Are we having fun yet? Opening Day was chaos for MLB DFS, and we’re only a couple hours into our two-game slate. Juan Soto tested positive for Covid-19 and had to leave camp; Clayton Kershaw scratched from his start an hour before lock; D.J. Lemahieu didn’t play and the Yankees fielded an odd-looking lineup; the Giants lineup posted after lock creating some fun late swapping situations; and, oh yeah, the Yankees and Nationals got that downpour we were worried about and the game delayed in the sixth.
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Day 2, also known as actual Opening Day, should be a much better MLB DFS experience. With an 11-game main slate on both sites, there should be a lot move diversity of lineups and some good spots to choose from.
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
Arizona Diamondbacks: Kole Calhoun – 7.52
Baltimore Orioles: Austin Hays – 14.38
Boston Red Sox: J.D. Martinez – 16.77
Chicago Cubs: Kyle Schwarber – 7.53
Chicago White Sox: Edwin Encarnacion – 8.39
Cleveland Indians: Franmil Reyes – 10.87
Colorado Rockies: Trevor Story – 7.00
Houston Astros: George Springer – 8.18
Kansas City Royals: Jorge Soler – 9.97
Los Angeles Angels: Mike Trout – 7.31
Los Angeles Dodgers: Cody Bellinger – 11.89
Miami Marlins: Jesus Aguilar – 6.56
Milwaukee Brewers: Justin Smoak – 6.33
Minnesota Twins: Nelson Cruz – 11.38
Oakland Athletics: Matt Olson – 14.37
Philadelphia Phillies: Jay Bruce – 7.59
Pittsburgh Pirates: Josh Bell – 7.30
San Diego Padres: Manny Machado – 10.59
San Francisco Giants: Mike Yastrzemski – 5.22
Seattle Mariners: Dan Vogelbach – 9.05
St. Louis Cardinals: Paul DeJong – 6.66
Texas Rangers: Joey Gallo – 13.05
MLB DFS Picks: 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 spots and teams to look at for potential plays here. The slate has a ton of good pitchers going, so most of the spots against weak arms are likely to be heavily owned on both sites. Make sure to check out the ownership projections for critical updates and monitor the top stacks tool throughout the day for changes.
Baltimore Orioles (4.0) at Boston Red Sox (6.1) – Suggested Stack(s): Red Sox 2-3-5-7-8
The Red Sox are pretty likely to be a popular play against Orioles starter Tommy Milone across all of MLB DFS tomorrow. The Red Sox have the highest current implied team total on the slate and this lineup is still loaded despite losing Mookie Betts. On DraftKings the Red Sox carry reasonable prices. On FanDuel their salaries are absurdly low. This team is going to get mashed into a ton of lineups tomorrow on the blue site, but they look worth it. Monitor ownership closely, the entire top of the lineup looks great, but there are plays further down. Alex Verdugo and Jackie Bradley Jr. are likely to be under-owned in a lefty-lefty matchup, but Milone has actually allowed more HR/9 and has a higher FIP to lefties through his career. The pair could deliver some sneaky pop, and there’s always the terrible Baltimore bullpen to get into. The players in the recommended stack are J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers, Michael Chavis and the pair of outfielders.
Los Angeles Angels (3.9) at Oakland Athletics (4.7) – Suggested Stack(s): Athletics 3-7
This one might be a bit better as an MLB DFS angle. The latest game on the slate looks like a killer spot for the Athletics bats. They have tremendous power against left-handed pitching as a team. Slugger Matt Olson is a big lefty in the heart of this order, but I’m not too concerned with his split here. While his slugging percentage does come down, Olson has shown the ability to drive the ball against lefties, maintaining a .255 ISO and 86% hard and medium contact on the bad side of his splits in 2019. He also struck out slightly less against lefties, though his ability to make contact and his walk rate drop significantly. Khris Davis disappointed MLB DFS players all season long in 2019 and people may still have a bad taste in their mouth. He’s in a spectacular power spot. For his career, opposing starter Andrew Heaney has yielded 1.85 HR/9 and an absolutely brutal 16.8% home run to fly ball rate to right-handed hitters and Davis has a 26.1% HR/FB ratio and makes 46.7% hard contact against lefties for his career. Don’t make the mistake of leaving Davis out of Athletics stacks. The pricing on the Athletics is fantastic on both sites, they should be a high-quality option so monitor their popularity and load up if appropriate. The stack posted is Matt Chapman, Olson, Davis, Mark Canha and Stephen Piscotty, though Ramon Laureano from the two-hole makes a ton of sense as well.
Miami Marlins (3.6) at Philadelphia Phillies (5.0) – Suggested Stack(s): Phillies 1-2-3-4-6
The Phillies have some excellent left-handed power in their lineup and some right-handed hitters for whom we don’t sweat platoon splits too much. Their prices are somewhat higher on DraftKings but they look easy enough to get into full stacks tonight. The pricing on FanDuel is very appealing. If other MLB DFS players have forgotten about Andrew McCutchen after the outfielder missed the second half of last season you should make a point of getting over the field on him. His $2,800 price on FanDuel is ridiculous. McCutchen was having a good year in 2019, despite turning 33, when he went out he was carrying a WRC+ 20% above league average and was chasing a career-high walk rate at 16.4%. McCutchen is going to be the table-setter for some big RBI and power bats coming up behind him. Building straight down from the top is the most obvious approach, and we definitely want the lefty power in Bryce Harper and Jay Bruce here. J.T. Realmuto makes a spectacular catching option and you can round things off with either Rhys Hoskins or skip a spot to shortstop Didi Gregorius, depending on your budget and positioning requirements.