4 Daily Fantasy Baseball Value Plays for Thursday 5/20/21
With production being highly variable on a night-to-night basis, daily fantasy baseball plays a bit differently than other sports.
An 0-for-4 dud from a chalky high-salaried slugger is a lot more common than a total dud from a top-salaried NBA player or even than a stinker from a top quarterback or running back.
That means that it's not uncommon for value plays to end up doing the heavy lifting in carrying your lineup. The fact that they can be the difference between a good and a great lineup isn't much different than other sports, but value plays being able to make up for a whiff on a high-salaried play completely is somewhat unique.
Let's get right into it and take a look at the top value options on today's four-game slate, which locks at 7:05 PM Eastern.
Drew Smyly, SP, Atlanta Braves ($7,300)
Tonight's tiny slate isn't exactly loaded on pitching, so dropping down to the $7,000 range isn't a ludicrous idea, and Drew Smyly might just be the way to go.
Smyly's basically been a pitching version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde so far this season. In three of his starts, he's surrendered a whopping 15 earned runs in 13 innings of work, while he's limited the opposition to just 3 tallies over 18 innings in his other three outings. Tonight, we could very well see the Smyly that makes fantasy managers smile (get it? I'll show myself out) against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
On the season, Pittsburgh's 78 wRC+ against lefties ranks 28th in the league, as does their team-wide OPS of .631. As a result, the Pirates' implied run total of 3.59 is second-lowest on the slate, per numberFire's Matchup Heat Map.
On a slate that lacks any true standout options, Smyly could prove to be one of the better plays.
Austin Riley, 3B, Atlanta Braves ($3,000)
In 28 games over the last month, Austin Riley has gotten on base at a .469 clip while sporting an OPS of 1.050 during that stretch. His .491 batting average on balls in play suggests that some regression is headed his way, but I'll bet that he's able to keep it going tonight in a delicious matchup against Wil Crowe.
Through four starts this season, Crowe sports a SIERA of 4.95 along with a cringe-worthy strikeout-to-walk rate of 7.9%. The 26-year-old isn't missing many bats, as his whiff rate ranks in the 11th percentile in 2021.
The Atlanta Braves are implied to score a very healthy 5.15 runs tonight, and we'll want some exposure to that slate-high total.
Riley hasn't had any trouble with same-side matchups this season, as his .407 wOBA and 158 wRC+ against righties rank 14th and 17th among qualified hitters, respectively, per FanGraphs.
Hunter Renfroe, OF, Boston Red Sox ($2,500)
Since he entered the league in 2016, Renfroe ranks ninth in the big leagues with a .301 ISO versus lefties (min. 80 at-bats). In fact, Renfroe has racked up 37 dongs in 469 career at-bats with the platoon advantage. Not too shabby.
Tonight, Renfroe will get to face Steven Matz, who is a ceding 1.68 homers per nine innings to righties for his career (and 1.47 this season).
Yoshi Tsutsugo, 3B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers ($2,000)
In just his second game as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers last night, Yoshi Tsutsugo was given the honor of batting cleanup with a righty on the mound for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and tonight's bout with Merrill Kelly should put him in a great spot once again.
Kelly's strikeout rate of 17.3% is dead last among the starters on Thursday's main slate and his gaudy 5.24 ERA is backed up by a 5.32 xERA and 4.79 SIERA.
The Dodgers appear to be an excellent stack, and rostering the minimum-salaried Trsutsugo will allow you to pay up for the likes of Mookie Betts ($4,400), Max Muncy ($3,900), and Chris Taylor ($3,800).