FanDuel MLB DFS Picks – April 21, 2021

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Last night’s results were right on cash lines in double-ups and other cash games, so it really depended on which double-ups you entered and perhaps who you decided to take on in head-to-head matchups.

One late wrinkle was the surprising IL placement of Nationals outfielder Juan Soto, forcing a quick lineup re-jig. What I personally did was eliminate Kyle Schwarber in favor of the Angels’ Justin Upton, and then adding Bryce harper in favor of Soto. In a couple instances, I switched Josh Harrison in for David Fletcher at second base. My Harrison lineups out-scored by Fletcher ones by about five points.

Our best bat was predictably Mike Trout who homered and doubled as part of a three-hit night, falling a triple shy of the cycle while scoring a pair of runs. We also received a homer from Josh Bell while stackmate Trea Turner singled twice, stole a base and knocked in a run.

Harper was productive despite not recording an extra-base hit as he singled twice, walked twice and scored a pair of runs.

Unfortunately, Jean Segura left the game after his second plate appearance of the night as he appeared to have pulled a leg muscle while trying to beat out an infield hit.

Finally, Chris Paddack was okay on the night as he struck out seven in five innings with just one earned runs allowed, but he got off easy as he actually allowed five runs, four of which were unearned due to a two-out throwing error. He fell an inning short of a quality start and received zero offensive support in a 6-0 Brewers win.

Let’s switch things up a bit for tonight’s six-game main slate and offer up some GPP picks and see if we can get a takedown under our belt!

FanDuel MLB DFS Picks – April 21, 2021

P – Aaron Civale (CLE) – $10,200 vs. CWS

There are some brutal hitting conditions on this slate as the Eastern United States endure a cold spell, but I don’t believe there will be any worse conditions than at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago tonight.

With temperatures expected around 40 degrees, there also appears to be a 10 mph wind blowing in towards home plate from left-center field, a factor helps lower the White Sox’s projected run total to just 3.8 as Civale takes his second consecutive turn against his division rival.

Civale hurled six innings of one-run ball with four strikeouts in a winning effort in that outing, lowering his ERA to a tidy 2.18 mark on the season. Now, we should take some caution here as he also owns a 3.32 xERA, 4.28 FIP and 3.90 xFIP, and while those are quality numbers, they’re well above his ERA figure while he owns a .146 BABIP and 93.2% strand rate on the season as well — numbers that are sure to regress.

That said, it’s a weird slate. There aren’t many expensive bats built for GPPs on this slate and giving the pitcher-friendly conditions in Chicago tonight I believe he can avoid the regression for at least another start. This has also been a White Sox offense that has combined for just a .711 OPS and .101 ISO in their combined careers off of Civale with just one homer across an even 100 trips to the plate.

Let’s see if he can limit the damage for the fourth straight outing here in 2021.

C/1B – Freddie Freeman (ATL) – $4,100 vs. NYY

We need some expensive bats in this lineup as my main GPP stack is extremely cost-efficient, and I am liking Freeman a ton here as he takes on right-hander Corey Kluber at Yankee Stadium.

Again, we have some cold temperatures in New York tonight, but it also appears as if there is a massive 17 mph wind blowing out to the short porch in right field —  as per FantasyLabs — as well. Therefore, we can certainly target some left-handed bats in this matchup, and I’m deciding to go with a Braves mini-stack here as opposed to using the Yankees’ big boys, all of whom pretty much bat right-handed.

For his part, Freeman is once again absolutely raking. He’s homered five times this season despite hitting just .233, but he’s also getting on base at a .387 clip and even has a steal to his credit. He’s also hitting .277 with a mammoth .298 ISO, 1.008 OPS, .425 wOBA and 166 wRC+ on the season against right-handers such as Kluber with six of his seven extra-base hits coming off righties along with his lone steal of the season.

It shouldn’t take much to lofty a fly ball into the right field seats in this one, so sign me up for the reigning NL MVP in this one.

2B – Ozzie Albies (ATL) – $3,000 vs. NYY

We’ll complete our Braves mini-stack right here with Albies as he and Freeman are pretty much the only left-handed bats in the Braves’ lineup and potential Pablo Sandoval as well if he gets the start.

Nonetheless, we have some power/stolen base potential here with Albies. The 24-year-old is certainly scuffling right now, something that should lower his ownership. He has a pair of homers on the season, but has yet to steal a base and is hitting all of .148 with a .265 wOBA and 64 wRC+ on the season. That said, his xwOBA is more than 100 points above his actual mark at an excellent .381, which ranks him in the league’s 77th percentile, as per Statcast. He also ranks in the league’s 82nd percentile in terms of expected batting average with a mark of .302 that is more than double his current rate.

At the end of the day, there’s plenty of positive regression in this bat. He’s homered 24 times twice in his career and stole 29 bases in those 2018-2019 seasons. Keep in mind he’s also doubled four times this season and owns a quality .185 ISO on the season, a mark just slightly below his .194 career mark.

Let’s see if he can take aim at that short right field porch tonight while perhaps offering some speed as well.

3B – Asdrubal Cabrera (ARI) – $2,800 vs. CIN

Here’s where the GPP action really kicks in as we look at a four-man D-backs stack — yes, a four-man D-backs stack — as they take on right-hander Tyler Mahle and the Cincinnati Reds on the road.

Now, Mahle has been excellent this season. He’s worked to a 2.57 ERA/3.28 FIP with a 2.41 xERA and big-time 14.14 K/9 on the season. As a result, I suspect he will be a highly-owned pitcher on this slate and therefore the D-backs should come in at minuscule ownership.

That said, there’s a few reasons why I’m targeting him. In fact, one of them has nothing to do with him as the Reds’ bullpen enters this one sporting a 20th-ranked 4.35 ERA, but also a 29th-ranked 5.02 FIP and 28th-ranked 1.60 HR/9. Given the fact that Mahle has yet to eclipse five innings in a start and less than five in one of his three so far, I bet we see plenty of a bullpen that should regress moving forward.

Additionally, Mahle has endured some walk and home run issues this season despite his fine work with a 4.50 BB/9 and 1.29 HR/9. He also owns a career .857 OPS versus left-handed bats, a 2.01 HR/9 against lefties and 5.90 FIP/5.31 xFIP versus lefties. Add in a 5.33 FIP and 2.13 HR/9 at Great American Ball Park — along with a 10 mph wind blowing out to center — and we could be in business here.

For his part, Cabrera has posted a powerful .200 ISO versus right-handed pitching this season with a 15.9% walk rate that sits well above a tiny 9.5% K-rate. Walks are okay here if they can be backed up with some power by others in the stack, so let’s try this group out and see if we can catch Mahle on an off afternoon.

SS – Francisco Lindor (NYM) – $3,200 vs. CHC

Once again, we have brutal hitting conditions in Chicago as the Mets take on the Cubs, but given some early-season struggles to a couple of players who I believe are elite — or close to — elite bats, I believe we can sneak a low-owned Mets mini-stack into this lineup.

The team has struggled mightily at the plate so far this season, something no one expected after finishing third in wOBA last season and adding Lindor in the offseason. Lindor himself has scuffled to a .171 average and zero home runs, zero steals and a .252 wOBA through 53 trips to the plate. This on the heels of a down season could be somewhat of a concern after signing that $341M mega extension.

That said, Cubs right-hander Zach Davies isn’t exactly dealing, either. He owns a 10.32 ERA/5.19 FIP with an enormous 7.15 BB/9 rate across three starts and 11.1 innings. He was roughed up by the lowly Pirates two starts back before the Braves got to him his last time out. Those two outings combined saw him yield 11 earned runs in 5.2 innings on 12 hits and six walks. He still owns a quality 0.79 HR/9, but certainly appears to be a targetable arm here nonetheless.

It’s also just a matter of time before Lindor gets straightened out. He owns a career .200 ISO, .829 OPS and 117 wRC+ at the plate with power and speed to boot. I have no problem getting him in here at reasonable GPP ownership.

OF – Pavin Smith (ARI) – $2,400 vs. CIN

Technically leadoff off our stack tonight should be Smith as he is projected to hit out of the leadoff spot tonight against the right-hander Mahle.

With several regulars on the IL at the moment, Smith is getting regular playing time and taking advantage of it. He enjoyed a three-hit night last night and scored a pair of runs as well after recording his third double of the season on Sunday. He enters this one riding a three-game hitting streak while hitting .286 with three doubles, a homer, a .334 wOBA and 108 wRC+. He actually debuted last season by hitting .270 with a homer, a steal and a 97 wRC+. That said, he posted a .357 xwOBA last season and .368 xwOBA this season, so he’s certainly producing quite well.

Additionally, the 25-year-old ranks in the league’s 89th percentile in hard-hit rate at 54.8%, the 78th percentile in xBA and 86th in whiff rate, as per Statcast. In other words, he’s hitting the ball extremely hard and deserves more than what he’s been given so far this season.

Additionally, he’s hitting .333 with a .167 ISO, .833 OPS, .360 wOBA and 125 wRC+ on the season against right-handed pitching. Add in the spot atop the lineup and I see value in a player like Pavin Smith this evening.

OF – Kole Calhoun (ARI) – $2,600 vs. CIN

Next man up in the stack is Calhoun who got a late start to his 2021 season, but also raked righties in a big way last season, the best on the team, in fact.

For the 2021 season, Calhoun is hitting a quality .288 with a homer, a .188 ISO, .343 wOBA and 114 wRC+ across 34 trips to the plate. He’s been better off of lefties in a tiny sample this season, but here’s a guy that clobbered right-handers to the tune of a monstrous .303 ISO and .879 OPS, .369 wOBA and 130 wRC+ in the shortened 2020 season. For his career, Calhoun has hit right-handed pitching for a .190 ISO and 109 wRC+.

Calhoun does offer up some stolen base potential, albeit just a little bit as he swiped just one base last season and 10 across the last two full seasons combined, but it is there.

Calhoun is projected to his second in this lineup, sandwiched in between Smith at the top of the order and Cabrera in the three-hole, so now all we need is the cleanup hitter for a 1-4, left-handed stack in a venue where Mahle has surrendered plenty of home runs.

OF – David Peralta (ARI) – $2,700 vs. CIN

Completing this four-man stack is indeed that cleanup hitter — at least the projected cleanup spot — as Peralta has a length history of hitting right-handed pitching very well.

Like many of his teammates, he’s not exactly off to the best start this season. The veteran is hitting just .211 with one homer, a .158 ISO, .282 wOBA and 75 wRC+. His xwOBA of .266 is actually lower than his actual mark as Peralta is making just 32.6% hard contact, as per Statcast, so he’s pretty much deserved his slow fate so far this season.

That said, here’s a guy that’s posted a wRC+ of at least 104 in each of the last four seasons. His 30-homer 2018 season seems like an outlier given his overall track record, but he certainly has pop with a career .183 ISO, but most commonly in double form as he posted 25-31 doubles each season from 2017-2019. He doubled 10 more times in just 54 games last season in addition to his five homers.

That said, everything is superior versus right-handed pitching. He actually has a homered, two doubles and two triples on the season against right-handed pitching, good for a solid .176 ISO. Last season, he hit .312 with an .816 OPS, .350 wOBA and 117 wRC+ against right-handed pitching, and a .286 average, .208 ISO, .846 OPS, .352 wOBA and 116 wRC+ versus righties last season.

A big night from the D-backs’ cleanup hitter likely means a big night for this low-owned, four-man D-backs stack.

UTIL – Pete Alonso (NYM) – $3,500 vs. CHC

Completing our lineup and a Mets mini-stack here is Alonso who should hit cleanup for the Mets against Davies, two spots behind Lindor.

Like Lindor and many Mets, he’s scuffled here so far this season. Alonso has a pair of homers to his credit, but is also hitting just .227 with a .301 wOBA and 93 wRC+ so far while striking out in 32.7% of his plate appearances as well.

That said, something tells me he’ll get turned around. Alonso owns a monster 69% hard-hit rate according to Statcast, good for a 100th percentile ranking. He also ranks in the 100th percentile in average exit velocity and 91st percentile in barrel rate. That’s certainly going to earn him more home runs and doubles moving forward, and he’s never been a guy to hit for much average anyway.

After all, he does own an even .300 ISO through the first 231 games of his big-league career, so more home runs are certainly on their way moving forward. Davies doesn’t give up a ton, but Alonso has the ability to get to anyone and is crushing the baseball despite some subpar results in a small sample.

Let’s see if this Mets mini-stack can get into this lineup at reasonable ownership tonight.

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Brenton Kemp / Author

Brenton is a lifelong sports fan who resides in Ontario, Canada. Brenton is a fan of most all sports but specializes in hockey, baseball, football, basketball, and golf. He’s a fierce researcher with a strong appetite to deliver accurate and relevant facts that in turn have led to past success with picks and DFS advice across the board. Brenton’s biggest goal is to deliver readers with the picks and advice that can build their bankroll. He takes great pride in his success and loves nothing more than to share that success for the benefit of everyone involved.