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MLB DFS Tournament Picks & Home Runs 5/2/22

Terry McBride



Monday’s six-game MLB DFS slate is interesting from top to bottom. The pitching board features a handful of talented options who are out to excellent starts to their season up top and a bottom end that should yield excellent opportunities for run creation and power. The pitching slate breaks down interestingly, with ownership and pricing playing a major part and the night’s best option on talent facing perhaps the stiffest competition out of any of the top arms. The list of premium stacks starts with the rolling New York Yankees, but also includes underrated options like the Mariners and Braves, both of which will be strong positive leverage plays. With a few discounted pitchers offering strong upside it is easy to get to any mix of bats and arms that one may desire, without too much of a challenge around unique lineup creation. There are plenty of under-owned spots to attack for such a short slate, simply avoiding the massive weight of public ownership is an easy approach to MLB DFS lineup construction for DraftKings and FanDuel tournaments tonight.

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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, 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.

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Home Run Ratings

Check out all of Awesemo’s top-notch baseball content and free MLB DFS picks.

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

Arizona Diamondbacks: Christian Walker — 3.91

Atlanta Braves: Matt Olson — 8.41

Baltimore Orioles: Anthony Santander — 9.28

Houston Astros: Yordan Alvarez — 13.56

Miami Marlins: Jorge Soler — 8.16

Minnesota Twins: Byron Buxton — 13.39

New York Mets: Pete Alonso — 6.08

New York Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton — 17.39

Oakland Athletics: Seth Brown — 4.63

Seattle Mariners: Jarred Kelenic — 7.10

Tampa Bay Rays: Randy Arozarena — 7.11

Toronto Blue Jays: George Springer — 8.40

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 home run predictions today 5/2/22

MLB DFS Weather Update: Postponements & Risk Assessment

Tonight’s slate has no weather-related concerns, all of the games should play cleanly from start to finish, barring the arrival of a previously undetected meteor.

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 leading name on the Top Pitchers tool on both sites is New York’s Chris Bassitt, who will be leading the Mets into battle against the stout but strikeout-heavy Atlanta Braves lineup. Bassitt has been excellent to start the season, but he will be challenged by the loaded Atlanta lineup. The options on both sides of the Diamondbacks vs Marlins game are both in appealing situations going up against generally underwhelming lineups. Between the two, Pablo Lopez looks like the better option as a spend-up for efficient ownership from the two spot on the Top Pitchers Tool, while Gallen is a value option, but one that comes with aggressively negative leverage. As a potential pivot from the Gallen popularity, Chris Paddack will be facing a weak Orioles lineup while coming in at a fair midrange price and limited popularity. Paddack is off to a strong start with noteworthy changes to his pitch mix. He is under-owned for the opportunity tonight. Max Fried, Drew Rasmussen and Jordan Montgomery are all on the potential list for mid-range quality from a variety of price points, while low-end Ross Stripling is pulling a surprising amount of positive leverage. Stripling is a $5,800 SP2 option on DraftKings and has a 10.2% probability of being a top-two starter against just 1.7% popularity in the extremely challenging matchup. Stripling is the leverage option from the bargain basement corner of the DraftKings slate, Baltimore’s Tyler Wells is similarly rated for probability and comes in $700 less expensive, but he will be owned by more than 10% of the field in a difficult matchup against the Twins.

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Right-handed starter Chris Bassitt was a tremendous option through most of last season while with Oakland. He  threw 157.1 innings in 27 starts, pitching to a 25% strikeout rate and a 3.93 xFIP with a 6.1% walk rate and a 1.06 WHIP. Last year Bassitt put up a 32.7% hard-hit rate, one of the better marks in baseball for limiting power. He is currently at a career-high 28% strikeout rate over 24 innings in four starts, pitching deep into games with reliability and quality. Bassitt is sporting a 2.25 ERA and a 3.30 xFIP to start the season while holding opposing hitters to a 36.2% hard-hit percentage and an 8.6% barrel rate. Both of those are up from last year’s excellence, but Bassitt has the talent to get through even a powerful Braves lineup several times while finding a few strikeouts along the way. Atlanta’s active roster is second-best in baseball with a .195 ISO and a 3.94% home run rate against righties so far this season, but they strike out at a 24.4% rate that sits 26th in baseball. The Braves are dramatically under-owned on both sites as a stack and as individual hitters, their power could absolutely shine through against Bassitt, so taking insurance against shares of the starter, or simply drawing down on a popular pitcher with opposing stacks is a strong tournament play.

Marlins righty Pablo Lopez is a fully healthy season from being regarded as a legitimate ace-caliber starter. Lopez made 20 starts last season, pitching 102.2 innings, the second-highest total since his debut in 2018. Lopez racked up a 27.5% strikeout rate with a 6.2% walk rate last season, so far this year he is off to an excellent start with a 27.1% strikeout rate, and he has walked just 4.7% of opposing hitters. Most impressively, Lopez has yielded just one run over his first four starts, tying an ancient baseball record for pitching; according to MLB Network, the only other pitcher to throw more than 20 innings in four starts and allow one run or fewer in the World Series era was the man they named the pitching award for, Cy Young himself. Lopez will certainly come back to Earth throughout the course of the season, but he stands a great chance of continuing his scorching hot streak against the Diamondbacks tonight. Arizona’s active roster has a 26.2% strikeout rate against righties this season, 29th among baseball’s 30 teams, and they create runs 13% worse than average in the split against righties. Lopez is pulling in efficient popularity in line with his probability of being a top-two option on the two-pitcher site and he looks easily playable at slightly negative leverage on the blue site as well.

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Minnesota will be in Baltimore to face the Orioles in what has played like a pitchers’ park so far this season after outfield dimension adjustments during the offseason. Baltimore’s active roster has been extremely limited against both hands so far this season. Against righties, the Orioles have compiled just a .109 ISO with a 24% strikeout rate, the 25th- and 23rd-ranked marks in baseball this season. The team has created runs 13% below average and their 1.55% home run rate ranks 27th in the split. Paddack, meanwhile, has been excellent to start the 2022 season, though he is yet to find his strikeout stuff. Paddack has been regarded as a talented but flawed pitcher since his excellent debut in 2019. That season, the righty burst onto the scene with a 3.33 ERA (3.36 xERA/4.05 xFIP) and a 26.9% strikeout rate over his first 140.2 innings of Major League action. Paddack fell apart after that, though underlying metrics seemed to indicate he had more to offer. The righty had a 4.73 ERA but a 3.77 xFIP in 2020 and a 5.07 ERA but a 3.87 xFIP in 2021. The main sticking point when breaking down his arsenal has always been his limitation to two primary pitches: His plus fastball and plus-plus changeup. Paddack had a limited curveball that was not a highly regarded pitch and he threw it less and less as time went on in San Diego. Now with the Twins, the righty is being encouraged to develop the pitch to enhance his arsenal and the results have been strong. Paddack throws the curveball 21% of the time and he is getting swing and miss while limiting power with the pitch, effectively keeping hitters off-balance with a strong mix instead of a straight-line approach. So far this season, Paddack has a 3.68 ERA and a 2.80 xFIP. He has struck out just 21.7% of opposing hitters so far, but his walk rate has been at a ridiculous 1.7% and he is generally very adept at limiting the free pass. Paddack is inexpensive on both sites and presents a strong SP2 alternative to over-exposed Zac Gallen on the DraftKings slate. Gallen has a 22.6% probability of being a top-two arm but 37.8% popularity on the site, while Paddack costs $400 less and provides a 19.8% probability against just 18% popularity against a markedly worse opponent.

Tampa Bay starter Drew Rasmussen is another interesting option from the mid-range of salary. Rasmussen is drawing a 21.1% probability of being a top-two starter against an efficient 24% ownership mark on DraftKings, and he rates out similarly on the single-pitcher site. Rasmussen has a 24.3% strikeout rate and an excellent 14.6% swinging-strike rate over his first four outings this season. The righty has posted a 3.16 xFIP and a 3.50 ERA over his 18 innings this season and he has cut walks to just 5.4% over the first month of 2022. Rasmussen is facing an anemic Oakland roster that has arguably overachieved in compiling a .121 ISO, a 24.1% strikeout rate and a 90 WRC+ against righties this season, the Athletics are simply not a good ballclub. Rasmussen is stretched out to reach 90 or more pitches in this outing. He has an excellent chance to rack up strikeouts and pitch through a clean game while chasing both the win and, where relevant, the quality start bonus. For a fair price and negligible popularity, the Rays’ starter is an easy first step in getting to a differentiated lineup construction on DraftKings or FanDuel tonight.

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Atlanta Braves

The Braves are taking on one of the night’s best pitchers on pure talent and numbers, but also one who is drawing major popularity against a team that obliterates right-handed pitching for power. Atlanta’s active roster has struck out aggressively in the split this season, but that comes with extreme upside for home runs and run creation, and the team has superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. back at the top of the batting order. The Braves are projected for low single-digit ownership from top to bottom on this slate, making them an excellent source of leverage at the plate. In addition to Acuna, the lineup offers one of the best left-handed power bats in baseball with matching 4% ownership on both sites in Matt Olson while adding excellent Austin Riley and Ozzie Albies to the equation from the heart of the order. Those two hit on either side of Marcell Ozuna, who has a premium power bat in most situations and is drawing just 1% popularity from site to site. The back end of the Braves lineup is equal to the task as well. There are truly no soft spots, and positional, price and popularity offsets are available in the form of Travis d’Arnaud, Adam Duvall and Dansby Swanson. The lineup may also feature Travis Demeritte, who is getting an opportunity in the absence of Eddie Rosario. Demeritte is a former first-round pick who has four seasons of 20 or more home runs on his minor league ledger. Previously rated as high as 10th in the Braves farm system, Demeritte bounced to the Tigers for a stint and a brief cup of coffee in which he did not perform at this level, but there is reason to believe in the athletic combination of power and speed, particularly when it is available for the minimum $2,000 in the outfield on DraftKings and for $2,500 at second base on FanDuel.

New York Yankees

Ok, maybe this will be a fixed piece of this article all season. As much as everyone is already sick of hearing about this team, the Yankees have simply been highly relevant slate after slate. The lineup is loaded with power from both sides of the plate and the team is comprised of hitters who know how to get on base with reliability, despite their inflated strikeout numbers. New York is matched up against Ross Stripling, who has a 3.60 ERA and a 3.25 xFIP early this season but is a limited strikeout pitcher who seems likely to yield some power to Yankees’ home run bats, particularly in Toronto’s hitter-friendly stadium. There are no concerns about Yankees players missing this game from a COVID standpoint, Canada is allowing teams that drive across the border to forego any concerns about vaccination status. The Yankees are popular but worthwhile, Aaron Judge is the most rostered bat on both sites, but it is easy enough to differentiate construction with hitters like D.J. LeMahieu, Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres and Joey Gallo underpriced and under-deployed. Anthony Rizzo and Josh Donaldson are also excellent options from the middle of the lineup, but they are slightly more popular than their teammates, but backend options Isiah Kiner-Falefa and catcher Jose Trevino are less than inspiring MLB DFS picks. Combining premium Yankees bats is easy, as is offsetting popularity concerns by deploying a lower-owned pitcher and second stack, they are a go-to option once again, like it or not.

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners are in an excellent baseball situation in a matchup against Jake Odorizzi in Houston tonight. Their prospects for MLB DFS differ from site to site, based on their range of prices and popularity. The Mariners are a good option for potential offense regardless of where one is making lineups, but they go from a strong positive leverage play on DraftKings to, at best, efficient ownership on the blue site. The driving force behind the different ownership on either side of the industry is how the Seattle bats are priced, DraftKings was aggressive in pushing the core of this lineup into uncomfortably high salaries, while FanDuel did not see fit to do the same, in fact the blue site discounted one of the excellent lefties in this lineup so deeply that he will likely be the most popular bat on the slate. Regardless, in a matchup against a pitcher who is off to a 6.00 ERA and a 5.79 xFIP over his first four outings and 15 innings, following a 2021 season that saw him post a 4.82 xFIP in 104.2 innings over 23 starts, the Seattle bats should shine for MLB DFS scoring potential tonight.

Seattle’s projected lineup begins with quality lefty Adam Frazier, who slashed .305/.368/.411 while creating runs 14% better than average over 639 plate appearances last year. Frazier struck out in just 10.8% of his plate appearances. He is an excellent leadoff option in real baseball and a strong correlation play for MLB DFS stacks. Frazier costs $4,600 on DraftKings and $2,700 on FanDuel, the discount makes him more popular on the blue site, but he is carrying just 12.9% ownership and remains highly playable.

Ty France has an absurd price on DraftKings. The infielder is carrying a $6,000 salary, only $100 short of the cost of superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. tonight. France is slashing .333/.410/.540 with five home runs and a .207 ISO over his first 101 plate appearances this season and he has cut strikeouts from an already good 16.3% last year to an excellent 10.9% while maintaining his 7.9% walk rate to this point. France hit 18 home runs in 650 plate appearances with a .154 ISO last year, while barreling the ball 6.8% of the time and generating a 38.9% hard-hit percentage, given the 6.4% barrel rate and 37.2% hard-hit percentage at which he has landed so far this season, a regression to last year’s form is likely, but France is still a capable quality player in most situations. At his inflated price on DraftKings, the first baseman will be owned below five percent, and he is only slightly above 10% popularity for $3,900 on FanDuel, where he can be deployed at first base or, very handily, at second base.

Outfielder Jesse Winker appropriately costs $5,200 on the DraftKings slate, pushing his ownership below 10%. Winker is pressing the 30% popularity margin on the FanDuel MLB DFS slate however, the site saw fit to price him at just $2,600 based on the slow .197/.340/.237 start to his season over 94 plate appearances. Winker slashed .305/.394/.556 with 24 home runs and a .251 ISO last season, and he does a lot of his damage against right-handed pitching. He is too cheap for the spot on the FanDuel slate, but the ownership is outrageous. Deploying Winker in stacks is fine but he is too popular for effective use as a one-off, his low cost will have him in every open optimizer slot on the site. On DraftKings, Winker can be confidently deployed in all formats.

Winker is followed by fellow Cincinnati import Eugenio Suarez, who has hit three home runs while slashing .215/.311/.430 and creating runs 24% better than average to start his season. Suarez is at a 30% strikeout rate this season, but he has a .215 ISO, last year he struck out 29.8% of the time but had a .230 ISO, and the year before he was at 29.0% and .268. Suarez is projected for less than 10% popularity at a high DraftKings price but above 20% for a $3,500 price on FanDuel.

Shortstop J.P. Crawford has 93 plate appearances this season and he has been fourth best in all of baseball in creating runs. Crawford’s 224 WRC+ is fourth behind Mike Trout, Nolan Arenado and Jose Ramirez, and while the tune to “One of These Things is Not Like the Others” is firmly stuck in everyone’s head as they read that, it pays to remember that Crawford was once a well-regarded prospect who only just found a regular role and only just entered his prime at age 27. It would not be surprising to see Crawford maintain quality all season, but it would be extraordinarily surprising to see him continue this torrid pace. For tonight’s matchup, the shortstop is around 5% ownership on both sites. He costs $5,600 on DraftKings and $3,500 on FanDuel and is well worth the investment when stacking Mariners.

Switch-hitting Abraham Toro is another talented young player in a team that is loaded with them. The Mariners have premium names in or before their age-27 seasons across this entire roster, and that is without even considering oft-injured Kyle Lewis. Toro was brought to the team from Houston in the middle of last season, across both franchises he saw 375 plate appearances and hit 11 home runs with six stolen bases. So far in 2022, Toro is slashing merely .164/.233/.313 with two home runs and a lowly 62 WRC+, but he has demonstrated upside for both power and speed throughout his minor league career, and he comes cheap and low-owned as a differentiator with second and third base eligibility on both sites.

Outfielder Julio Rodriguez is one of the top-rated rookies in the game this season. Rodriguez is an exciting toolsy player still finding his footing, but he costs just $3,700 on DraftKings and $3,200 on FanDuel. Over his first 85 plate appearances, Rodriguez is slashing .234/.306/.325 and he has created runs 8% below average with little to no power, but he did hit his first Major League home run this weekend, and the talent is very real. In 206 plate appearances at double-A last season, Rodriguez hit seven home runs and stole 16 bases. It is only a matter of time before the public at large is referring to him adoringly as J-Rod.

For all his struggles last season, premium prospect Jarred Kelenic did still manage to hit 14 Major League home runs in 377 plate appearances while putting up a .169 ISO. Kelenic struggled significantly in his first stretch and was sent back to the minors. He was better in the second iteration last season, but overall slashed just .181/.265/.350 and created runs 27% behind the curve. This season Kelenic has seen 71 plate appearances and hit two home runs, but his run creation sits 47% below average and he is slashing .141/.211/.297. He has ample opportunity ahead but needs to deliver. For a cheap price and low ownership, joining Kelenic in his last stand could have slate-relevant upside in an “any given day” sense.

Catcher Luis Torrens occupies the final spot in the projected Mariners lineup. Torrens has significant power upside and is a sneaky-good option where his position is required. In 378 plate appearances last season, the backstop managed a 10.4% barrel rate and a 43.2% hard-hit percentage with 15 home runs and a .188 ISO. He is playable as needed.

Home Run Prediction Today: Giancarlo Stanton — New York Yankees

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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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