MLB DFS Punt Plays For DraftKings and FanDuel (April 2)

A safe and balanced lineup does not bring the same energy as a gutsy, stars-and-scrubs-type build. In order for us to roster aspirational names like Ronald Acuna Jr. and Shohei Ohtani, we will need to take some shots at the underbellies of the batting order, colloquially referred to as the “punt plays.” This is why we are introducing our MLB DFS Punt Plays series to do just that.

A quality MLB DFS punt play is not only cheap to roster but crucially carries an upside worth pursuing. In baseball, that often translates into an inconsistent batter with power-hitting or stolen base potential. Or it could be a volatile pitcher offering strikeout upside and the ability to pitch deep into ballgames. Whatever the reason, there is enough rationale to believe that punt plays exceed the value of their price tag, and recognizing a great punt play is critical to success in MLB DFS.

This article will highlight the top punt plays available on Tuesday’s nine-game MLB main slate, locking at 7:10 PM ET on both DraftKings and FanDuel.

MLB DFS Punt Plays Today – April 2

Reynaldo Lopez – SP, ATL vs. CWS

MLB DFS DraftKings: $7,500

MLB DFS FanDuel: $6,500

Today’s slate is reasonably deep with high-end pitching options, so I don’t necessarily recommend punting at pitcher. However, if you’re seeking a discount arm, look no further than Reynaldo Lopez. His DraftKings price tag is pushing the boundary is pushing the boundary of what constitutes a true punt play, but Lopez has the second-best value score among pitchers on FanDuel today.

Despite a history in a starting role, Lopez has primarily operated out of the bullpen in recent seasons, and the results have been strong. He posted a 4.01 xERA last season, up from a 2.92 xERA in 2022 and a 3.76 xERA in 2021. Looking deeper at Lopez’s numbers, he has a lot of encouraging metrics, including a .383 xSLG, .216 xBA, 88.1 MPH average exit velocity, 30.5% whiff rate, and a 29.9% strikeout rate. His 12.2% walk rate was a problem last season, but if he can keep that in check, there is a very real ceiling for Lopez.

Lopez draws a very favorable matchup with his former team, the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox are in the conversation for the worst lineup in baseball. They ranked second-worst in the league last season, scoring only 3.9 runs per game. That includes a horrible 81 wRC+ against right-handed pitchers. Chicago has scored eight total runs through their first four games of 2024.

Graham Pauley – 3B, SD vs. STL

MLB DFS DraftKings: $2,700

MLB DFS FanDuel: $2,300

Graham Pauley has quickly and unexpectedly made a name for himself in the San Diego Padres organization. The 23-year-old was a 13th-round draft pick back in 2022 and remained an unheralded prospect until quite recently. During his first full minor league season last year, Pauley slashed .309/.393/.539 with 23 home runs and 22 stolen bases across 127 games played. He followed that up with a strong spring training performance, generating a 144 wRC+ en route to earning a surprise spot on the team’s Opening Day roster. Pauley is in the majors because he can hit. There’s a learning curve with any rookie, but Pauley’s offensive ceiling is well beyond his near-minimum price tag.

The underlying numbers suggest that Miles Mikolas’ 2023 season was a lot rougher than his 4.78 ERA tells us. He surrendered a .354 xwOBA, .499 xSLG, .291 xBA, 9.8% barrel rate, and a 90.4 MPH average exit velocity. On top of routinely getting hit hard by opposing hitters, Mikolas seemingly had no ability to miss bats, generating an awful 16.7% whiff rate and a 15.9% strikeout rate. It was the worst season of his career, and at age 35, I’m very skeptical Mikolas won’t continue trending in the wrong direction. This is a great spot for Pauley to get some quality hacks.

Victor Scott II – OF, STL vs. SD

MLB DFS DraftKings: $2,000

MLB DFS FanDuel: $2,000

If you’re needing to fill an outfield roster spot for the flat minimum price, then you won’t find a better option than Victor Scott II. He’s the top-graded value play among all position players on DraftKings today. Scott is the third-ranked prospect in the St. Louis Cardinals’ farm system and the 96th overall prospect in all of baseball, per MLB Pipeline. Last season, Scott slashed .303/.369/.425 across 132 games in the minors. While he only managed nine home runs in that span, Scott made the most of his time on basepaths, generating a staggering 94 stolen bases. Multi-stolen base upside is the primary appeal here.

Yu Darvish isn’t the ideal opponent for Scott to succeed against, but at 37 years old now, he is not the dominant pitcher he once was. Darvish finished last season with a 4.55 ERA, the worst of his career, and while there was some positive regression behind that number, we are well beyond his prime. Most importantly for Scott, Darvish is a notoriously easy pitcher to swipe a bag against. So, if Scott can just find a way on base, look for him to rack up fantasy points with his legs.

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Editor Note: If you’re looking for the best MLB DFS picks daily, we have you. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something with more of a gambling tilt, our friends over at OddsShopper can get you going by teaching you how to bet on home runs.


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