The MLB DFS Deep Dive is back! This article is intended to give you an in-depth look at the top MLB DFS picks for DraftKings and FanDuel on the day’s fantasy baseball slate. It is recommended that you use this article in conjunction with Awesemo’s MLB projections, ownership projections and the Top Stack tool.
MLB DFS Deep Dive: DraftKings + FanDuel Picks | Sept. 22
Zack Wheeler ($10,400 DraftKings/$10,700 FanDuel) is the clear top pitching option on tonight’s slate. He leads the slate with a 28.9% strikeout rate and 2.87 xFIP this season. He has also only walked 5.4% of hitters and has averaged nearly seven innings per start this season. While many teams are not pushing their aces to go as deep into games at this point in the season in order to save them for the postseason, the Phillies are playing must-win games down the stretch. Wheeler has a favorable matchup against the Orioles, who have struck out 25.1% of the time and have a 91 wRC+ against right-handed pitching this season.
Luis Garcia ($10,000 DraftKings/$8,300 FanDuel) has a strong matchup against the Angels and will get considerably less ownership than Wheeler at a similar price point on DraftKings. There is a good reason that he will get less ownership, however. While Garcia’s 27.1% strikeout rate is the second highest on the slate and justifies his price tag, he has not been allowed to throw more than 90 pitches in any of his last 10 starts. Garcia has only made four fewer starts than Wheeler this season, but he has thrown 62 fewer innings. The Angels active roster has a 25.2% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching this season, so there is plenty of strikeout upside for Garcia, but he will most likely need Wheeler to struggle in order to exceed his fantasy points.
Walker Buehler ($9,800 DraftKings/$9,400 FanDuel) is another low-owned pivot to Wheeler who is very good but also has significant question marks tonight. Buehler enters the game with a 25.8% strikeout rate, the third highest on the slate, and a 3.62 xFIP. He has also only thrown eight fewer innings than Wheeler in the same number of starts. The issue for Buehler is that he is pitching in Coors Field. Pitches move less than normal in Colorado, and the outfield is massive, so balls that would typically be caught in other parks fall in for hits. As a result, the Rockies active roster has a .348 wOBA and 19.7% strikeout rate at home this season compared to a .282 wOBA and 25.3% strikeout rate on the road. Buehler still has a high ceiling here since he is one of the most talented pitchers in baseball, but the chances of him reaching it are much lower than Wheeler’s chances.
Chris Sale ($9,600 DraftKings/$10,000 FanDuel) is probably the most difficult pitcher on the slate to evaluate right now. On one hand, he has been one of the best pitchers in baseball for a long time. On the other hand, he has only made six starts since returning from Tommy John (and then COVID), and there have been some red flags, both in his performance and in Boston’s handling of him.
Starting with the positives, Sale has struck out at least 35% of hitters in each of the last three seasons and greater than 30% in five of the last six seasons, so his 24.6% strikeout rate this year is not a concern – especially because that number is pulled down by his one strikeout against Baltimore in his last start. Sale also has a 3.57 xFIP this season and has only walked 4.8% of hitters. One negative is that his fastball velocity has not returned to his pre-Tommy John numbers. Sale averaged 94.4 mph on his fastball in 2017 and 94.7 in 2018 before dropping to 93.2 mph in 2019. This season he has averaged 93.4 mph. This is not necessarily a huge deal since he still struck out 35.6% of hitters and has a 2.93 xFIP despite his reduced velocity in 2019.
The bigger concern is the way that Boston has handled him. In his first five starts, he was only able to go six innings once. Then in his first start after COVID, he was pulled after five innings and 79 pitches despite allowing just one run. He has thrown as many as 95 pitches this season, but the case could also be made that the Red Sox do not have much reason to push him at this point in the season and that they are likely to continue to limit him to no more than 90 pitches.
To summarize, there are a lot of variables affecting Sale here. It is unclear what Sale will be or how the Red Sox will use him after Tommy John surgery. He is fairly priced for his matchup with the Mets, but concerns over his ceiling make it tough to get over the field.
Corey Kluber ($9,000 DraftKings/$8,000 FanDuel) is another former ace who is difficult to be overly confident in at this point since he has only thrown a total of 107.2 innings since 2018. In 14 starts this season he has struck out 25.4% of hitters, but he has also walked 10.7% and produced a 4.35 xFIP. Kluber threw 95 pitches over six innings in his last start. The Yankees also only have a 38% chance of making the playoffs, compared to 92% for Boston, which makes it less likely that they will err on the side of caution regarding Kluwer’s pitch count if he is pitching well. He takes on the Rangers, who are tied with Miami for the lowest wRC+ in baseball this season.
Ian Anderson ($8,400 DraftKings/$8,000 FanDuel) has made four starts since returning from a shoulder injury. He recorded zero strikeouts in each of the first two starts but followed it up with nine strikeouts in five innings against Miami and seven strikeouts in 5.2 innings against the Giants. There is still reason to be somewhat concerned about Anderson because he has walked 11.8% of hitters in his four starts since injury. By comparison, he had walked 9.7% of hitters prior to his injury. He also had a 41.2% zone rate and 59.6% first-pitch strike rate prior to the injury, compared to a 37.5% zone rate and 51.8% first-pitch strike rate since returning. While he does have legitimate question marks, he also has a favorable matchup against the Diamondbacks, who have struck out 24.6% of the time and have a 79 wRC+ against right-handed pitching this season. Anderson is similarly priced to Joe Ryan on DraftKings and offers similar upside at much lower ownership. One other factor to pay attention to is the roof at Chase Field. It being open does not affect Anderson’s ceiling, but it does make the spot a little bit riskier.
Joe Ryan ($8,200 DraftKings/$7,700 FanDuel) is currently projected to be the most popular SP2 option on DraftKings, and he is more popular than every pitcher except Wheeler on FanDuel as well. Ryan has thrown 17 innings over three starts for the Twins, striking out 23.3% of hitters and posting a 4.68 xFIP. He spent most of this season at Triple-A, however, and posted impressive numbers. In 57 innings in the Rays system, he struck out 34.9% of hitters and had a 3.42 xFIP. In his two starts in the Twins system after being acquired in the Nelson Cruz trade, he struck out 50% of hitters and had a 0.85 xFIP. Ryan faces the Cubs tonight in Wrigley Field. Since the trade deadline, the Cubs lead all of baseball with a 28.9% strikeout rate. They have been a relatively productive offense, with a 100 wRC+, .322 wOBA and .187 ISO over that time, but the wind is blowing in at 25 mph tonight at Wrigley, so their power is not much of a concern.
Kyle Hendricks ($7,500 DraftKings/$7,800 FanDuel) benefits from the same favorable pitching weather in Chicago, though he is much less exciting than Ryan. Hendricks has only struck out 16.6% of hitters this season and has a 4.67 xFIP. The Twins offense has struck out 23.2% of the time against right-handed pitching this season and posted a 100 wRC+ and .183 ISO, but the wind is likely to help mitigate the power numbers. Hendricks is far from safe, but Minnesota has a 3.7 implied run total, and there is a lack of quality, inexpensive pitching on this slate.
J.T. Realmuto ($4,800 DraftKings/$3,300 FanDuel)
Luke Voit ($3,200 DraftKings/$3,200 FanDuel)
Trea Turner ($5,700 DraftKings/$4,300 FanDuel)
Alex Bregman ($4,400 DraftKings/$3,900 FanDuel)
Corey Seager ($4,300 DraftKings/$4,000 FanDuel)
Kyle Tucker ($4,400 DraftKings/$3,500 FanDuel)
Giancarlo Stanton ($4,300 DraftKings/$3,900 FanDuel)
Jorge Soler ($3,800 DraftKings/$3,200 FanDuel)
Note: Be sure to check out the Top Stacks Tool to compare a team’s chances of success to their aggregate ownership.
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Houston Astros
- Atlanta Braves
Top Under-owned Stacks: San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers
Thanks for reading to the end of this article! If you appreciate this free content and want to see more of it every day, you can help us out by sharing this article on social media!
Looking for more MLB DFS picks content? We have loads of daily fantasy baseball articles, data, DraftKings and FanDuel cheat sheets and more on the Awesemo MLB DFS home page.
MLB DFS Showdown/Single-Game Ownership Projections
📽️ MLB DFS Picks: Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy Show for DraftKings & FanDuel at 10 a.m. ET | 10/15
MLB Player Props: Home Run Props & Strikeout Props Tool For MLB Starters Today (Free Trial)
MLB Power Rankings + Sports Betting Model (Free Trial)
MLB DFS Projections for DraftKings, FanDuel and Yahoo
Awesemo’s MLB DFS Rankings
📽️ MLB DFS Picks: Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy Show for DraftKings & FanDuel at 10 a.m. ET | 10/14
MLB DFS Top Stacks Tool