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MLB DFS Tournament Strategy: Leverage, Home Runs, Optimal Picks | Today, 9/26/21

Terry McBride

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Daily fantasy baseball advice. MLB DFS Picks on Deeper Dive & Live Before Lock. DraftKings + FanDuel picks for 10/1 w/ Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Just one week is all that remains in the MLB DFS regular-season grind before the playoffs lead into a long winter. The small contest Sunday slates can be advantageous for those building full sets of lineups, though the minimal payoffs for winning a GPP make it a difficult exercise. This article is presented in short Sunday format; it includes the power index and a home run pick from each game for the early slate as well as a few general thoughts about the pitching and stack offerings.

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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

Baltimore Orioles: Austin Hays — 5.69

Chicago Cubs: Patrick Wisdom — 15.60

Chicago White Sox: Jose Abreu — 14.93

Cincinnati Reds: Nick Castellanos — 12.75

Cleveland Indians: Bobby Bradley — 11.01

Miami Marlins: Jesus Sanchez — 9.63

Milwaukee Brewers: Eduardo Escobar — 7.29

Minnesota Twins: Josh Donaldson — 11.16

New York Mets: Javier Baez — 6.03

Philadelphia Phillies: Brad Miller — 3.21

Pittsburgh Pirates: Colin Moran — 9.12

St. Louis Cardinals: Nolan Arenado — 11.84

Tampa Bay Rays: Jordan Luplow — 10.50

Texas Rangers: Willie Calhoun — 12.85

Toronto Blue Jays: Marcus Semien — 16.93

Washington Nationals: Juan Soto — 11.61

Power Index

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 main slate features several top-end pitching options, including a somewhat underpriced Freddy Peralta in a decent spot against the Mets, Tyler Mahle facing the Nationals and Lucas Giolito taking on Cleveland. Peralta threw six innings in each of his last two starts, but the Brewers have the division locked down, and his pitch count has to be a concern. Giolito has been sharp throughout the season, but he has already been limited after taking two weeks off between the end of August and mid-September. He threw just four innings in his first start back and 5.1 in his most recent outing. Both pitchers have the talent to post a strong score in even limited outings, but there are reasons for concern at their prices. Mahle has struck out 27.7% of hitters over the course of the season, and there should be no real reason for concern over his depth of start, which could push him to the top of the board against a bad Nationals team despite their odd ability to limit strikeouts while not scoring runs or hitting for any power. A total wild card on the slate is rookie Shane Baz, an apex prospect who went five innings against the Blue Jays in his lone MLB start, striking out five and fiving up just two hits, though both were home runs. Baz had a 36% strikeout rate over 46 Triple-A innings this season, and he is extremely interesting against a Marlins lineup that lacks offensive upside and strikes out at the third-worst rate in baseball against right-handed pitching. Baz is likely to be extremely popular at his $6,900 salary on FanDuel and $7,900 on DraftKings, but he seems well worth it for the value and opportunity to post a very strong start.

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays stand at the top of today’s power index in a matchup against Griffin Jax. Jax has an 18.6% strikeout rate and an 8.4% walk rate this season, and he has yielded a whopping 13% barrel rate and a 46.1% hard-hit percentage on a 19.4-degree average launch angle. This is a pitcher who is highly targetable for both power and run creation via sequential hitting. The Blue Jays lineup can be played from top to bottom, though keeping an eye on both the team ownership and leverage as well as individual player ownership within the stack will be critical. Go-to bats are George Springer, Marcus Semien, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Teoscar Hernandez.

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Chicago Cubs

Chicago could be a bit interesting with the power upside they are flashing in a matchup against Jake Woodruff. This season Woodruff has given up a 5.7% barrel rate but also a 40.8% hard-hit percentage, 90.2 mph average exit velocity, 8.9% walk rate and 5.00 xFIP. He is targetable with inexpensive Cubs bats, but they lose their appeal if Ownership Projections for the team come up heavy. Go-to bats on the Cubs are virtually non-existent, but playable bats include Frank Schwindel, Ian Happ, Willson Contreras and Patrick Wisdom. Adding Rafael Ortega and Matt Duffy on either end of that group can bring quality and correlation, while Nico Hoerner makes for an interesting wrap-around play from the bottom of the lineup.

HR Call: Patrick Wisdom — Chicago Cubs

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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Terry used to do other things, now he writes words on the internet. He hopes his more than 20 years’ experience in season-long and daily fantasy sports and his custom models for MLB, NBA, and NFL don't steer you too wrong when he writes columns and makes picks on Awesemo.com. A lifetime of experience keeping odd hours make Terry ideal to cover KBO baseball overnight until the world returns to normal. Most of those late night hours have been spent on the couch watching sports, T.V., and movies; just try to shut him up about any of the above. You can find his pop-culture ramblings and more on Sideaction.

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