One more day of multi-game MLB DFS slates before the 2020 season is done. With the Astros becoming the second team to ever to force a Game Seven in a situation where they were trailing 3-0 in a postseason series (the 39th such situation) and the Dodgers getting past the Braves to force Game Six in the National League, it was a fun Friday night of baseball. Saturday should deliver an extremely entertaining slate with two more do-or-die games and four good starting pitchers going. It will be another all hands on deck situation with the bullpens in both games, outs and runs are precious and these teams will go immediately to high leverage arms to protect a lead.
With good pitchers on all sides the run totals are down somewhat from the inflated marks we’ve seen the last few days. Fantasy points and actual baseball runs could be at a premium across the slate, getting to the right combination of bats that happen to connect will be the key, but lineup construction is a bit of a crapshoot on a two-game slate with four good pitchers.
MLB DFS Quick Hits: Top HR Options, Stacks and Pitchers
Home Run Ratings
Home runs are our 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 own design, based on a blend of several predictive statistics for the batter-pitcher matchup, I’m going to give one of the top choices from each team.
Scale: 5-10 Average; 10-20 Good; 20-25 Very Good; 25+ Great
Atlanta Braves: Freddie Freeman – 12.81
Houston Astros: George Springer – 10.31
Los Angeles Dodgers: Max Muncy – 10.24
Tampa Bay Rays: Austin Meadows – 4.47
MLB DFS Stacks & Ownership Plays
(Quick note: if it says 1-5 it means hitters 1-2-3-4-5, otherwise I’ll specify spots)
We’re picking a few standout MLB DFS spots and teams to look at for potential plays here. Make sure to check out the ownership projections for critical updates and monitor the top stacks tool throughout the day for changes.
Astros – Michael Brantley – OF – $3,800 / $3,200
It’s odd trying to decide if I want the Astros to complete the epic comeback so that the Red Sox doing it to the Yankees isn’t history’s only example. Regardless of where rooting interests land, this should be an entertaining game with Lance McCullers Jr. taking on Charlie Morton. The Rays hurler threw 38 innings in 2020, putting up a 4.01 xFIP with a 4.74 ERA, while fighting diminished velocity and injury. Morton had a 24.7% strikeout rate which is good but significantly down from the 30.4% mark he hit last season.
Michael Brantley saw 187 plate appearances in 2020 and put up another solid campaign with a .300/.364/.476 slash with a WRC+ 34% above average. Brantley only hit five home runs this season, putting up a .176 ISO. In a much larger sample in 2019, he hit 22 home runs and had a .191 ISO. The left-handed outfielder is relatively inexpensive and hits near the top of the Astros lineup. For his career, Brantley has a .307/.365/.470 slash with a .163 ISO and a WRC+ 27% above average against right-handed pitching, while striking out just 14.4% of the time. This is the correct side of the split to roster Brantley.
Rays – Ji-man Choi – 1B – $4,100 / $2,600
First baseman Ji-man Choi is dramatically underpriced on FanDuel and comes at a reasonable discount on DraftKings as well. The matchup against right-handed Lance McCullers Jr. isn’t easy; for the season, he threw 55 innings, putting up a 3.43 xFIP with a 3.86 ERA and a 24.7% strikeout rate. Still, Choi is pulling down one of the better home run marks on the Rays and he gets all of his quality on this side of splits.
Over the course of 2020, Choi came to the plate 145 times, hitting just three home runs and putting up a .230/.331/.410 slash with a .180 ISO and a WRC+ three percent above average. In 2019 Choi hit 17 of his 19 home runs against right-handed pitching, all three of the home runs this year came on this side of the split as well. For his career, 35 of Choi’s 38 home runs have come against right-handed pitching. The first baseman has a .257/.356/.478 slash with a .221 ISO and a WRC+ 25% above average against righties for his career. Choi might have one last drop of upside for MLB DFS purposes tomorrow.
Braves – Freddie Freeman – 1B – $5,200 / $4,200
Freddie Freeman is probably too cheap for this spot on FanDuel. The Braves will be facing Dodgers right-handed starter Walker Buehler in a do-or-die spot. The pitcher threw 36.2 innings in 2020, putting up a 3.93 xFIP with a 3.44 ERA, striking out 28.6% of hitters while walking 7.5%.
Freeman has made a habit of annihilating right-handed pitching for most of his career, putting up a .308/.398/.543 slash with a .235 ISO and a WRC+ 50% above average since coming into the league. Freeman hit 12 of his 13 home runs against righties in 2020 and has 182 of his 240 career homers on this side of the split. For his career, Freeman has struck out just 18.4% of the time while walking 12.6% against the opposite hand. His price is lofty on DraftKings and he’s likely to be popular on both sites regardless of what he costs, but this is one of the higher upside individual players on the slate. Freeman fits into Braves stacks or plays well as a one-off on both sites.
Dodgers – Max Muncy – 1B – $4,900 / $3,700
Max Muncy was low-owned in a decent matchup on Friday’s MLB DFS slate and he could go even lower in public exposure tomorrow. The public is likely going to be scared off by the same-handed matchup against Max Fried, who is also very good at limiting power and home runs. The latter is something to consider, but the split against left-handed pitching is not something that is a problem for Muncy. For his career, the left-handed first baseman has a .256/.362/.503 slash and a .247 ISO against same-handed pitching. His WRC+ 32% above average is higher than his 25% above average against the opposite hand, Muncy is excellent against fellow southpaws. He has 23 of his 87 career home runs on this side of the split, despite seeing just 387 plate appearances compared with 1,176 against right-handed pitching.
Overall in 2020, Muncy hit 12 home runs in 248 plate appearances, while going just .192/.331/.389 and coming in exactly at league-average creating runs. The matchup against southpaw Max Fried is tough. Fried threw 56 innings in 2020, putting up a 4.05 xFIP to his tidier 2.25 ERA, striking out 22.3% of hitters. Fried was excellent limiting hard contact in 2020 and he gave up just two home runs, both in his last appearance of the season immediately before leaving the game with a nagging injury. Fried was second in baseball among pitchers with at least 50 innings this season, inducing 27.2% soft contact. He finished third in the sport with just 23.8% hard contact allowed. Fried could severely limit the Dodgers offense tomorrow, but Muncy makes for a somewhat sneaky option from the middle of the Dodgers productive lineup. I’ll roll the dice with a few shares, he could even be interesting in a one-off roll, coming back as a lone Dodgers hitter in lineups that feature Fried pitching.
HR Call: Marcell Ozuna (Braves)
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