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MLB DFS Tournament Strategy: Leverage, Home Runs, Optimal Picks | Today, 9/19/21

Terry McBride

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FanDuel MLB DFS lineup picks today optimal optimizer free expert rankings fantasy baseball cheat sheet tips advice tournament strategy GPP home run predictions best bets power rankings AL wild Card Yankees Red Sox

One of the final weekends of the MLB DFS season sees a light day of prize pools typical for September Sunday slates. With most of the DFS community’s attention on the pigskin once again, there are only limited prizes to be won and limited attention being paid to MLB DFS slates. This can be advantageous for those building full sets of lineups, though the minimal payoffs 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.

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

Arizona Diamondbacks: Kole Calhoun — 7.80

Baltimore Orioles: Trey Mancini — 6.13

Boston Red Sox: Hunter Renfroe — 16.03

Chicago Cubs: Frank Schwindel — 8.89

Chicago White Sox: Gavin Sheets — 10.37

Cincinnati Reds: Joey Votto — 8.40

Cleveland Indians: Jose Ramirez — 11.88

Colorado Rockies: Brendan Rodgers — 9.02

Detroit Tigers: Eric Haase — 7.71

Houston Astros: Kyle Tucker — 8.29

Kansas City Royals: Carlos Santana — 6.02

Los Angeles Dodgers: Justin Turner — 4.25

Miami Marlins: Jesus Sanchez — 2.66

Milwaukee Brewers: Dan Vogelbach — 10.19

Minnesota Twins: Max Kepler — 7.55

New York Yankees: Aaron Judge — 27.59

Pittsburgh Pirates: Colin Moran — 4.34

San Diego Padres: Wil Myers — 10.57

Seattle Mariners: Luis Torrens — 5.20

St. Louis Cardinals: Nolan Arenado — 11.77

Tampa Bay Rays: Nelson Cruz — 14.36

Texas Rangers: Nate Lowe — 7.73

Toronto Blue Jays: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. — 8.12

Washington Nationals: Juan Soto — 10.33

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.

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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 a few interesting pitching selections. Gerrit Cole is the most expensive starter and is likely to be the most popular on FanDuel, while Clayton Kershaw comes in at a higher price on the DraftKings slate. Cole will benefit from facing a mediocre Cleveland team. Though it is more than capable of hitting balls out of the yard in Yankee Stadium, his matchup is easier than what Kershaw has in store with the Reds. Sandy Alcantara may be in the best spot of the day, pitching against the Pirates, but he costs over $10,000 on both sites. Lucas Giolito is a high-strikeout, high-upside option in his start against a lousy Rangers lineup that should provide relative safety given their minimal power against right-handed pitching this season. From the value range, Logan Gilbert is inexpensive against the Royals, while Jon Gray is a strong value in an easy spot facing the Nationals. With additional mid-range quality from pitchers like Nathan Eovaldi, Jose Berrios and Shane McClanahan, there is a deep pool of pitchers to pivot between today.

New York Yankees

The Yankees are the top-ranked team in the power index above. They will be facing Eli Morgan in their home park, a pitcher that is targetable, and the stadium lends itself to home run upside. Morgan has allowed a 12.4% barrel rate and a 39.4% hard-hit percentage on a 20.6-degree average launch angle, ideal home run trajectory and a prime contact profile. The Yankees’ loaded lineup may be without Joey Gallo, who left yesterday’s game early with neck soreness. The team is still a powerhouse, however, with Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Anthony Rizzo, Luke Voit and Gary Sanchez in the lineup.

Colorado Rockies

The Rockies have been bad all season, particularly on the road and against right-handed pitching. They will be playing in Washington, D.C. today, quite far from their home park in Colorado, and they are facing right-handed starter Paolo Espino. Fortunately for the Rockies, not all righties are created equal. This one comes with an ugly 43.3% hard-hit percentage and an 11.7% barrel rate on a 17.5-degree average launch angle. He has pitched to a 4.45 xFIP and has just a 20.6% strikeout rate this season. Colorado has several go-to hitters, including Brendan Rodgers, Charlie Blackmon, Trevor Story, C.J. Cron and Ryan McMahon. Additional value can be found in Raimel Tapia’s speed from the top of the lineup and Sam Hilliard’s power from the bottom.

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HR Call: Aaron Judge — New York Yankees

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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