Like I said in Stack Slants, those Braves looked good again. The team has been a juggernaut all season, and they put up another 11-run total tonight on the back of a two-homer game from Marcell Ozuna. The slate got some excellent pitching performances from up and down the ladder with even Nick Pivetta and Bryse Wilson joining the scoring fun. The Braves and Red Sox were key stacks on the night, while numerous other teams scored in the 5-to-7-run range. MLB DFS is running out of days, but tomorrow should be an interesting one. DraftKings has moved their main slate up to create a 14-game monster, while FanDuel has stayed with the smaller slate at 7:05.
Tomorrow’s slate is absolutely stacked with quality pitching options. Pop your headphones on and listen to the Early Bird Podcast, where EMac and I break the pitching slate down game by game. There are a few excellent spots for stacks tomorrow too. I might even already know the teams I’m going to write about tomorrow, unless I’m wrong about who the public will go to. Be sure to check out Stack Slants for those picks in the afternoon.
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: Christian Walker – 8.62
Atlanta Braves: Ronald Acuna Jr. – 13.77
Baltimore Orioles: Austin Hays – 12.89
Boston Red Sox: J.D. Martinez – 13.25
Chicago Cubs: Javier Baez – 11.63
Chicago White Sox: Edwin Encarnacion – 6.55
Cincinnati Reds: Eugenio Suarez – 11.97
Cleveland Indians: Franmil Reyes – 5.03
Colorado Rockies: Trevor Story – 7.07
Detroit Tigers: Miguel Cabrera – 4.08
Houston Astros: George Springer – 13.46
Kansas City Royals: Salvador Perez – 17.31
Los Angeles Angels: n/a
Los Angeles Dodgers: Will Smith – 8.94
Miami Marlins: Corey Dickerson – 9.16
Milwaukee Brewers: Christian Yelich – 9.31
Minnesota Twins: Eddie Rosario – 10.69
New York Mets: Dominic Smith – 7.37
New York Yankees: Aaron Judge – 21.63
Oakland Athletics: Matt Olson – 7.24
Philadelphia Phillies: Bryce Harper – 9.21
Pittsburgh Pirates: Josh Bell – 7.10
San Diego Padres: n/a
San Francisco Giants: Alex Dickerson – 8.81
Seattle Mariners: Kyle Seager – 9.04
St. Louis Cardinals: Paul Goldschmidt – 10.17
Tampa Bay Rays: Brandon Lowe – 11.38
Texas Rangers: Joey Gallo – 23.64
Toronto Blue Jays: Travis Shaw – 7.07
Washington Nationals: Juan Soto – 6.28
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.
Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh Pirates – Cubs – 9-1-2-3-4 – Kipnis – Happ – Contreras – Rizzo – Baez
The Cubs are in Pittsburgh to take on Trevor Williams, a shaky fifth starter on most teams, important starter on the current staff on this Pirates team. With future arms Joe Musgrove and Mitch Keller still putting the pieces together, Williams eats some innings for this Pittsburgh squad but does not offer much upside for MLB DFS purposes — unless we’re talking about the bats on the other side, that is.
In his 49.2 innings this year, Williams has allowed 14 home runs, a 2.54 HR/9. He has a 4.91 xFIP for the season and strikes out just 19.7% of hitters. Of his 14 home runs, 10 have come to right-handed hitters and four to lefties. The pitcher is a target for this Cubs lineup.
Switch hitter Ian Happ leads off for the Cubs and is the best power hitter on the team this year against right-handed pitching with his .319 ISO. The outfielder has a WRC+ 51% above average in the split and is dramatically underpriced on DraftKings at just $4,000 and cheaper still on FanDuel at $3,100.
If Kris Bryant sits again, the Cubs will likely go with either catcher Willson Contreras or first baseman Anthony Rizzo hitting second. Either makes a solid play in lineups, and they come cheap on DraftKings at just $4,000 and $3,800 respectively. Rizzo has a .213/.330/.383 slash on the year with nine home runs, while Contreras has a .243/.351/.387 and five homers. The pair has clearly struggled to a degree this season, but at a discount against this pitcher I’m happy to roll the dice on proven talent.
Javier Baez fits that same bill. The star shortstop has scuffled through 2020 with just a .206/.362/.156 slash and seven home runs on the season. He costs $4,700 — the most expensive Cubs bat — and he plays a premium position. If Baez is cheap and under-owned, I like to get to him. In this spot there could be opportunity cost at the position, depending on how the ownership falls tomorrow. I will keep a close eye on the shortstop, who has 66 home runs against right-handed pitching over the past three seasons.
Kyle Schwarber packs a massive amount of power from the left side of the plate, but he’s struggling to find outcomes other than home runs. With 10 homers on the year and just a .198/.310/.407 slash, Schwarber is an all-or nothing play at $3,700 on DraftKings. He’s far easier at $2,900 on FanDuel.
The rest of the Cubs lineup is a bit of a grab bag depending on who goes. We will likely see David Bote filling in for Bryant again. Bote has eligibility at both second and third base and costs just $3,000 on DraftKings, while FanDuel was nice enough to price him and Bryant at the same $2,700, making them an easy swap if Bryant does go. Bote has made 127 plate appearances in 2020 and has a .211/.315/.422 slash with six home runs.
Cameron Maybin and Jose Martinez bring some sneaky upside to the end of the lineup for very little salary. Maybin has some pop in his bat and speed in his legs, though he’s never truly done it consistently. The outfielder is actually cheaper on DraftKings at $2,100 than FanDuel where he costs $2,200. Jose Martinez is all about the power, the right-handed first baseman has just a .190/.277/.310 slash on the year with two home runs in his 94 plate appearances. The part-time player hit 10 homers in 373 opportunities last year, and his 17 in 2018 was the high-water mark for his career. Either player works as a mix-in.
Veteran Jason Kipnis is likely to take the second base start tomorrow against the right-handed starter. Over 2020 the lefty bat is at .284/.355/.481 against right-handed pitching with a .198 ISO and a WRC+ 22% above average. Kipnis is in play as a wraparound or a late-lineup stacking component.
Related MLB DFS Content
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Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox – Red Sox – 1-5 – Verdugo – Devers – Bogaerts – Martinez – Vazquez
The Orioles are in Fenway again tomorrow, but this time we’re taking some shares in the other team. The Red Sox are carrying one of the slate’s highest implied team totals in their matchup against Orioles rookie Dean Kremer. The pitcher has made three starts, totaling 16 innings. He’s carrying a whopping 30.8% strikeout rate in the Show so far and comes with good strikeout pedigree. The right-hander is ultimately looking like he will develop into a good pitcher, but it seems like a lot to ask for him to be immediately ready. The Red Sox should be a good test.
The Sox have not had their best year in 2020, but the top of the lineup is still very solid from day to day. Alex Verdugo is having a dynamite year as the prime piece returning from Los Angeles in exchange for Mookie Betts this offseason. In his first year in Boston, the lefty outfielder has a .328/.383/.511 slash with a 140 WRC+ and a .183 ISO. At just $3,900 on DraftKings and $2,900 on FanDuel, I’m not sure what Verdugo has to do to earn some respect from the pricing people.
Rafael Devers is the next big left-handed bat in this lineup. The third baseman was among league leaders in numerous offensive categories in 2019 and is having a solid year in 2020 at .283/.335/.527 with a .244 ISO and a WRC+ 28% above average. Devers is not delivering on the upside promised by last year’s breakout, but he is worth the $5,400 price on DrafKings. On FanDuel it’s not even a decision at $3,800.
Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez bring a ton of power to the right side of the plate. Bogaerts has continued rolling from 2019 into 2020. He’s carrying a .286/.346/.492 slash in his 203 plate appearances and has hit 10 home runs so far. Martinez follows him in the lineup and has not done much with his year. In 176 plate appearances, Martinez has managed just six home runs and a .205/.287/.373 slash and a WRC+ 27% below average. Still, the home run upside in the hitter is tantalizing. In 2019, Martinez continued a several-years-long onslaught on home run books, putting up 36 in his 657 plate appearances.
Catcher Christian Vazquez is another hitter who has not delivered fully on his power potential in 2020. Just last season, Vazquez hit 23 home runs in just 521 plate appearances. In 2020 he has managed a .275/.341/.419 slash that helps bolster his WRC+ to 5% above average.
A mix of several hitters follows, the best of whom is rookie Bobby Dalbec. The third baseman was called up earlier in the year and has made 67 plate appearances so far. Going into Tuesday night he was at .262/.328/.639 on the season with seven home runs in just 67 plate appearances. The highly anticipated rookie arrived ahead of schedule and has done nothing but deliver on his promise. He remains cheap at just $3,600 on DraftKings and $3,000 on FanDuel.
Jackie Bradley Jr. is a lefty outfielder who is in play more often than not in this lineup. Michael Chavis provides right-handed quality from either first base or the outfield on DraftKings, where he costs just $3,200. On FanDuel he plays second base and has a $2,700 price tag. With Jonathan Arauz at second or third base costing just $2,600 on DraftKings and $2,100 on FanDuel, the end of this order provides a few options that help this lineup snap together in unique ways. None of this trio is my favorite to roster on any given night, but mixing in one of them can help with differentiation. Chavis would be my choice here. In 382 plate appearances in 2019, Chavis hit 18 home runs; this year he has five in his 135 opportunities.
HR Call: Jorge Soler (Royals)
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