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MLB DFS Tournament Picks & Home Runs Today 4/23/22

Terry McBride

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The odd-duck Saturday MLB DFS main slate includes just five games and gets started at 7:20 ET on both sites. The included games feature an interesting mix of options on the mound and at the plate, with bats being the more likely to lead the way tonight. There are a number of question marks on the pitching board, but a few options that are at least more likely to be safe stand out against the field, while several gas-can starters should lead to obvious stacking opportunities, though only two teams come in with run totals above five tonight. The Mets and Angels are both pulling excellent projections and they rank well in the power index, but their popularity should be considered on a short slate. The short slate makes it difficult to find truly under-owned options, but there are clear paths toward unique lineup constructions in the projected lineups, and unexpected changes can always lead to new opportunities for MLB DFS lineup construction.

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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.

Home Run Ratings

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

Arizona Diamondbacks: Pavin Smith — 5.24

Atlanta Braves: Eddie Rosario — 12.34

Baltimore Orioles: Trey Mancini — 9.60

Kansas City Royals: Carlos Santana — 7.85

Los Angeles Angels: Jared Walsh — 16.02

Los Angeles Dodgers: Will Smith – 12.05

Miami Marlins: Jesus Sanchez — 6.34

New York Mets: Francisco Lindor — 9.06

San Diego Padres: Manny Machado — 9.19

Seattle Mariners: Eugenio Suarez — 9.36

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 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 short 10-man pitching slate is not what baseball scholars would call robust. The list includes Yu Darvish, a near ace caliber pitcher at this point in his career, but he will be facing the deadly Dodgers lineup. Ian Anderson looks like the best pitcher in the best spot in his matchup against the Marlins, while the Angels’ Noah Syndergaard is drawing down on the Orioles in a home game. Miami will counter Anderson with Elieser Hernandez, a quality arm that will be challenged by the powerful Braves lineup. The remaining options on the board are underwhelming, Kris Bubic and Matt Brash are dueling in Seattle, the surprising Brash is the better option, he sits atop the Top Pitchers Tool for both sites, but the remaining four pitchers are further down the board and in bad spots.

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The Padres will have Yu Darvish on the mound to face the Dodgers’ superstar-laden lineup. The righty is making his fourth start of the season, he has thrown 14.1 innings of 6.28 ERA ball so far, but he has a 4.54 xFIP, while that mark is still not a good one, some happenstance has been involved in the run-scoring. The more concerning aspect of Darvish’s start is the limited 21% strikeout rate he has posted so far. Darvish had a 29.2% strikeout rate last year and a 31.3% mark the season before, he has long been regarded as a strong swing-and-miss option. Darvish has walked 9.7% of hitters in the short sample, a big jump from the 6.5% he posted last year in the stat. Most of these issues are likely to normalize, the sample is still unfairly small and mostly meaningless. This is not a good get-right spot for Darvish, unfortunately, he is matched up against a Dodgers active roster that had just a 21.7% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching last season. The team’s .185 ISO ranked ninth in the split against righties and they hit home runs at a 3.75% rate while creating runs 11% better than average by compiled WRC+. The Dodgers are an elite offense and Darvish has yet to find his form this season, he ranks just fourth on both sites on the Top Pitchers Tool by his probability of success, and he will be slightly over-owned on FanDuel despite the bad matchup and slate-high price tag. On DraftKings, Darvish is in play but he remains the highest-priced option at $10,200. The righty has a 27.8% probability of being a top-2 starter on the short slate but he is projected for just 20.9% popularity. This is very likely to be a major inflection point for tonight’s slate, making the right Darvish decision could drive the difference between winning and losing.

Making his return from extended injury absences, Angels righty Noah Syndergaard has been strong on the surface to start the season. He has made two starts, posting a 1.59 ERA and a 1.54 xERA, but a more revealing and relevant 4.11 xFIP. Syndergaard has walked just 4.7% of opposing hitters so far, keeping them off the bases and pitching to a 0.79 WHIP, but he has struck out just 11.6% of hitters despite a 13.9% swinging-strike rate. Syndergaard’s inconsistent numbers make it difficult to declare him truly safe, despite the early quality. He has lost four to five mph on his fastball since 2019’s elite 99 mph average, but he seems to be working well with the diminished velocity in terms of limiting quality contact. Syndergaard is facing an Orioles club that may help him get right with the strikeout numbers, the active Orioles roster had a 25.2% strikeout rate against righties last season, the 27th ranked team in baseball. They hit home runs and drove the ball at league average rates and created runs four percent below average, making this a good spot overall for Syndergaard’s renaissance to continue. The righty is ranked second on both sites by his probability of landing as a top starter, but he comes with the weight of popularity and negative leverage, which must be considered on a slate of this size.

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Ian Anderson is at positive leverage from near the top of the board for MLB DFS on both DraftKings and FanDuel tonight. Anderson ranks third on the DraftKings slate, where he has a 29.3% probability of being a top-2 starter against a 27.5% ownership projection, and on the blue site he ranks fifth with a 13.2% probability against an 11% ownership projection. Anderson rang up a 23.2% strikeout rate over 128.1 innings last season, pitching to a 3.96 xFIP with a 9.9% walk rate and a 1.23 WHIP. The free passes need to be reduced for this pitcher to take another step forward, but Anderson is long on talent, he induced an 11.9% swinging-strike rate and allowed just a 6.4-degree average launch angle against with a 38.7% hard-hit rate. Anderson has made two starts so far, he looked shaky in the first outing against the Reds, making it through just 2.2 innings of five-run five-walk baseball, but he was much better in the second outing of the season against the Padres. Anderson made it through 5.2 innings of two-hit seven-strikeout ball in that start, he should be able to replicate the performance and pitch deep into this game against a Marlins roster that had a 23.5% strikeout rate, a .161 ISO, and a 3.12% home run rate in the split last season while creating runs three percent below average. The strikeout rate was their best mark, it ranked 19th out of 30 teams, all three of the other stats land Miami’s active roster 23rd in last year’s numbers in their respective categories. This is a good spot for Anderson, he is useful and slightly under-owned by the public on this slate.

Seattle’s Matt Brash should be surrounded by a cloud of dirt on the mound at all times, he is Pigpen from “Peanuts” (Charlie Brown) level filthy. Brash has electric stuff, his arsenal includes several absurd breaking pitches, with his slider working as the primary weapon for sitting hitters down. Brash throws a four-seam fastball that can push triple-digits and averages around 95 mph, he pairs that with a filthy curveball that cuts 10-12 mph from the exact same delivery mechanism. His curve is a top-5 pitch leaguewide for his curveball spin rate so far, according to MLB.com. The same feature measures Brash’s slider with a vertical drop more than four inches above average and a horizontal break that pushes nearly 10 inches above average. Brash can make hitters look silly when he is going right. So far this season, the righty has a 26.2% strikeout rate so far this season, though his arsenal has also yielded a 16.7% walk rate which is an unsustainable mark. Brash has a 3.38 ERA with a 3.84 xFIP over his first two starts, though his 5.16 xERA shows a bit of help from defense and happenstance as well. Seattle is facing a relatively non-threatening Royals active roster that had a .154 ISO and a 2.98% home run rate last year, the 27th and 26th ranked team in those stats. They created runs nine percent below average, the 3rd worst in baseball, but they limited strikeouts to just 21.2%, good for fifth-best in the split. Brash has every opportunity to pitch well again in this one, but the patient Royals may be able to base hit him to death or rely on some of the inflated walks to cut into his upside. Brash lands at the top of the board on both sites, he is at a 16.2% probability of being the top FanDuel starter with a 33.6% ownership projection for $8,600, while he checks in for $9,000 on DraftKings with a 35.3% probability of being a top-2 option and a 50% ownership projection. Brash is extremely popular on both sites, undercutting the field on the previously unheralded young starter could be a wise move, but it would not surprise to see him post a strong start.

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New York Mets

The Mets were the featured team of the day yesterday and they could easily take that space again today. New York is facing limited righty Humberto Castellanos who had a 5.22 xFIP and a 14.8% strikeout rate while inducing just a 5.9% swinging-strike rate and a 26% CSW% last season. The Mets have an opportunity to feast on this pitcher, they are the top-ranked team on the Top Stacks Tool for MLB DFS contests on both DraftKings and FanDuel, but they are not getting the warranted popularity. The team comes as the night’s most positively leveraged stack against a bad pitcher from the top spot on the board, making them an easy click in a large number of lineups. The projected lineup should be similar to the one fetaured in yesterday’s article, with excellent leadoff man Brandon Nimmo and his career .394 on-base percentage getting things started ahead of an elite group of hitters including Starling MarteFrancisco Lindor, and Pete Alonso. That group makes for an excellent four-man stack, additional bats from later in the lineup include Mark CanhaEduardo Escobar, and Jeff McNeill, while other pieces could be in the mix for position and pricing expenses. McNeil is the least inspiring of those names, the slap-hiting utility player has been a big beneficiary of positive BABIP through most of his career, the other bats are better for power and run creation without relying on luck. The Mets are under-owned for their clear upside in this matchup, they can be rostered from top to bottom at fair prices on FanDuel and increasingly expensive marks on DraftKings.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Sometimes analysis can be a breeze. The next team with positive leverage on the Top Stacks Tool lands just two spaces behind the Mets, with the outrageously talented Dodgers coming in with about half the probability of the Mets for landing as the top stack, but also less than half of the raw ownership and a similar leverage score. The Mets stand at a 20% probability of being the best stack and they will be owned at a 15.8% clip overall, but the Dodgers have a 9.9% probability rating and they are projected for just 6.6% ownership. The low raw total on talented hitters such as these, even facing a tough pitcher, is very appealing.

Mookie Betts blasted a pair of home runs last night to get his season in gear. Betts is out to just a .208/.333/.375 start with those two home runs over his first 57 plate appearances after struggling in 2021. Last season he slashed .264/.367/.487 while creating runs 31% better than average with a .223 ISO and 23 home runs, so “struggling” is doing a lot of heavy lifting in that previous sentence, he was only underwhelming compared to his former MVP-caliber performances. Betts is an excellnt option who should be included in Dodgers MLB DFS stacks.

First baseman Freddie Freeman was brought to Los Angeles in the offseason and he immediately started doing Freddie Freeman things. The All-Star is out to a .346/.417/.519 start, with two home runs, a (low) .173 ISO, and a run creation mark that sits 74% above average. Freeman is an excellent bat in any circumstance, he has struck out 15% of the time and walked 10% so far this season, very much in line with last year’s 15.4% strikeouts and 12.2% walks. Freeman hit 31 home runs and slashed .300/.393/.503 while creating runs 35% better than average last season, he is elite and under-owned. The first baseman is projected for just 2.8% popularity on DraftKings and 6.7% on FanDuel.

With Trea Turner up next there is simply no break in quality atop this lineup. The infielder struck out just 17% of the time last season while generating a 46% hard-hit rate and slashing .328/.375/.536 with a .208 ISO, 32 stolen bases, 28 home runs, and a run creation mark 42% above average. Turner is an excellent option, he will be the most popular Dodgers bat on DraftKings at 11.6% and he lands at a 14.6% projection on FanDuel. With multi-position eligibility on the blue site, Turner is easy to utilize despite the popularity, though the Dodgers will be more owned overall on the blue site than they will on DraftKings.

Max Muncy has second and third base eligibility on DraftKings and he is a first or second baseman on FanDuel. He is inexpensive on the latter site at just $3,100, while he checks in for $5,100 across town. The price discrepancy is pushing ownership projections in different directions. Muncy is projected to be the most popular Dodgers player at 15.4% on FanDuel while he is just a 6.7% popular option on DraftKings. The infielder hit 36 home runs and hda a .278 ISO while creating runs 40% better than average last season, the DraftKings price is the correct one.

Third baseman Justin Turner never draws the price or popularity that his still excellent bat deserves. Turner hit 27 home runs and slashed .278/.361/.471 with a .193 ISO while creating runs 27% better than average and striking out just 16% of the time last year. Turner continues an excellent run of putting the ball in play through this lineup that also includes tremendous power. The average strikeout rate among these first five hitters last year was an utterly elite 16.9%. Turner is projected for only 5.1% ownership on both sites, he should be in more lineups than that.

Catcher Will Smith has immense power, he is one of the top bats at his position and he plays more regularly than most catchers. Smith racked up 501 plate appearances last year, hitting 25 home runs with a .237 ISO and creating runs 30% better than average. Smith struck out at a 20.2% rate and walked in 11.6% of his plate appearances, perfectly on-theme for this lineup. The backstop had a 10.8% barrel rate and a 43.8% hard-hit percentage, he should be rostered everywhere if he is in the lineup.

Former MVP Cody Bellinger is attempting to reintroduce himself to the MLB DFS world early in the season. Bellinger has hit two home runs and is off to a .255/.327/.489 start with a .234 ISO while creating runs 38% better than average over the first few weeks. Bellinger struggled terribly last year, he slashed a pathetic .165/.240/.302 while striking out 26.9% of the time and walking in 8.9% of his plate appearances with an anemic .137 ISO. Bellinger has far more talent, something we have seen on Major League Baseball diamonds in the past, he remains a strong bet to continue the resurgenece of quality.

Chris Taylor has a more regular role for this team in 2022, but he remains cheap and unpopular for MLB DFS purposes. Taylor hit 20 home runs while slashing .254/.344/.438 with a .183 ISO. The outfielder costs just $4,400 and is a 1% popularity option on the DraftKings slate, he adds second base eligibilty and drops to a $3,200 price tag on FanDuel where he does not pick up any additional popularity. Taylor is a fine play if he is in the lineup and one needs to offset popularity or price.

Gavin Lux missed two games this week but he returned to the lineup last night and he has been productive for MLB DFS gamers so far this season. Lux is slashing .242/.366/.424 with a home run and two stolen bases over his first 41 plate appearances this year, creating runs 33% better than average in the small sample. The team believes in Lux’s bat, they essentially handed him a regular role with the trade of A.J. Pollock prior to the season, Lux is a highly regarded toolsy player who needs to put things together more consistently at the Major League level this year. He is a $3,400 option with second base and outfield eligibility on DraftKings for just 2.5% popularity, he slots in as either a second baseman or shortstop on FanDuel, where he costs $3,100 and lands at a one percent popularity projectoin. Lux functions as an end piece or wraparound to a Dodgers stack, this team truly plays from 1-9 in this lineup configuration.

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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 Awesemo.com. 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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