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MLB DFS Tournament Picks & Home Runs 5/7/22

Terry McBride



MLB DFS Lineup Picks DraftKIngs FanDuel Home Runs Tournament Strategy

An ugly rainy Saturday up and down the East Coast is bringing more postponements to bear across the baseball schedule. The main slate is in serious jeopardy of losing its first game, the matchup between the Royals and Orioles, cutting the total games to just six on FanDuel and seven on a DraftKings slate that includes the Dodgers vs Cubs game. The loss of the Baltimore game would not have a tremendous impact on the pitching slate, though some of the bats on either side would be useful against the scheduled starters. The remaining games seem safe from the weather and feature interesting matchups from coast to coast. The day’s top starter on talent is facing stiff competition while the pitching board is filled out with quality in most corners. Run totals are low in Las Vegas once again, but two of the games are managing to claw their way to 9-run marks; the Rockies vs Diamondbacks game is carrying that total and a fairly close line, while the Angels are favored by a broader margin in their game against the Nationals that reaches the same total. Getting to a strong spread of lineups that feature diverse pitching may be easier than spreading out shares to premium stacks on this contest, most of the teams on deck are facing tough pitching and offense has been powerless throughout the season.

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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 will give each team one of the top choices. However, the model will not always promote the top-ranked player, particularly when there is an obvious star in that spot every day.

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Home Run Ratings

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

Arizona Diamondbacks: Daulton Varsho — 6.96

Atlanta Braves: Austin Riley — 3.43

Baltimore Orioles: Anthony Santander — 6.46

Colorado Rockies: C.J. Cron — 10.21

Kansas City Royals: Edward Olivares — 9.70

Los Angeles Angels: Shohei Ohtani — 18.33

Miami Marlins: Jesus Aguilar — 8.15

Milwaukee Brewers: Andrew McCutchen — 4.20

San Diego Padres: Manny Machado — 5.36

San Francisco Giants: Austin Slater — 5.95

Seattle Mariners: Julio Rodriguez — 3.57

St. Louis Cardinals: Juan Yepez — 3.47

Tampa Bay Rays: Brandon Lowe — 12.24

Washington Nationals: Nelson Cruz — 6.46

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.

MLB DFS Weather Update: Postponements & Risk Assessment

Saturday’s weather is no better than it was on Friday, there are just fewer games on the main slate. The first game of the night between the Royals and Orioles in Baltimore seems very likely to be postponed. If it does not cancel outright, the game will be played in very poor conditions, with cool weather and ongoing precipitation. This will not be a good game to target on either side, but odds are that gamers will be able to cross it off well before the slate locks.

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 Saturday pitching board is topped by Milwaukee ace Corbin Burnes on both sites tonight. Burnes is in a difficult matchup against the Braves, but he is one of the league’s apex predators on the mound, carving up opposing teams for monster strikeout numbers, something that the Braves lineup willingly contributes to the equation despite all their quality. After Burnes, the list features several solid second-tier starters dueling one another. Burnes’ opponent, Max Fried, lands near the top of the board on both sites while the Padres’ Sean Manaea looks to be in a good spot taking on Pablo Lopez and the Marlins. Another pair of duelists will be providing value and a touch of leverage, as the Giants’ Logan Webb will look to get his season on track against Steven Matz and the Cardinals. Young starters Josiah Gray and Drew Rasmussen are on the board at lower probabilities in relatively difficult spots, Rasmussen seems like the safer play between the two, but he comes at a higher cost that is not in the range one would call a value. The deep mix of pitchers warrants a broad spread of options around Burnes, who is easily deserving of his crushing popularity on both sites.

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The Brewers’ electric righty has better than a 40% chance of being a top-2 starter on DraftKings on the Top Pitchers tool, more than doubling the probability of the second-ranked starter. Burnes’ popularity is outpacing that level of probability, but with the differential between him and all of the other options so stark, he seems worth rostering at or around the field at the least. On the FanDuel slate, Burnes is nearly doubling up the field again, sitting at a 15.8% probability of being the top starter against ownership that is pushing 35%. Again, Burnes seems worth the weight, he is by far the leading candidate for a huge fantasy score, despite the tough matchup. The righty is facing an outrageously good Braves active roster that has a .180 ISO and a 3.60% home run rate that rank fourth and second against right-handed pitching so far this season, and they have created runs eight percent better than average in the split, but the team has also struck out at a 29th ranked 25.5% rate against righties. Even if he gets dinged for a couple of runs, Burnes should have the strikeout upside to press through to a slate-relevant fantasy score. The Brewers ace has a pitching line almost exactly matching his Cy Young Award winning performance from 2021. Burnes made 28 starts and pitched to a 35.6% strikeout rate with a 2.30 xFIP and a 0.94 WHIP last year, over his first five starts this season, the righty has a 35.5% strikeout rate and a 2.25 xFIP with a 0.73 WHIP. He has induced a gargantuan 18.4% swinging-strike rate and has a 35.1% CSW%, both up by two points over last year. Burnes has allowed a touch more premium contact this season, he has yielded a 42% hard-hit percentage with a 7.2% barrel rate compared to the 30.5% and 3.1% that totally sapped opposing power and production last season, but those marks seem likely to normalize in a larger sample. Burnes is an elite talent on the mound, he belongs in a wide array of lineups at least relative to the level that the field is utilizing him, if not beyond it.

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The Marlins vs Padres game has quality on the mound on both sides. San Diego starter Sean Manaea ranks second on both sites tonight, with Miami’s righty Pablo Lopez sitting sixth overall by his probability of being a top option. Manaea is a quality southpaw who will be taking on a Marlins active roster that has been awful against lefties so far this season. The young Marlins have a .097 ISO and a 1.48% home run rate in the split, the 22nd and 24th ranked marks in the sport. Miami have created runs 30% worse than average against lefties so far this season while striking out at a 30th-ranked 28.6% rate that is baseball’s worst against either hand. Manaea looks to be in excellent circumstances in this matchup, the lefty is sporting a 24.8% strikeout rate over his first 30 innings this season, slightly down from the 25.7% mark he posted in 179.1 innings last year. His swinging-strike rate has dipped slightly as well, from 12.3% to 11.6%. The lefty allows a bit too much quality contact when he misses, he has yielded a 41.3% hard-hit rate this year and sat at 41.2% last year, but he seems likely to clean up against the anemic Marlins lineup. Manaea is worth rostering, but he comes with negative leverage on both sites. Pablo Lopez, meanwhile, is the night’s most positively leveraged pitcher on both sites. Lopez has a 28.3% strikeout rate over his first 28 innings this season. He has pitched to an excellent 2.62 xFIP and 0.89 WHIP while inducing a 15% swinging-strike rate. The righty has been excellent at limiting premium contact as well, allowing just a 30% hard-hit percentage and 85.8 mph of exit velocity on average. Most of those marks align with the numbers Lopez put up in 102.2 innings over 20 starts last season, he was similarly good at avoiding hard-hit balls and he struck out 27.5% while walking 6.2%. At merely 2.1% popularity on FanDuel and 4.9% on DraftKings, the field is forgetting how talented this starter is. Lopez is facing a Padres lineup that has a .131 ISO and a 1.57% home run rate against righties, the 21st and 29th best marks in baseball. The team has been good at avoiding strikeouts, their 21% rate in the split ranks 10th and they have created runs 11% better than average despite the lack of power. Lopez is not entirely safe, but he has excellent fantasy point-scoring upside in this start.

Another head-to-head duel is coming up with strong options on either side. The Cardinals are in San Francisco to take on the Giants, with lefty Steven Matz on the hill for the visitors and Logan Webb defending the home field. Matz rates out one spot ahead of Webb for a lower price on the DraftKings slate while Webb vaults ahead, and into third place overall, on the FanDuel board. The Giants righty is off to a rough start on the strikeout board, he has just a 15.9% rate over his first 30.1 innings in five starts after sitting at 26.5% over 148.1 innings in his breakout 2021 season. Webb has held up otherwise, he has cut walks from six percent to 4.8% and his xFIP sits at 3.27, which is up from last year’s sterling 2.79, but is still a very good mark. Webb has a 3.26 ERA and a 2.86 xERA to boot, everything seems to be working except for the strikeouts, the righty has dropped from a 12.4% swinging-strike rate to a 10.9% mark this season, but he has been even better than last year at eliminating premium contact. Webb allowed a 38.8% hard-hit percentage with a 5.6% barrel rate and a -0.5 degree average launch angle last year, this year those marks sit 37% hard-hit with a five percent barrel rate and a -0.3 degree average launch angle with just 86.2 mph of exit velocity on average. Webb will be facing a Cardinals active roster that struggles to find its quality against righties. The team has a .110 ISO and a 1.65% home run rate that sit 26th and 28th in the split, though they are very good at avoiding strikeouts. The Cardinals’ 18.2% strikeout rate against righties is the league’s best in the split so far this season, but heavily right-handed St. Louis has created runs nine percent worse than average while hitting for no power. Webb looks like a strong option who is not getting enough attention at a fair price on both sites. The strikeout upside may be limited, but he has the talent and ability to suppress the Cardinals’ power, which should put him in range for a strong slate-relevant score. At a slightly higher popularity projection for less salary on DraftKings, Matz is more difficult to trust. The southpaw has a 26% strikeout rate and a 2.57 xFIP over his first 23.2 innings in five starts this season, but he has a 1.44 WHIP and he has allowed a 43.7% hard-hit percentage with an 8.5% barrel rate and he has been more of a middling option throughout his career. However, Matz is facing a Giants team that has struggled for quality against southpaws this season. San Francisco’s active roster is 25th with a .093 ISO and 28th creating runs 31% worse than average in the split by collective WRC+. The team’s 1.28% home run rate ranks 26th, but they have been effective at limiting strikeouts, with just a 21.8% rate against lefties this season. Matz’s career strikeout rate of 22.4% is more in line with where expectations should be, the lefty has a 4.25 career ERA and a 3.95 xFIP. He is a good pitcher in a decent spot, but his salary and ownership are appropriately distributed on both sites. Matz is on the board at efficient ownership, he can be owned at or around the field’s rate.

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Los Angeles Dodgers

Where they are available, the Dodgers look like a strong stacking opportunity. The Dodgers rank second on the DraftKings slate with a 10.4% probability of being the top stack and they land at slightly positive leverage. Los Angeles is playing the second game of a double-header, so the lineup is somewhat unpredictable in a matchup against lefty opener Daniel Norris and a host of mediocre Cubs bullpen arms. Likely hitters to target from the Dodgers lineup include Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Trea Turner, Max Muncy, and Justin Turner. Catcher Will Smith will likely start the second game, with Austin Barnes playing in the afternoon game. They also should have Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor, and Gavin Lux in the lineup for the first game as well, with a lefty opener the team may choose to sit one of Bellinger or Lux from the left side to start the game. Regardless of their lineup configuration, the Dodgers look like an excellent play tonight, with the exception of Trea Turner, they are projected for single-digit ownership up and down the lineup.

Colorado Rockies

The Rockies are on the road in Arizona to face mediocre veteran right-hander Zach Davies, who comes in sporting a 16.3% strikeout rate and a 4.49 xFIP with an 11.2% walk rate. Davies has gotten by with a 28.2% hard-hit percentage and a 5.6% barrel rate on a -0.5 degree average launch angle so far, but those marks were 42.8% and 9.1% at an 11-degree launch angle last year. Davies has a 4.24 ERA and a 3.92 xERA but his career xFIP sits at 4.53 and he is very much “just who he is” at age 29. Meanwhile, the Rockies have quietly excelled for power against right-handed pitching over the first month of the season, speaking relative to the adjusted expectations of a powerless 2022 season that is. Colorado sits second in baseball with a .186 ISO in the split and they have a third-ranked 3.58% home run rate. The team has managed to create runs one percent below average despite the power output and their 22% strikeout rate in the split sits just 13th in baseball, but they appear to have plenty of upside on the basis of their ongoing ability to drive the ball, even outside of Coors Field. Colorado bats to target include Connor JoeCharlie Blackmon, and Randal Grichuk, who have a collective 12 home runs, with four each, but a solid average ISO of .198. All three hitters are above average creating runs to this point in the season, with Joe and Blackmon both 30% ahead of the curve based on their on-base percentages of better than .350. The trio is followed by powerhouse righty C.J. Cron, who has nine home runs and a massive .360 ISO while creating runs 73% better than average so far this season. Cron is responsible for a significant amount of the Rockies’ power output, he belongs in most stacks but he will be just 6.1% owned on the DraftKings slate. Lefty Ryan McMahon has been 14% better than average creating runs despite just a .170 ISO and two home runs, he is slashing .250/.353/.420 so far, making him the fourth hitter in the top five with a .350 or higher on-base percentage. Brendan Rodgers and Samuel Hilliard can contribute to a stack as well, with Jose Iglesias and Dom Nunez rounding out the projected lineup.

Los Angeles Angels

The Angels rank at the top of the board today and they will be popular, on FanDuel they are arguably too popular, but the overall ownership number is skewed by one or two heavily rostered players. The Angels land closer to efficient ownership for their excellent chance of being the top stack on DraftKings, and they are worth figuring out on both sites. Rostering even the most popular Angels in stacks with combinations to lower-owned positively leveraged second stacks and starting pitchers is not a difficult exercise on this slate, and the team has significant upside for power in a game against righty Josiah Gray. The Nationals’ talented young starter may find his way to a good number of strikeouts in this matchup, he has a 28.7% rate for the season but he is also walking 13% of opposing hitters over his first 26 innings and he has yielded a 40.3% hard-hit percentage with a 12.9% barrel rate to this point in the season, a combination of factors that will not play well against a lineup as talented and hard-hitting as the Angels.

The projected Angels lineup is pricey on DraftKings, which is keeping the public somewhat at bay. On FanDuel, everyone is cheap and extremely popular in this lineup. Leadoff hitter Taylor Ward is slashing .362/.488/.710 with a .348 ISO over his first 86 plate appearances this season. Ward has six home runs and he has created runs 148% better than average. The $5,800 outfielder is projected for just 5.8% popularity on the DraftKings slate, but he is pulling in a 23.3% mark at $4,000 on FanDuel.

Mike Trout is Mike Trout. The superstar is pulling in a 21.9% popularity mark on DraftKings and he will be in nearly 40% of lineups on the FanDuel slate, making it difficult to roster him as a one-off. Trout can be included in Angels stacks, which will be popular in all configurations. Rostering the team in conjunction with low-owned options in all other corners is the only approach to differentiation, but it is worth the effort. Trout is slashing .325/.449/.675 with six home runs and a .350 ISO while creating runs 126% better than average over the first month of his campaign to reclaim his crown as the game’s very best.

Of course, Shohei Ohtani might have something to say about who wears that crown at the end of the season. Ohtani has hit four home runs and is slashing just .234/..299/.383 with a .150 ISO, but the superstar hit 46 long balls while stealing 26 bases and slashing .257/.372/.592 in his MVP season last year, he will be fine and is justifiably expensive and popular on both sites. Ohtani leads the power board in the home run model today, he is worth figuring out at even the 38.5% projected popularity on FanDuel.

Third baseman Anthony Rendon is slashing .212/.330/.376 with a .165 ISO and three home runs but he has created runs 13% better than average so far this season and he has a 40.3% hard-hit percentage with a nine percent barrel rate. Rendon is inexpensive for his talent, he is owned at just over 10% on DraftKings but over 20% on FanDuel. He is another premium bat who is worthy of roster shares in Angels stacks across the industry, as long as attention is paid to differentiation elsewhere.

Lefty first baseman Jared Walsh hit 29 home runs with a 41.2% hard-hit percentage and an 11.3% barrel rate last year. This season he has hit four home runs while slashing .247/.300/.409 with a .161 ISO while creating runs eight percent above average in his first 100 plate appearances. Walsh costs just $4,200 on DraftKings, he is a strong option at the price and just 13.8% ownership. He will be another bat above 20% popularity for just $3,000 on FanDuel, but he is worth rostering on that side of town as well.

Brandon Marsh drops to just 4.7% popularity at his $4,500 salary on DraftKings and he is the first offset for popularity on FanDuel at just 9.5%. The outfielder is slashing .250/.309/.417 to start the year, and he is creating runs at a rate 13% above average. Marsh has hit three home runs and he adds speed to the equation with three stolen bases, he is a worthy inclusion at a low salary on both sites.

Catcher Max Stassi has delivered power early in the season, he has three home runs in 65 plate appearances while slashing .220/.292/.390 and creating runs three percent ahead of the curve. Stassi hit 13 home runs in 319 plate appearances and had a .184 ISO last year, he is a good mix and match piece and can be deployed frequently in Angels stacks where the position is required.

Speedster Tyler Wade and middling Andrew Velazquez round out the projected lineup at cheap prices and low popularity. Wade is the better player, he is slashing .278/.339/.333 to start the season and he has stolen three bases while creating runs four percent better than average. Velazquez is a triple-A infielder who is over his head at the Major League level. He is slashing .130/.226/.167 so far this season while creating runs 77% below average.

Home Run Prediction Today: Jared Walsh — Los Angeles Angels

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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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