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MLB DFS Tournament Picks & Home Runs 5/14/22

Terry McBride



MLB DFS Lineup Picks Tournament STrategy DraftKings FanDuel Home Runs Pitchers STacks

After a wild night of action, Saturday’s nine-game main slate of MLB DFS looks aligned to deliver a similarly chaotic high-scoring experience. Run totals are climbing around the league as good teams are facing lousy pitching in the warming weather. The slate includes a Coors Field game at extreme ownership once again, the Royals and Rockies both rate out for extremely good offensive potential, but getting to them in unique combinations is a challenge. As always, the outcomes in the Colorado stadium will be a major inflection point for the slate, deciding what to do against heavy public ownership and negative leverage is the first piece of the lineup building equation on both DraftKings and FanDuel tonight.

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Top Home Run Ratings & Predictions

Using a model based on a blend of several predictive statistics for the batter-pitcher matchup we will give each team one of the top choices from their projected lineup. However, the pick included below will not always be the actual top-rated player, particularly when there is an obvious star who rates atop his team’s lineup each day. Check out all of Awesemo’s top-notch baseball content and free MLB DFS picks.

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

Arizona Diamondbacks: Daulton Varsho — 8.62

Boston Red Sox: Rafael Devers — 6.46

Chicago Cubs: Seiya Suzuki — 9.63

Chicago White Sox: Jose Abreu — 7.31

Cleveland Guardians: Jose Ramirez — 6.59

Colorado Rockies: C.J. Cron — 7.72

Houston Astros: Kyle Tucker — 11.51

Kansas City Royals: Carlos Santana — 4.89

Los Angeles Angels: Mike Trout — 25.51

Los Angeles Dodgers: Will Smith — 3.23

Minnesota Twins: Max Kepler — 5.55

New York Mets: Pete Alonso — 15.48

New York Yankees: Gleyber Torres — 5.18

Oakland Athletics: Seth Brown — 4.57

Philadelphia Phillies: Bryce Harper — 7.43

Seattle Mariners: Eugenio Suarez — 5.82

Texas Rangers: Marcus Semien — 7.21

Washington Nationals: Juan Soto — 12.45

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

The Saturday slate sees one game with a threat of rain in the forecast and continued warm temperatures and positive hitting environments from coast to coast. The Mariners vs Mets game in New York is staring down the barrel of an evening-long block of light rain, starting around game time. The risk of postponement seems very light, however, these teams do not have common schedules into which a makeup game can easily be slotted, outside of the prospect of playing a doubleheader on a Sunday getaway day, with the Mariners traveling to Toronto for a game on Monday. If this one starts, it will likely play through to its conclusion, keep an eye on the weather updates as lock approaches.

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 Sunday pitching slate is an interesting mixed bag, particularly in a year where many low-end starters have overperformed to the point of leveling the playing field when price and popularity are a part of the equation. The slate includes several quality arms, with Guardians ace Shane Bieber leading the way by name recognition, but not necessarily probability or even quality this season. Bieber ranks just third on the board, sitting behind both Chris Bassitt of the Mets and Arizona’s Zac Gallen, both of whom are out to strong starts to their 2022 seasons. Astros hybrid arm Cristian Javier is scheduled to make another start, the electric arm moves from the bullpen to the rotation as needed, but Javier’s depth of start is always a consideration, despite his strikeout acumen. Julio Urias slides down the board several spots in a difficult matchup against the Phillies, while Jordan Montgomery sees the same fate in his matchup against the White Sox. Wildcards like struggling German Marquez pitching in Coors Field, Ranger Suarez taking on the lethal Dodgers, or even George Kirby or Glenn Otto could come through despite the obstacles they would face, but the bottom of the board is somewhat easier to cross off as it is loaded with low-strikeout middling veterans or unproven short starters.

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Before succumbing to injury last season, Guardians righty Shane Bieber was one of baseball’s elite starters. Bieber had a 33.1% strikeout rate and a 2.91 xFIP over the season’s first 96.2 innings in 16 starts, continuing his ongoing run of quality that includes a ridiculous 41.1% strikeout rate in the short 77.1-inning 2020 season, and a full season 30.2% rate in 214.1 innings in 2019. Bieber is a proven commodity and one of the most talented starters in baseball when he is healthy, but shoulder injuries can be tricky for pitchers on their return. So far, that seems to be the case with Bieber. The righty has thrown 32.2 innings and he is pitching to a respectable 3.60 xFIP with a 4.13 ERA, but he has struck out only 21.5% of opposing hitters to this point and his swinging-strike rate has dropped from 16.2% to 12.7% while his CSW% fell from 33.5% to 26.1%. Bieber has yielded more barrels so far this season, but his hard-hit percentage is in the same high range it was previously, sitting at 43.3% compared to 43.2% last year. Bieber will yield power when hitters connect, his ability to keep them off balance and missing baseballs needs to shine through more for him to regain his mantle as one of the elite aces in the game. A start against the Twins puts Bieber in an interesting situation, he is priced down for his talents, but he will be facing an active roster with plenty of power, that has improved in their ability to limit strikeouts in the split. The Twins roster has a .161 ISO and a 2.94% home run rate that both sit 11th in baseball, and they have created runs 21% better than average by collective WRC+ against right-handed pitching. Minnesota’s active roster has struck out at a 16th-ranked 22.3% clip against righties this season, while that ranks in the middle of the sport it is a reasonably good number compared to other seasons and does not suggest that Bieber will have a simple time finding strikeouts. Bieber comes at slightly negative leverage but fairly low raw ownership for a good price on both DraftKings and FanDuel, he is a playable MLB DFS starter, but expectations should be tempered until the strikeouts return.

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Over 36.2 innings in six starts, Mets righty Chris Bassitt has delivered on New York’s expectations. Bassitt was mostly excellent through his 27 starts last season, putting up a 25% strikeout rate and a 3.93 xFIP, he has been better so far this year with a 26.2% strikeout rate and a 3.48 xFIP. Bassitt has limited baserunners, his walk 6.2% walk rate is nearly identical to last year’s mark, but he has cut his WHIP from 1.06 to 0.95 so far in the small sample this year. The righty is not overpowering, but he induces a healthy 11.1% swinging-strike rate and works well in the zone with a 31.1% CSW% overall. Bassitt is also excellent at limiting premium contact, he has allowed just a 33.7% hard-hit percentage with an 8.4% barrel rate this season. The barrels are an uptick from last year’s 6.5% but in a small sample that is very likely just noise, Bassitt has allowed just a 2.75% home run rate this season, last year he yielded 15 home runs to 637 hitters, a 2.35% rate. The Mets will be taking on a good Mariners lineup that has created runs 10% better than average against right-handed pitching while striking out at a sixth-ranked 19.6% in the split this year. Seattle has lacked significant power against righties to this point, which is true for most teams. The Mariners rank 25th with a .119 ISO and 22nd with a 2.03% home run rate in the split so far this year. Bassitt seems like an excellent bet for at least a clean start over six innings or more, he will have a chance to chase win and quality start bonuses and seems unlikely to get into major trouble, given the Mariners’ general lack of power in the split. Bassitt is the top-ranked starter by his probability of success across the industry, he is drawing healthy ownership at a high price on both sites, the field is overweight to him on the blue site, where an undercut may be warranted, but on DraftKings he is at worst efficiently owned and he makes for a fine play at or around the public ownership number.

Out of the top three starters on the board, Arizona’s Zac Gallen has perhaps the best matchup in his game against the Cubs. Chicago’s active roster strikes out at a 25.5% rate against righties this season, the worst mark in the split out of baseball’s 30 teams. Chicago has a .118 collective ISO that ranks 26th and a 1.70% home run rate that sits 28th in the split. The Cubs have been two percent worse than average creating runs against righties by collective WRC+ as well, there is a strong chance that Gallen continues his good start to 2022 tonight. The righty has a microscopic 0.95 ERA over his first five starts and 28.1 innings this season, with a 1.82 xERA and a 3.66 xFIP that is probably the closest mark to the true nature of the pitcher. Gallen is good, but he is not 0.95 good. The Diamondbacks’ nominal ace is striking out 24.1% of opposing hitters while walking just 3.7% so far, a marked improvement over his 9.4% walk rate from last year, but a dip from the 26.6% rate at which he struck hitters out over 121.1 innings in 2021. Gallen has minimized premium contact, going from last season’s 42.4% hard-hit percentage to just 31.1% this year, and cutting barrels from 7.9% to just 5.4%. There is no arguing that Gallen has been pitching well, and he is facing a pushover opponent. He is priced at $9,800 on DraftKings, where he is still pushing more than 40% popularity, and he lands at nearly 30% ownership on the FanDuel slate. There are several pockets of leverage into which a few of those shares can be dumped on this slate, undercutting the field’s number on Gallen shares is probably the right idea, while still maintaining a healthy investment in the excellent spot for MLB DFS pitching scoring.

Astros starter Cristian Javier is a nasty hybrid arm who can pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen or take the ball for a full start, as needed. He has made two full starts this season, throwing more than 80 pitches each time, so he should be expected to pitch relatively deep into this game. Javier has been better his second time through opposing lineups as a starting pitcher, which is an encouraging sign for a young starter, he simply needs to harness his talents at the beginning of the game and get off on the right foot and he can conceivably cruise to a clean six innings with strikeout upside in a matchup against the Nationals. Javier has a 30.9% strikeout rate over his 21.2 innings, and he posted a 30.7% rate over 101.1 innings with nine starts and the rest bullpen appearances last year. The righty has walked 7.4% of hitters while inducing an 11.6% swinging-strike rate but posting just a 24.4% CSW%, as he learns to throw strikes more reliably he should get even better. The starter has allowed some premium contact, but the 38.3% hard-hit percentage is fine and represents an improvement upon the 42.7% he posted last year. Javier’s best attribute on this slate is a near-total lack of popularity. The righty is projected for less than two percent ownership on both DraftKings and FanDuel, despite ranking a firm fourth on both sites by his probability of success. He will be facing a Nationals team that has been good at avoiding strikeouts against righties, the active roster currently sits eighth with a 20.6% strikeout rate this season, and they have created runs four percent better than average. The Nationals have a collective .131 ISO and a 2.47% home run rate, both rank in the high teens, they are a non-threatening lineup outside of superstar Juan Soto, and mid-lineup mates Nelson Cruz and Josh Bell. If Javier can successfully navigate that trio two or three times, he should be in line for an excellent start at fantastic leverage, the Astros starter is a clear target for additional shares on this slate.

After Javier, the pitcher with the next-highest leverage score happens to sit immediately below the Astros starter on the probability board. Mariners starter George Kirby may not be an overly familiar name, the 24-year-old righty will be making the second start of his Major League career against the Mets in Queens this evening. While the game is facing some threats of rain, Kirby looks like a strong play for his lack of popularity on both sites if he is able to make the start. Kirby is the Mariners’ third-ranked prospect, he has a plus-plus fastball with plus-plus command and a reasonable arsenal of average secondary pitches. Kirby had a 34.4% strikeout rate over 24.2 innings at double-A so far this season, and he was between 31.7% and 25.5% over two stints in high-A and double-A last year. Kirby has accelerated his way through the Mariners’ system, he is part of the team’s youth movement and he could be a fixture in the rotation. Of course, he will be facing a Mets team that has been baseball’s best at limiting strikeouts against righties, with just an 18.1% rate in the split. New York has created runs 22% better than average in the split, but they have just a .130 ISO and a 2.26% home run rate, the 19th and 21st ranked numbers in the split. With merely 6.3% popularity for $7,800 on DraftKings and just one percent projected ownership at $8,500 on FanDuel, Kirby is an interesting tournament option in the anything-goes version of MLB DFS we all play in 2022.

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Coors Field

After popping on both sides last night, Coors Field is right back in the lives of MLB DFS gamers, with a matchup between the Royals and Rockies that is drawing significant attention to both lineups. The Royals have Carlos Hernandez on the mound, he is a targetable pitcher who should be stacked against in a vacuum. Hernandez has a 5.66 xFIP and just a 9.3% strikeout rate with a 10.2% swinging-strike rate and a 40.5% hard-hit percentage, all while walking 11.2% of opposing hitters. It would be fair to say that his 22.2 innings are not a large enough sample, were it not for the 11.5% walk rate he posted over 85.2 innings in 11 starts last year. Hernandez is what baseball scouts refer to as “not good,” while the Rockies are highly popular they are probably still worth getting to in combination with lower-owned items from across the slate. Targetable Colorado bats include Connor Joe and Charlie Blackmon up top. The veteran Blackmon is scuffling over the season’s first six weeks, slashing just .218/.277/.382 with four home runs while creating runs 24% worse than average, but he belongs in stacks against this starter. C.J. Cron is a leading candidate to hit a home run, which is not exactly breaking news. The righty masher is followed by fellow power bats Ryan McMahon and Randal Grichuk from either side of the plate, while Brendan Rodgers and Samuel Hilliard will look to continue strong performances from last night. The backend of the lineup is a take or leave mix and match situation for price and positioning as needed. It would not be a mistake to undercut the field, even on a night when Coors does connect they are not necessarily mandatory, competitive lineups with stacks from several other games were all over the top of scoring alongside Coors stacks last night, though this is a fantastic spot for the Rockies bats. Colorado rates as the top stack on both sites, they are negatively leveraged but playable on FanDuel, and they are at worst efficiently owned on DraftKings.

On the other side, Kansas City will be facing German Marquez who is typically solid even in home starts, but who has struggled somewhat so far this season. The righty has a 3.67 xFIP but an ugly 6.47 ERA and 5.10 xERA. More concerningly, his strikeout rate has dipped from 23.3% last season to 17.7% over 32 innings this year. Marquez has an inflated WHIP most of the time, last year in what was a good season he was at 1.27, that is what the ballpark will do to pitchers, but this year he is sitting at an uncharacteristic 1.69 so far. The swinging strikes have dropped from 12.1% last year to just 8.8% this season and Marquez has allowed a massive amount of premium contact at 47.3%. All of this has Kansas City drawing major popularity as the second-ranked stack on FanDuel and the third-rated team on DraftKings, but they are deeply negatively leveraged on both sites. All of the popularity is going to the correct hitters from the Royals’ projected lineup. Bobby Witt Jr. is above 20% on both sites, despite slashing .211/.237/.325 and creating runs 38% worse than average over his first 118 plate appearances. Andrew Benintendi had a great night last night and is drawing more than 20% DraftKings popularity and nearly 30% FanDuel ownership. The lefty is a quality bat off to a good start, but he does not warrant that much attention even in Coors Field. Salvador Perez can be in any lineup on any day, the slugging catcher is terrific, but he is at 30% popularity on both sites and he has notably struggled for quality so far this season, and cleanup hitter Carlos Santana will be in nearly 20% of DraftKings lineups despite a .152/.317/.242 triple-slash to start the season. Hunter Dozier, Whit Merrifield, and to a lesser degree, Kyle IsbelMichael Taylor, and Nicky Lopez can all be included to attempt to offset popularity, but even Lopez is projected for 16% DraftKings popularity. The backend of the lineup is lower-owned on FanDuel, where some relief can be found in stacking hitters, but they are not great options. The Royals appear to be over-owned by the field again tonight, it is important to ignore last night’s results and focus on this evening’s situation, which seems to warrant an undercut-but-include approach once again.

New York Yankees

The Yankees have hit approximately 437 home runs in their two games in Chicago so far this week, they will look to continue the torrid stretch against limited lefty Dallas Keuchel. It should be mentioned that Keuchel is the type of pitcher who can give this lineup fits if he is going right, he has little to no strikeout acumen, but he has been good at keeping the ball on the ground over his career, with a 58.1% career ground ball rate. Still, the Yankees rate very favorably in this matchup, the team ranks second at positive leverage on DraftKings and third with slightly negative leverage but playable individual ownership marks on the blue site. The projected lineup includes usual suspects D.J. LeMahieuAaron JudgeAnthony RizzoGiancarlo Stanton, and Josh Donaldson, an absurdly talented five-man stack off the top of the deck. Infielder Gleyber Torres is finding his way at the plate once again this season, Torres has hit five home runs and has a very encouraging .208 ISO while striking out just 16.2% of the time in a major return to form. Aaron Hicks has struggled recently for power and hits, but he is excellent at getting on base and makes for a strong switch-hitting correlation play at just $2,600 and 3.6% ownership on FanDuel and $3,100 below five percent popularity on DraftKings. Shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa and whichever catcher the team deploys today are afterthoughts to stacks, but the top seven in this lineup is essentially an everyday play.

Cleveland Guardians

Searching the board for positively leveraged stacks with low-cost bats to deploy in tandem with expensive highly-owned bats from Coors Field or other sources leads to the Guardians on this slate. Cleveland is facing lefty Devin Smeltzer, who has made seven starts in his career, pitching to a 4.94 xFIP with a 19.2% strikeout rate and a 3.43% home run rate. The lefty has not made an appearance so far this season, the Guardians could be into the Twins bullpen quickly, but the shorthanded staff is looking for a full standard start from the middling talent. Cleveland’s active roster has been much better against right-handed pitching than lefties this season, but they are very good at putting the ball in play against both hands, which could be enough in this matchup. The active roster has a .108 ISO and a 2.27% home run rate that sit 24th and 19th in the split, and they have created runs nine percent below average, the 26th-ranked rate in the sport by collective WRC+ against lefties. Cleveland’s 20.8% strikeout rate in the split is 11th-best and fairly sharp, the lineup has several hitters who are very difficult for even the best in baseball to sit down via the punchout, and Smeltzer is nowhere near the best in baseball.

Speedy Myles Straw leads off the projected lineup for Cleveland. Straw is slashing .243/.353/.313 with eight stolen bases in his 136 plate appearances this year, he is a correlation play as an on-base and hit-tool-oriented player who does his damage with his legs. Straw is very good at putting the ball in play or reaching first base via the free pass, he has just a 16.9% strikeout rate and a 14.7% walk rate this season. Of course, the slap hitter has just a 20.4% hard-hit percentage and a 0.0% barrel rate this season, he is hapless for power, but the correlation from a $2,800 player at less than five percent ownership on FanDuel and a $3,400 seven percent owned option on DraftKings is moderately useful when stacking Guardians.

Steven Kwan has opened many eyes early in the season, he is slashing .284/.387/.409 while creating runs 41% better than average over his first 106 plate appearances. Kwan has struck out in a fantastic 9.4% of his plate appearances, he reaches first base more frequently than he strikes out, with his 13.2% walk rate. Kwan has one home run but just a .125 ISO, his 26.3% hard-hit rate and 3.8% barrel rate do not speak to significant power potential, but he has been another good correlation piece who creates runs.

Jose Ramirez is one of the best hitters in baseball and he is a major MLB DFS asset any time he is in the lineup. Ramirez is slashing .302/.401/.586 with a .284 ISO while creating runs 91% better than average over his first 137 plate appearance this year and he amazingly also reaches first base more frequently than he strikes out. It is almost unfair for such a good hitter with clear power to also only strike out at an 8.0% rate, but that is what Ramirez has done so far this season while also walking 13.9% of the time, he is simply spectacular. The third baseman is the most popular Guardians player at 13.2% and he is arguably cheap at $5,200 on DraftKings. For $4,400 on FanDuel, Ramirez is drawing less than 12% popularity, he is a terrific play in and out of Guardians stacks tonight.

Multi-position infielder Owen Miller offers eligibility at first and second base on both sites. Miller is less than five percent popular on DraftKings and checks in below two percent on FanDuel, where he costs just $3,600. Over his first 100 plate appearances this year, Miller is slashing .314/.380/.535 with a .221 ISO while creating runs 67% better than average. He was not good over 202 plate appearances last season, but things have made a major turnaround so far this year. Miller has a steady 36.8% hard-hit rate, his ability to drive the ball for no cost or popularity in the cleanup spot is highly valuable when stacking this team.

Amed Rosario came to Cleveland with lofty expectations, he is a mid-range power and speed bat who has shortstop and outfield eligibility on both sites for a cheap price. Rosario hit 15 home runs and stole 19 bases in 2019, he still has that skillset any given night, but this season he has no home runs and just one stolen base over 117 plate appearances. Rosario is creating runs 19% below average to this point while slashing a mere .248/.299/.303 with a .055 ISO. A turnaround seems likely, Rosario may not be a star but he is better than his current performance, he can be included as-needed in Guardians stacks depending on where he is hitting in the lineup. Rosario is a worthy candidate for the surprise hitter of the night award on this slate.

Slugger Franmil Reyes has been everything but so far this year. Reyes hit 30 home runs switch a .268 ISO in just 466 plate appearances last year, so far in 2022 he has three in 116 while posting a .092 ISO and creating runs 32% worse than average. Unlike many of his teammates, Reyes is an aggressive free-swinger. The righty has a 41.4% strikeout rate that is so high it skews the average for the entire lineup of quality hitters. The slugger does have a 49.2% hard-hit percentage and a 9.8% barrel rate so far this season, it is very reasonable to expect that the power will arrive, it just also must be said that Reyes is one of the more likely candidates to drop a zero into an MLB DFS lineup. That wild range of outcomes, a low price, and single-digit ownership make Franmil Reyes a compelling tournament play on this slate.

With second base and shortstop eligibility, post-hype prospect Andres Gimenez, who also came from the Mets along with Rosario, has quietly been putting together a strong start to his season. Gimenez is slashing .329/.348/.565 with four home runs, two stolen bases, and a .235 ISO. The infielder has a 41.5% hard-hit percentage and a 6.2% barrel rate but he has struck out 23.6% of the time while walking at just a 3.4% clip. Gimenez is still just 23-years-old, he is a developing player with an interesting bat, and he comes fairly cheap and low-owned on both sites.

Catcher Austin Hedges is inexpensive and very low-owned on both sites. Hedges is more in play where the position is required, he has hit three home runs and shows minor pop from time to time, but he is slashing .176/.238/.297 and is a low-end bat. One version of the projected lineup offers Richard Palacios in the nine-hole, while another lists Yu Chang, who was just activated from the COVID-19 list after landing there in mid-April. Chang would be the better option, he hit nine home runs in 210 plate appearances last season and he is at minimum salary on FanDuel as a third baseman, while checking in for $3,000 at either second or third base on DraftKings. If Chang is in the lineup, he would be the fourth Guardians player with multi-position eligibility, the team is highly flexible, under-owned, and inexpensive in a great matchup, Guardians stacks leave little to be desired.

Home Run Prediction Today: Anthony Rendon — 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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