It is Sunday funday when it comes to MLB DFS. With a bunch of games that were covered by one or all of the team from the site, I expect we had some people knocking down some quality wins. The Rays and Cubs went off for big numbers, as did the Padres once again. The pitching side gave us the day’s real surprise scores, with Adam Wainwright posting a monster nine-strikeout complete game throwback performance while possibly living out the plot of For the Love of the Game. I’m pretty sure Costner’s character’s arm falls off after his no-hitter in that one, so keep an eye on Wainwright next time out. Chris Paddack threw up a solid start at low ownership in Coors, and Griffin Canning delivered at heavy ownership against the lowly Mariners.
Tomorrow’s split slate has some fun-looking games. The Rays and Yankees are squaring off with good starters going for both sides in a duel of AL East contenders, while we have the White Sox and Twins going at it in the AL Central. The only shaky starter among the four teams is Rich Hill, so it should be a good pair of games to watch in real life, and there are some good options in the games. We also have some excellent stacking spots and some good power opportunities.
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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: n/a
Atlanta Braves: Freddie Freeman – 12.83
Baltimore Orioles: Renato Nunez – 7.38
Boston Red Sox: J.D. Martinez – 12.90
Chicago Cubs: n/a
Chicago White Sox: Eloy Jimenez – 10.68
Cincinnati Reds: n/a
Cleveland Indians: Franmil Reyes – 13.06
Colorado Rockies: Trevor Story – 8.14
Detroit Tigers: n/a
Houston Astros: n/a
Kansas City Royals: Jorge Soler – 5.88
Los Angeles Angels: Anthony Rendon – 7.65
Los Angeles Dodgers: n/a
Miami Marlins: Corey Dickerson – 2.91
Milwaukee Brewers: Justin Smoak – 11.13
Minnesota Twins: Nelson Cruz – 5.48
New York Mets: Pete Alonso – 15.48
New York Yankees: Luke Voit – 8.24
Oakland Athletics: n/a
Philadelphia Phillies: Bryce Harper – 9.52
Pittsburgh Pirates: Josh Bell – 8.49
San Diego Padres: Fernando Tatis Jr. – 7.46
San Francisco Giants: n/a
Seattle Mariners: Kyle Seager – 9.68
St. Louis Cardinals: n/a
Tampa Bay Rays: Ji-Man Choi – 7.30
Texas Rangers: n/a
Toronto Blue Jays: Randal Grichuk – 20.49
Washington Nationals: Eric Thames – 12.00
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.
Atlanta Braves at Boston Red Sox – 1-5 – Acuna (Q) – Swanson – Freeman – Ozuna – d’Arnaud
The Braves are in Boston to take on Colten Brewer and whatever else comes out of the Red Sox bullpen tomorrow. Brewer has been working as an opener for the Sox, though he has gone multiple innings several times, including a high point of 4.0 against the Orioles on the 21st. He went 3.2 innings five days later on regular rest and might have stayed in the game longer if it hadn’t been for the three home runs he allowed. Brewer is ultimately not a very good pitcher. He has a career 20.6% strikeout rate and a 13.2% walk rate in his 86.0 innings at the major league level. A pitcher who allows that much free opportunity against a good offense like this is in trouble. Brewer has allowed a fair amount of power on his primary offerings so far this season and sits in the bottom end of numerous Statcast metrics.
The Braves got Ronald Acuna Jr. back in the lineup earlier this week, but the superstar came out of Sunday’s game with a tight hamstring, so keep an eye on his status and hope it’s just a cramp. The lineup is definitely bolstered by Acuna up top. If he’s there, he’s a no-brainer at $4,100 on FanDuel and $4,800 on DraftKings.
Dansby Swanson hasn’t cooled from his hot start and is someone who rewarded our early faith in this space. Hitting second — possibly first if Acuna is out — the shortstop is a great option who is still somewhat underrated in MLB DFS. He’s carrying a .307/.343/.480 slash with a WRC+ 21% above average for the season and has hit four home runs while scoring 27 times. Hitting ahead of a player like Freddie Freeman is good for the runs scored category.
Freeman was at .306/.417/.559 coming into Sunday’s action and is always in play in stacks and as a one-off. He delivers excellent value at $3,900 on FanDuel, while his $5,300 price tag on DraftKings might keep ownership off of him. The first baseman’s on-base tool is on full display, and he helps lift the bats behind him in this order while still driving the ball and knocking in runs on his own. Ultimately he was at a .252 ISO and a WRC+ 59% above average when he woke up Sunday morning. He’s carrying a great home run mark and projection in my model, and I expect the same to be true in the stacks tool tomorrow.
Speaking of quality home run numbers in my model, Marcell Ozuna, Adam Duvall and Austin Riley are all over 10.0 in this spot, which is information we can target for some power against this pitcher. Of the trio, Ozuna is by far the best overall hitter, and he leaves very little to be desired when compared with the other two in terms of raw power. Ozuna is having a solid season with eight home runs on the board and a .263 ISO. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud has been an understandably popular option on DraftKings when this team is in a good spot. His price is up to $4,700, so I’ll be curious to see where things fall for him tomorrow. He makes a quality option and is having a very good year so far with four home runs, 17 RBIs and a WRC+ 35% above average. His .315/.346/.535 slash is excellent at the position.
Duvall and Riley are excellent options to go deep twice or strike out three times in most games. For tomorrow the upside looks to be there on the power side, and it is a spot I like to get to when they’re projecting the way they look for this one. It might be too big a speedbump to build into your lineups to use both of them with their all-or-nothing approach, but mixing in one or the other works well. Nick Markakis and Johan Camargo also make sense as mix-in options in this lineup. All four hitters are priced at $2,600 or less on FanDuel, $3,600 or less on DraftKings.
Related MLB DFS Content
- Learn MLB DFS: DraftKings + FanDuel Primer
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Pittsburgh Pirates at Milwaukee Brewers – Brewers – 1-2-3-4-6 – Garcia – Yelich – Hiura – Smoak – Narvaez
The Brewers are home with Trevor Williams leading his Pirates into town, and the home squad looks to be in a great spot for stacking on tomorrow’s MLB DFS main slate. Williams is yielding a .208 xISO on his fastball so far this season, and for his career he yields more power to same-handed hitters, with a 1.28 HR/9 to right-handed bats. This could create an opportunity around some bats that people may not consider as strongly outside of the typically correct side of their platoon splits. The mark definitely isn’t gigantic, but it’s at least noteworthy for a same-handed split. Williams sits in just the 32nd percentile in strikeout rate and the 28th in whiff rate this season. The Brewers should be putting the ball in play frequently.
With a mostly healthy lineup, the Brewers have several very good options. The prime starting point for anything Brewers is Christian Yelich, of course. The former NL MVP is priced at $5,300 on DraftKings and $4,100 on FanDuel, but his .202 batting average could scare a bit of the public away at that price. We should be all over that opportunity if it arises. Ignore the base stats; Yelich still has a .284 ISO and WRC+ 14% above average despite struggling with his average. Over his first 129 plate appearances, the superstar has struck out at a career-high 29% after being between 19 and 20% every year in his career. This will normalize. Similarly, he’s suffering from just a .222 batting average on balls in play, which is having an extreme effect on his surface stats. Fade the noise, play the talent.
Avisail Garcia has created runs at a slightly below-average clip against same-handed pitching for his career, but that mark is just 4% below, so it’s nothing tragic. He’s hit 74 of his 98 career home runs against right-handed pitchers, though he does have nearly three times as many plate appearances in the split. Remember, we want some right-on-right power here, so Garcia is firmly in play at just $2,800 on FanDuel, $3,300 on DraftKings and leading off for this team.
More right-handed power can be found in the bat of Keston Hiura, who has established himself as a hitting star despite still not having 500 plate appearances in the Show. Hiura came into the league with a big reputation last season and delivered immediately. He’s currently sitting at just .226/.297/.411 in 2020, and he’s priced down to a mere $3,200 on FanDuel. DraftKings is showing him the due respect with a $5,300 price tag, the same as their mark on Yelich. I like paying up to work both into most of my Brewers stacks on that site.
Justin Smoak hits from both sides of the plate, and we’ll see him hit from the left here, where he gets most of the power in his bat. Smoak has hit 155 of his 196 home runs as a lefty against a right-handed pitcher over his career. The $2,900 first baseman on FanDuel has a career .209 ISO and WRC+ 9% above average in the split. He is only $3,400 on DraftKings and is a great option on both sites.
Then there’s Ryan Braun. The aging slugger has been struggling to find himself in 2020. He had a nice year in 2019, and it might have been for the best if he’d called it a career instead of pressing his luck. In his 66 plate appearances so far, Braun has struggled to just a .194./.242/.371 slash and a WRC+ 40% below league average. His .177 ISO on the season would be a career low by a wide margin. It’s a small sample, so things can and may always regress toward his norms, but it seems obvious there’s not much left in the tank. Still, Braun is a hitter who works within the Brewers stack. He costs just $2,700 on FanDuel and $4,000 on DraftKings, and I don’t expect wild popularity.
Speaking of a lack of runaway pubic enthusiasm, Omar Narvaez is a good candidate to be a somewhat sneaky option at catcher on DraftKings, and he is only $2,800. On FanDuel we can justify him to help create salary if necessary, he costs just $2,100 and offers similar upside to Braun at the first base/catcher spot on the blue site. Narvaez hit 22 home runs in his 482 plate appearances in 2019, 20 against right-handed pitchers.
The rest of this lineup work mostly as dart throws. Ben Gamel has hit three home runs, but his realistic power is fairly limited. In 356 plate appearances in 2019, he had just seven. The position flexibility on Luis Urias on DraftKings helps with some lineup construction issues and differentiation, but the $3,600 price tag is quite steep. His $2,400 on FanDuel is more in line with expectation, which is a refreshing sentence to write for a change. Urias is not much more than a mix-and-match option for me. Of the two cellar-dwellers in the lineup, Orlando Arcia has more to offer and was once upon a time a fairly well regarded prospect. In 2017 and 2019, the now 26-year-old infielder received 546 and 548 plate appearances, respectively, and responded with 15 home runs both times. Arcia is in play as a wraparound option with this stack. To help with making unique constructions, he would be one of my more highly owned secondary options on this team, assuming he’s not going over-owned.
HR Call: Juan Soto (Nationals)
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