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MLB DFS Tournament Picks Today & Weather Updates 4/19/22

Terry McBride



Tuesday’s MLB DFS slate features absolutely loaded contests on both DraftKings and FanDuel. The slate takes a slightly different shape from site to site, DraftKings is including the 7:05 ET second game of a doubleheader between the Diamondbacks and Nationals, while FanDuel is starting their slate five minutes later and skipping that contest. Several of the game’s top arms are in action, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner is taking on the Pirates and dominating projections, and a few gas can starters are yielding strong power metrics and fantasy point projections for lineups from the night’s first game to its last. Finding the correct combinations of players is complicated even further by yet another Coors Field game, once again featuring the excellent Phillies lineup. With that game and a few other choice spots drawing attention, it pays to find points from which we can diverge from the field. The Top Stacks Tool is invaluable in finding these leverage points on the slate. When playing every day, particularly in baseball, it is important to remember variance will be a factor. Making the right decisions repeatedly, including rostering under-owned teams with strong probability metrics, is the winning approach to MLB DFS, the plays do not have to hit frequently to be highly profitable.

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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 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

Arizona Diamondbacks — Christian Walker — 8.52

Atlanta Braves: Matt Olson — 9.78

Baltimore Orioles: Trey Mancini — 5.95

Boston Red Sox: Bobby Dalbec — 9.41

Chicago Cubs: Frank Schwindel — 6.45

Cincinnati Reds: Jake Fraley — 6.32

Colorado Rockies: Connor Joe — 5.83

Houston Astros: Chas McCormick — 5.91

Kansas City Royals: Bobby Witt Jr. — 7.93

Los Angeles Angels: Jo Adell — 4.05

Los Angeles Dodgers: Justin Turner — 3.59

Milwaukee Brewers: Hunter Renfroe — 12.65

Minnesota Twins: Miguel Sano — 6.33

Oakland Athletics: Kevin Smith — 4.68

Philadelphia Phillies: Alec Bohm — 5.35

Pittsburgh Pirates: Ke’Bryan Hayes — 1.48

San Diego Padres: Wil Myers — 7.55

Seattle Mariners: Eugenio Suarez — 7.81

Tampa Bay Rays: Randy Arozarena — 10.29

Texas Rangers: Marcus Semien — 10.92

Toronto Blue Jays: George Springer — 7.22

Washington Nationals: Juan Soto — 7.94

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

The weather for Tuesday’s MLB DFS slate seems relatively tame, none of the games are facing a major threat of postponement despite the minor potential for showers in a few spots. Everything east of the Mississippi River is facing cool temperatures and environments that should be more pitcher-friendly, while temperatures and humidity climb as the games move west. Quality pitching is keeping run totals relatively low in several places, outside of the 11-run total in Coors Field, the early matchup between the Blue Jays and Red Sox is the slate’s highest total at just nine runs, 1.25 runs more than the average of the remaining seven totals on the board.

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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. 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 undisputed top play on both sites today is the 2021 National League Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes, who will be facing the Pirates in what should be a pushover matchup. Burnes dominates the top of FanDuel and DraftKings pitching projections, he is pressingly popular on both sites but he should be well worth both the weight of ownership and the salary requirement. Burnes is on a tier of his own based on the matchup. Last year’s Cy Young winner from the American League is also on the slate, but Robbie Ray comes with major questions after a pair of shaky starts to open his Seattle career. Ray is facing a Texas lineup that can put runs on the board, particularly in their home park. If his walk rate truly is lost to his career average again this will be a difficult situation for him. Joe Musgrove has an easier task in handling the Cincinnati lineup, Musgrove has been sharp to start the season after finishing last season 26th overall in FanDuel points per start at 33.9. The trickiest situation on the mound might be Walker Buehler, the excellent Dodgers righty who has a very difficult matchup in the Braves, but also one that could yield major strikeout returns. The slate also includes a few wildcards, it would not be overly surprising to see Jon Gray deliver a good outing against the Mariners if he is able to complete five or six innings. Similarly, Nathan Eovaldi is a quality right arm in a very difficult matchup against the Blue Jays, but he would not knock people out of their chairs on seeing him atop the leaderboard. Good pitchers in bad situations sometimes yield strong results for MLB DFS tournaments, in addition to Eovaldi, that list would also include Patrick Sandoval who is a tough ask against the excellent strikeout-erasing Astros lineup, Max Fried who will be facing the National League All-Star Team Dodgers and Framber Valdez, who simply is a better option for real baseball than he is for MLB DFS. Interesting options from the low-salary bin on DraftKings could include JT Brubaker against the Brewers for $5,900 and Cole Irvin against the Orioles for $6,300.

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Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes was spectacular over his 167 innings last season. Burnes made 28 starts and pitched to a 2.30 xFIP with a 0.94 WHIP while holding opposing hitters to a completely deflated 30.5% hard-hit rate with a 3.1% barrel rate. Burnes limited exit velocity to a mere 85.5 mph on average, allowing just an 8.4-degree average launch angle, all of which adds up to a 1.07% home run rate. Burnes allowed just seven home runs to the 657 batters he faced. While long balls can be highly variable from year to year, the quality contact marks and Burnes’ ridiculous 16.6% swinging-strike rate make it easy to believe there is actual talent suppressing power, not just happenstance. The electric righty struck out a massive 35.6% of opposing hitters to lead all qualified pitchers. Burnes’ strikeout rate was 1.5 percentage points higher than that of Max Scherzer and 2.1 above Gerrit Cole, who ranked second and third in baseball. Only two other starters struck out more than 30% of hitters last season, one of whom is Robbie Ray, who is also on today’s slate, and the other is Dylan Cease at 31.9%. Burnes is elite by any measure, he walked just 5.2% of opposing hitters and had a dominant 33.8% CSW% for the season, it is difficult to find a single nit to pick. While the Pirates will be featured as a stack in this space from time to time – for better or worse – the active roster’s compiled numbers from last year are downright awful against right-handed pitching. Pittsburgh had a league-low .136 collective ISO and a 2.32% home run rate that ranked 29th out of 30 teams. The active roster created runs 18% worse than average against righties last season and they struck out at a 23.8% rate, the 22nd ranked mark in the sport. This is a cakewalk of a matchup for Burnes, who should be owned aggressively in all formats on all sites.

Further down the list of last year’s strikeout rate leaders, Dodgers right-handed ace Walker Buehler ranked 19th among qualified starters with a 26% rate over his 33 starts. His 28.7% rate from 2019-2021 sits 16th overall in baseball, only seven pitchers are at or above a 30% rate in that sample, with Gerrit Cole and Jacob deGrom tied atop the list at 36.2% and Max Scherzer behind them at 34%. Only those three starters have struck out 12 or more hitters per-9 over that sample. While he is not one of the two or three apex starters in the league, Buehler is easily an ace and one of the league’s best. His 3.52 xFIP in the 2019-2021 sample ranks 14th in baseball, while his 2.89 ERA sits fourth behind only the three extreme strikeout leaders mentioned above. Buehler has held opposing hitters to a .206 batting average over that sample, sixth best in baseball, and he has a .262 batting average on balls in play against while stranding 75.6% of base runners. His 5.7% barrel rate allowed over the sample ties for 13th, in this case, Luis Castillo and Zack Wheeler lead the way with a 4.6% rate, though Buehler’s 36.6% hard-hit rate ranks just 35th in the sample. Walker Buehler is a very good pitcher, he was the best option in baseball for quality starts last season, racking up 27 in his 37 tries with the playoffs included. Buehler’s only downside on this slate is that he will be facing a tough opponent in the loaded Braves. Atlanta’s active roster was third in baseball with a .205 ISO against righties last season and their compiled 4.37% home run rate in the split ranks second. The team struck out at an aggressive pace against righties, however, leaving plenty of meat on the bone for a starter of Buehler’s caliber. The Braves’ 24.1% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching ranked 25th in the league. If Buehler is able to exploit the strikeouts, he is a fantastic option at just 5.6% popularity on FanDuel and 7.2% on DraftKings. This is not a play for the risk-averse, but it would be completely unsurprising to see Buehler as the night’s leading scorer on the mound.

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Seattle lefty Robbie Ray had an excellent season last year. Ray won the American League Cy Young Award seemingly out of nowhere. The southpaw somehow managed to cut his walks from an average of 14.13% over 2018-2020 to just 6.7% in 2021. Ray was always a strong strikeout pitcher, but his inability to harness his control predictably, or at all, was always his undoing. With the limited walks, Ray’s strikeout rate swelled to 32.1%, slightly short of his career-high, but still easily the most effective he has ever pitched. Ray rang up a 193.1-inning total in 32 starts for Toronto, pitching his way to a 3.36 xFIP against a 2.84 ERA and by far a career-low WHIP of 1.05. Ray still allowed a significant amount of premium contact in spite of his 15.5% swinging-strike rate, opposing hitters managed a 42.9% hard-hit rate and a 90.4 mph average exit velocity with a 9.8% barrel rate last season. With Ray slipping to a 10.7% walk rate over 13.1 innings in his first two starts – a meaningless but still somehow concerning small sample – that contact profile simply will not hold up against any stiff competition. Ray will be on the mound to face an improved Rangers lineup that has several quality power bats and has been frisky to start the season. There are plenty of strikeouts available in the lineup however, the Texas active roster compiled a 26th-ranked 24.2% strikeout rate against southpaws last season while creating runs exactly at league average. The team’s 3.42% home run rate ranks 15th out of 30 teams and their .172 ISO in the split is the 14th-ranked power mark, making this a group that was decidedly average in the split last season, but not one lacking in upside for this year. Ray is not a safe play at his pricing and popularity, he could easily have a massive fantasy score at the end of the night, but there are other strong options and Ray is pushing close to a 40% ownership projection on DraftKings and a 25% mark on FanDuel.

Joe Musgrove will have the Reds in town in San Diego and he comes at extremely different prices from site to site. On DraftKings, Musgrove is a strong mid-range play for just $8,600. The righty is justifiably pulling in an ownership projection of nearly 40%, almost exactly matching Ray’s popularity. On the blue site, Musgrove costs $11,000, making him the most expensive pitcher on the slate by $200. With that $200 representing the difference between Musgrove and Corbin Burnes, only 6.8% of the field is projected to roster the Padres’ righty. Musgrove had a strong season in 2021, he threw 181.1 innings and struck out 27.1% of opposing hitters while walking 7.2%. Musgrove pitched to a 3.65 xFIP and a 1.08 WHIP while inducing a solid 12.7% swinging-strike rate. The righty had a 31.4% CSW% and a 7.2% barrel rate while yielding a 38.5% hard-hit percentage. The Cincinnati active roster compiled surprisingly good numbers against righties last season, despite the major losses during the offseason. This year’s roster still assembled a .189 ISO to rank eighth and a seventh-ranked 3.82% home run rate in the split. Cincinnati struck out at a 23.6% clip but created runs 8% better than average against righties, which would be good for the ninth-best mark in baseball. Of course, that was last year; over their first 200 combined plate appearances against right-handed pitching in 2022, Cincinnati’s active roster has just a .105 ISO, 26th in baseball, and their 28.5% strikeout rate in the split is the league’s worst. Musgrove is a potential sneaky pay-up option on the FanDuel slate, he is easily playable as a good value with a lot of popularity in DraftKings MLB DFS lineups tonight.

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Coors Field

The presence of Coors Field games on a slate is almost always worth a mention, either the point-scoring upside or the popularity, and often both, are critical factors in MLB DFS lineup construction on the whole. This space has been featured for several days running, but the approach has not changed, when Coors Field is popular it can pay to undercut the field while still including it in lineups at a rate more in line with the relative probability of success for each team. When the field happens to be elsewhere, Coors Field stacks make for excellent targets in tournaments. On this slate, both the Phillies and Rockies are negatively leveraged on DraftKings, but they rank as the top two teams on the board by their probability of being the top performing stack. The Phillies land at a 20.3% probability of being the top option and a 21.8% collective ownership rate, while the Rockies are less popular on the whole, but come more negatively leveraged at a -4.6 mark. The Phillies also top the board on the FanDuel slate, landing at a 21.3% probability of being the top stack by night’s end. The team is projected for a 25.2% ownership share, however, landing them at the slate’s second-worst leverage score behind the far too popular Brewers. The Rockies sit second at a 10.6% probability of success and a matching ownership rate, leaving them efficiently owned but potentially usable in tournaments. Landing at or somewhat below the field in all four corners of this game across the two sites seems like a good approach with the weight of popularity considered, but it should be expected that one or both of these teams will perform tonight.

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays are facing talented right-handed starter Nathan Eovaldi in lousy hitting conditions in Boston’s Fenway Park, rendering the excellent lineup low-owned on the whole and positively leveraged on the Top Stacks Tool. Eovaldi made 32 starts and pitched to a 25.5% strikeout rate and a 3.48 xFIP with a 1.19 WHIP last season. He generated a 12.6% swinging-strike rate and had a 29.9% CSW% while allowing a 36.2% hard-hit rate. Those are all good but not dazzling numbers, though Eovaldi’s 4.6% walk rate approaches that level of quality. The righty will be challenged up and down the lineup by a loaded Blue Jays active roster that compiled a .186 ISO and a 3.82% home run rate against righties last year, the ninth and sixth-highest marks on the board while creating runs 10% better than average in the split. This season, Toronto’s active roster is out to a collective .250/.302/.430 start with a .180 ISO and a 111 WRC+ against righties, and they are third in baseball with 11 home runs in the split, a 3.9% rate. Toronto is loaded with talent from leadoff man George Springer through the pricey but worthwhile Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., second-generation superstars already in their young careers. The Blue Jays are without outfielder Teoscar Hernandez, but Lourdes Gurriel Jr. can capably fill that spot in the middle of the lineup. Third baseman Matt Chapman is mired in a .226/.333/.452 start but he has a .226 ISO and he has hit two home runs already this year. Chapman struggled terribly last season but he is a major bounce-back candidate in this lineup. The backend of the Blue Jays lineup falls off slightly more than it has in recent memory, but any of Alejandro Kirk, Zack Collins, or Cavan Biggio are viable options, as is Bradley Zimmer at a low price if he is in the lineup against a righty. The Blue Jays rank third on the FanDuel Top Stacks board, the highest-rated team outside of Coors Field, and they are one of the stronger positive leverage plays available. The same is essentially true on DraftKings, though they drop to fourth in their probability of success, falling one spot below their opponent, with both teams pulling in positive leverage in their AL East showdown.

Boston Red Sox

On the other side of the game, the heavily right-handed and powerful Red Sox lineup will be drawing down on Toronto lefty Yusei Kikuchi, who remade himself over the past two seasons before signing with the Blue Jays this year. Kikuchi threw 161.2 innings of 16.1% strikeout baseball for Seattle in 2019, pitching to a 5.46 ERA and a 5.18 xFIP, he was not good. The following season, Kikuchi leaped to a 24.2% strikeout rate and a 5.17 ERA with a 3.78 xFIP that caught some attention over a short season’s 47 innings. The improvements were based on a tweaked arsenal, and Kikuchi maintained similar production over 157 innings in 2021. The southpaw posted a 24.5% strikeout rate and a 4.41 ERA with a 3.85 xFIP last year, though his xERA mark was an uglier 5.19, revealing more of the nature of contact he allows. For all his improvement, and in spite of his good 12.5% swinging-strike rate, Kikuchi allows an ungodly amount of quality contact to opposing hitters. The league managed an 11% barrel rate and a titanic 47% hard-hit percentage against the southpaw last season, racking up a 91.9 mph exit velocity on average. Kikuchi allowed a 4.05% home run rate last year, managing to limit the average launch angle of opposing contact to just 7.9 degrees, his lone saving grace. The lefty is potentially in a very dangerous situation against a Red Sox lineup that is good at limiting strikeouts in the split, Boston’s active roster had a ninth-ranked 20.6% compiled strikeout rate against lefties last season. Kikuchi will not be owned by the public, but he can be targeted with Red Sox stacks on this slate.

Leadoff man Enrique Hernandez had a strong season in Boston, slashing .250/.337/.449 with 20 home runs while creating runs 10% better than average last season. Hernandez comes at a fair price on FanDuel, where he has multi-position eligibility between second base and the outfield with a 13.9% ownership projection. On the DraftKings slate, he is an outfielder who costs $5,100. As the head man of the stack, Hernandez is arguably worth that price when it also comes at just 3.5% popularity. Hernandez is a good option to lead off a lineup, he keeps the ball in play with just an 18.8% strikeout rate and he had a decent power stroke with a .199 ISO last season.

Lefty third baseman Rafael Devers is an excellent hitter, but his power dwindles in the split against same-handed pitching historically. Devers had an indisputably excellent season last year, slashing .279/.352/.538 with a .259 ISO and 38 home runs while creating runs 34% better than average on the whole. Against fellow lefties, however, Devers managed just a .128 ISO with a .278/.345/.405 triple-slash and only six of his 38 home runs. Devers had a 2.38% home run rate against southpaws and a massive 7.76% mark against the opposite hand. Against this lefty, Devers could easily shine tonight, he is in play for his hit tool and on-base skills regardless of the split, but it is difficult to justify the lack of power at his price on the DraftKings slate. While that could make him a differentiator at just 2.4% popularity, he is an easier purchase for $4,100 and 6.9% ownership on FanDuel. Devers does not have to be in every Red Sox stack tonight, but he could be a difference-maker despite the platoon concerns.

Shortstop Xander Bogaerts will have no such issues with Kikuchi’s handedness. The righty hit 23 home runs last season, posting a .295/.370/.493 triple slash and creating runs 30% better than average. Bogaerts struck out just 18.7% of the time and had a 10.3% walk rate overall last year. He barreled the ball 9.7% of the time and had a 43% hard-hit rate, both good but not phenomenal quality contact marks. The shortstop is the most popular Red Sox hitter on the DraftKings slate at $5,000 and 8.6% popularity, he is pulling 12.9% ownership where he somehow costs just $3,500 on the blue site. Bogaerts is underpriced and should be rostered aggressively in Boston stacks on FanDuel.

Outfielder JD Martinez has gotten out of the gate with a .243/.326/.432 triple-slash and a .189 ISO over his first 43 plate appearances this season. The 34-year-old slugger hit 28 home runs in 634 plate appearances last year, striking out in 23.7% of his plate appearances and walking at an 8.7% clip while compiling a .232 ISO and creating runs 28% ahead of the average. Martinez may not reach his former 45 home run heights, but he is still an excellent power bat that can be utilized on any MLB DFS slate. Against this lousy lefty who allows so much quality contact, Martinez is a strong bet for a big game. The outfielder costs $5,600 on DraftKings, but he will be rostered in just the low single-digits. At his $3,700 FanDuel price, Martinez slips below the 10% popularity line, he is a good option on both sites.

Star infielder Trevor Story is looking to make his first real impact for his new ballclub. Story is slashing just .250/.280/.292 over his first 25 plate appearances and he has hit no home runs while creating runs 37% below average in the microscopic sample. Story is a far more talented player than that, there is no question that the quality will come, and this looks like a particularly good matchup for him to get his year in gear. Story hit 24 home runs and stole 20 bases for Colorado in 595 plate appearances last year, he should easily challenge those marks again this season, and he has made a career of mashing left-handed pitching. Over 889 plate appearances against lefties in his career, Story has a 6.30% home run rate (56 total) and he is slashing .306/.380/.618 with an eye-popping .311 ISO that was double-checked and is not a misprint. Story is expensive but worthwhile on DraftKings at just 4.2%, he will be owned by 22% of the field at his broken $3,000 price with positional flexibility across the middle infield on FanDuel.

Slugger Bobby Dalbec is one of this space’s favorite bats to watch for improvement this season. As featured in the AL Preview article, Dalbec is a player who has regularly walked at an inflated rate throughout his minor league career, making him a three-true-outcomes bat in the mold of a Joey Gallo, more than he has been thus far. Dalbec’s power arrived in a big way last season, he hit 25 home runs in 453 plate appearances and put up a .254 ISO, but he struck out in 34.4% of his plate appearances while walking just 6.2% of the time. In 439 plate appearances in double-A in 2019, Dalbec walked at a 15.5% rate. He was at a 14.3% mark in high-A over 419 tries in 2018. The corner infielder had a ludicrously good 20.2% barrel rate with a 48.1% hard-hit percentage last year in the Show. If Dalbec sniffs a walk rate within a few percentage points of his minor league levels, his value will skyrocket for the Red Sox, and he will be an even better MLB DFS play than he is in his current form at just $4,500 on DraftKings and $2,600 on FanDuel. Dalbec is projected for less than 2% popularity on DraftKings, but he is pulling in a 12.6% rate on FanDuel.

Outfielder Alex Verdugo is another young player with a quality bat for the Red Sox. Verdugo made 604 plate appearances for the club last season, slashing .289/.351/.426 with a 107 WRC+. Verdugo lacked power in general, he hit just 13 home runs and had a .138 ISO while barreling the ball just 7.3% of the time and generating a 43.3% hard-hit rate. Verdugo is a career .270/.312/.364 hitter with just a .093 ISO against same-handed pitching, there is an argument for leaving him out of the lineup tonight both for the Red Sox and MLB DFS gamers.

The Christians at the back of the lineup are both cheap low-owned low-odds plays. Catcher Christian Vazquez is projected to hit ninth, he had a reasonably good year last year with a .258/.308/.352 triple-slash, but his home run total fell to just six and he had an anemic .094 ISO, far removed from the 19 home runs and .201 ISO he put up in a 2019 season that seems like it was from a different hitter at this point. Vazquez is a low-priority bat in this lineup, he is more useful where catchers are necessary. Infielder Christian Arroyo managed to hit six home runs in just 181 plate appearances, posting a surprising .183 ISO while creating runs 6% better than average in his limited opportunities. If he is in the lineup, he could be a sneaky low-cost bat.

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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