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MLB DFS Tournament Picks Today & Weather Updates 4/22/22

Terry McBride



Friday’s giant-size 13-game MLB DFS slate is an absolutely loaded affair with premium pitchers, excellent stacks, and strong leverage opportunities. With most of the league in play and with no Coors Field game creating a directional popularity slant, there is a wide range of plays at fair ownership and affordable prices. Avoiding the overall raw ownership on individual players is important in one-off spots, but most combinations of stacks can be utilized with less concern about the ownership totals, given the broad spread of options. Getting to a well-plotted distribution of the top options from an array of teams around the league is advisable for such a large slate, particularly one with a somewhat thin pitching board. Today’s slate includes one of the league’s very best starters, a premium young pitcher who has had limitations in his pitch count in initial outings this season, an emerging ace from last season who has struggled significantly enough to conjure early questions, and a handful of unproven young upside arms or underwhelming back-of-rotation pieces. Landing on the right pitching option at low ownership can be a major coup for MLB DFS point-scoring upside on a slate of this nature, but spreading shares to less than likely choices is not a good approach, utilizing the Top Pitchers Tool to zero in on strong probability and positive leverage on the mound is the key. With so many games on the slate, there are many options for our MLB DFS picks today on both DraftKings and FanDuel, so let’s get to some of the best tournament options.

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Best MLB DFS Tournament Strategy & Picks Today

Top Home Run Options

Home runs are the holy grail when making MLB DFS picks. Finding the right combination of sluggers who will knock one or 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 based on a blend of several predictive statistics for the batter-pitcher matchup, this will give each team one of the top choices. However, it will not always be the absolute top-ranked player, particularly when there is an obvious star in that spot every day.

Home Run Ratings

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Scale: 5-10 Average; 10-20 Good; 20-25 Very Good; 25+ Great

Arizona Diamondbacks: Seth Beer — 6.77

Atlanta Braves: Adam Duvall — 4.32

Baltimore Orioles: Anthony Santander — 12.77

Boston Red Sox: Rafael Devers — 7.28

Chicago White Sox: Yasmani Grandal — 11.37

Cleveland Guardians: Franmil Reyes — 13.02

Colorado Rockies: C.J. Cron — 15.71

Detroit Tigers: Jonathan Schoop — 4.27

Houston Astros: Yordan Alvarez — 17.12

Kansas City Royals: Andrew Benintendi — 4.33

Los Angeles Angels: Jo Adell — 10.28

Los Angeles Dodgers: Cody Bellinger — 10.58

Miami Marlins: Jorge Soler — 11.90

Milwaukee Brewers: Christian Yelich — 2.42

Minnesota Twins: Carlos Correa — 7.29

New York Mets: Pete Alonso — 12.31

New York Yankees: Josh Donaldson — 13.29

Oakland Athletics: Sheldon Neuse — 2.71

Philadelphia Phillies: Kyle Schwarber — 6.83

San Diego Padres: Luke Voit — 5.90

San Francisco Giants: Brandon Crawford — 7.08

Seattle Mariners: Jarred Kelenic — 4.64

Tampa Bay Rays: Mike Zunino — 10.29

Texas Rangers: Brad Miller — 10.79

Toronto Blue Jays: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. — 12.08

Washington Nationals: Juan Soto — 8.63

Power Index

This is intended to capture the full range of home run upside for each team. It is not meant as a stack ranking and does not account for pricing or popularity — only home run potential. The first column is the average rating for the full projected lineup and the second is for the top six hitters in the projected lineup.

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MLB DFS Weather Update: Postponements & Risk Assessment

The weather around the league is warming and there are minor concerns for some showers in the Midwest, but none of the games are currently in significant danger of postponement. The Rockies vs Tigers game is the contest that warrants the most attention, there is bad weather in the region and rain in the late evening forecast, but it appears that they will be able to start and play mostly dry.

MLB DFS Picks Today: Pitchers, Best Stacks & Low-Owned Plays

This section will feature a few standout MLB DFS spots and teams to look at for potential plays on DraftKings and FanDuel. Be sure to check out the Awesemo MLB DFS Ownership Projections for critical updates and monitor the top stacks tool throughout the day for changes.

On the Hill

The obvious ace near the top of the board is the Astros’ Justin Verlander who will be making his third start after he has been nothing short of dazzling in his first two outings. Verlander faces stiff competition in the loaded Blue Jays lineup, however, and there are other quality options on the board. Julio Urias has been limited early in the season, reaching just 65 pitches in his last start, an outing that saw him still get through five good innings of one-hit five-strikeout shutout baseball. White Sox flamethrower Michael Kopech faces similar concerns, though he was not as limited in his last outing, a game that saw him strike out five Rays hitters over five innings and 75 pitches. Kopech is the top name on the Top Pitchers Tool on both sites. Tigers lefty Tarik Skubal is an intriguing option who has strong swing-and-miss stuff, but when hitters do not miss he typically yields concerning contact, leading to a “both sides” situation in Detroit, if the weather holds. Freddy Peralta pitched as well as anyone in baseball last season but he has struggled significantly to star the year, he comes in as a negatively leveraged option at a fair price in a bad matchup. Veterans Corey Kluber and Michael Wacha are on the board in their respective starts, though neither is easy to trust. Bailey Ober has cut down his home run problem over his first two outings, but his strikeouts have disappeared. Ober has generated swing-and-miss, but the control and command specialist has not compiled a strong CSW% and he has shown cause for concern in underlying metrics. Still, the strikeout acumen and demonstrable ability to limit walks and scoring are worthy of attention in the right spot, taking on the talented White Sox just might not be that spot. The slate includes a number of unspectacular names from Glenn Otto to Trevor Rogers to Adam Oller, if the premium options at the top don’t reach their extreme upsides for the salary, shopping around the lower price tier for a good-not-great start could be worthwhile, each of these options ranks well by his probability of being a top-2 starter on DraftKings and they come at low ownership. There is likely more talent in Reid Detmers or Ranger Suarez, but they both come at negative leverage, while starters like Jameson Taillon and David Peterson can be found closer to the bottom of the board at very low ownership with still reasonable expectations of quality.

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It is safe to say that Justin Verlander has answered most of the questions about his ability to return to form at age 39 following Tommy John Surgery. The right-handed ace somehow came back even stronger after missing the last two seasons, he has been fantastic to start 2022. Over his first 13 innings in two starts, Verlander has dialed up a 0.69 ERA with a 2.56 xERA and a 3.09 xFIP and a 31.9% strikeout rate. The strikeout rate does represent a dip from the 35.4% at which we last saw the starter, but this is a microscopic sample size. By that same token, Verlander has a technically higher walk rate at 6.4% compared to the 5.0% he posted in 2019, but that amounts to a total of three walks in the tiny sample, all of which came in his first start. The eight-inning outing against Seattle in which Verlander struck out eight Mariners hitters while not allowing a run in his last outing was nearly spotless. The Astros righty costs $10,500 on both sites and he is drawing 35% popularity on DraftKings and 20% ownership on the single-pitcher blue site. Verlander’s popularity is coming in spite of a difficult matchup against the Blue Jays. While they are without one of their best bats in Teoscar Hernandez, Toronto’s active roster still compiled a .186 team ISO against right-handed pitching last season, they were 11th-best with a 21.9% strikeout rate, and their 3.82% home run rate in the split ranked sixth in baseball. The active roster created runs 10% better than average against righties last year as well, Verlander provides upside against any team, but he is not entirely safe in this situation. Considering the weight of popularity is key in deciding when and where to roster the best pitcher on the slate. Verlander comes at extreme negative leverage on DraftKings, where his popularity is more than double his probability of being a top-2 starter. On FanDuel, Verlander ranks second overall with a 7% chance of being the top starter but he is owned at nearly three times that rate with a 20.1% ownership projection. This is not to say he is not worth roster spots, he absolutely is, but undercutting the field and spreading shares to positively leveraged plays is a viable approach as well.

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Righty Michael Kopech may not yet be a household name, but the highly regarded pitching prospect with the elite fastball has 69.1 innings of Major League success under his belt, pitching primarily out of the bullpen for the White Sox last season. Kopech struck out an elite 36.1% of opposing hitters in that role last year, walking 8.4% and pitching to a 2.99 xFIP and a 1.13 WHIP with a 14.1% swinging-strike rate. He was also top-notch at limiting quality contact, Kopech held opposing hitters to just a 33.8% hard-hit percentage last year. While he was limited to just 14 innings in his four outings as a starter, Kopech pitched to a ridiculous 45.1% strikeout rate with a 1.66 xFIP in those outings. He will be facing a Twins team that has power to spare, but one that also strikes out at an aggressive rate. The active roster compiled a 24.4% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching last season, what would be the 26th ranked mark among 30 teams. The Twins had a .204 ISO and a 4.35% home run rate in the split, however, the 3rd and 2nd highest marks on the board, so Kopech is by no means safe. There is a huge strikeout upside in this start, Kopech ranks at the top of the board on both sites and he is positively leveraged at single-digit ownership on FanDuel while coming in at an efficient popularity mark for his $8,400 price on DraftKings.

The Dodgers are spinning up 20-game winner Julio Urias slowly this season. Urias threw just 57 pitches in his first start and 65 in his second outing of the season. That start resulted in five innings of one-hit ball with five strikeouts, but Urias’ ability to pitch deep into tonight’s game, particularly where quality start bonuses are a concern, is a major question mark. Urias was strong over 185.2 innings in 32 starts in his breakout year for the Dodgers in 2021, posting a 26.2% strikeout rate and a 3.73 xFIP with a 1.02 WHIP. The lefty induced an 11.2% swinging-strike rate and he was terrific at limiting premium contact. Opposing hitters managed just a 30.3% hard-hit rate against the solid southpaw. He will be facing a Padres active roster that is still without superstar shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., which causes them to struggle for power and run creation. The active roster for San Diego had just a .149 ISO and a 2.40% home run rate against lefties last season, the 25th and 28th best marks in the sport. The team put together a league-average 100 WRC+ in the split, though they did limit strikeouts effectively, compiling a fourth-ranked 19.6% strikeout rate as a collective. Urias may not have his typical upside for strikeouts in this matchup and the question about a limitation on his pitch count is lingering and forcing him down the board by his probability of success. Urias sits 10th on DraftKings and 15th on FanDuel by the probability of success, though he is technically under-owned against his low likelihood.

With Corey Kluber and Michael Wacha squaring off in the Red Sox vs Rays game that has strong AL East bats in opposition on both sides, it seems somewhat reasonable to expect that one of these starters is going to have a rough day, but they land as the third and fourth-best options on both sites. Kluber comes at an inflated price tag on DraftKings, while Wacha is an easy value play, on FanDuel they are both in the mid-range of pricing. The two righties have both been up and down in their Major League careers, though Kluber easily ascended to greater heights during his tenure. Last season these were relatively similar pitchers, Wacha threw 124.2 innings and turned in a 22.9% strikeout rate with a 5.9% walk percentage and a 3.91 xFIP. Kluber reclaimed his career over 80 innings in 16 starts with the Yankees, posting a 24% strikeout rate and a 4.38 xFIP, though he walked 9.7% of hitters. Kluber was the better bet for limiting quality contact, he allowed just a 34.4% hard-hit rate last season compared to Wacha’s inflated 42.7%. Against fairly lethal offenses, neither of these pitchers is entirely comfortable, Wacha is over-exposed on DraftKings at his value price while Kluber is technically low-owned but he is overly expensive for the point-scoring upside. The situation flips on FanDuel, where Kluber slips slightly into negative leverage, and Wacha claws his way to relevance with a 4% popularity projection against a 5.8% chance of being the top starter. In fact, the pitching probability curve on the single-pitcher site is so flat, that Kyrie Irving might mistake it for a planet. The top-ranked starter has a 7.1% probability of finishing in that spot while 26th-ranked Ross Stripling has a 2.5% chance. In between, there is a wide range of pitchers with mid-three to 5% chances of finishing atop the board, which keeps options like Kluber and Wacha in play.

With such a flat slate it seems like a good idea to search for options that are getting completely overlooked by the field. One such starter is lefty David Peterson who will be taking on the Arizona Diamondbacks in the desert. Peterson was a serviceable MLB DFS option in a number of outings last season, he had a 24% strikeout rate over his 66.2 innings in 15 starts, pitching to a 3.93 xFIP with an 11.1% swinging-strike rate. The southpaw walked too many and got into trouble too often, allowing a 10.1% walk rate and compiling a 1.40 WHIP, and he yielded too much premium contact with a 9.8% barrel rate and a 41.8% hard-hit percentage, but he comes at a relatively cheap price on the FanDuel slate, where he is projected for less than 1% ownership. Peterson reached 80 pitches in his last start, while he may not be fully ready to throw 100 tonight, it should be reasonable to expect him to chase a win and possibly even a quality start bonus against a lowly Diamondbacks roster. Arizona’s active roster lacked power and run creation potential last season, though they did compile a sturdy 19.4% strikeout rate against lefties that cannot be ignored. That is the lone mark of quality for this roster in the split, however, Arizona compiled just a .148 ISO and a 2.41% home run rate, the 26th and 27th ranked positions in the league. They created runs 3% worse than average against southpaws as well, creating a situation that could possibly limit the strikeout upside, but certainly seems likely to limit the danger of extreme power upside. Peterson is largely out of play for the $9,000 salary on DraftKings, but for his FanDuel price he could offer sneaky quality with no one rostering him.

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Colorado Rockies

No, there is not a Coors Field game on this slate, and yes, it is surprising to see the Rockies listed as a potentially interesting stack while on the road. Colorado is in Detroit to face lefty Tarik Skubal a premium young pitcher who threw 149.1 innings in 29 starts for Detroit as a rookie last year. Skubal had a 25.9% strikeout rate and limited walks to just 7.4% while pitching to a 4.06 xFIP and a 1.26 WHIP. Skubal has nasty stuff, he induced an 11.4% swinging-strike rate and is likely to improve on that mark last season, but when hitters managed to make contact with his pitches the southpaw allowed a concerning 13.9% barrel rate and a far too large 45.1% hard-hit percentage last season. Opposing hitters turned that contact into a 5.52% home run rate last year, leading to strong home run projections and an uptick in expectation for power and offense from the Rockies lineup. This is a strong spot to be on both sides of the equation, Skubal has obvious upside based on his ability to generate swing-and-miss, but the Rockies’ active roster compiled better than expected numbers in the split last season, the newcomers changed the equation significantly for the look of this team going into the season. This year’s active roster compiled a .182 ISO and a 3.85% home run rate against lefties last year, both good for eighth best in baseball. The team had a 21.1% strikeout rate in the split that ranked 12th and a 101 WRC+ that was 16th best. Colorado’s projected lineup is stacked with right-handed quality, including Connor Joe, Kris Bryant and C.J. Cron, all of whom can drive the ball in the split. Cron stands out as a power bat, he hit 28 home runs in 547 plate appearances last season with a .249 ISO and he has a career .220 ISO with a 4.82% home run rate against left-handed pitching. Lefties Charlie Blackmon and Ryan McMahon can add low-owned upside to the equation, while catcher Elias Diaz has positional value on the DraftKings slate. Randal Grichuk is a late lineup option who has made a living on power against left-handed pitching, while Brendan Rodgers offers a quality hit tool and reasonably good power expectations as well. The Rockies should be rostered with tempered expectations, this is a lineup that Skubal could carve up if he is going right, but if he is missing spots and allowing contact there could be under-appreciated scoring potential in the Rockies lineup tonight.

The Yeah-Yeah-Yeahs…

Not to be the bearer of bad news, but the Yankees are once again at or near a slate-leading position in both the Top Stacks Tool and the power index in their home matchup against the Guardians. With temperatures rising in the Bronx, the Yankees lineup should be able to find their power footing against Eli Morgan, but the stack comes with significant negative leverage on both sites, making them difficult to recommend for a wide spread of shares. Including stacks of Yankees is still a good idea, but undercutting the field’s larger than appropriate shares of ownership seems like the approach. The Astros are another team that comes up in this space frequently, they will be facing Ross Stripling who is yielding excellent projections for sequencing and run creation, as well as some strong power marks to the top Astros hitters. Houston ranks near the top of the heap at negative leverage on FanDuel and efficient ownership on DraftKings, they are another team that should absolutely be included in plans, but they are better deployed in shares more in line with their probability of success. Both Los Angeles teams find themselves in similar situations as well, the Dodgers are pushing toward the top of the board at negative leverage on the FanDuel slate, landing fifth by their probability of success but with a -2.9 leverage score. The Angels rank as the second-best team on the blue site, but they are at a -5.5 mark and they come at a -6.2 as the fourth-best option on DraftKings. On that slate, the Dodgers vault to second by their probability of being a top stack, allowing them to squeeze out a modicum of leverage at 0.80. All of these teams are worth rostering, but they are all drawing more attention than is technically warranted, leaving a few other options under-exposed for similar probability ratings.

New York Mets

Searching the board for leverage brings the discussion to the New York Mets, a team that ranks fifth on both sites in their matchup against Arizona’s Zac Gallen. The Mets come with slightly positive leverage marks on FanDuel and are in a bit stronger of a situation on the DraftKings slate, and the overall individual ownership marks are mostly in single digits. Gallen is a quality pitcher who posted a 26.6% strikeout rate over 121.1 innings last season. The righty had a 3.96 xFIP and a 1.29 WHIP with a 9.4% walk rate and he allowed a 42.4% hard-hit percentage and a 7.9% barrel rate last year. Gallen is effective, but he is hardly unhittable and he will be facing a good lineup. The righty threw just 66 pitches in his lone outing of the season so far, a four-inning start against this same Mets team that saw him post just two strikeouts while allowing no runs on two hits. Gallen is not the most targetable pitcher on the slate, but the Mets align well in this spot and they are under-owned for their potential.

The Mets have an excellent leadoff hitter in lefty Brandon Nimmo. The outfielder has a career on-base percentage of .394 over his 1,738 plate appearances, while slashing .268/.394/.448 with a .181 ISO and creating runs 36% better than average. Nimmo is an underrated ballplayer, he does not have massive power or blazing speed, but he is terrific for correlated scoring based on his hit tool and on-base skills. The outfielder is projected for just 6.4% ownership at $3,500 on FanDuel and 9.0% popularity at an easy $3,700 price on DraftKings, he should be included in most Mets stacks.

One of New York’s several excellent offseason acquisitions hits second in this lineup. Starling Marte hit 12 home runs and stole 47 bases in just 526 plate appearances for Oakland last year while striking out just 18.8% of the time. Marte is an excellent option for run creation, he slashed .308/.381/.456 last season, creating runs 33% better than average. Two players getting on base better than 38% of the time in front of the power core is what dream lineups are made of, Marte is an easy option for Mets stacks at $3,800 on FanDuel, he costs $2,000 more than that on DraftKings but he remains a great choice at just 5% popularity.

Shortstop Francisco Lindor had a bad season in his first year in Queens after riding in on a wave of expectations. Lindor is a star player who scuffled to just a .230/.322/.412 triple-slash with a .181 ISO and 10 home runs while creating runs 3% better than average last season. By comparison, in his last full year in Cleveland in 2019, Lindor hit 32 home runs with a .234 ISO while creating runs 18% better than average. The year before that he hit 38 home runs and created runs 32% better than average. Lindor is off to a blazing-hot start to his 2022, putting those concerns firmly in his rearview mirror to start the season. Over 62 plate appearances, the shortstop is slashing .308/.419/.615 with four home runs, three stolen bases, a titanic .308 ISO and a 202 WRC+.

Slugger Pete Alonso checks in for just 6.9% popularity against a $5,300 salary on DraftKings while he is the most popular Mets player on either site at his 10.1% projected ownership for just $4,000 on FanDuel. Alonso hit 37 home runs with a .257 ISO while creating runs 33% better than average and slashing .253/.314/.472 last season. The only point from which that season was disappointing was the peak of his rookie year in 2019, in which he only managed to set a new rookie home run record with 53 long balls. The first baseman had an outrageously good 14.8% barrel rate last season, though his strong 47.3% hard-hit rate was actually lower than one might expect. Alonso is an elite bat who is not owned like it on this slate, he is a must-add in most Mets stacks.

Switch-hitting Eduardo Escobar was a less-heralded but high-quality acquisition for this team. Escobar hit 28 home runs with a .219 ISO last year, striking out just 20.7% of the time and walking in 8% of his plate appearances. Escobar is inexpensive at $3,700 with multi-position eligibility in the middle of this lineup for just 3.1% popularity on FanDuel, his position on DraftKings is limited to only third base, but he is projected for less than 1% ownership for the $4,700 cost on that site.

Aged, disgraced and no longer on a Hall of Fame track, lefty-hitting Robinson Cano is playing out the string in New York. Long since removed from a starring role, Cano is barely hanging on as a part-timer, he is off to just a .185/.241/.296 start over 29 plate appearances, an unfair sample for any hitter, but one that sees him with just a .111 ISO and a run creation mark 36% below average. Assuming he is in the lineup, Cano is cheap at second base, but so are many better options at the position. He is not entirely without potential, but one needs to look very closely to spot it, he can be skipped in Mets stacks unless looking to offset popularity or building through many iterations.

Jeff McNeil is a hit-tool-focused option from later in the lineup. McNeil struck out just 13.6% of the time last season, but he scuffled to a .249/.317/.358 triple-slash with just a .156 ISO. McNeil created runs 9% below average last year, but he has had more productive years in the past, including an outlier 2019 season that saw him blast 23 home runs with a .214 ISO. He is almost certainly not that hitter at age 30, but McNeil’s quality has always come from his batting average on balls in play, which was at .359 in 2018, .337 in 2019 and .335 in 2020, before falling off the table at .280 last season. McNeil needs the benefit of happenstance to find his quality with the bat, he is not a great driver of the baseball, but he can provide low-owned quality from late in the lineup and he is at least serviceable as a potential wraparound play if he is hitting eighth or ninth.

Mark Canha and James McCann round out the projected Mets lineup, Canha slashed .231/.358/.387 last season with 17 home runs while creating runs 15% better than average last season. The outfielder had a 20.5% strikeout rate and a 12.3% walk rate, he is a quality bat who is routinely ignored despite a $2,400 price tag on DraftKings and a $2,900 mark on FanDuel. McCann slots in as a fair play where catchers are required, he hit 10 home runs in 412 plate appearances with a .117 ISO last year and he reached a career-high 18 home runs with a .187 ISO in 2019. McCann’s 2020 was limited to just 111 plate appearances, but he was rolling through the short season with seven home runs and a .247 ISO while creating runs 42% better than average in the weird COVID year. McCann is not going to deliver that much quality, but he has a reasonably good stick for a catcher.

Home Run Prediction Today: Yordan Alvarez — Houston Astros

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Terry used to do other things, now he writes words on the internet. He hopes his more than 20 years’ experience in season-long and daily fantasy sports and his custom models for MLB, NBA, and NFL don't steer you too wrong when he writes columns and makes picks on A lifetime of experience keeping odd hours make Terry ideal to cover KBO baseball overnight until the world returns to normal. Most of those late night hours have been spent on the couch watching sports, T.V., and movies; just try to shut him up about any of the above. You can find his pop-culture ramblings and more on Sideaction.

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