Monday brings the final full four-game slate of MLB DFS action for the season. Two of the American League teams are fighting for their playoff lives, as the Red Sox will look to close out the Rays and the White Sox attempt to stave off elimination at the hands of the Astros. With both National League series playing their third game tied at one win apiece, victory is critical for all four teams. There are excellent pitching options on the slate, though they all seemingly come with questions about the anticipated depth of start, who will be involved in a bullpen game and potentially injury concerns. With top-flight pitching going across the board, parsing the information with the Top Pitchers Tool is the best way to find the positively leveraged situations available.
MLB DFS Tournament Strategy: Top HR Options
Home runs are the holy grail when making MLB DFS picks. Finding the right combination of sluggers who will knock one, or better two, out of the park to drive in the teammates you stack with them is critical to winning GPPs. Identifying the likely home run hitters is trickier than just looking at the big names. Using a model of my design, based on a blend of several predictive statistics for the batter-pitcher matchup, I will give each team one of the top choices. However, it will not always be the absolute top-ranked player, particularly when there is an obvious star in that spot every day.
Home Run Ratings
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Scale: 5-10 Average; 10-20 Good; 20-25 Very Good; 25+ Great
Atlanta Braves: Jorge Soler — 6.59
Boston Red Sox: J.D. Martinez — 8.41
Chicago White Sox: Eloy Jimenez — 11.04
Houston Astros: Carlos Correa — 5.97
Los Angeles Dodgers: Albert Pujols — 6.84
Milwaukee Brewers: Avisail Garcia — 3.95
San Francisco Giants: Kris Bryant — 7.24
Tampa Bay Rays: Nelson Cruz — 10.51
This is intended to capture the full range of home run upside for each team. It is not meant as a stack ranking and does not account for pricing or popularity — only home run potential. The first column is the average rating for the full projected lineup (pitcher bats not included in non-DH games), and the second is for the top six hitters in the projected lineup.
MLB DFS Picks: Pitchers, Optimal Stacks & Leverage Plays
This section will feature a few standout MLB DFS spots and teams to look at for potential plays on DraftKings and FanDuel. Ensure to check out the Awesemo Ownership Projections for critical updates and monitor the top stacks tool throughout the day for changes.
On the Hill
Monday’s pitching slate is as deep as it is questionable. The apex option is Max Scherzer, leading the way for the Dodgers and for roughly two-thirds of the field on DraftKings and half of all FanDuel lineups. Scherzer threw 179.1 innings and had a 34.1% strikeout rate, a 5.2% walk percentage and a 3.24 xFIP. However, he will be facing an excellent Giants lineup that created runs 11% better than average against righties and had a 4.45% home run rate with a .200 ISO in the split. The Giants strike out at an aggressive 24% clip, but Scherzer could also be limited by game flow. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has few qualms about pulling even one of the game’s best if the situation dictates.
Carlos Rodon comes into the game with major questions about his lingering shoulder soreness and the impact it will have on his overall velocity. He threw 132.2 innings, racking up a 34.6% strikeout rate, a 3.17 xFIP and a 0.96 WHIP, but his velocity took a major dip down the stretch. He had major shoulder surgery in 2017, so any pain issues are a red flag. Still, the White Sox are letting him make the start, and he is going off at very low ownership, making him a viable and interesting play for MLB DFS tournaments despite a matchup against the Astros. Houston’s active roster had a 4.12% home run rate and created runs 20% better than average against lefties this season.
Freddy Peralta faces similar innings limitation questions, partly because of the quality of the Brewers bullpen. He threw 144.1 innings and struck out 33.6% of opposing hitters, though he issued too many walks, at a 9.7% rate. Peralta will be facing a Braves lineup that has massive power upside. Their 4.80% home run rate was the best in baseball in the split, and they had a collective .202 ISO, though they created runs at just the league average while striking out at a 24.4% clip. On the other side of that contest, Atlanta’s Ian Anderson faces the worst lineup on the board today. He had a 23.2% strikeout rate and a 3.96 xFIP over 128.1 innings this season. He will be facing a lineup that was 7% below average creating runs against right-handed pitching this season, however. The Brewers lack major power upside in the split and could align to give Anderson upside to at least five or six clean innings of work. The rest of the pitching slate is a bit of a crapshoot, with Eduardo Rodriguez starting on short rest after going just 1.2 innings on Thursday, Alex Wood coming in at low cost and low ownership against a ridiculously good Dodgers lineup, unspectacular Jose Urquidy starting for the Astros and the Rays throwing a bullpen game at the Red Sox.
The Top Stacks Tool has one team as a very strong tournament play, while the rest of the slate falls into a similar range for cost, ownership and upside. The Rays stand atop the board for both probability of success and leverage. They are significantly under-owned across the industry for reasons that are not easy to identify. The team is facing hard-luck lefty Rodriguez. They were good in the split throughout the season, creating runs 11% better than average and compiling a 3.81% home run rate and a .176 ISO. The Rays projected lineup includes Randy Arozarena, Wander Franco, Brandon Lowe and Nelson Cruz at the top, with Cruz standing out for major power potential given his home run rate over 6% for his career in the split. The balance of the lineup stacks up around a few power bats. Yandy Diaz, Manuel Margot and Kevin Kiermaier are the filler around the pop in the bats of Jordan Luplow and Mike Zunino at the bottom of the Tampa Bay batting order.
The other team that is coming up with interesting leverage marks, particularly on the blue site, is the Astros. Houston has been underappreciated all season, they are affordable and under-owned on this slate, particularly given the lingering questions about Rodon. The Astros lineup fields quality from one through eight, and then there is Martin Maldonado providing his sturdy defense behind the plate. Getting to combinations of Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, American League batting champion Yuli Gurriel, Carlos Correa and Kyle Tucker is an easy enough recommendation when they are not all priced down across the industry. Adding Jake Meyers to the mix is an easy way to help offset any price and popularity concerns. Meyers hit six home runs and had a .178 ISO in just 163 plate appearances, slashing .260/.323/.438 and creating runs 11% better than average along the way.
HR Call: Yordan Alvarez — Houston Astros
To get even more action down on tonight’s MLB slate, check out the betting markets and Awesemo’s expert MLB betting picks for today.
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