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MLB DFS Tournament Strategy: Stacks, Home Runs & Weather Today 4/9/22

Terry McBride



MLB DFS picks. Daily fantasy baseball strategy show for DraftKings and FanDuel lineups. FREE expert projections for 8/9 with Jose Abreu.

Saturday’s five-game main slate sees the full-time return of two former aces in the late game while offering a limited list of quality arms from the remaining matchups. The slate includes a Coors Field game that is a major target for large portions of the field that will be rostering the premium bats in the Dodgers lineup. With the public largely forgetting that there is a second Coors Field lineup that can be rostered today, and some fairly low ownership marks on premium options from the Braves and other lineups, avoiding the chalk and putting together quality stacks with top-end pitching is a viable approach to the slate. Los Angeles has the highest run total on the board by a wide margin, but their popularity will demand a bit more on the performance front and the need to differentiate in other spots in a lineup will be extreme. Focusing on differentiated combinations of players within a stack, and combining a popular stack with a less likely secondary stack can help offset some heavy public ownership. The Top Stacks and Top Pitchers tools are invaluable in making these decisions for MLB DFS lineups.

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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 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 design, based on a blend of several predictive statistics for the batter-pitcher matchup, I 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: Ketel Marte — 5.77

Atlanta Braves: Matt Olson — 17.22

Cincinnati Reds: Mike Moustakas — 10.93

Colorado Rockies: CJ Cron — 6.88

Houston Astros: Yordan Alvarez — 28.23

Los Angeles Angels: Jared Walsh — 17.38

Los Angeles Dodgers: Max Muncy — 7.70

New York Mets: Starling Marte — 7.39

San Diego Padres: Luke Voit — 9.66

Washington Nationals: Juan Soto — 7.42

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

Tonight’s five games seem safe from postponement risk. The game in Arizona has high temperatures in the forecast, and Los Angeles is expected to play in the 70-degree range, while the rest of the country will be playing games in the 50 to 60-degree range. The impact of the cold weather on bats is accounted for in Vegas run totals, which partly inform hitter projections, it is important to not over-adjust numbers as a reaction to weather scenarios.

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. Ensure to check out the Awesemo Ownership Projections for critical updates and monitor the top stacks tool throughout the day for changes.

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On the Hill

Saturday features a fascinating pitching slate, the late game has both Justin Verlander and Noah Syndergaard making their long-awaited full returns to action. Verlander has not pitched since making one six-inning start in July of 2020, while Syndergaard has not been a regular since 2019. The former Mets starter threw two innings last season just to prove that he could at the end of the year, but his last relevant game was in September of 2019, what these starters will provide for MLB DFS scoring today is very difficult to predict. The slate includes two high-end targets in Joe Musgrove and Chris Bassitt, both of whom should have a reasonably good chance at a win and a quality start while racking up a fair number of strikeouts. The Coors Field game is a concerning spot for pitching, Colorado’s German Marquez is a top-notch arm who has the talent and experience to succeed at his long-time home park, but he will be facing the lethal Dodgers lineup, while talented Tony Gonsolin allows too many base runners to be a comfortable option, even against a middling Rockies lineup. Bassitt will be making his first start for the Mets after a breakout year in Oakland, he is the most likely candidate on the board to pitch deep into his game. The balance of the slate is comprised of mediocre to bad pitchers with low strikeout rates, they land as price-based plays only, but there are relevant value plays for two-pitcher sites. The quality that a pitcher like Joan Adon or Kyle Wright is capable of providing, even at value salaries, is a major question mark. The cheap Adon can be the key to rostering popular Dodgers in a high-end stack, but that is the angle that the entire field will take into rostering Dodgers hitters.

The top option on the pitching slate is Joe Musgrove, who is coming off of an excellent first season on the West Coast. The former Pirates starter found his form in San Diego, pitching to a 3.65 xFIP and a crisp 1.08 WHIP while striking out 27.1% of hitters last season. The righty generated a 12.7% swinging-strike rate and had a 31.4% CSW%, he pounds the zone and generates swing-and-miss with elite stuff. Musgrove allowed a 38.5% hard-hit rate last season with a 7.2% barrel rate, limiting opposing hitters to a 2.94% home run rate. Musgrove will be very popular on both sites, but he is worth the weight of public ownership across the industry in a high-end matchup against the Diamondbacks. Arizona’s active roster struggled across the board against right-handed pitching last season. The Diamondbacks roster ranks as baseball’s worst with a 2.20% home run rate in the split last season, and their .144 ISO was 29th out of 30 teams. The team had a 23.8% aggregate strikeout rate, ranking 21st and they created runs 14% worse than average by WRC+, the 28th-ranked team on the board. Musgrove has a chance to work deep into this game cleanly while adding up strikeouts, he is the top projected starter on the board and warrants large ownership shares.

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As the other top option, Chris Bassitt offers an excellent chance at a win and a quality start. Bassitt ranked 19th in baseball last season with a 59% conversion rate on quality starts, reaching the threshold in 16 of his 27 outings. The righty threw 157.1 innings in those 27 starts, striking out 25% of opposing hitters and walking 6.1%. He had a strong 3.93 xFIP and a premium 1.06 WHIP last year, if he starts throwing more strikes he could take another step up. Bassitt generated a 10.1% swinging-strike rate and had just a 28.1% CSW% last year, but he was excellent at limiting premium contact with just a 6.5% barrel rate and a 32.7% hard-hit percentage last year. Bassitt will be facing a Nationals lineup with an extremely top-heavy lineup. Juan SotoNelson Cruz, and Josh Bell will terrorize pitchers as a trio, but outside of that the lineup comes up lacking. Washington’s active roster ranked 25th with a .162 ISO, 18th with a 99 WRC+, and 24th with a 3.09% home run rate against righties, though they compiled baseball’s best strikeout rate in the split at 20.5%. Bassitt has a lower overall strikeout ceiling than Musgrove on this slate, but he is the next-best option after the Padres righty.

The game between the Astros and Angels will be a must-see matchup with Justin Verlander and Noah Syndergaarlooking to reclaim their careers. Verlander underwent Tommy John surgery in 2020 and is attempting to make it all the way back at age 39. In his last full action, Verlander was still among baseball’s best. The electric righty posted a 35.4% strikeout rate over 223 innings for Houston in 2019, a new career-high one year after setting what was a career-high at 34.8%. Prior to arriving in Houston, Verlander ranged from the mid to high 20% range, the Astros’ advanced approach to pitching clearly made an impact on Verlander’s results, though it could be argued that it also created the need for his eventual surgery. Verlander returns to major question marks, no pitcher of his caliber has returned from Tommy John surgery at near his age, the most readily available points of comparison are Bronson Arroyo and Jamie Moyer, soft-tossers who were 37 and 47 years old at the time of their operations. There is truly no viable point of comparison, but Verlander looked healthy through Spring and he should throw in the 80-90 pitch range tonight if all goes well. Syndergaard is an even bigger mystery. The righty was never truly the dominator that people seem to remember. At his peak, Syndergaard reached a 29.3% strikeout rate over 183.2 innings in 2016, his age-23 season, he worked mostly in the mid-20% range through the rest of his career, reaching a 24.5% rate in 2019, his only other full season. Syndergaard walked 6.1% of hitters that season, he has a 26.4% career strikeout rate and a 5.6% career walk rate, good but not elite numbers. The righty brings a strong 3.17 career xFIP to the mound tonight, he has always been good at limiting sequential hitting and run-scoring, he has a 73.4% career strand rate. Syndergaard’s biggest problem may be the excellent lineup he is facing, Houston’s active roster was 3rd with a 20.7% strikeout rate against righties last season and they had a 10th-ranked 3.55% home run rate in the split. Verlander has the easier opponent in the Angels, a team that compiled a 23.9% strikeout rate and a 3.13% home run rate against righties, both 22nd-ranked. Verlander is the more likely of the two options, but he is also by far the more expensive and more popular, neither is entirely safe.

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The value options on tonight’s slate are a mess. Joan Adon is projected for popularity at the $4,000 price tag on DraftKings, where he is negatively leveraged and the most obvious path to rostering the most popular Dodgers hitters at Coors Field. The slate will be overloaded with lineups that include Adon and inexpensive former NL MVP Cody Bellinger from that lineup, using their cheap salaries to unlock the combinations from all of the more expensive Los Angeles bats. Avoiding the pitfalls of lineup duplication is important, looking for unique combinations of hitters within the stack and unique combinations of team stacks is a viable approach, but in this case, it may pay to differentiate the value pitcher being used. The only issue with that idea is that the other value options are more expensive by $2,000 to $3,000, and none of them are good. Zach Davies had a 17.1% strikeout rate last season, a rate matched by Atlanta’s Kyle Wright, and slightly exceeded by Vladimir Gutierrez, who managed to reach 17.7% over his 114 innings. Wright had a very limited sample last year, but over his 70 career innings at the Major League level, Wright has just an 18.2% strikeout rate. The Atlanta righty will be in the best matchup of the cheap trio, he is facing a depleted but not bad Reds lineup. Gutierrez looks overmatched against the absurdly powerful Braves, and Davies will have his hands full with the Padres. There is no clear-cut value pivot, but any of the three could succeed with low expectations as an SP2 on DraftKings.

Houston Astros

While the Dodgers in Coors Field are drawing all of the attention as the obvious top stack, the Astros top today’s power index, with numbers adjusted for the lack of recent track record on the opposing pitcher. Houston’s active roster is fantastic in all aspects of the game, even without last year’s AL batting champ Yuli Gurriel, who is on paternity leave. Houston brings championship pedigree to the field, they have a dynamic top-half including leadoff man Jose Altuve who had a down year in hitting 31 home runs and posting a .278/.350/.489 triple-slash with a .211 ISO while creating runs 30% better than average. Altuve leads into an excellent run of four hitters, with Michael Brantley landing as a cheap option at low ownership on both sites. Brantley puts the ball in play like few others in the sport, he had just a 10.4% strikeout rate last season. Third baseman Alex Bregman is off to a strong start to his season after hitting just 12 home runs in 400 plate appearances last year, and power-hitting outfielder Yordan Alvarez is the leader on the home run probability board. The lefty hit 33 home runs in 598 plate appearances last year, posting a .253 ISO and creating runs 38% better than average, and he still has growing to do at the plate. Alvarez is one of the top left-handed power bats in baseball. He hits in front of equally talented Kyle Tucker, who hit 30 home runs of his own while adding 14 stolen bases in a breakout season. The bottom of the lineup features playable parts in Jeremy Pena and Aledmys Diaz, the latter has three-position eligibility at the minimum $2,000 salary on the FanDuel slate, he is a major piece of value in differentiating popular and expensive lineup combinations. Outfielder Chas McCormick had a 10.2% barrel rate and a 48.7% hard-hit percentage last season, leading to 14 home runs and a .190 ISO in 320 plate appearances, he is an inexpensive under-owned source of value on this slate.

Atlanta Braves

The Braves are on the board once again tonight. The defending champions were frequently featured in this space last season and very little has changed. Atlanta is loaded with home run upside, the team’s active roster compiled 193 total home runs against right-handed pitching last year, the next-highest team on the board is San Francisco at 156. Atlanta’s 4.49% home run rate was also the top mark against righties, while their .210 ISO ranked second. Oddly, the team managed just a 103 WRC+ in the split with their lack of sequential hitting and some happenstance playing a part. Overall, Atlanta is a premium stack that is facing a weak pitcher in front of a middling bullpen, they should be rostered aggressively across the industry tonight. Premium Braves bats include Ozzie Albies and Matt Olson, who are both over the $5,000 mark on DraftKings, as well as Eddie Rosario and Austin Riley, who are more affordable at $4,300 and $4,700 respectively. The four will hit in some combination atop the Braves lineup and they can be rostered together on both MLB DFS sites where it can be afforded. The lineup offers several key points of salary and ownership relief to work with the top of the order, however, this lineup truly plays from one through nine. Adam Duvall is one of baseball’s top power bats, his 38 home runs in 555 plate appearances last season while putting up a .263 ISO. Travis d’Arnaud is a top-end bat for a catcher, and Dansby Swanson has been mentioned in this space as an underrated bat several times already this season. The Braves projected lineup also includes Alex Dickerson, who hits from the left side of the plate and had 13 home runs over 312 plate appearances last year. Dickerson is an inexpensive option in the outfield as a late-lineup correlation play if he is on the field tonight.

Colorado Rockies

The Rockies are in an interesting spot tonight. The team rates out for slightly negative leverage on both DraftKings and FanDuel, but they come in at single-digit ownership across the board in a Coors Field game that sees them tied with the slate’s second-highest run total. Colorado will be facing Dodgers righty Tony Gonsolin, who threw 55.2 innings in 13 starts last season. Gonsolin had a 27.2% strikeout rate that has many analysts optimistic about his upcoming season, the 27-year-old has a career 25.6% strikeout rate in a hybrid role between the bullpen and starting, with 27 starts in 35 career games. Gonsolin’s issue has always been allowing base runners. Last season the righty had a 14.2% walk rate and a 1.35 WHIP, and his career walk rate sits at 9.7%. If he is pitching inefficiently at a hitter’s haven like Coors Field, the Dodgers could be in for a longer night than expected and the Rockies could surprise in MLB DFS standings. While they are technically owned at a rate beyond their probability of finishing as the night’s top stack, the situation warrants some attention, and the Rockies can be deployed on both sites.

Left-handed veteran Charlie Blackmon had a rough year at .270/.351/.411 and just 13 home runs in 582 plate appearances, but his on-base skills are still strong and he should gain from hitting atop the lineup in front of quality bats. Blackmon struck out in just 15.6% of his plate appearances last year, he is good at putting the ball in play and he has a .195 career ISO. Outside of the two-year decline, Blackmon has been a reliable power hitter throughout his career, but he pushing 36-years-old, so the big bat may not return. As a correlation option, Blackmon should have value, he is inexpensive and not overly popular tonight.

Kris Bryant was the big surprise of the offseason, inking a long-term deal in Colorado. The former Cubs star brings an excellent bat to the lineup and he is coming off of a minor bounceback season last year. Bryant hit 25 home runs and had a .265/.353/.481 triple-slash with a .216 ISO while creating runs 23% better than average between Chicago and San Francisco, where he finished the year. Bryant added 10 stolen bases and had a strong 10.3% barrel rate, though his 39.7% hard-hit percentage is lower than one might expect. The multi-position eligibility gives Bryant excellent utility in addition to his overall upside on the MLB DFS slate tonight, he is a prime target at less than 15% ownership.

Brendan Rodgers is the third most popular player in this lineup, after this hitter, every other Rockies bat is projected for less than 10% public popularity on both sites. Rodgers comes in with a 15.9% projection on DraftKings, where he costs a mere $3,900, and he has a 14% ownership mark for $3,100 at second base or shortstop on FanDuel. Rodgers hit 15 home runs in 415 plate appearances in 2021, posting a .186 ISO and creating runs exactly at league average, but bigger things are expected from the former top prospect.

Power-hitting CJ Cron had an 11.5% barrel rate and a 42% hard-hit percentage last year, he translated the premium contact into 28 home runs and a .249 ISO while creating runs 27% better than average to lead the Rockies’ active roster. Cron hit 25 home runs in 499 opportunities for Minnesota in 2019 and 30 in 560 tries for Tampa Bay in 2018. The mercenary signed with his fifth organization in as many years in joining the Rockies last season, this will be his first time starting a year in the same uniform as he finished the prior season since he was on the Angels in 2017. Cron has demonstrated a quality eye at the plate, he walked 11% of the time last season and he is not an all-or-nothing strikeout machine to the degree that other power hitters can be. Cron limited strikeouts to just 21.4% last season and he has a 22.3% rate for his career. The powerful right-handed bat will be owned at less than 10% on both sites, he is a quality source of cheap power in a premium hitting environment.

Infielder Ryan McMahon had a 43.3% hard-hit rate last season but barreled the ball just 7.3% of the time, if he manages to get the quality part of the bat on the ball more often this season he could have explosive upside. McMahon hit 23 home runs with a .195 ISO but was five percent below average creating runs overall last year. The lefty will be owned at only a 5.2% rate on DraftKings and a 4.8% mark on FanDuel, where he is at a cheap price and multi-position eligibility. The ability to move multiple pieces of the Rockies lineup around the board to create unique lineup combinations has value on its own, McMahon is a strong part of Rockies stacks that is going under-appreciated tonight.

Connor Joe hit eight home runs in 211 plate appearances while turning in a .285/.379/.469 triple-slash and creating runs 16% better than average last year. The outfielder has more of an opportunity this season and he could deliver strong under-the-radar results to start the year. Joe struck out just 19.4% of the time while walking at a 12.3% clip to lead the team in his limited sample, he barreled the ball 9.9% of the time but managed a limited 39% hard-hit rate. With room for improvement, the inexpensive low-owned Joe can be a part of Rockies stacks on DraftKings and FanDuel with appropriate expectations.

Former Blue Jays outfielder Randal Grichuk brings inexpensive power to the end of the Rockies lineup. Grichuk hit 22 home runs and had a .182 ISO last year while making hard contact in 41.1% of his batted ball events. The righty outfielder will be owned by less than seven percent of the field and he is not expensive for the potential upside.

Catcher Elias Diaz and infielder Jose Iglesias round out the projected lineup. Diaz is viable where catchers are required, he costs just $3,400 on DraftKings where he is projected for merely 7.1% popularity in Coors Field, giving him one-off upside at the position. Diaz struck out just 16.2% of the time last season while hitting 18 home runs in 371 plate appearances with a .219 ISO, he is a better power bat than he gets credit for in the eyes of MLB DFS gamers and the public at large.

Iglesias is a light-hitting multi-position infielder with minimal positional and price-based value on either site. He hit nine home runs across 511 plate appearances with a minuscule .120 ISO last year and he got on base at just a .309 clip. Iglesias is not an overly valuable commodity at the end of the lineup or as a wraparound option tonight.

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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