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MLB DFS Early Slate Picks Breakdown (Thursday, Apr. 28): Reds’ Lefties Providing Value

The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.

Thursday’s main slate features nine games starting at 12:35 p.m. ET.

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MLB DFS Pitching Picks

MLB DFS Stud Picks

Justin Verlander ($10,100) Houston Astros (-175) at Texas Rangers

Verlander had a somewhat down start by his standards the last time out, allowing three runs over six innings and striking out only five. Still, the fact that a 14.5-point fantasy performance is considered a down start tells you how good JV has been to start the season.

That start was also against the Blue Jays, a somewhat better offense by wOBA (.320) than today’s opponent, the Rangers (.288). While the Rangers 3.6 run implied Vegas total isn’t exceptionally low, it’s still within half a run of the lowest mark on the slate. Additionally, Verlander has the second-highest K prediction, so he could have a big fantasy day even with a few extra runs against him.

That K prediction would likely be the best on the slate if we bumped up his pitch count projection as well. It currently sits at just 73, which is lower than his starts this year. Houston seems to be keeping a somewhat short leash on Verlander, holding him under 90 pitches in every start this year. Still, he could top our prediction by a full innings worth (15 or so pitches on average) and still stay under that mark.

Verlander will have a hard time paying off his salary in a big way, given his pitch count. Still, he’s probably the safest pick on the slate and is unlikely to totally disappoint. That makes him a slightly better cash game play, though he’s still viable in tournaments. We currently have him with the highest median and ceiling projections while ranking outside the top five in ownership on the early slate.


MLB DFS Value Pick

Freddy Peralta ($7,700) Milwaukee Brewers (-175) at Pittsburgh Pirates

Peralta is just slightly behind Verlander in median and ceiling projection while coming in significantly cheaper. He has a tremendous matchup with the Pirates, who are implied for just 3.4 runs. Of course, that won’t be missed by the field, and Peralta currently has the highest ownership projection on the slate.

Peralta also has excellent numbers dating back to last season. His strikeout rate is over 30%, with a SIERA under four. He’s struggled to start the season, but part of that is due to matchup. He’s faced the Phillies and Cubs, who both rank in the top-five in wOBA to start the year.

Today’s matchup against the Pirates represents a bit of a break. They’re below average in most offensive metrics, and this game being in Pittsburgh is an additional boost to Peralta. Both the Weather Rating and Park Factor are above the 80th percentile for pitchers in this game.

Peralta represents the best overall pitching value on the slate and is viable for GPPs, particularly if paired with a less-popular second option. He’s also a must for cash games as the clear leader in Pts/Sal and Projected Plus/Minus.


MLB DFS GPP Picks

Zack Wheeler ($8,300) Philadelphia Phillies (-195) vs. Colorado Rockies

While Wheeler isn’t expected to garner extremely low ownership, at sub-20%, he’s a significant discount from the top pitchers on the slate (Peralta and Michael Kopech ($9,600) of the White Sox.) He also has nearly as strong projections as one of only three pitchers projected for at least 20 points.

Wheeler and the Phillies are implied to hold Colorado to just 3.2 runs, the second-lowest total on the slate. On top of that, he has solid strikeout upside. He’s whiffed just over 28% of the batters he’s faced dating back to last season. Colorado has solid offensive numbers on the season, but roughly half of those games were played in Coors Field. This isn’t an especially intimidating offense away from home.

Wheeler is also the second heaviest favorite on the slate, so his chances of picking up the four-point win bonus are excellent. He leads all pitchers today in Pro Trends, largely thanks to his strong Vegas data.

Nick Martinez ($7,000) San Diego Padres (+104) at Cincinnati Reds

As a slight underdog with an opponent implied total of 4.5 runs, Martinez certainly isn’t an obvious play today. However, he ranks fourth in our median and ceiling projections while projected to come in at low single-digit ownership.

That alone makes him worth a stab for tournaments, especially large-field contests. Martinez doesn’t have great numbers overall, but his 13% swinging strike rate suggests that his stuff is far better than his sub-20% strikeout rate implies. He whiffed six in his first start of the season but has struggled a bit since.

Martinez is a highly risky play today but worth consideration if multi-entering tournaments.

MLB DFS Hitters

Notable Stack

With the Lineup Builder, it’s easy to incorporate stacks into DFS rosters.

Also, don’t forget that for large-field tournaments, you can utilize our Lineup Optimizer to effortlessly create up to 150 lineups.

The top DraftKings stack in the FantasyLabs MLB Tournament Model when generated by rating belongs to the New York Yankees:

  • DJ LeMahieu (1) ($4,500)
  • Aaron Judge (2) ($5,700)
  • Anthony Rizzo (3) ($5,500)
  • Giancarlo Stanton¬† (4) ($4,800)
  • Gleyber Torres (6) ($3,300)

The Yankees have scored 17 runs in the first two games of their series with Baltimore, including a massive 12-run day led by three Rizzo home runs on Tuesday. Naturally, their prices have jumped up a bit heading into the last game of the series.

Still, they have the highest implied total on the slate as they take on Baltimore lefty Bruce Zimmerman ($6,800). Zimmerman has mediocre numbers, with a 4.35 SIERA since the start of 2021. He’s actually allowed a slightly higher wOBA to left-handed bats in that time frame, so we don’t necessarily need to fade Yankees lefties.

Still, passing on Rizzo for Josh Donaldson ($4,700) is also viable. Donaldson saves you $800 in salary with similar projected ownership. However, his .939 career OPS against southpaws stands out. It’s much better than Rizzo’s .790 number.

Either way, Yankee’s stacks of all varieties are a strong choice on today’s slate.


Top Stacking Pick from THE BAT X

One of the great features of being a FantasyLabs Pro member is the option to purchase additional items in the FantasyLabs Marketplace.

A new addition to our MLB projections is THE BAT X from Derek Carty of RotoGrinders. With this purchase, you can use his projections alone or create aggregate projections in our Player Models.

The top DraftKings stack from THE BAT X when generated by Ceiling belongs to the Cincinnati Reds:

While the Yankees stack comes in as THE BAT’s highest median projected stack, the Reds narrowly edge them out in ceiling projection. That makes them a solid tournament choice, as they also come in at significantly lower salaries and projected ownership.

The Reds stack benefits significantly from their top five hitters all coming at under $3,000 in salary. For a team projected for a solid 4.4 runs, that’s quite the bargain. It’s also a lefty-heavy group, which could be the way to attack the Padres’ Martinez.

Martinez has had solid overall numbers but has allowed a wOBA of .466 to left-handed bats this season. It’s a tiny sample size — and Martinez wasn’t in the majors last year — but still telling. It’s also viable to run Reds’ mini stacks, with the three left-handed bats fit around more expensive stacks from other teams.

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Other MLB DFS Hitter Picks

Willy Adames SS ($5,000 DraftKings; $3,300 FanDuel): Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates (Jose Quintana)

The Pirates Jose Quintana has allowed right-handed bats a wOBA over .400 dating back to last season while walking over 12% of the batters he’s faced and posting a SIERA over four. That sets up nicely for Adames, who has historically done well against left-handed pitching.

Adames hasn’t had a great start to the season, but he’s been supremely unlucky. His expected wOBA (xwOBA) is nearly 100 points higher than his actual wOBA, and his .273 BABIP is 60 points lower than his career mark. That’s even after factoring in his four-hit, two-homer game on Tuesday.

Given the matchup, this is a good spot for some positive regression on Adames. He’s an even better play on FanDuel, where he has a 91% Bargain Rating.

Alex Bregman 3B ($5,100 DraftKings; $3,500 FanDuel): Houston Astros at Texas Rangers (Martin Perez)

Bregman is another hitter we need to strongly consider anytime he draws a matchup against a left-handed starting pitcher. Bregman’s numbers against southpaws are ridiculous, with a .970 lifetime OPS. Houston also has the second-highest implied total on the slate and the highest of any road team.

Bregman would fit in nicely around Reds’ stacks, with the cheaper Reds offsetting his more expensive salary. Like Adames, he’s also more affordable on FanDuel given his 89% Bargain Rating.

Zack Collins C (NA DraftKings; $2,700 FanDuel): Toronto Blue Jays vs. Boston Red Sox (Garret Whitlock)

FanDuel is including the 3:07 p.m. game between the Red Sox and Blue Jays on their main slate today, while DraftKings isn’t. That’s likely to lead to reduced ownership from that game, as players who play on both sites aren’t considering it as strongly.

Additionally, non-mandatory catchers are also generally under-owned on FanDuel. That’s a perfect storm for Collins, who’s off to a great start of the season. His OPS is .881, and he’s already hit three home runs in just 11 games played. Of course, this isn’t really about Collins specifically — just don’t forget about the Red Sox/Blue Jays game if playing on FanDuel.

The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.

Thursday’s main slate features nine games starting at 12:35 p.m. ET.

Start Your PRO Trial Today

Lineup builder and optimizer

Real-time DFS models

Data-driven analysis & tutorials

MLB DFS Pitching Picks

MLB DFS Stud Picks

Justin Verlander ($10,100) Houston Astros (-175) at Texas Rangers

Verlander had a somewhat down start by his standards the last time out, allowing three runs over six innings and striking out only five. Still, the fact that a 14.5-point fantasy performance is considered a down start tells you how good JV has been to start the season.

That start was also against the Blue Jays, a somewhat better offense by wOBA (.320) than today’s opponent, the Rangers (.288). While the Rangers 3.6 run implied Vegas total isn’t exceptionally low, it’s still within half a run of the lowest mark on the slate. Additionally, Verlander has the second-highest K prediction, so he could have a big fantasy day even with a few extra runs against him.

That K prediction would likely be the best on the slate if we bumped up his pitch count projection as well. It currently sits at just 73, which is lower than his starts this year. Houston seems to be keeping a somewhat short leash on Verlander, holding him under 90 pitches in every start this year. Still, he could top our prediction by a full innings worth (15 or so pitches on average) and still stay under that mark.

Verlander will have a hard time paying off his salary in a big way, given his pitch count. Still, he’s probably the safest pick on the slate and is unlikely to totally disappoint. That makes him a slightly better cash game play, though he’s still viable in tournaments. We currently have him with the highest median and ceiling projections while ranking outside the top five in ownership on the early slate.


MLB DFS Value Pick

Freddy Peralta ($7,700) Milwaukee Brewers (-175) at Pittsburgh Pirates

Peralta is just slightly behind Verlander in median and ceiling projection while coming in significantly cheaper. He has a tremendous matchup with the Pirates, who are implied for just 3.4 runs. Of course, that won’t be missed by the field, and Peralta currently has the highest ownership projection on the slate.

Peralta also has excellent numbers dating back to last season. His strikeout rate is over 30%, with a SIERA under four. He’s struggled to start the season, but part of that is due to matchup. He’s faced the Phillies and Cubs, who both rank in the top-five in wOBA to start the year.

Today’s matchup against the Pirates represents a bit of a break. They’re below average in most offensive metrics, and this game being in Pittsburgh is an additional boost to Peralta. Both the Weather Rating and Park Factor are above the 80th percentile for pitchers in this game.

Peralta represents the best overall pitching value on the slate and is viable for GPPs, particularly if paired with a less-popular second option. He’s also a must for cash games as the clear leader in Pts/Sal and Projected Plus/Minus.


MLB DFS GPP Picks

Zack Wheeler ($8,300) Philadelphia Phillies (-195) vs. Colorado Rockies

While Wheeler isn’t expected to garner extremely low ownership, at sub-20%, he’s a significant discount from the top pitchers on the slate (Peralta and Michael Kopech ($9,600) of the White Sox.) He also has nearly as strong projections as one of only three pitchers projected for at least 20 points.

Wheeler and the Phillies are implied to hold Colorado to just 3.2 runs, the second-lowest total on the slate. On top of that, he has solid strikeout upside. He’s whiffed just over 28% of the batters he’s faced dating back to last season. Colorado has solid offensive numbers on the season, but roughly half of those games were played in Coors Field. This isn’t an especially intimidating offense away from home.

Wheeler is also the second heaviest favorite on the slate, so his chances of picking up the four-point win bonus are excellent. He leads all pitchers today in Pro Trends, largely thanks to his strong Vegas data.

Nick Martinez ($7,000) San Diego Padres (+104) at Cincinnati Reds

As a slight underdog with an opponent implied total of 4.5 runs, Martinez certainly isn’t an obvious play today. However, he ranks fourth in our median and ceiling projections while projected to come in at low single-digit ownership.

That alone makes him worth a stab for tournaments, especially large-field contests. Martinez doesn’t have great numbers overall, but his 13% swinging strike rate suggests that his stuff is far better than his sub-20% strikeout rate implies. He whiffed six in his first start of the season but has struggled a bit since.

Martinez is a highly risky play today but worth consideration if multi-entering tournaments.

MLB DFS Hitters

Notable Stack

With the Lineup Builder, it’s easy to incorporate stacks into DFS rosters.

Also, don’t forget that for large-field tournaments, you can utilize our Lineup Optimizer to effortlessly create up to 150 lineups.

The top DraftKings stack in the FantasyLabs MLB Tournament Model when generated by rating belongs to the New York Yankees:

  • DJ LeMahieu (1) ($4,500)
  • Aaron Judge (2) ($5,700)
  • Anthony Rizzo (3) ($5,500)
  • Giancarlo Stanton¬† (4) ($4,800)
  • Gleyber Torres (6) ($3,300)

The Yankees have scored 17 runs in the first two games of their series with Baltimore, including a massive 12-run day led by three Rizzo home runs on Tuesday. Naturally, their prices have jumped up a bit heading into the last game of the series.

Still, they have the highest implied total on the slate as they take on Baltimore lefty Bruce Zimmerman ($6,800). Zimmerman has mediocre numbers, with a 4.35 SIERA since the start of 2021. He’s actually allowed a slightly higher wOBA to left-handed bats in that time frame, so we don’t necessarily need to fade Yankees lefties.

Still, passing on Rizzo for Josh Donaldson ($4,700) is also viable. Donaldson saves you $800 in salary with similar projected ownership. However, his .939 career OPS against southpaws stands out. It’s much better than Rizzo’s .790 number.

Either way, Yankee’s stacks of all varieties are a strong choice on today’s slate.


Top Stacking Pick from THE BAT X

One of the great features of being a FantasyLabs Pro member is the option to purchase additional items in the FantasyLabs Marketplace.

A new addition to our MLB projections is THE BAT X from Derek Carty of RotoGrinders. With this purchase, you can use his projections alone or create aggregate projections in our Player Models.

The top DraftKings stack from THE BAT X when generated by Ceiling belongs to the Cincinnati Reds:

While the Yankees stack comes in as THE BAT’s highest median projected stack, the Reds narrowly edge them out in ceiling projection. That makes them a solid tournament choice, as they also come in at significantly lower salaries and projected ownership.

The Reds stack benefits significantly from their top five hitters all coming at under $3,000 in salary. For a team projected for a solid 4.4 runs, that’s quite the bargain. It’s also a lefty-heavy group, which could be the way to attack the Padres’ Martinez.

Martinez has had solid overall numbers but has allowed a wOBA of .466 to left-handed bats this season. It’s a tiny sample size — and Martinez wasn’t in the majors last year — but still telling. It’s also viable to run Reds’ mini stacks, with the three left-handed bats fit around more expensive stacks from other teams.

Get Your First Deposit Matched Up to $100!

Sign up and deposit up to $100

Your deposit will be fully matched

New users only

Other MLB DFS Hitter Picks

Willy Adames SS ($5,000 DraftKings; $3,300 FanDuel): Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates (Jose Quintana)

The Pirates Jose Quintana has allowed right-handed bats a wOBA over .400 dating back to last season while walking over 12% of the batters he’s faced and posting a SIERA over four. That sets up nicely for Adames, who has historically done well against left-handed pitching.

Adames hasn’t had a great start to the season, but he’s been supremely unlucky. His expected wOBA (xwOBA) is nearly 100 points higher than his actual wOBA, and his .273 BABIP is 60 points lower than his career mark. That’s even after factoring in his four-hit, two-homer game on Tuesday.

Given the matchup, this is a good spot for some positive regression on Adames. He’s an even better play on FanDuel, where he has a 91% Bargain Rating.

Alex Bregman 3B ($5,100 DraftKings; $3,500 FanDuel): Houston Astros at Texas Rangers (Martin Perez)

Bregman is another hitter we need to strongly consider anytime he draws a matchup against a left-handed starting pitcher. Bregman’s numbers against southpaws are ridiculous, with a .970 lifetime OPS. Houston also has the second-highest implied total on the slate and the highest of any road team.

Bregman would fit in nicely around Reds’ stacks, with the cheaper Reds offsetting his more expensive salary. Like Adames, he’s also more affordable on FanDuel given his 89% Bargain Rating.

Zack Collins C (NA DraftKings; $2,700 FanDuel): Toronto Blue Jays vs. Boston Red Sox (Garret Whitlock)

FanDuel is including the 3:07 p.m. game between the Red Sox and Blue Jays on their main slate today, while DraftKings isn’t. That’s likely to lead to reduced ownership from that game, as players who play on both sites aren’t considering it as strongly.

Additionally, non-mandatory catchers are also generally under-owned on FanDuel. That’s a perfect storm for Collins, who’s off to a great start of the season. His OPS is .881, and he’s already hit three home runs in just 11 games played. Of course, this isn’t really about Collins specifically — just don’t forget about the Red Sox/Blue Jays game if playing on FanDuel.

About the Author

Billy Ward writes NFL, MLB, and UFC DFS content for FantasyLabs. He has a degree in mathematical economics and a statistics minor. Ward's data-focused education allows him to take an analytical approach to betting and fantasy sports. Prior to joining Action and FantasyLabs in 2021, he contributed as a freelancer starting in 2018. He is also a former Professional MMA fighter.