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MLB DFS Tournament Picks & Home Runs 5/1/22

Terry McBride



MLB DFS Lineup Picks Tournament Strategy Pitching Stacks and Home Runs DraftKings and FanDuel

The Sunday afternoon main slate featured nine games starting at 1:05 ET on what is somehow already May 1. The slate is loaded with premium pitching options and high-end stacking situations for bats, with a few true gas cans taking the mound for their respective teams. The power index is not showing major outlier spots however, in truth there is a wide range of playable spots for similar hitting this afternoon, which allows gamers to play the ownership and leverage game when deciding between the premium stacks of the day. Varying bats while focusing on several of the highest-level starters for their probability of success and value is the key to lineup construction on a slate that takes this shape, the Top Stacks and Top Pitchers tools are incredible resources in identifying these key plays for MLB DFS lineups on DraftKings and FanDuel. Both tools were utilized in putting together today’s short-form version of this article, which still includes home run picks and thoughts about pitchers, stacks and individual hitters, just in fewer words than we normally use.

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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.

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Home Run Ratings

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

Arizona Diamondbacks: Seth Beer — 9.51

Atlanta Braves: Matt Olson — 13.63

Baltimore Orioles: Rougned Odor — 8.71

Boston Red Sox: Bobby Dalbec — 13.04

Chicago Cubs: Patrick Wisdom — 2.99

Chicago White Sox: Luis Robert — 5.62

Houston Astros: Kyle Tucker — 6.52

Kansas City Royals: Carlos Santana — 3.24

Los Angeles Angels: Mike Trout — 9.01

Miami Marlins: Jorge Soler — 7.74

Milwaukee Brewers: Willy Adames — 5.44

Minnesota Twins: Kyle Garlick — 6.10

New York Yankees: Aaron Judge — 10.84

Pittsburgh Pirates: Bryan Reynolds — 5.23

San Diego Padres: Trent Grisham — 5.56

Seattle Mariners: Eugenio Suarez — 5.75

St. Louis Cardinals: Tyler O’Neill — 11.44

Tampa Bay Rays: Brandon Lowe — 14.64

Texas Rangers: Adolis Garcia — 3.07

Toronto Blue Jays: Bo Bichette — 4.27

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 game in Pittsburgh between the Padres and Pirates is threatened by afternoon showers, but there is a window of clear weather later in the afternoon. It seems likely that if there is a delay it will be announced prior to the scheduled start time, and this game will simply play dry later in the day. Monitor the weather updates as lock approaches and adjust accordingly.

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 features an excellent crop of pitching options, with one of the best arms in baseball leading the way in Corbin Burnes. The Brewers right-handed Cy Young Award winner is facing the weak Cubs lineup, a matchup that has Burnes approaching double the probability of being a top-2 starter on DraftKings or the best overall starter on FanDuel of any other pitcher. Burnes is off to a fantastic start to his season, picking up right where he left off in pitching to a 2.33 xFIP over his first 25.2 innings in four starts so far. The righty has a 34.7% strikeout rate and a 6.3% walk rate, both in line with the 35.6% and 5.2% he posted last year, though his hard-hit rate has spiked dramatically early in the season. Last year the right-handed ace held hitters to a 30.5% hard-hit rate, this year in the small sample that mark is at 46.3%, though that is very likely to be just small sample noise. Burnes is easily the pick of the day on the mound, though the Cubs have been frisky in creating runs 18% better than average against right-handed pitching with just a 22.8% strikeout rate in the split so far this season. Not all righties are created equally, Burnes is an excellent play in this spot even with his popularity. That is no to say that there are no other options available, the slate also features Kevin Gausman, Luis Severino, Joe Musgrove, Nick Pivetta, and a duel between Sandy Alcantara and Logan Gilbert among the top names on the pitching board.

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Kevin Gausman has done a good job in proving himself so far this season after skeptics questioned his decision to sign in the AL East. Gausman has a 1.65 xFIP with a 2.19 ERA and a strikeout rate that has climbed from 29.3% last year to 32.6% while he has yet to walk a hitter in his first four starts. The righty will likely regress toward last year’s strong numbers, but there are no concerns rolling him out against most opponents when needed. In a matchup against the challenging Astros bats, Gausman still ranks second on the probability board, and he is coming in at efficient, but not uncomfortable, popularity, making him a strong consideration at a lower price when getting away from Burnes. Joe Musgrove is facing a weak Pirates lineup in the only game on the slate with weather concerns. Musgrove ranks third on the pitching board by his probability of being a top-2 starter on DraftKings and he is fourth on the FanDuel board, he will be owned efficiently on both sites as well. The talented righty is facing his former team, the squad that strikes out at a league-worst 26.8% rate against right-handed pitching while creating runs 17% worse than average so far this season. Musgrove is a prime target on the pitching slate.

Logan Gilbert is out to a great start if we go by ERA alone, he sits at a microscopic 0.40 after 22.1 innings in four starts. Gilbert’s 3.04 xFIP is revelatory, but still excellent for a young pitcher and he is striking out hitters at a 25.9% clip while walking just 4.7%. Gilbert has graduated quickly from top prospect to top starter for Seattle, he has a good matchup against the Marlins on paper, though Miami has been creating runs 19% better than average against righties so far this season. The Marlins’ 21st-ranked 23.9% strikeout rate is targetable in the split however, Gilbert is the better play between him and opposing starter Sandy Alcantara. The Marlins starter is facing a Mariners lineup that has just a 21.1% strikeout rate and creates runs 17% better than average against righties so far this season. Alcantara has also had a good start to his season by the ratio stats, but he sits at just a 20.2% strikeout rate over his first 25.1 innings while walking more than 10% of hitters. While Alcantara is at fair public ownership and can be played, Gilbert lines up as the best leverage play from among the starters near the top of the board.

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The Yankees will have Luis Severino on the hill to face the Royals’ pesky, slap-hitting lineup that is very good at limiting strikeouts against both hands. Kansas City’s active roster is second-best in baseball with just a 19.1% strikeout rate in the split, but they have created runs 16% worse than average against righties and they present very little threat to a starter of Severino’s talent if he is on form. The righty has been throwing gas early in the season and his stuff has been largely where he lefty it after getting hurt nearly three years ago. Severino has a 24.1% strikeout rate with a 7.6% walk rate on the season, and he has allowed a 32.1% hard-hit percentage with a 5.7% barrel rate. The righty has a 3.46 xFIP and he has induced a 12.8% swinging-strike rate with a 27.8% CSW% that could stand to be higher. Severino is a positive leverage play who can be rostered for tournaments on both sites, even with a potential cap on his strikeout upside. On the other side of the leverage coin, Boston’s Nick Pivetta costs just $6,700 on DraftKings, where he is projected for popularity nearly double the rate of his expected success in landing in the top two. Pivetta is similarly cheap at $6,500 on the blue site, where his ownership is similarly almost double the probability of his finishing as the top pitcher. The righty has a good matchup against an Orioles team that strikes out 25.1% of the time against righties, the fourth-worst mark in baseball early in the season, but he has struggled to a 5.08 xFIP and just a 20.5% strikeout rate over his first four starts, making him difficult to roster with this much public weight. Getting to any other SP2 option or cheap individual starter where needed is recommended.

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New York Yankees

The Yankees top the stacks board once again today. The team is facing southpaw Daniel Lynch, who pitched to a 17.7% strikeout rate and a 5.22 xFIP with a 10% walk rate and a 44.3% hard-hit percentage over 68 innings last year, but he is off to a 23.5% strikeout rate and 3.97 xFIP start to his 2022 campaign. The lefty was a surprise in his last outing against the White Sox, racking up seven strikeouts and allowing only two hits. He was good in the outing before that as well, though he only struck out two Twins while allowing no runs over five. Lynch has not allowed a run since yielding six in five innings in his first start against the Cardinals. That run of quality is likely to end today against the loaded right-handed bats in New York’s lineup. The Yankees projected lineup is justifiably popular and expensive. Go-to bats include D.J. LeMahieu, Aaron Judge, who should be back in the lineup after a day off yesterday, Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Donaldson, Aaron Hicks, Gleyber Torres and lefties Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo if they are in the lineup. Gallo does not suffer at all from facing same-handed pitching, he strikes out slightly more but once we’re above 35% it really doesn’t matter, his career ISO against fellow lefties is in the .270s, just like his power marks against right-handed pitching. The remainder of the lineup is filler, with Tim Locastro, Kyle Higashioka and Isiah Kiner-Falefa likely to see action. Higashioka has been a major disappointment at the plate early on, after a scorching Spring and widespread discussion of a breakout, but he can be deployed as a low-cost low-owned option where the position is needed.

Los Angeles Angels

Los Angeles ranks near the top of the stacks board and they are also pulling in positive leverage. The team is facing harmless lefty Dallas Keuchel, who will focus on keeping the ball on the ground and in the park, while not worrying about striking hitters out. This should bode well for an Angels lineup that has excellent power, though Keuchel does tend to suppress home run projections, even around hitters like Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout. Trout has hit five home runs and is slashing .323/.447/.694 with a .371 ISO while creating runs 133% better than average to start the season. Ohtani has four home runs with a .180 ISO and has created runs 5% better than average in a bit of a slow start, but he is more than capable of catching up to Trout’s production in a hurry. The superstars are surrounded by quality in the form of Jared Walsh and Anthony Rendon and young players including Taylor Ward, Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh, any of whom would make solid additions to an Angels stack in this situation. The team is low-owned and apart from the obvious stars, they are fairly low-cost as well. This is a strong spot for under-appreciated Angels bats.

Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto is at home with lefty Framber Valdez on the mound for the opposing Astros – who also look like an interesting very low-owned leverage stack today incidentally – and the team is not drawing enough attention for their potential upside in this situation. Valdez has an amazing acumen for keeping the ball on the ground, he had better than a 70% ground ball rate over all of last season, inducing a negative-5.5-degree average launch angle against for the year, he is very difficult to hit a home run against, but he lets batters put the ball in play and has just a 19.5% strikeout rate this season. Against a lineup with deadly young hitters like the one sported by Toronto, that could spell trouble even for a talented pitcher like Valdez. So far this season, the southpaw has a 3.15 ERA and a 3.64 xFIP, he has walked far too many at 13.8%, something that is a long-time issue for the lefty, but he is yet to allow a home run and has induced a negative-6.4-degree launch angle thus far. Toronto is going to be a very hit-or-miss stack today, the leverage available is worth the risk. Go-to Blue Jays bats include George Springer, who tops the lineup with right-handed power for $5,400 but just 2.1% popularity on DraftKings and $3,500 with only 5.7% ownership on FanDuel. Springer is followed by Bo Bichette, who is cheap on FanDuel at $3,900 and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who is not cheap anywhere but is always worth rostering. The trio has an average ownership projection of just 3.7% on DraftKings and is only slightly higher on the blue site where they cost less. With backup from excellent bats like Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Matt Chapman, Santiago Espinal and catcher Alejandro Kirk, the engine of the Blue Jays lineup should fire against Valdez, they simply need to find a way to elevate the ball or exploit the free passes that the pitcher will absolutely issue to this patient lineup. Four hitters in the confirmed Toronto lineup had better than a 10% walk rate and below a 20% strikeout rate last year. Left-handed nine-hitter Bradley Zimmer is an interesting post-post-hype name to watch, he is not in an ideal matchup against same-handed pitching but he could surprise with his power and speed from late in the lineup on any given slate.

Home Run Prediction Today: Brandon Lowe — Tampa Bay Rays

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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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