Welcome to another “believe it or not, there’s baseball” version of the Tournament Strategy article. Today’s slate sees a jump back to the American League Division Series, with teams changing parks in the interim. The Rays are on the road in Boston to face the Red Sox, and the Astros are in Chicago to battle the White Sox. Getting to a spread of the four capable pitchers, with a focus on the lower-owned options, and spreading out to a mix of bats is the viable approach for a small slate of this nature, particularly given the low-scoring playoff games that Vegas expects.
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
Boston Red Sox: Rafael Devers — 10.19
Chicago White Sox: Yasmani Grandal — 7.06
Houston Astros: Kyle Tucker — 7.99
Tampa Bay Rays: Mike Zunino — 4.41
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 Sunday pitching slate is topped by Nathan Eovaldi, who is drawing extreme ownership across both sites, though it is not far afield from his probability of landing as one of the best performers. Eovaldi had a 25.5% strikeout rate, a 3.48 xFIP, a 6.3% barrel rate and a 36.2% hard-hit percentage over 182.1 reliable innings this season. On the other side of the AL East game, the Rays will have Drew Rasmussen on the mound. Rasmussen had a 23.8% strikeout rate and an 8.1% walk percentage, and he allowed a massive 50.2% hard-hit rate this season, which could be concerning against a power-hitting lineup like Boston’s. Rasmussen’s probability of being a top option is far outpacing his public popularity on DraftKings and FanDuel this afternoon. In the later game, Luis Garcia will take his excellent rookie season into the playoffs. He threw 155.1 innings and racked up a 3.93 xFIP, a 3.30 ERA and a 26.4% strikeout rate for the season. Garcia is also projected to be under-owned on the slate. With the White Sox answering with Dylan Cease on the mound, there are four viable pitching plays on the slate. Cease delivered on his anticipated breakout season, finishing with an excellent 31.9% strikeout rate over 165.2 innings. He still walks too many, with a 9.6% walk percentage for the season, but he induced a 14.8% swinging-strike rate, helping him get out of jams with ease. He will be challenged by the Astros lineup, however, and with the field owning him efficiently, it makes sense to come in slightly under, buying additional opportunity with the more positively leveraged plays.
The Top Stacks Tool reads like a two-game slate between four excellent teams should: Very evenly. There is an opportunity around the leverage provided to the Tampa Bay stack, which is coming up with significant positive leverage scores on both DraftKings and FanDuel for this slate. The go-to bats in the Rays’ confirmed lineup include Brandon Lowe, Wander Franco, Austin Meadows, Nelson Cruz and Randy Arozarena. Any of Ji-Man Choi, Kevin Kiermaier, Mike Zunino or Joey Wendle makes for a quality mix-in, with Zunino providing amazing home run power.
The three other teams are at best efficiently owned by the public, with the White Sox landing as the most popular team of the day. Utilizing individual ownership projections to offset popularity in that stack is advisable, and getting to additional shares of the alternative options, or loading up on Rays to a greater extent, is the advisable approach for tournament play. Between the Astros and Red Sox, there are two excellent lineups drawing roughly efficient ownership. Underappreciated players in the respective lineups include J.D. Martinez and Hunter Renfroe for Boston and Jake Meyers for Houston. All of the other bats will be popular, but they should be rostered in varying shares.
HR Call: Eloy Jimenez — Chicago White Sox
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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