One of the last days of the MLB DFS regular season nearly delivered, but ultimately we fell a little short of some better lineups on FanDuel tonight. The season grinds to a halt in just two days, three if you’re playing the tiny Sunday slate. It’s now or next year for all of us, and tomorrow’s main slates look very interesting to add to the fun.
DraftKings, for some reason, decided to include the first of the Padres games, which means Dinelson Lamet in a seven-inning game will be an interesting pitching wrinkle on that site. I’m not sure if I can get to the bats with the shortened opportunity, however. With a nice-sized slate that includes nine other games, there is no reason to willingly sacrifice potential plate appearances outside of getting different with a good lineup. If the Padres were priced down for the decreased potential, this would be a different discussion.
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: Ronald Acuna Jr. – 11.40
Baltimore Orioles: Ryan Mountcastle – 8.46
Boston Red Sox: J.D. Martinez – 8.03
Chicago Cubs: Javier Baez – 13.29
Chicago White Sox: Jose Abreu – 3.27
Cincinnati Reds: Eugenio Suarez – 8.80
Cleveland Indians: Franmil Reyes – 18.08
Colorado Rockies: n/a
Detroit Tigers: Brandon Dixon – 11.79
Houston Astros: Alex Bregman – 11.49
Kansas City Royals: Salvador Perez – 9.98
Los Angeles Angels: Anthony Rendon – 9.60
Los Angeles Dodgers: Will Smith – 7.68
Miami Marlins: Jesus Aguilar – 15.21
Milwaukee Brewers: n/a
Minnesota Twins: Nelson Cruz – 12.67
New York Mets: Robinson Cano – 5.40
New York Yankees: Aaron Judge – 14.46
Oakland Athletics: Matt Olson – 2.58
Philadelphia Phillies: J.T. Realmuto – 8.58
Pittsburgh Pirates: Bryan Reynolds – 6.25
San Diego Padres: n/a
San Francisco Giants: n/a
Seattle Mariners: Kyle Seager – 4.44
St. Louis Cardinals: n/a
Tampa Bay Rays: Brandon Lowe – 14.94
Texas Rangers: Willie Calhoun – 9.88
Toronto Blue Jays: Randal Grichuk – 10.28
Washington Nationals: Juan Soto – 9.34
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.
Pittsburgh Pirates at Cleveland Indians – 1-5 – Hernandez – Lindor – Ramirez – Santana – Reyes
While I like Mitch Keller‘s upside, there’s no arguing with the 5.1 implied run total that the Indians are pulling in early action, one of the higher marks on the slate. Keller has been all over the place this season. His last outing he took a no-hitter into the sixth before exiting due to a high pitch count. In 64.2 innings in the majors, Keller has a 4.19 xFIP to his 6.12 ERA, showing a fair amount of bad luck. There’s plenty of upside to like in his 26.6% strikeout rate, particularly when we account for his reduced swinging strike rate, which has come down from 11.8% last year to just 7.3% this year in his limited 16.2-inning sample. When that normalizes things should fall into place for Keller.
The Indians have not been good against right-handed pitching this season. The active roster has a .141 ISO and a WRC+ 15% below average in the split. There is individual quality enough to work with in the lineup, and they snap together well with most other teams, making them a nice flexible stack. I think there is enough for the Indians to be in play against a pitcher who is unreliable at best.
The top of the lineup is where most of the talent has been for Cleveland this season. The first four hitters all bat from both sides of the plate and they go around the horn in the infield, making the Indians a unique stack to build with despite some high prices. Starting with Cesar Hernandez is a personal decision for every MLB DFS player in every version of this stack. The second baseman hasn’t been bringing much power to the plate, but he has a reasonable ability to get on base and set the table for hitters later in the lineup. His WRC+ is two percent above average this season, though he has just a .123 ISO with three home runs. In 667 plate appearances in 2019, Hernandez managed to hit 14 home runs and steal nine bases, making him a quality contributor for our purposes.
Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor are the stars of the Indians offense. They are priced accordingly at $5,600 and $5,400 on DraftKings, though the FanDuel pricing is reasonable. Ramirez plays third base and is at .286/.378/.597 for the season with 17 home runs and 10 stolen bases to go with his .311 ISO and WRC+ 58% above average.
Lindor is one of the best shortstops in the league, though he’s having a down-for-him season at just .269/.337/.435 slash, though he does have eight home runs, five stolen bases, a .166 ISO and a WRC+ six percent above average. Carlos Santana comes at a discount on both sites. The first baseman is at just .197/.350/.332 this season and is at just a .101 ISO with a WRC+ 14% below average against right-handed pitching.
Outfielder Franmil Reyes does not struggle to find power against same-handed pitching. The slugger has a .204 ISO in his 177 plate appearances against right-handed pitching this year and all eight of his home runs have been hit in the split. In 548 plate appearances in 2019, Reyes hit 37 home runs, 30 against right-handed pitching.
The quality in the lineup dries up quickly after Reyes, though there is some upside in the remaining bats. Tyler Naquin costs just $3,000 on DraftKings and $2,500 on FanDuel. He’s hit four home runs in his 132 plate appearances so far in 2020, the highest total among our remaining options in the projected lineup.
My preference for power would be the sneakier and less expensive Josh Naylor. The lefty has just a lone home run in his 95 plate appearances in 2020. In 2019 he hit eight home runs in 279 plate appearances in the Show, all against right-handed pitching. Naylor is just 23 and remains unpolished, but this is a hitter for whom traditional scouts have long assigned a 60-grade rating for game power and a huge 70-grade for his raw power.
Catcher Roberto Perez is a very inexpensive option at the position at just $3,000 on DraftKings. He provides some minimal home run upside but is not more than a mix and match option for me in this stack. The same is true for speedster Delino DeShields hitting ninth.
Related MLB DFS Content
- Learn MLB DFS: DraftKings + FanDuel Primer
- MLB DFS Quick Hits: HRs, Stacks & Ownership Plays
- Top Stack Tool (PREMIUM)
- Awesemo’s Top Pitcher Tool (PREMIUM)
- The MLB Strategy Show Live Before Lock
Seattle Mariners at Oakland Athletics – Athletics – 9-1-2-3-4 – Murphy – La Stella – Semien – Canha – Olson
The Mariners are in the Bay Area to take on the Athletics closing out the 2020 regular season. They have Yusei Kikuchi, a totally remade starter, on the mound. Kikuchi made the cutter his feature pitch this season, as you’ve no doubt heard us discussing on any number of shows this year. The pitch made all the difference in how the starter’s repertoire functions, taking his strikeout rate from just 16.1% in 2019 to 24.6% in 2020.
Still, the Athletics active roster is fifth in baseball with a .203 ISO against left-handed pitching. The team also boasts a WRC+ 11% above average to go with just a 20% strikeout rate in the split. This is a decent spot for the Athletics against a pitcher who has not allowed a lot this season.
The A’s will likely start things off with Tommy La Stella. The lefty has second and third base eligibility on DraftKings where he costs $5,000. On FanDuel he’s at a far more friendly $3,300. The truth is probably somewhere in between for this hitter. La Stella has a .276/.364/.442 slash this season, along with five home runs and a WRC+ 26% above average. La Stella is a high-end table setter for hitters behind him in the lineup.
Marcus Semien isn’t having another MVP caliber season and his production has actually slipped below average overall. Against lefties, however, Semien has a .242 ISO with a WRC+ 42% above average since the start of 2019. He has incredible patience as well, striking out just 15% of the time and walking 11.3%. Semien is basically a must in Oakland stacks for me.
Without Matt Chapman, we should see Mark Canha hitting third and Matt Olson hitting fourth in the lineup again tomorrow. Canha has a WRC+ 16% above average this season. Against lefties since the start of last year, that goes up to 26%, while he has a robust .211 ISO and just a 17.6% strikeout rate to go with his 15.7% walk rate.
Olson has hit 14 home runs in 2020 and provides this team with most of its power in this configuration. Olson is great for power in same-handed matchups with his .246 ISO since the start of last season. His WRC+ is exactly at league average across his 225 plate appearances in the split and he’s hit a team-leading 14 home runs. Let others skip Olson for misperceived handedness reasons.
Stephen Piscotty and Khris Davis are in the projected lineup for this matchup against a southpaw. Piscotty is having a shaky year at just .242/.278/.383 while Davis is downright lousy at .185/.298/.309 with a WRC+ 24% below average. The outfielders have both seen limited opportunity. Davis specifically only has 94 plate appearances so far this year. Their pricing is reasonable for the overall upside. I’m not willing to write off Davis yet. Last season he had a very specific hand injury that saps power in the initial comeback. I do not expect him to develop Wolverine-style healing powers to take care of this problem by tomorrow, however. Davis and Piscotty are both mix and match options for me.
Ramon Laureano is buried near the bottom of the Athletics projected lineup. The outfielder is having a bumpy season as well. Over his 208 plate appearances, Laureano has a .218/.346/.371 slash with six home runs and just one stolen base. The speed and power combo is what MLB DFS players are looking for here. In 2019, Laureano gave us 24 home runs and 13 stolen bases in just 481 plate appearances.
The projected lineup has Jake Lamb included, though I’m skeptical that the A’s will give him the same-handed plate appearances here. If Lamb is in the lineup, he’s not inept in the split. In his 42 plate appearances against lefties since the start of last season, Lamb has a .X/.405/.686 slash with a WRC+ 80% above average and a .400 ISO. The sample, of course, is absurdly small. Overall, Lamb is an all-or-nothing hitter with a 25.3% career strikeout rate.
Catcher Sean Murphy brings up the bottom of the lineup for the A’s. The slugger costs just $3,800 on DraftKings and $2,500 on FanDuel. He’s hit six home runs in just 126 plate appearances in 2020, while putting up a .231/.365/.433 slash, a .202 ISO and a WRC+ 27% above average. Murphy is an overlooked man in this offense and at the position. Don’t make that mistake.
HR Call: Francisco Lindor (Indians)
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