

Burnes also showcased a nasty hard change up that has more depth and a bigger shape than his fastball and cutter, further twisting hitters.

Burnes threw his cutter on nearly half of his pitches, and it’s hard to fathom hitters having any sort of consistent success against him with that type of usage, especially when he mixes in other nasty pitches that complement his cutter. Burnes’ skills give him big strikeout upside against any team, and his strikeouts could play up more today against the Cardinals, who have posted elevated strikeout numbers in a small sample to start the season. St. Louis has swung and missed at more pitches than average and projects to be a below average run-scoring offense.

Matt Harvey, Baltimore Orioles ($7,600)

Harvey, once one of the most electric pitchers in baseball, had his career destroyed by thoracic outlet syndrome, a horrible injury that causes nerve damage. The injury cratered the life on Harvey’s fastball and slider, but Harvey worked hard over the offseason to make the best of what he has left. Harvey’s work included going to a pitching facility to help design a better fastball based on spin axis efficiency, which would give his fastball more carry and help him pitch above the barrel more effectively.

The early results for Harvey’s fastball are improved. The pitch had more movement by pitching tracking in his first start, adding about two more inches of carry and about three more inches of run. It helped Harvey be reasonably effective over 86 pitches against Boston, and Harvey could stick as a back end of the rotation pitcher with his current mix.

That said, Harvey’s fantasy value is not appealing today. His price tag has jumped from $6,100 to $7,600 for a rematch against the Red Sox, who just saw him last weekend. The matchup is taking place at hitter-friendly Camden Yards, which can be unforgiving, especially for pitchers who do not miss a lot of bats. I don’t see any appeal in spending $7,600 for him today.

Hitters

Studs ($5,000+)

Player Name Position Opp Salary
Player Name Position Opp Salary
Ronald Acuna Jr. OF MIA $6,100
Jose Altuve 2B DET $5,800
Mookie Betts OF COL $5,700
Freddie Freeman 1B MIA $5,400
Randy Arozarena OF TEX $5,300
Alex Bregman 3B DET $5,100
Trey Mancini 1B SEA $5,100

Midrange ($4,000-$4,900)

Player Name Position Opp Salary
Player Name Position Opp Salary
Yordan Alvarez OF DET $4,900
Austin Meadows OF TEX $4,800
Rhys Hoskins 1B NYM $4,800
Kyle Seager 3B BAL $4,800
Brandon Lowe 2B/OF TEX $4,600
Travis d'Arnaud C MIA $4,500
Cedric Mullins OF SEA $4,300
Kyle Tucker OF DET $4,300
Anthony Santander OF SEA $4,200
Marcell Ozuna OF MIA $4,200
Mitch Haniger OF BAL $4,000

Salary Relief ($3,900 and under)

Player Name Position Opp Salary
Player Name Position Opp Salary
Joey Gallo OF TB $3,700
Andrew McCutchen OF NYM $3,700
Garrett Cooper 1B/OF ATL $3,500
Adam Duvall OF ATL $3,400
Evan White 1B BAL $3,300
Corey Dickerson OF ATL $3,100
DJ Stewart OF SEA $2,800

Hitter Notes

Boston Red Sox stack

If there’s any fantasy value to be taken from Harvey’s start, it’s probably on the hitting side. Red Sox batters are going on the road to hitter-friendly Camden Yards, and while Harvey looked better in his start against Boston last week, he still did not miss many bats. Harvey generated a swing and a miss on just 6% of his total pitches, and Camden Yards is one of baseball’s least forgiving parks when giving up lots of contact. Seeing Harvey for the second time in five days could help Boston time him up, and Baltimore’s bullpen behind Harvey is below average. J.D. Martinez ($5,600) and Rafael Devers ($5,400) are stud options, and Alex Verdugo ($4,200) is an appealing midrange play, especially given his usual lineup slot of second.

New York Mets stack

Some Mets hitters are entirely too cheap for a good matchup against the Marlins. Miami has yet to officially name a SP, but Nick Neidert appears most likely to pitch. Neidert is projected to be a below average pitcher and is backed by a Marlins bullpen that is expected to be poor. Michael Conforto ($3,800), Jeff McNeil ($3,400) and Brandon Nimmo ($3,400) are highly appealing value plays.

Nelson Cruz, Minnesota Twins ($5,400)

Cruz is facing another left-handed pitcher on Thursday, which makes him a potentially explosive fantasy play. Cruz has consistently been one of baseball’s best hitters against left-handed pitchers, posting a wOBA over .400 vs. LHP over the last five seasons with big power output.

Set your DraftKings fantasy baseball lineups here: MLB $150K 18th Hole Special [$50K to 1st]


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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is timfinn521) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.


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