Friday night was a fun slate of high-scoring MLB DFS action that delivered across the board. The Indians came through in a big way with 14 runs (so far), while chalky individual hitting options and pitchers managed to put up big numbers. The Rays stack disappointed against rookie Sixto Sanchez, who put up a dominant start, striking out 10 in seven innings, while Tyler Mahle and Corbin Burnes also put up monster starts. With all the cheap pitching coming through it was a night for chalky high-priced bats in a lot of GPPs.
Tomorrow has a split-slate, with a six game main slate going off at 7:10 EST on both sites. The slate on DraftKings says seven games but currently includes the Houston vs Oakland game that is now starting at 4:35; if this game is on a slate that locks after 7:00, I suggest you play the guys who hit well in it. The home runs include both the afternoon slate and the main, while the stacks are focused just on the main.
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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 – 8.59
Atlanta Braves: Freddie Freeman – 8.42
Baltimore Orioles: n/a
Boston Red Sox: Rafael Devers – 14.44
Chicago Cubs: n/a
Chicago White Sox: Yoan Moncada – 11.81
Cincinnati Reds: n/a
Cleveland Indians: Jose Ramirez – 7.02
Colorado Rockies: Nolan Arenado – 13.56
Detroit Tigers: n/a
Houston Astros: n/a
Kansas City Royals: Ryan O’Hearn – 11.15
Los Angeles Angels: Mike Trout – 15.91
Los Angeles Dodgers: Cody Bellinger – 8.57
Miami Marlins: n/a
Milwaukee Brewers: Justin Smoak – 11.40
New York Mets: Pete Alonso – 23.60
New York Yankees: Gary Sanchez – 25.85
Oakland Athletics: n/a
Philadelphia Phillies: Bryce Harper – 14.51
Pittsburgh Pirates: Josh Bell – 5.94
San Diego Padres: Manny Machado – 4.95
San Francisco Giants: Alex Dickerson – 11.37
Seattle Mariners: Kyle Seager – 6.66
St. Louis Cardinals: Paul DeJong – 7.55
Tampa Bay Rays: n/a
Texas Rangers: Joey Gallo – 22.70
Toronto Blue Jays: n/a
Washington Nationals: Juan Soto – 9.96
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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.
San Francisco Giants @ Arizona Diamondbacks – Diamondbacks – 1-5 – Kole Calhoun – Ketel Marte – Starling Marte – David Peralta – Christian Walker
The Diamondbacks are at home in the desert with Jake Cahill on the hill for their opponent and the hometown Snakes look like the play here. Cahill is a pitcher we’ve seen perform well over the years when he’s been able to stay on the mound but that has been a rare feat in recent years. The right-handed starter has averaged just 85 innings per year since the start of the 2014 season. Over 102 innings in 2019 he had a 5.11 xFIP with just a 17.8% strikeout rate. Over 1,456 innings in his career, Cahill has a 4.44 xFIP and a 17.7% strikeout rate, though that was reliably between 19 and 21% from 2014-2018 and sits at 31% over his mere 11 innings in 2020. Cahill pithed into the sixth inning the last time out but, given his fragility, there’s always reason to doubt the pitch count upside. Ultimately I’m not ready to call it a renaissance for the 32-year-old just yet. In that small sample he’s also walking 15.6% of hitters, we can expect opportunities for the opposition.
The Diamondbacks are a team we’ve hit on a few times with varying success. They’re an up and down sort of lineup but it’s one that can throw plenty of firepower at Cahill here.The Diamonbacks have the second lowest team strikeout rate on the board tomorrow, at just 20.3%, this is a team that has been showing patience at the plate, combined with Cahill’s propensity to provide the free pass, we can expect Diamondbacks on base all night.
The Snakes have Kole Calhoun leading off against right-handed pitchers most nights. The big bat signed in Arizona to provide some lefty power in this lineup, with a .280 ISO and eight home runs over his first 145 plate appearances he’s been delivering early and often for his new team. At just $3,100 on FanDuel and $4,300 on DraftKings he’s probably going to be highly owned but he’s an integral part of the Diamondbacks stack up top. His on-base percentage is at .341 on the season, so he’s done a good job setting the table for hitters behind him as well.
Both Martes hit immediately behind Calhoun and benefit from his ability to get on base. The pair are extremely underpriced on FanDuel where Ketel Marte is just $3,000 while Starling Marte is $3,200. On DraftKings they are priced at $4,900 and $5,000 respectively, that’s not a scaling issue that’s just an incorrect price on the blue site, take advantage. Ketel hit 32 home runs in 2019 but has just one so far in 2020, though he’s done everything else well, with a .310/.336/.413 slash. Starling has five stolen bases and a .397 on-base percentage so far this season, he’s running when he gets on and he’s on often. His WRC+ 34% above league average is something to target hitting third in this lineup.
David Peralta is another lefty bat who gets most of his quality against right-handed pitching. He’s done well overall on the season with 22 RBIs and a .302/.352/.515 slash. Peralta has 73 of his 87 career home runs against right-handed pitchers and is carrying a .204 ISO and a WRC+ 29% above average for his career in the split. This is a great play against a questionable starter, he costs just $3,700 on DraftKings and $2,900 on FanDuel.
Christian Walker, Eduardo Escobar and even Steven Vogt are in play from later in the lineup. Vogt is a catcher who may go under-appreciated in this spot tomorrow on DraftKings. Vogt gets all of his power on this side of his split, the lefty has a .182 ISO for his career with a WRC+ four percent above average, while hitting 62 of his 68 home runs against right-handed pitching. Walker and Escobar are objectively better hitters and I would prefer either in a vacuum, but Vogt helps fill out the catcher spot and is inexpensive on both sites. He’s primarily a differentiation option at the bare minimum $2,000 on FandDuel.
Escobar and Walker fill out the corners and cost just $3,900 each on DraftKings. I like the pair, though if I had to choose I would take Christian Walker. The first baseman is drawing a better home run mark and a better projection in my model early. If the ownership is out of hand on him I’m happy to flip this to Escobar, the switch-hitter isn’t far behind and I’m thinking his early .189/.278/.306 slash will keep people off him. Don’t lose site of the quality the hitter has shown us over the last three seasons. Escobar hit 21, 23 and 35 home runs the last three seasons and put up a .242 ISO in 2019, there is plenty of punch left in this bat.
Nick Ahmed is nothing more than a cheap mix and match shortstop for me in Diamondbacks stacks. I don’t mind him and he helps save money but I would never call him a target. Daulton Varhso is not just a name scratched out on a Days of Our Lives script for being too unrealistic, he’s also someone who would be far more interesting if he had his catcher eligibility on DraftKings. The combination of hit, power and run tools is rare for a catcher. In the outfield he’s just a middling option for me. I suppose he could be a sneaky low-owned play on FanDuel at the corner. In 452 plate appearances in AA in 2019 he hit 18 home runs, scored 85 runs and stole 21 bases.
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Washington Nationals @ Boston Red Sox – 1-5 – Alex Verdugo – Rafael Devers – J.D. Martinez – Xander Bogaerts – Mitch Moreland
You can honestly take either side of this one and land on what are likely to be some pretty high-end pretty highly owned stacks for tomorrow’s slate. I”m leaning into the Braves option here partly because they look great and partly because I just wrote about the Nationals. The Red Sox get roller coaster starter Anibal Sanchez here and I like their chances of putting up a quality fantasy night. Sanchez gave us the up side of his coin last time out but I don’t like him nearly as much in this spot against the Sox. For his career, the pitcher has a reasonable 4.06 xFIP, but he was at 5.10 over 166 innings in 2019 and sits at 5.56 in his limited 25-inning sample this year, even after the good start. Sanchez ranks in the 32nd percentile in exit velocity and xwOBA and 27th in barrels allowed, while landing in just the 15th percentile in strikeout rate in 2020. He struck out just 18.8% of hitters in 2019 and is falling short of that mark so far in 2020. This is a pitcher we can usually target with bats.
The Red Sox have plenty of bats. J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers both look good in both my home run model and projections and they should be in their customary RBI spots in the middle of this lineup. Coming into action on Friday, Devers was at just .222/.272/.402 on the season, with four home runs, a .179 ISO and a wRC+ 24% below average. Devers is an excellent hitter who legitimately should have been an MVP candidate in 2019. The third baseman hit 32 home runs in his 702 plate appearances and led the American League in doubles with 54. His 129 runs scored were second in the league to only then-teammate Mookie Betts, while his 115 RBIs ranked him 10th in baseball, three spots behind teammate Xander Bogaerts. Play Devers with confidence at all times.
Martinez’ bat has gone quiet the last few days after seeming to come around, which only adds to the appeal for me. Any time the public can find reasons to get off of a hitter like this, I’m happy to find reasons to get him in my lineups. The slugger isn’t a bat I should have to sell anyone on for MLB DFS, he’s hit 45, 43 and 36 home runs over the last three seasons, an MLB-leading 124 home runs since the start of 2017.
Alex Verdugo, one of the primary assets returned in the Mookie Betts trade is never going to be mistaken for the superstar in the box scores but he’s done a good job for his new team so far in 2020. The lefty should be hitting leadoff again here and sits at .291/.360/.515 for the season, with five home runs and two stolen bases. The WRC+ 31% above average is great as is the .223 ISO, and I love to see the on-base as high as it is for someone leading off for hitters like the guys we just mentioned behind him in the batting order.
Xander Bogaerts deserves more than a passing mention here as well. The right-handed star shortstop had his best year so far in 2019 when he hit 3 home runs and put up a .309/.384/.555 slash in his 698 plate appearances. He’s out to a good start this season but costs just a ridiculous $3,400 on FanDuel. That is a spot you should absolutely take advantage of on this slate, I’m comfortable with a big share of Bogaerts against this pitcher.
With a somewhat weak right-handed starter on the hill, we know that Mitch Moreland is in play. Keep an eye on his popularity on both sites during the day, at just $4,900 on DraftKings and $3,900 on FanDuel he’s likely to draw some attention. Moreland has eight home runs in 72 plate appearances on the season, after hitting 19 in 335 plate appearances in 2019. The first baseman has hit 153 of his 174 career home runs against right-handed pitchers and has a .215 lifetime ISO in the split.
Christian Vazquez is a slugging catcher we’ve talked about a few times already this season. Hes at a mere $2,500 on FanDuel and $4,600 on DraftKings. The right-handed backstop hit 23 homers in 521 plate appearances in 2019 and has four in his 105 so far in 2020. He will likely be popular but he fills out the catcher spot on DraftKings better than many.
The three hitters after Vazquez make for good mix and match options. Outfielders Jackie Bradley Jr. and Kevin Pillar can provide some low-owned late-lineup power for us in this spot, while Peraza should act as a solid wraparound option and secondary leadoff hitter, at least in theory. His speed and hit tools would lend credence to that theory but his despicable on-base percentage takes it largely off the table and relegates him to the ninth hole in the first place. Peraza is fine as an option to differentiate things but I wouldn’t target him as much as his teammates, though there is tremendous savings in his $2,300 price on DraftKings, where the play makes some sense.
HR Call: J.D. Martinez (Red Sox)
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