A nine-game Sunday afternoon main slate of MLB DFS action is ripe with quality pitching and improving hitting conditions around the country. The slate features ace-caliber options and a strong mid-range of under-owned quality on the mound. A large swath of the field is rostering the same two pitchers in most of their lineups, making one different decision on the mound can be immediately beneficial in roster differentiation for this MLB DFS slate. Utilizing the Top Pitchers Tool is the easiest way to find the under-appreciated arms on the board, while the Top Stacks Tool will reveal the location of the hidden quality bats on today’s slate.
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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
Atlanta Braves: Eddie Rosario — 9.41
Boston Red Sox: Trevor Story — 5.88
Chicago Cubs: Ian Happ — 11.21
Chicago White Sox: Jose Abreu — 9.30
Cincinnati Reds: Joey Votto — 6.32
Cleveland Guardians: Jose Ramirez — 10.47
Colorado Rockies: Kris Bryant — 8.81
Detroit Tigers: Austin Meadows — 9.49
Houston Astros: Kyle Tucker — 8.84
Miami Marlins: Jorge Soler — 11.94
Minnesota Twins: Jorge Polanco — 6.49
New York Yankees: Aaron Judge — 13.77
Pittsburgh Pirates: Michael Chavis — 11.26
San Francisco Giants: Darin Ruf — 8.95
St. Louis Cardinals: Tyler O’Neill — 14.93
Tampa Bay Rays: Brandon Lowe — 7.71
Toronto Blue Jays: George Springer — 8.50
Washington Nationals: Josh Bell — 3.73
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 weather around the league includes an ongoing threat of storms in the Chicago area. The late game on the slate between the Pirates and Cubs is facing a potential postponement or in-game delay, though rain on the radar appears to taper off around 4 pm ET, leaving plenty of window to play dry if the game is delayed at the outset. The Wrigley Field environment during a day game with a significant wind blowing out is always a good target for offense, so this is worth monitoring. The remaining games on the board are largely in good conditions with warming weather.
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
A packed pitching slate includes struggling Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, who will be facing the Guardians in a get-right spot. The Giants are facing the Nationals with 2021 breakout starter Logan Webb looking to continue his good start to the season against a fairly weak lineup. Ageless Adam Wainwright will be facing the Reds and young Luis Garcia will be challenged by the talented Toronto bats. The board offers a fair midrange of quality with Shane McClanahan, Nick Lodolo and Jesus Luzardo offering reasonable expectations of performance in their matchup and for their pricing.
Over three starts, Gerrit Cole has thrown only 11.1 innings and he has pitched to a 6.35 ERA with a 4.57 xFIP. He is likely suffering the after-effects of a short Spring, but lingering questions about the loss of spin rate following the “sticky stuff” crackdown from last year will always gnaw at the back of the mind when Cole struggles. Over the unfairly small sample, the righty has seen his strikeout rate drop from last year’s 33.5% to just 24% and he has walked a massive 14% of hitters, nearly three times his average from the last three seasons, and well above his 6.4% career rate. Cole threw 181.1 innings last season, pitching to a 1.06 WHIP with a 2.93 xFIP and a 14.5% swinging-strike rate. He can be a victim of the long ball from time to time, typically a Cole game includes one or two mistake pitches that hitters can drive for power, something illustrated in the inflated 9.8% barrel rate that is too high for a pitcher of this caliber. Cole is facing a Guardians lineup that has some pop and the ability to limit strikeouts, but there are also free swingers to be targeted. Cleveland’s active roster compiled a .171 ISO and a 3.38% home run rate against right-handed pitching last season, good for 17th and 14th in the league, and their 22.6% strikeout rate would have been 15th while their run creation slipped 2% below average, ranking 20th. Cole is lined up for a good start, he just needs to deliver on his supreme talent. The Yankees ace ranks second on the Top Pitchers Tool on both sites. He is expensive and extremely popular, something that must also be weighed when evaluating him for MLB DFS lineup considerations, but ultimately Cole is one of the more likely pitchers to post a slate-relevant fantasy score.
Rays southpaw Shane McClanahan has the leading probability of being a top-2 pitcher on DraftKings, and he ranks first overall by his potential for success on the FanDuel slate as well. McClanahan is making his fourth start of the season. So far he has been brilliant, pitching to a 2.40 ERA and a 1.61 xFIP with a massive 40.7% strikeout rate. He had a 27.3% strikeout rate with a 3.23 xFIP last year, and he generated an excellent 14.8% swinging-strike rate that makes the increasing strikeouts more believable. While McClanahan won’t induce 40% strikeouts for the season, an uptick to a 30% range is not out of the question. The talented lefty will need to avoid premium contact as the season continues/ His hiccups last season came in the form of a 10.7% barrel rate and a 45.4% hard-hit percentage allowed. Mistakes against this Red Sox lineup could be troublesome, but McClanahan has more than enough talent to pitch through this one cleanly while ringing up strikeouts. Boston’s active roster was good at limiting strikeouts against southpaws last season, however, the team landed 10th overall with a 21% rate, they created runs 3% better than average but had just a 3.25% home run rate, only 19th in baseball, against lefties last season. McClanahan looks like a strong play for scoring potential on both sites, though he technically comes at negative leverage. As the top option on the board, he is drawing less raw ownership than Cole on FanDuel, because the latter starter is priced at just $8,800 on the slate and is drawing nearly half the field. With McClanahan pulling in another 20% of the slate’s projected pitching ownership on that site, and similar relative proportions on the DraftKings slate, getting to any other starters on the table is potentially a game changer. Both McClanahan and Cole are long on talent and they are likely to put up strong starts, but with 16 other options available and the crushing weight of public popularity, it could make sense to undercut both options.
Despite an excellent season last year and a strong start to his 2022 campaign, the field does not seem inclined to pay up for Logan Webb. The Giants starter ranks fourth by his probability of success on FanDuel, where he stands at a 7.1% chance of being the top arm against just 3.8% popularity. Webb slips down the board by a couple of places on DraftKings, where he has an 11.4% chance of being a top-2 starter against just 9.8% popularity. By comparison, Cole sits second with a 21.1% probability against a 57.6% ownership share on DraftKings. Webb has pitched through 17.2 innings in his three starts this season, putting up a 2.55 ERA and a 3.48 xFIP but striking out just 15.5% of opposing hitters, a mark that is down from the 26.5% clip at which he sat hitters down last year. Webb was electric over 148.1 innings last season beyond the strikeout rate. He pitched to a 2.79 xFIP and a 1.11 WHIP, walking just 6.0% of hitters and inducing a 12.4% swinging-strike rate. He was also terrific at limiting quality contact, opposing hitters managed just a 5.6% barrel rate and a 38.8% hard-hit percentage against Webb last season, and he was terrific at keeping the ball down, allowing just a negative-0.5-degree average launch angle. Webb is an under-owned pay-up option on both sites in his matchup against a Nationals active roster that had just a .160 ISO and a 3.15% home run rate against right-handed pitching last season.
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Even a day late, the Cubs look like a strong option on the MLB DFS slate, assuming the weather holds. Chicago absolutely obliterated the opposing Pirates in yesterday afternoon’s game, winning a 21-0 laugher, but all of those runs have zero bearing on the potential for today’s output, the team is in an excellent spot once again and the hitting conditions are primed. Pirates starter J.T. Brubaker had a 24% strikeout rate and a 4.00 xFIP last season with a 1.29 WHIP but this will be a challenging day for him. The Cubs lineup has an under-appreciated middle section that includes rookie in name only Seiya Suzuki, catcher Willson Contreras and Ian Happ. That trio can reliably produce power and create runs, and they have powerful teammates in the lineup to assist. Frank Schwindel hit 14 home runs with a .264 ISO in just 259 plate appearances last season, and Patrick Wisdom mashed a whopping 28 long balls in just 375 plate appearances, connecting with a .287 ISO. Infielder Jonathan Villar can still add a healthy blend of power and speed when he is in a lineup and pieces like Jason Heyward, Nico Hoerner and Rafael Ortega can be added around the edges depending on the configuration of the Cubs’ batting order and any price, position and popularity needs in MLB DFS lineup building.
On the other side of the same game, the Pirates are looking a bit frisky with the conditions and lefty Justin Steele on the mound. Pittsburgh typically fares better against lefties; they have several quality right-handed bats that have been featured in this space several times in the early part of the season. The Pirates rank fourth by their probability of being the top overall stack on either site, and they come in at slightly positive leverage, creating a bit of an opportunity for rostering their bats. The lineup should include a quality top-end, with Ke’Bryan Hayes, Bryan Reynolds and Michael Chavis forming a strong first three. Chavis is slowly winning the full-time job by attrition, as mentioned in the season preview and every time this team has come. Over his first 36 plate appearances this year, Chavis has hit two home runs while slashing .353/.389/.618 with a .265 ISO and he has created runs 91% better than average. The Pirates lineup continues with Dan Vogelbach, Diego Castillo, Jake Marisnick and a few also-ran contenders that will depend on the exact lineup the team lands on for this matchup. Diego Castillo had a tremendous Spring, but he has slashed just .250/.250/.361 with one home run over his first 36 plate appearances. He is usable but not worth going out of one’s way for outside of a situation in which a number of Pirates stacks are being built.
St. Louis Cardinals
The heavily right-handed Cardinals lineup will be in Cincinnati’s hitter-friendly park to face young lefty Nick Lodolo today. Lodolo has an 8.00 ERA but a 3.47 xFIP over his first nine innings in two starts this season. He made a strong start against the Padres in his last outing, throwing five innings and facing 23 hitters, allowing just three earned runs on six hits and striking out eight. In his first star, the southpaw made it through just four innings of four-strikeout baseball. Lodolo is a well-regarded prospect with a filthy plus-plus slider, but he needs refinement. He can be targeted with highly ranked Cardinals bats.
The Cardinals’ confirmed lineup leads off with speedster Tommy Edman, who swiped 30 bases despite just a .309 on-base percentage last season. Edman has second base and outfield eligibility for just $3,400 on FanDuel and he is a $4,000 second baseman on the DraftKings slate. He has moderate power to go with the speed as well, Edman hit 11 home runs in 691 plate appearances with a .125 ISO last year, but he has hit three home runs already this year and has a .273 ISO to start the season over his first 52 plate appearances. Most encouragingly, Edman is slashing .341/.431/.614 early on, if he can sustain an improved on-base percentage somewhere in the .340 range, Edman will make a major quality leap.
First baseman Paul Goldschmidt is the first bat in the excellent mid-lineup trio for the Cardinals. Goldschmidt hit 31 home runs and had a 13.6% barrel rate and a 50.2% hard-hit percentage. He slashed an excellent .294/.365/.514 while creating runs 38% better than average in 2021 but he is off to a slow start in 2022. Goldschmidt has slashed just .216/.310/.275 over his first 59 plate appearances this year and he is yet to hit a home run. Today is a good get-right spot for the excellent hitter, there are no concerns about an ongoing slump at this point.
Another Cardinals hitter who has stumbled somewhat coming out of the gate this season is power-packed outfielder Tyler O’Neill. The 5’11” outfielder packs a major wallop, making his stature seem larger in the box scores. O’Neill hit 34 home runs with a .274 ISO last season, barreling the ball 17.9% of the time and generating a 52.2% hard-hit rate. O’Neill strikes out at an aggressive clip, but he had an excellent year at the plate slashing .286/.352/.560 despite the 31.3% strikeout rate. O’Neill is another strong bet to get his game going this afternoon.
With five home runs and a .392/.456/.784 triple slash over his first 57 plate appearances this season, Nolan Arenado has had no such slow-start concerns. The red hot third baseman barreled the ball 6.7% of the time and had a 37.1% hard-hit percentage with 35 home runs and a .239 ISO in his first season in St. Louis last year, somehow disappointing numbers from the All-Star. Arenado is going to have a monster year in 2022, it has already begun but he is not as popular as he should be on the DraftKings slate. All three of the hitters in the middle of the lineup will be popular on this slate, but they can be deployed as a group or with teammates to offset individual ownership.
Veteran Albert Pujols has made 26 plate appearances this season, hitting two home runs and thrilling St. Louis fans with a .304/.385/.609 return that also sports a .304 ISO and a 191 WRC+. While the Hall of Famer is unlikely to continue that torrid clip, his right-handed bat still has pop and he is under-owned at a cheap price on both sites. Pujols will be worthy of a roster spot until the clock starts on his first-ballot Hall of Fame eligibility.
Dylan Carlson is a switch-hitter who created runs 13% better than average while getting on base at a .343 clip last season. Carlson hit 18 home runs but he had just a 7% barrel rate and a 30.6% hard-hit percentage last year. He has struggled out of the gate this season, slashing just .216/.263/.255 with a .039 ISO over 57 plate appearances, but he will be inexpensive and low-owned for the struggles.
Shortstop Edmundo Sosa is cheap at $2,900 on DraftKings, and he is not devoid of talent. The infielder hit six home runs while slashing .271/.346/.389 and creating runs 4% better than average in his limited 326 plate appearances in 2021. Sosa is at the dead minimum on the FanDuel slate, where he has three-position eligibility to boot. Sosa is projected for just 2% ownership on the blue site, his flexibility and quality for the minimum make him extremely interesting in building-out premium Cardinals stacks.
Catcher Yadier Molina hit 11 home runs in 473 plate appearances last season. Molina is not one of the elite offensive catchers in the game, but he is a reasonable option for correlation and infrequent power in MLB DFS lineups, particularly where the position is mandatory, Molina is more of an afterthought for $2,200 on FanDuel, but he would be in two or three iterations if we were building 10-12 Cardinals lineups.
Harrison Bader rounds out the Cardinals lineup this afternoon, adding a functional wraparound play to the end of the batting order. Bader stole nine bases in 401 plate appearances last season, slashing .267/.324/.460 with a .193 ISO and 16 home runs along the way. At just $2,700 on FanDuel and $3,300 on DraftKings, he is an easy path back to the top of the lineup while providing easy correlation with the best hitters on the team. Bader belongs in a more Cardinals stacks than he is being deployed to by the field. He is sneakily interesting, but this is not someone to go over the top in locking into every lineup by any means.
Home Run Prediction Today: Tyler O’Neill — St. Louis Cardinals
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