The Sunday afternoon MLB DFS main slate gets going at 1:05 p.m. ET and features 10 games on DraftKings and 11 on FanDuel, with the Angels vs Rangers game at 2:35 ET as the oddball. The slate is loaded on both sites, but run totals are down with cold weather moving in over most of these stadiums. The pitching available on today’s slate has a wide range of quality as well, there is one top-end starter available, he is joined by a few young talented arms with more to prove, a few retreads looking to keep their careers going a while longer, and a whole lot of starters who will not be long for their games unless the baseball gods are in funny moods. This seems like a day for outbursts from team offenses, even with the lower run totals, there is just not a lot of talent on the mound this afternoon. Getting different with bats within stacks, and with the stacks used if necessary, seems like a better approach than chasing less-than pitchers, the Top Stacks Tool will be key in building lineups for MLB DFS contests on all sites this afternoon.
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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 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: Daulton Varsho — 8.20
Baltimore Orioles: Ryan Mountcastle — 11.79
Boston Red Sox: Trevor Story — 10.16
Chicago White Sox: Eloy Jimenez — 8.27
Cleveland Guardians: Jose Ramirez — 6.88
Detroit Tigers: Austin Meadows — 6.86
Kansas City Royals: Salvador Perez — 10.78
Los Angeles Angels: Anthony Rendon — 6.96
Miami Marlins: Jorge Soler — 4.69
Milwaukee Brewers: Andrew McCutchen — 5.56
Minnesota Twins: Carlos Correa — 11.73
New York Mets: Pete Alonso — 12.83
New York Yankees: Aaron Judge — 18.07
Oakland Athletics: Kevin Smith — 5.32
Philadelphia Phillies: Nick Castellanos — 14.09
Pittsburgh Pirates: Michael Chavis — 8.89
San Francisco Giants: Brandon Belt — 11.13
St. Louis Cardinals: Tyler O’Neill — 10.22
Tampa Bay Rays: Ji-man Choi — 9.63
Texas Rangers: Adolis Garcia — 5.92
Toronto Blue Jays: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. — 10.56
Washington Nationals: Juan Soto — 12.47
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 primary weather concern on the board today appears to be the game between the Tigers and the Royals. Temperatures are low and there is rain in the forecast throughout the entire afternoon in Kansas City, bringing in the possibility of an in-game delay or postponement. The game is not one of the more targetable spots on the board, neither pitcher is overly appealing, and the offenses are middling at best. On an 11-game slate, it would not be a tragic mistake to simply remove this game if weather news has not arrived ahead of lock. The remaining games on the board are all clear from precipitation, but a cold snap has taken hold in the East, leaving only the game in Miami and the game in Texas as warm weather targets for plus hitting environments today.
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 MLB DFS Ownership Projections for critical updates and monitor the top stacks tool throughout the day for changes.
On the Hill
The easy name atop today’s pitching board is Philadelphia’s Zack Wheeler, who will be facing the Marlins in one of the more hitting-friendly environments of the day. Wheeler had an outstanding 2021 and he looks to be a premium option on today’s slate, but he will not come cheap for salary or popularity. Wheeler is joined near the top of the board by Alek Manoah, who will be facing an Oakland team that may be better than expectations, as usual, but one that is also not as good as it may seem in the early going. Manoah is a high-end young talent who projects to have an excellent outing, but he is also a big-ticket item on both sites. The Mets will have David Peterson on the mound against the lousy Diamondbacks lineup and mid-range options like Aaron Civale, Alex Wood and Elieser Hernandez are available at a variety of prices and popularity points. The balance of the board contains a few starters in good matchups and positive pitching environments, but names like Jose Quintana and Jose Suarez are not what anyone wants to hear, and talented Bailey Ober of the Twins is in a tough spot against the Red Sox. Focusing on the top few arms is a sound approach, even with a large slate and an abundance of options.
Philadelphia’s Zack Wheeler is the jewel of today’s pitching slate. The righty threw 213.1 terrific innings over 32 starts last season, posting a 29.1% strikeout rate with a 2.84 xFIP. Wheeler threw 20 quality starts in his 32 outings, the fifth-highest total in baseball with the 10th-highest percentage of converting the quality start, he is an excellent option for the blue site bonuses. Wheeler was excellent at keeping runners off of the basepaths last season, he had just a 5.4% walk rate and a 1.01 WHIP while inducing a 12.4% swinging-strike rate. The righty was also top-notch at limiting quality contact, opposing hitters managed just a 4.6% barrel rate and a 28.5% hard-hit percentage against him, compiling just an 84.6 mph average exit velocity against. Wheeler’s numbers were some of the best in baseball at preventing premium contact, he is very difficult to square up and he is highly effective at surprising opposing power. Wheeler is in Miami pitching in the warmer temperatures in one of the slate’s better hitting environments, but he is facing an active roster that compiled just a .141 ISO with a 2.74% home run rate against righties last season, the 28th and 27th ranked marks among the game’s 30 teams. Miami also struck out at a 28th-ranked 25.7% rate against right-handed pitching, they are a targetable team with a pitcher of Wheeler’s quality. The Philadelphia starter is expensive and popular, but he is worth the effort as today’s slate leader.
Righty Alek Manoah will be on the hill for the Blue Jays, and he draws the frisky Athletics lineup. Oakland’s active roster was good at limiting strikeouts against right-handed pitchers last season, they compiled a seventh-ranked 22.4% rate in the split, but they were not a top-end scoring offense and they did not generate frightening power. The team created runs one percent better than league average in the split while hitting home runs at a 3.07% rate that ranked 20th overall. Their .167 collective ISO against righties ranked 13th overall, they are not an awful club, but they are not a standout offense nor are they one with which this starter should struggle. Manoah was excellent over 20 starts as a rookie last year, pitching 111.2 innings of 27.7% strikeout ball. The rookie hurler put a few too many hitters on base via the free pass, allowing an 8.7% walk rate, but his 1.05 WHIP reveals the quality with which he limited hitters on the whole. Manoah had a 4.17 xFIP, a mark that comes in nearly a run higher than his sparkling 3.22 ERA, but one that is still strong for a rookie in the AL East. The righty generated a 12.6% swinging-strike rate and he allowed just a 5.8% barrel rate with a 31.2% hard-hit percentage and a 2.6% home run rate. Manoah is a very talented young pitcher, even with this lineup’s ability to limit strikeouts, to a degree, and their decent start to the season, he has a strong chance of posting a top score on this slate. At $10,000 on both sites, Manoah is worthy of consideration as the number two overall option on the pitching slate.
On a cool afternoon in the New York area, quality left-handed starter David Peterson will be taking the mound for the Mets in a start against the Diamondbacks, a team that aligns somewhat similarly to the team Manoah is facing. Arizona’s active roster limited strikeouts to just 21.7% against lefties last year, the 10th-best number on the board. The team lacked power in the split however, they hit home runs at a 26th-ranked 2.63% rate and had just a .161 collective ISO, the 21st-best in baseball. With a WRC+ three percent below average, there is reason to expect clean innings from Peterson even if he does not find a large number of strikeouts. Peterson has thrown 120.1 innings over the past two seasons, posting a 4.49 ERA and a 4.42 xFIP while striking out 22.1% of hitters. The southpaw boosted his strikeout number to 24% over his 66.2 innings in 15 starts last season, but he walked 10.1% of opposing hitters and yielded a 41.8% hard-hit percentage. Opposing hitters managed a 9.8% barrel rate with a 90.4 mph average exit velocity that translated into a 3.83% home run rate allowed. Peterson needs to get a handle on the walks and the contact profile if he is going to take a step this season, but his 11.1% swinging-strike rate is a positive indicator and he is in a relatively safe place against this lousy lineup. The lefty could be a good option for the low $6,700 price on DraftKings, and he is in play at $7,500 on the single-pitcher blue site.
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New York Yankees
The Yankees are back on the board after landing as yesterday’s main featured stack. The team is in Baltimore once again, this time facing lefty Bruce Zimmermann, the extra “n” is for “not a very good starting pitcher and someone we should stack against.” New York’s loaded lineup is heavily right-handed, bats like Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Donaldson, D.J. LeMahieu, and catcher Kyle Higashioka should have excellent chances at upside MLB DFS scoring performances, and any lefties in the lineup will be just fine against this pitcher and the bullpen as well. Zimmermann had just a 19.6% strikeout rate last year, posting a 4.44 xFIP with a 1.51 WHIP, but his biggest problem is the contact profile. The lefty yielded a 44.4% hard-hit rate with a 9.8% barrel rate and 91 mph of exit velocity on average, allowing a 4.9% home run rate to opposing hitters. Judge, Stanton, nd Donaldson combined for exactly 100 home runs last season, they had an average hard-hit rate of 55.4% and a barrel rate of 16.9%, one of these three hitters is going deep today. The Yankees’ lineup could also include Gleyber Torres, Aaron Hicks, and lefties Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo, any of whom can be added to a stack.
Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox are at home in Boston with the Twins in town and righty Bailey Ober on the mound. Ober is an intriguing arm that many in the industry have high hopes for this season, he had a 25.3% strikeout rate across 20 stars and 92.1 innings last season, pitching to a 4.01 xFIP but he had bad luck with home runs, yielding a 5.3% home run rate on a 9.5% barrel rate with a 41.8% hard-hit percentage. Ober yielded an average launch angle of 19.7 degrees with an 89.1 mph average exit velocity, but he walked just five percent of opposing hitters and he induced an 11.4% swinging-strike rate. If he reins in the home runs, which can be wildly variant from year to year in general, Ober can make a leap based on his excellent control and quality strikeout acumen. However, until he proves otherwise, this is still a young pitcher with a statistic that says that power should be available for a deadly Red Sox lineup today. Boston features Enrique Hernandez as a capable leadoff bat. Hernandez had a good first season in Boston, slashing .250/.337/.449 while creating runs 10% better than average. He is followed in the lineup by the excellent Rafael Devers, who hit 38 home runs with a .259 ISO while creating runs 34% better than average over 664 plate appearances in 2021. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts hit 23 home runs and had a 130 WRC+, J.D. Martinez hit 28 and had a 128 WRC+ with a .232 ISO, and lefty Alex Verdugo had a .351 on-base percentage and created runs seven percent better than average. The team decided that wasn’t nearly enough offense, so they signed star shortstop Trevor Story to play second base. Story comes in following a 24-home-run season in Colorado that saw him slash .251/.329/.471 with a .221 ISO. Bobby Dalbec is one of the premium all-or-nothing power bats in the league, when his excellent eye catches up to Major League pitching that will be phrased as “three-true-outcomes,” this is a hitter who has drawn walks at excellent rates throughout his minor league career. Dalbec is Boston’s version of Joey Gallo. The young slugger had a 20.2% barrel rate and a 48.1% hard-hit percentage while hitting 25 home runs with a .254 ISO but he also struck out 34.4% of the time last year. Where Gallo offsets the strikeouts with walks, Dalbec drew the free pass just 6.2% of the time, a stat that has a chance to double this year if all goes well for the hitter. Dalbec is cheap at the back of lineups, he can be rostered confidently in Red Sox stacks. Jackie Bradley Jr. is always a quality bat for a low price, and catcher Christian Vazquez is at least worth considering where the position is mandatory. The Red Sox look like a premium option for power today, but they will need to capitalize on all early opportunities against a starter who does not allow many.
Marlins starter Elieser Hernandez is a good pitcher when he is able to take the mound. Hernandez’s 2021 was cut short by arm troubles, the second straight year he has been limited after his strong 2020 was cut short(er). Hernandez posted a 32.1% strikeout rate in the COVID-shortened season, but he saw just 25.2 innings that year and he managed just 51.2 in 2021. Last year the righty had a 23.6% strikeout rate while yielding a 6.2% walk rate and a 4.32 xFIP with a 1.32 WHIP, but he struggled with premium contact. Hernandez allowed a 9.7% barrel rate and a 39.4% hard-hit percentage with a 17.6-degree average launch angle, hitters turned the premium batted ball events into a huge 5.77% home run rate, leading to the strong power metrics on the board for the opposing Phillies today.
Philadelphia loaded up on power in the offseason, bringing in slugger Kyle Schwarber, who has been leading off to start the season. Schwarber blasted 32 home runs in his 471 plate appearances last season, tallying a massive .288 ISO along the way. The lefty hitter created runs 45% better than average while slashing .266/.374/.554 and generating a 17.5% barrel rate with a 52.2% hard-hit percentage. Schwarber is an apex power option, and he warrants considerable attention in this spot against Hernandez.
Rhys Hoskins brings power from the right side of the plate, he made 443 plate appearances last season and hit 27 home runs with a .283 ISO that rivals Schwarber’s’ ridiculous power. Hoskins did not live up to the same triple-slash standards last season, he went .247/.334/.530 but still created runs 27% better than average with a 17% barrel rate. Hoskins struck out 24.4% of the time, he is following a hitter who struck out 27% of the time, there is swing-and-miss in the top of the lineup for Hernandez, but the power threat from these hitters is far greater, Hoskins is a premium second click in any Phillies stack.
Superstar Bryce Harper comes at a $6,200 price tag on DraftKings, there are five starting pitchers at or below that price. The lefty-hitting outfielder mashed 35 home runs with an outstanding .309/.429/.615 triple-slash last season. Harper had an 18.1% barrel rate with a 49.2% hard-hit percentage, he struck out a reasonable 22.4% of the time and walked in 16.7% of his plate appearances. Harper created runs a full 70% better than average last season, he is almost a whole additional player in a lineup, a fact that is not disproven by his titanic .305 ISO. Bryce Harper is worth the salary in this matchup in any MLB DFS format.
Outfielder Nick Castellanos was the other prized acquisition for this roster, adding another deadly bat to the middle of the lineup. The right-handed hitter had a year that nearly matched Harper while in Cincinnati last season. Castellanos slashed .309/.362/.576 while creating runs 40% better than average and posting a .267 ISO and hitting 34 home runs. The righty had a 10.6% barrel rate and a 46.9% hard-hit percentage while striking out just 20.7% of the time. The top four for Philadelphia are almost unfairly talented, they can be rostered together as a straight-line stack or in combination with hitters later in this lineup. Depending on how far one wants to reach for pitching, it is not impossible to stack premium Phillies with premium Yankees on this slate.
Following that group of talented hitters should be left-handed shortstop Didi Gregorius, who struggled through last season with just a .209/.270/.370 triple slash and 13 home runs. The former Yankee hit 10 home runs with a .205 ISO while creating runs 16% better than average over his 237 plate appearances in his first season with the Phillies in the shortened 2020, and he has had several standout seasons, including three 20 home run years between 2016 and 2018, topping out with 27 in 2018. Gregorius is an inexpensive left-handed power bat in a premium lineup spot and a great matchup, he can be rostered alongside his star teammates on this slate.
Catcher J.T. Realmuto is likely to be in the lineup despite this being a Sunday afternoon game, a spot in which it becomes easy to rest a star catcher. Realmuto sat out Friday night, something that is rare enough for the catcher in general that there is little to no chance of a repeat today. Additionally, manager Joe Girardi, himself a former catcher, commented on the ironman nature of his star backup in saying “you can’t kill him” which would lead us to believe he will play today. Realmuto has long been one of baseball’s best weapons at catcher, he hit 17 home runs in 537 plate appearances last year while slashing .263/.343/.439 and creating runs eight percent better than average in what was regarded as a downturn of a season. Realmuto is an excellent option as long as he is in the lineup, his price is too low for his talent at the position.
Infielder Jean Segura has been dealing with a hand injury but said on Saturday that he was feeling well enough to play and that he expects to be in today’s lineup. Segura is a talented hitter who contributes in a number of ways. He slashed .290/.348/.436 last season and created runs nine percent better than average. Segura hit 14 home runs and stole nine bases in his 567 plate appearances, and he is a former 20-20 threat who can still turn on a pitch and swipe a base when needed. As a back-end option at a fair price and low ownership, Segura is a good correlation play and he is more talented than most late-lineup hitters available today. If he is not in the lineup, Johan Camargo may be in this space, which would not be the same play, though the infielder is capable of an infrequent outburst of power.
Third baseman Bryson Stott has not gotten out of the gate hot in his rookie season, slashing just .154/.185/.192 over his first 27 plate appearances, which is a meaningless sample of course. Stott has a decent power bat, and he was rated as Philadelphia’s second-best prospect before the season started. In 351 double-A plate appearances in 2021, Stott hit 10 home runs and stole six bases while slashing .301/.368/.481, he is an easy way to offset popularity at the back of the lineup, but the star players are stronger choices in a Phillies stack in general.
Another young player rounds out the Phillies lineup, outfielder Matt Vierling should see another start today. Vierling if off to a .143/.209/.190 start to his year over his first 24 plate appearances. In 77 opportunities in the Majors last season, Vierling posted an encouraging .324/.364/.479 triple-slash with two home runs and he created runs 21% better than average. That would be an interesting hitter to consider as a wraparound option back to the premium bats at the top, but he will have to show up at the park for MLB DFS gamers who include him in Phillies stacks this afternoon.
Home Run Prediction Today: Kyle Schwarber — Philadelphia Phillies
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