Championship Series Saturday brings a pair of excellent baseball games to the table for MLB DFS fans. One of the very last multi-game days of the season sees three teams fielding playable pitchers who are true starters, while the Dodgers appear ready to deploy more of a bullpen game. With only four teams to choose from it will pay to mix and match premium bats across the various stacks, while still keeping an eye on correlation within each team’s stack. Allowing a single hitter against a pitcher for differentiation is acceptable but still not the overall ideal construction in this format.
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: Adam Duvall — 12.84
Boston Red Sox: Hunter Renfroe — 8.16
Houston Astros: Yordan Alvarez — 6.11
Los Angeles Dodgers: Cody Bellinger — 5.43
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
The Saturday pitching slate features three interesting starters and Corey Knebel, who is likely to give way to the Dodgers bullpen, with Tony Gonsolin a candidate to see a longer stint in a bulk relief role. Between the Dodgers pitchers, Gonsolin is likely to be the better candidate for a roster spot, Knebel opened Game 5 on Thursday and threw one inning. The trio of true starters are all interesting options. None of the three is a true ace, but each has stood out for quality along their various career paths. The early game sees Nathan Eovaldi on the mound for the Red Sox, facing a lethal Astros lineup. Eovaldi pitched to a 3.48 xFIP and had a 25.5% strikeout rate with just a 4.6% walk percentage this season, he is a strong option for $8,800 on FanDuel and $7,700 on DraftKings, there are no easy matchups at this point in the season. On the other side, young Luis Garcia will be facing an equal challenge with the powerful Red Sox bats in town. The right-handed rookie hurler threw 155.1 innings over 28 starts this season, booking a 3.93 xFIP and a 26.4% strikeout rate with a 7.9% walk percentage. Garcia allowed a 7.3% barrel rate and a 38.7% hard-hit percentage this season, he has been excellent at suppressing opposing offenses and posting quality MLB DFS scores at low ownership all year long, there is good reason to believe he can handle this lineup despite the quality. On the other side of the National League game, Max Fried is a solid option who is at a major discount for just $6,800 on DraftKings. The lefty threw 165.2 innings, posting a 3.45 xFIP with a 1.09 WHIP and an 11.1% swinging-strike rate this season. Fried allowed just a 6.3% barrel rate and a 34.3% hard-hit percentage at an average launch angle of just 6.1 degrees. The southpaw has the talent to suppress a loaded Dodgers team and is a great value for the low salary.
The Top Stacks Tool shows the Red Sox coming up as a strong positive leverage play on a ridiculously small slate. The loaded Boston lineup has talent from top to bottom, the team posted a .208 ISO and a 4.57% home run rate against right-handed pitching this season. The Red Sox active roster created runs 11% better than average in the split and struck out just 22.8% of the time, they are an excellent lineup up and down. Prime options include Kyle Schwarber, who had a massive 52.2% hard-hit rate and a 17.5% barrel rate while hitting 32 home runs in just 471 plate appearances this season, Enrique Hernandez, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, Alex Verdugo, JD Martinez, and Hunter Renfroe. Catcher Kevin Plawecki has minor upside that has been displayed in small bursts throughout his career, he and Christian Arroyo round out the lineup and help offset popularity and pricing concerns.
Of the two National League teams, the Dodgers are coming up far closer to a positive leverage situation than the Braves, who appear over-exposed on both sites. The Dodgers were spectacular against lefties this season, and Fried has the lowest strikeout rate among the available starters. Los Angeles struck out a mere 21.7% of the time against southpaws while creating runs 10% better than average this season. The team had excellent power, posting a .201 ISO and a monster 4.95% home run rate against lefties over the season. Los Angeles’ go-to bats include essentially the entire lineup from one through eight. Any of Mookie Betts, Corey Seager, or Trea Turner could be the team’s best star player on any given day. For the season, Turner and Seager outpaced Betts, with Turner standing taller by virtue of seeing more plate appearances. In 646 chances, the infielder hit 28 home runs and stole 32 bases, creating run 42% better than average. His counterpart on the other side of the diamond saw just 409 plate appearances but still managed to hit 16 home runs and create runs 47% better than average. After the excellent trio, in some order, will be Will Smith, Justin Turner, A.J. Pollock, and Chris Taylor. Former MVP Cody Bellinger should not be forgotten, even with a lefty on the mound. The struggling star has shown flashes down the stretch and during the playoffs, and this is a hitter who put up a gargantuan .305/.406/.629 season with 47 home runs and 15 stolen bases, creating runs 62% better than average with a .324 ISO. That season Bellinger slashed .280/.386/.596 with a .316 ISO while creating runs 49% better than average against left-handed pitchers. If he is in the lineup, Bellinger should not be forgotten.
HR Call: Kyle Schwarber — Boston Red Sox
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