4 Daily Fantasy Baseball Value Plays for Monday 6/21/21

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 six-game main slate.

Aaron Civale, SP, Cleveland Indians ($8,000)

There's a clear top-two at pitcher tonight -- Yu Darvish ($10,000) and Frankie Montas ($9,500) -- and that's followed by a four-pitcher jumble in the $8,000-$9,000 range. Adbert Alzolay ($8,500) is likely to be the most popular option of that group, given his matchup with the Cleveland Indians, but considering that the rookie hasn't topped 41 FanDuel points in any of his starts this season, I'd look elsewhere for value in tournaments. That brings us to Aaron Civale.

Civale is the epitome of a tournament play. Over his last seven starts, he's racked up 49-plus FanDuel points three times (including a 67-point outburst) but he's also garnered fewer than 25 in the four other outings.

The right-hander's underlying numbers aren't overly impressive. While he sports a real-life ERA of 3.48, his 4.40 xERA, 4.22 xFIP, and 4.34 SIERA paint a less friendly picture. Civale has also managed a strikeout rate of just 19.3%, which doesn't exactly inspire confidence from a DFS perspective. That said, he has showcased the ability to rack up solid fantasy totals and his matchup tonight is a lot more intriguing than people might think.

The Cleveland Indians will be traveling to Chicago to take on the Cubs with some winds blowing in from the outfield. Over the last month, Chicago's 82 wRC+ is tied for the fourth-worst mark in the league, and their 25.5% strikeout rate is tied for sixth-worst, per FanGraphs. That'll play.

Abraham Toro, 3B, Houston Astros ($2,000)

According to numberFire's Matchup Heat Map, the Houston Astros are the only team with an implied run total over 5.0 tonight, as they currently sit at 5.47.

The Astros will be taking on the Baltimore Orioles and lefty Keegan Akin. Through 55.1 career big-league innings since the start of last season, Akin sports a 5.20 ERA and 1.45 WHIP. While his peripherals aren't nearly as bad as that, a matchup with the best lineup in baseball is unlikely to lead to some correction.

Righties, in particular, have mashed against Akin, as he's ceded 1.36 homers per nine innings to opposite-handed hitters.

Houston is stackable top-to-bottom, including plenty of value plays, but one who stands out if he's in the lineup is Abraham Toro. In the three games since getting recalled from the minors, Toro has amassed seven hits (in 11 at-bats), three runs scored, a homer, five RBI, just one punchout, and a stolen base. The minimum-salaried switch hitter is an excellent value play tonight.

Jonathan India, 2B/3B, Cincinnati Reds ($2,800)

One of the best matchups of the night belongs to the Cincinnati Reds, who are squaring off against Minnesota Twins veteran southpaw J.A. Happ.

Happ has essentially been a batting practice pitcher for Minnesota this season, as he currently possesses a 6.12 ERA and 5.62 xFIP. The 38-year-old has ceded a salivating 1.64 dongs per nine frames while striking out the opposition at just a 16.5% clip. Hitters with the platoon advantage have smacked Happ to the tune of 1.79 home runs per nine, and he's posted a 5.72 xFIP in that split. Yowza.

Enter Cincinnati leadoff hitter Jonathan India. On the season, the rookie has posted a 125 wRC+ and .400 on-base average against southpaws. And, over his last 34 games, India has gotten on base at a .416 clip while mashing 5 homers, driving in 15, scoring 18 times, stealing four bases, and generating 21 walks to just 27 punchouts.

Tyler Stephenson, C, Cincinnati Reds ($2,500)

India isn't the only affordable Reds player to benefit from the mouth-watering matchup with Happ -- Tyler Stephenson is also well worth targeting.

In 49 plate appearances versus lefties in 2021, Stephenson has garnered a .947 OPS, .311 ISO, and 149 wRC+.

In fact, despite the fact that the 24-year-old has had nearly three times as many plate appearances against righties than lefties this campaign, 3 of his 4 dingers and 9 of his 18 RBI have come versus left-handed hurlers. Stephenson can be included in lineups as a standalone value play or -- and the is the recommended way to go -- as a salary-saving option in a Cincinnati stack.