Thursday’s 12:35 ET start time for the MLB DFS main slate has things in high gear already this morning. There are 10 games running between that start time and 2:35, with firepower available both at the plate and on the mound. In the interest of time, today’s article will be a more short-form approach to covering the slate, we will still review top pitchers and stacks, but today’s content will be wider than it is deep. The slate is entirely comprised of games with run totals below nine on the board in Vegas, but a few potential power spots still exist, and some come against popular pitching, making the stacks interesting tournament leverage points. The board also features several top-end starters, including a true ace or two, and the pitching selections are deep, with a number of poorly priced options. Getting to a strong blend of under-owned high-upside potential performers should not be overly challenging in building MLB DFS lineups today.
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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
Baltimore Orioles: Rougned Odor — 9.24
Boston Red Sox: Enrique Hernandez — 4.61
Chicago White Sox: Tim Anderson — 4.44
Cincinnati Reds: Joey Votto — 10.53
Colorado Rockies: Randal Grichuk — 4.13
Detroit Tigers: Austin Meadows — 13.53
Houston Astros: Yordan Alvarez — 11.34
Kansas City Royals: Carlos Santana — 5.45
Miami Marlins: Jesus Sanchez — 10.60
Milwaukee Brewers: Mike Brosseau — 6.31
Minnesota Twins: Jorge Polanco — 10.79
New York Yankees: Josh Donaldson — 12.35
Philadelphia Phillies: Rhys Hoskins — 6.38
Pittsburgh Pirates: Yoshi Tsutsugo — 4.46
San Diego Padres: Manny Machado — 8.72
Seattle Mariners: Eugenio Suarez — 3.09
Tampa Bay Rays: Brandon Lowe — 7.82
Texas Rangers: Brad Miller — 6.73
Toronto Blue Jays: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. — 4.38
Washington Nationals: Nelson Cruz — 4.84
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
Today’s ten-game afternoon main slate appears safe from coast to coast, there are no concerns of postponement or weather-related delays and there should be good hitting conditions in a number of ballparks.
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
Today’s pitching slate features a few premium targets near the top of the board. The name brands on the slate include Justin Verlander, who has been excellent to start his return to action, Freddy Peralta in a premium matchup against the Pirates, and struggling Zack Wheeler, who will be facing the Rockies on the road, which is always a good get-right spot. Bumpy early-season outings have both Peralta and Wheeler priced down dramatically on the DraftKings slate, and Wheeler remains cheap on the blue site. All three aces are very much in play, though Wheeler’s struggles with diminished velocity early on remain concerning. The Phillies righty was one of baseball’s best last season, but he has a 4.33 xFIP and an abominable 8.53 ERA to start the season while striking out just 17.7% of hitters in his three starts. Wheeler’s matchup is a good one, and he threw more than 80 pitches his last time out. This may be a place to capitalize on the public’s recency bias. If Wheeler is under-owned, he could deliver an excellent MLB DFS score if he is able to find his form. Similarly, Peralta is priced down to this year’s performance, despite turning in a good outing in his most recent game after two ugly starts. Peralta made it through five innings of one-run ball while striking out six Phillies the last time out, and he has thrown plenty of pitches early on. In his short first outing of the year, Peralta was seemingly near full readiness, throwing 88 pitches. He made it through 77 in the next start and 89 in the outing against Philadelphia. Peralta is facing a Pirates roster that had a .137 ISO and a 23.7% strikeout rate against righties last year. He should be in for a strong day. Verlander tops the board for probability on both sites and has a 29% strikeout rate with a 3.13 xFIP and a 1.89 ERA to start the season. He does not require much of a sales pitch.
The board continues with quality in Minnesota’s Bailey Ober, who will be dueling Tarik Skubal in Detroit, as well as Toronto’s Alex Manoah, who will be challenged by the Red Sox, Miami lefty Trevor Rogers, who may have a very strong afternoon against the Nationals, and Michael Kopech of the White Sox, a flame-throwing righty off to an excellent start this year. Kopech is a fire-balling righty who is off to a strong start in his first year as a full-time piece of the rotation. Kopech has a 0.64 ERA and a 3.89 xFIP with a 29.4% strikeout rate over his first three outings, and he is reaching higher pitch counts each time he takes the mound. In the last matchup, Kopech threw 83 pitches while limiting the Twins to just three hits and striking out seven. He is a strong option against Kansas City, though the Royals to have an acumen for avoiding the strikeout in general. Manoah has seen 18 innings in his three starts and he has a 2.00 ERA with a 3.69 xFIP and a 25% strikeout rate. The righty has walked 8.3% of opposing hitters and allowed just a single barrel in 47 batted ball events, a 2.1% rate. Manoah has limited hard contact to just 27.7% this season, following a 31.2% rate on a 5.8% barrel rate last year. If he continues to avoid premium contact, the young righty may make a major leap forward this year. He is a good target even against loaded Boston. In Washington D.C., Rogers will be facing a Nationals active roster that is potentially sneaky-good against lefties. The active roster would have had a .178 ISO in the split last year, good for 11th against lefties, and their 19.9% strikeout rate ranked fourth. The team’s compiled WRC+ sits seven percent above average while their 3.46% home run rate ranks 14th in the split. The Nationals are not good, Rogers is a strong lefty starter who threw 98 pitches his last time out, but he is out to just an 18.2% strikeout rate early in the season. With lefty masher Nelson Cruz and Juan Soto, only the best overall hitter in the game, lurking near the top of the lineup, Rogers is not safe, but he does have upside in this spot, the lefty had a 28.5% strikeout rate last season and a 28% rate over the course of his 172.2 inning career.
Ober will be facing a Tigers team that is better than it has been but still has growing to do. He has solid strikeout ability but struggled with home runs allowed last season. Ober has a 2.81 ERA but a 4.20 xFIP and just a 20.3% strikeout rate, which is down from the 25.3% he posted last year. He walked five percent of hitters last season and just 4.7% so far this year, but if Ober is not missing bats and finding the strikeout upside he may not deliver, though facing a Tigers team that had a 24.6% strikeout rate against righties last season, the 26th-ranked of baseball’s 30 teams, should help. Ober is in a good spot and he may be underappreciated by the field on a large deep slate. On the other side, Skubal had a 25.9% strikeout rate and a 7.4% walk rate over 149.1 innings as a rookie last season and he is off to a similar start with a 25% strikeout rate and just a 1.6% walk rate in his 15.2 innings in 2022. Over those three starts, Skubal is yet to allow a home run, something noteworthy for a pitcher who yielded 35 of them in the 634-hitter sample from last season, a 5.52% rate that was a blemish on the young starter’s ledger. Skubal yielded a massive 13.9% barrel rate and a targetable 45.1% hard-hit percentage last season, numbers that he has cut dramatically in the early part of this year. So far, Skubal has given up just a 6.4% barrel rate and a 36.2% hard-hit percentage. He has the makings of a talented young pitcher with significant upside who is finding his way toward stardom.
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New York Yankees
The Yankees land on the board once again by virtue of their positioning in the power index and a matchup against lefty Bruce Zimmermann, who has managed to pitch his way to a 1.20 ERA and a 2.98 xFIP over the first 15 innings of his season. It won’t last. Zimmermann has 86.1 innings under his belt in the Show, including this year’s good start he has a 4.24 xFIP and 4.59 ERA and has struck out just 21.1% of opposing hitters. This season, Zimmermann has a 27.1% strikeout rate in the early going, a mark that does not entirely align with any of his output in extended minor league samples. Zimmermann is a 27-year-old control-command pitcher with poorly regarded stuff. He was never a premium prospect and he remains a target, particularly when the opposing team features some of the very best right-handed home run hitters in baseball. Rostering Yankees, including Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Donaldson and D.J. LeMahieu is highly recommended. Additional Yankees can fill in around the edges, depending on who is in the lineup. Lefty masher Joey Gallo may sit against a southpaw, but the team may want to let him continue hitting as he is beginning to gain momentum and find his stroke. Gallo has a .271 ISO against same-handed pitching for his career. He strikes out more and walks less in the split, but he is very much the same hitter as he is against righties. Struggling shortstop Gleyber Torres remains cheap and easy to roster in the infield as a price and popularity offset who was a premium young player once upon a time.
Miami has been featured at the plate and on the mound in this space in recent days, such is life when facing the lowly Nationals. The Marlins will get a good crack at breaking the slate in their matchup against Patrick Corbin, the broken southpaw has a ghastly 11.20 ERA and a still-bad 4.94 xFIP this season after pitching to a 5.82 ERA and a 4.29 xFIP last year. Corbin’s formerly excellent strikeout rate has completely vanished over the past few seasons. He posted a 30.8% mark in 2018, a 28.5% in 2019, dropped to 20.3%, 19% and currently 20% over the subsequent three years. He has also been targetable for home run power, though he has so far limited that problem by cutting hard contact from 40.7% last year and 44.2% the year before to 37.5% so far this season. Still, the Marlins are typically cheap and unpopular, they can be utilized in full or short stacks against this pitcher. Miami features Jazz Chisholm Jr. at the top of the lineup. Chisholm is a dynamic player who hit 18 home runs and stole 23 bases in 507 plate appearances last season, and he is off to a .308/.356/.673 start to his season with four home runs, four stolen bases and a .365 ISO. The star in the making is surrounded by quality on the right side of the plate, including Jesus Aguilar and Jorge Soler, who can take any pitcher deep, particularly a weak lefty. Soler is pulling in one of the day’s better home run projections and all three of the top hitters are sporting an above-average rating in the model. They will be followed by another solid right-handed power bat in Avisail Garcia, who hit 29 home runs and had a .228 ISO while creating runs 15% better than average last year. Garrett Cooper, Jesus Sanchez in a lefty-lefty matchup and Brian Anderson are all playable pieces who could see good opportunities from later in the lineup, while Miguel Rojas and Jacob Stallings are less appealing, depending on the final configuration of this batting order.
The Reds are facing Nick Martinez in one of the slate’s first games, their confirmed lineup has already been posted and they look like a strong option for stacking against a weak starter. Martinez is looking to reclaim an MLB career after pitching in the NPB the last few years, but he is off to a shaky start with a 5.15 xFIP, a 19.4% strikeout rate and a 7.46% home run rate over his first 14.2 innings. The Reds lineup opens with left-handed quality in Jake Fraley and Tyler Naquin, each of whom can get on base or hit for power in the right situation. Fraley had a .352 on-base percentage while creating runs nine percent better than average in his 265 plate appearances last year, and Naquin had a .207 ISO with 19 home runs in 454 plate appearances. The platoon-focused top end leads into Tommy Pham, who remains a quality option for power and speed when healthy. Pham hit 15 home runs and stole 14 bases last season, making 561 plate appearances while slashing .229/.340/.383. Veteran Joey Votto is a third lefty bat in the top four. He hit 36 home runs and had a .297 ISO in a major bounce back last year. He created runs 40% better than average and warrants consideration at a very cheap $2,500 on FanDuel and $2,800 on DraftKings. The entire Reds lineup is under the $3,000 mark on both sites, they present an absurd value consideration but seem likely to draw popularity in the matchup. The back end of the batting order includes less-appealing names like Kyle Famer and Brandon Drury, though neither is incapable and they will be hitting in front of formerly solid lefty power bat Mike Moustakas. Moustakas hit just six home runs in 206 tries last season and he is slashing .129/.125/.129 over his first 32 plate appearances this year. Colin Moran and catcher Mark Kolozsvary wrap up the lineup. Moran had a 13.4% barrel rate and a 47.2% hard-hit percentage in 2020, but he has yet to put everything together entering his age-29 season. As a limited dart throw, he is playable but expectations should be tempered for a hitter with a .031 ISO to start his season.
Home Run Prediction Today: Joey Gallo — New York Yankees
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