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MLB DFS Tournament Strategy: Stacks, Home Runs & Weather Today 4/12/22

Terry McBride



MLB DFS picks today DraftKings FanDuel fantasy baseball rankings home run projections predictions

Tuesday begins the normalization process for the MLB schedule, with more games shifting to the evening and the main slate. There are nine games on the board this evening and a handful of others starting in the late afternoon. The main slate is loaded with offensive upside, several of the game’s top lineups are facing middling to poor pitching, which should lead to plenty of run creation. The slate has a few quality arms worthy of consideration for pitching shares as well, but the board is somewhat thin and the public is chasing the same starters. Differentiating bats while locking in some high levels of probable production from the pitching options is the best approach to creating unique entries while still utilizing the top overall options on the mound. As always, the Top Stacks and Top Pitchers tools are highly valuable in the process of making decisions for MLB DFS lineups on FanDuel and DraftKings. Using all of those tools in our fantasy baseball toolbelt, let’s take a look at some of the best MLB DFS picks today.

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Best MLB DFS Tournament Strategy & Picks Today

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: Christian Walker — 5.71

Atlanta Braves: Ozzie Albies — 11.17

Baltimore Orioles: Austin Hays — 7.22

Colorado Rockies: Randal Grichuk — 8.40

Houston Astros: Kyle Tucker — 12.74

Kansas City Royals: Salvador Perez — 7.60

Los Angeles Angels: Shohei Ohtani — 14.89

Los Angeles Dodgers: Max Muncy — 10.69

Miami Marlins: Jorge Soler — 11.80

Milwaukee Brewers: Rowdy Tellez — 14.88

Minnesota Twins: Miguel Sano — 12.25

New York Yankees: Aaron Judge — 11.90

San Diego Padres: Manny Machado — 6.13

San Francisco Giants: Brandon Belt — 8.51

St. Louis Cardinals: Paul Goldschmidt — 7.21

Texas Rangers: Kole Calhoun — 7.19

Toronto Blue Jays: Matt Chapman — 10.85

Washington Nationals: Josh Bell — 14.28

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.

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MLB DFS Weather Update: Postponements & Risk Assessment

There is heavy rain in the forecast for the Minneapolis area from the late afternoon into the early morning hours, the Dodgers vs Twins game currently has a 60% chance of postponement in Awesemo’s tools. Keeping an eye on the weather updates for this game as lock approaches will be crucial. The game starts 35 minutes after the slate locks, so there is some room to work with if it seems like the weather is clearing, both the Dodgers and Twins could be potentially under-owned stacks from loaded lineups, but the odds seem on the side of the game not playing at all. The remaining games on the slate see no real threat of precipitation, and temperatures across the country are notably higher than they were over the first few days of the season. The game in New York between the Blue Jays and Yankees, for example, will play in the low 70s to mid-60s, 10-15 degrees warmer than the park played for the Boston series. Improved temperatures should lead to more favorable hitting situations in general.

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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 Tuesday MLB DFS pitching slate features two premium options, one of whom is arguably an ace-caliber talent. Both Yu Darvish and Luis Garcia are pulling strong projections in their respective matchups. Darvish, the more ace-like and experienced of the two starters has the tougher matchup by far, in taking on the Giants, while Garcia will face the lowly Diamondbacks. Following those two options is a reasonable list of arms from a few tiers down the talent spectrum, although the Angels’ Patrick Sandoval is a strong contender for shares in his matchup against the Marlins. Alex Cobb has gone from a serviceable starter to one of the league’s most targetable pitchers for power and back again over the last few seasons, but he is on the board against the overhyped Padres. Milwaukee’s Eric Lauer is pulling in reasonable projections against the Orioles and Yusei Kikuchi has strikeout upside against the Yankees, but neither is what anyone would refer to as a comfortable option. Post-hype prospect Jesus Luzardo is at least worthy of consideration at a low price and reasonably low ownership on both sites against the strikeout-heavy Angels lineup. Luzardo has been on a roller coaster during his development, his strikeout upside is clear and his stuff is fantastic, he just needs to reign in the walks and to learn to command his arsenal. In the right spot, that could come together tonight after a strong spring.

The most established premium name on the board is Yu Darvish. The right-hander made 30 starts last season, throwing 166.1 innings as the team managed his workload to a degree. Darvish has had some injury issues throughout his career, but he delivered 178.2 innings in 32 starts in 2019, coming off of a 40-inning season the year prior and he has been effective and healthy ever since. Darvish still has elite strikeout stuff when he is going right, he struck out 29.2% of opposing hitters last season while walking just 6.5%, and he was effective in keeping runners off the basepaths in general, tuning in a 1.09 WHIP for the season. Darvish has swing-and-miss stuff, he generated a 12.1% swinging-strike rate and had a 30.3% CSW% last season while also avoiding premium contact. He allowed just a 35.1% hard-hit percentage with an 88.2 mph average exit velocity, though the 16.6-degree average launch angle and 8.8% barrel rate did add up to a 4.1% home run rate allowed. Darvish went six innings in his first start of the season on Thursday, he should have plenty in the tank to pitch deep into tonight’s game and challenge for a win and a quality start, though he is not facing a pushover in the Giants lineup. San Francisco’s active roster compiled a .197 ISO against righties last season, good for 3rd best in the league. The team hit home runs at a 3.93% rate in the split, also third best, and they created runs 10% better than average, the number four team for run creation against right-handed pitching. The Giants are a quality offense, but Darvish looks like the stronger bet in this one, he is the top-ranked pitcher across the board for MLB DFS tonight.

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In a matchup against the Diamondbacks, second-year righty Luis Garcia. The young starter had an excellent debut season for the Astros in 2021, throwing 155.1 innings in 28 starts at the major league level after seeing just a 12.1-inning cup of coffee the season before. The combined 167.2 innings are all the action that Garcia has seen above the high-A level, he never pitched in Double-A or Triple-A ball, instead, he made the amazing leap directly to the Majors at age 24. Garcia mowed down 26.4% of opposing hitters last season while walking a few too many at 7.9%. He had a sharp 3.93 xFIP and a 1.17 WHIP for the season and he truly shined in generating a 13.4% swinging-strike rate. Garcia was reasonably effective in limiting premium contact, he held opposing hitters to a 7.3% barrel rate and a 38.7% hard-hit percentage. The Astros will be facing a Diamondbacks team with an active roster that compiled baseball’s second-lowest ISO against righties last year at .140 and had a 24.7% strikeout rate that was 24th-ranked in the split. The run creation marks are predictably low as well, Arizona ranked 29th out of 30 teams with a collective 79 WRC+, putting them 21% below average in the split. This is a prime spot for Garcia to shine, but he is projected for very low ownership on both sites, making him an excellent target for tournament play on any MLB DFS site. The second-best pitcher on this slate is drawing low single-digit ownership projections across the industry, fire away.

Southpaw Eric Lauer is taking the hill for the Brewers on a night loaded with left-handed pitching. Lauer is coming off of his strongest professional season, he threw 118.2 innings in 20 starts (24 appearances) and pitched to a 3.19 ERA, but his 4.26 xFIP is revelatory about the quality that was truly on display, Lauer benefitted from defense and happenstance in posting an ERA a full run lower than his xFIP and half-a-run lower than his 3.87 xERA. The lefty had a 23.9% strikeout rate but walked 8.4% of hitters, the strikeouts were Lauer’s career-high, but the walks were also inflated from the 7.8% he posted in 2019, the 11-inning sample from 2020 can be safely ignored here. Lauer generated a 10.6% swinging-strike rate but had an ugly 26.2% CSW% while allowing an 8.2% barrel rate and an 18.2-degree average launch angle. Opposing hitters had a 36.8% hard-hit rate and generated an 89.8 mph average exit velocity against the lefty last season, all reasonably strong contact marks that helped him limit opposing hitters to a 3.27% home run rate overall last year. Lauer is facing an Orioles lineup that is underrated against left-handed pitching, which could surprise a wide swath of the field tonight. The Orioles active roster had a .174 collective ISO against lefties last year, the ninth-best mark in baseball. The team hit 74 home runs in the split, the third-most in the sport, and their 3.57% home run rate was ranked ninth overall. The Orioles created runs 2% better than average against lefties last season, compared to a mark 15% below average against righties, this is an entirely different squad when batting against a southpaw, they will still strike out but they are capable of doing some damage to the popular lefty. Lauer is pulling in a 20% ownership share on FanDuel and a 21.4% mark on DraftKings, MLB DFS gamers may be giving him too much rope on this slate.

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The Marlins vs Angels game features two interesting arms. Patrick Sandoval was sharp in his 87 innings over 14 starts last season, posting a 25.9% strikeout rate with a 3.79 xFIP. The lefty walked too many hitters at 9.9% but his 15.2% swinging-strike rate is an excellent number and he limited hard hits to 35.4% at an average exit velocity of merely 85.4 mph. Sandoval is projected for just 6.4% ownership on FanDuel and 22.4% on DraftKings despite a matchup against a Marlins squad that had just a .135 ISO and a 2.48% home run rate against lefties last year. The Marlins were the third-worst team in the league in creating runs against lefties as well, their WRC+ was 20% below average in the split. Sandoval is an under-owned option on FanDuel and he is an excellent candidate for shares at or above the field’s projected mark on DraftKings.

On the other side of the game, Miami’s Jesus Luzardo is one of the slate’s major question marks. Luzardo has all-world talent, but he has struggled to put everything together with consistency at the major league level. In 95.1 innings over 18 starts last season, the young lefty posted a 22.4% strikeout rate but had an inflated 11% walk rate and an unsightly 1.62 WHIP with a 4.84 xFIP. Luzardo did generate a 13.2% swinging-strike rate within that, there is significant talent here and Luzardo is just a young 24-years-old, he has plenty of time to continue developing, and if he manages to harness his control and command this season the sky is the limit. The southpaw had a strong spring and he could see some depth, but he is facing a dangerously powerful Angels team that was good at limiting strikeouts against lefties last season. Los Angeles’ 21.2% strikeout rate in the split is wildly different than their 24.1% rate against righties, it ranks seventh best in baseball and means Luzardo could be in for a long evening if things don’t break his way. With tempered expectations, Luzardo is a dart throw option for a small subset of lineups in a full slate of entries, he should not be used if entering just one lineup.

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Baltimore Orioles

As mentioned in the section about Lauer, the Orioles active roster was sneaky-good against left-handed pitching last season, which could lead to interesting opportunities for their bats on this slate with nearly no public ownership. The Orioles lineup leads off with Cedric Mullins III who had a breakout year in 2021. Mullins posted a completely unexpected 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases season, making him just the 21st member of the 30-30 club in American League history, dating back to its founding in 1901. The most recent player to turn that trick in the AL was Mookie Betts in 2018 for the Red Sox, Mullins is in elite company. The switch-hitting Mullins is followed by capable right-handed power bats starting with Ryan Mountcastle, who had a .255/.309/.487 season with 33 home runs and a .232 ISO while creating runs 11% better than average his first full season in the big leagues. Trey Mancini hit 21 home runs in 616 plate appearances last year, returning to baseball after sitting out the 2020 season and going through a cancer scare. Mancini hit 35 home runs in 2019 and 24 each of the two seasons prior, he is a very strong power bat who is underpriced at $2,700 on FanDuel and $2,900 on DraftKings at less than 5% public popularity on either site. Austin Hays is another premium power bat, Hays hit 22 home runs in 529 plate appearances while posting a .205 ISO last year, with improved contact this season he is capable of reaching 30 home runs and he should be a strong source of run creation in the heart of the limited Orioles lineup all year. Outfielder Anthony Santander hits from both sides of the plate, he gets more of his power against righties as a left-handed hitter, but he has a career .182 ISO against southpaws. Ramon Urias and Jorge Mateo are limited options for MLB DFS purposes, Mateo has blazing speed but lacks on-base acumen, while Urias is a limited hitter who was good at getting on base and creating runs last season. Urias is the better correlation play of the two infielders. The bottom of the lineup is not overly strong, Robinson Chirinos can provide some unheralded pop, he had a .227 ISO and hit five home runs in his limited 112 plate appearances last season, he can be deployed where catchers are required, but the quality in this lineup comes from the top five bats, all of which will be under-owned.

St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals are not popular enough on today’s slate. The heavily right-handed hitting team is facing pin-cushion lefty Daniel Lynch who allowed a 10.4% barrel rate with a 44.3% hard-hit percentage last season. Lynch yielded a 14.5-degree average launch angle and 90.7 mph of exit velocity on the average last year, and he pitched to a 5.22 xFIP with a 1.63 WHIP. Lynch does not strike out many hitters and he walks far too many of them, he is a targetable arm and the Cardinals lineup has many quality stacking options. Dylan Carlson is under-owned atop the St. Louis lineup, he brings a quality bat and strong on-base skills to the front of the line ahead of significant run creation bats. The trio that follows is an elite stack on any slate against any pitcher, Paul Goldschmidt, Tyler O’Neill and Nolan Arenado combined for 99 home runs last season and they had an average ISO of .245, they are teed up to obliterate this weak pitcher. Future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols should be able to feast against this pitcher if he is in the lineup behind that group, and the back end of the Cardinals batting order has quality in Yadier Molina, Harrison Bader and Tommy Edman, the last of whom is a quality wraparound option with his speed, assuming he can get on base more consistently than the .308 on-base percentage he posted last season. The Cardinals are not as unowned as the Orioles, but they are positively leveraged and can be deployed aggressively and with confidence on all MLB DFS sites.

Houston Astros

The Astros come into today ranked third for their probability of success in the Top Stacks Tool for both sites. They are also drawing the slate’s strongest leverage number on both sites, making them the prime target for stacking on tonight’s slate. Houston’s disgustingly good lineup is facing veteran lefty Madison Bumgarner, who this space likes to claw back some of his former talents in the long term this season, but who stands as a prime target in tonight’s matchups. Bumgarner struggled through 2020 and 2021, last season he pitched to a 4.85 xFIP with a 20.2% strikeout rate over his 146.1 innings. The lefty showed signs of life through the spring, and he was still effective in limiting premium contact last season, so there are some hopes, but this is not a good get-right spot. The Astros active roster brutalized left-handed pitching last season, they compiled the best strikeout rate in the split at just 18.3%, and they were also the league’s best at run creation, extending 17% beyond the average against lefties. The Astros had a 3.46% home run rate and a .178 ISO in the split, the 13th and fifth-best marks in baseball, respectively. This is a deadly good lineup.

Jose Altuve leads off and mans second base for an inexpensive $3,700 on FanDuel but $5,200 on DraftKings. The veteran hit 31 home runs but was limited in the speed department, stealing just five bases in 678 plate appearances last season. Altuve also slipped somewhat with the hit tool, he posted a .278/.350/.489 triple-slash but had a .211 ISO and created runs 30% better than average atop the lineup. Altuve is still a star-caliber player who should be included in most Houston stacks.

Rookie Jeremy Pena is projected to hit second and he is still too cheap, coming in at $2,300 on FanDuel and $2,200 on DraftKings. Pena is Houston’s top prospect, he is taking over the shortstop role previously held by star Carlos Correa, who departed for Minnesota in the offseason. Pena hit 10 home runs and stole five bases in just 133 plate appearances at Triple-A last season and has hit one already this year over his first 17 major league plate appearances. Pena is currently slashing .375/.412/.688 in a hot start, there is no reason to doubt his talent hitting second at these prices, he can be rostered aggressively in most spots in this batting order.

Alex Bregman has hit two home runs in his 14 plate appearances so far this season, starting out hot after a cool 2021 that saw him hit just 12 in 400 plate appearances. Bregman had a down season, slashing just .270/.355/.422 but the on-base skills and run creation did not go far, he still managed to create runs 15% better than average for the season and there is more than enough history to have faith in the return to form. Bregman is projected for single-digit ownership on both sites.

Yordan Alvarez is one of baseball’s elite power hitters when he is on form. Alvarez mashed 33 long balls in 598 plate appearances last year, posting a .253 ISO and creating runs 38% better than average in his age-24 season. He hit 27 home runs in just 369 plate appearances for the club in 2019 before missing most of the COVID-shortened season with an injury. Alvarez had an excellent 15.9% barrel rate and a whopping 54.2% hard-hit percentage last year, if he can walk more than the 8.4% and strike out less than the 24.2% he put up last year he will make another major leap this season. Alvarez costs $4,700 on DraftKings and $4,000 on FanDuel at single-digit ownership.

The most undervalued hitter throughout all of last season, and for most of his short career, was Yuli Gurriel, who could not find 10% popularity throughout a season that only saw him win the American League batting title. Gurriel slashed .319/.383/.462, hit 15 home runs and created runs 34% better than average in the heart of the Astros lineup, he is projected for extremely limited popularity at just $2,600 on FanDuel and $3,900 on DraftKings. Gurriel belongs in far more Astros stacks than he is currently being deployed in by the public, let them make the mistake, include Gurriel in lineups that use other Astros bats.

Kyle Tucker is a star at the plate. The young outfielder realized his potential last season, hitting 30 home runs and swiping 14 bases in 567 plate appearances. Tucker had an 11.6% barrel rate and a 47% hard-hit percentage that should translate to even more power as he develops as a hitter. The excellent outfielder struck out just 15.9% of the time while walking at a 9.3% clip last season, he had a .294/.359/.557 triple-slash and a .263 ISO while creating runs at a team-leading 47% ahead of the curve. Tucker is a spectacular bat for MLB DFS that comes at 6% popularity on DraftKings and 4.5% on FanDuel, the public is asleep at the switch.

Aledmys Diaz offers three-position eligibility for just $2,300 on FanDuel and he checks in as a $3,400 option on DraftKings, his cheap price and flexibility help reach other bats in Astros stacks or better pitching when he is utilized. Diaz hit eight home runs and had a .146 ISO last season, but his upside is generally limited. He did provide a solid 44.8% hard-hit rate while creating runs 1% below league average in his 319 plate appearances last year, but this is largely a replacement-level player who is rendered more useful by the DFS structure on this slate.

Chas McCormick has been mentioned in this space several times already this season as an undervalued source of quality from late in an Astros lineup. McCormick had a 10.2% barrel rate and a 48.7% hard-hit percentage over 320 plate appearances in 2021. Those excellent contact marks yielded a 14-home-run season and a .190 ISO for a player who costs just $2,800 at 5.1% popularity on DraftKings and $2,300 at 0.9% popularity on FanDuel. McCormick created runs 9% better than average last year, he is the best eight-hitter on today’s slate.

Catcher Martin Maldonado is mostly useful where his position is necessary. If pricing and popularity were more difficult, he could be deployed for differentiation on FanDuel, but it is not necessary for tonight’s configuration. Maldonado is limited at the plate, he hit 12 home runs last year but managed just a 5.7% barrel rate and a 32.8% hard-hit percentage while slashing .172/.272/.300 and creating runs 37% below average, there are better options at the position.

Home Run Prediction Today: Hunter Renfroe — Milwaukee Brewers

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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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