And now for something completely different. The famous Monty Python catchphrase is highly applicable to a wildly chaotic Wednesday slate of MLB DFS action. The day opened with mismatched slates from DraftKings to FanDuel and things have only gotten more complicated since. The FanDuel slate was originally scheduled for a 6:40 ET start time to accommodate a handful of early games on a 10-game slate, while DraftKings went with a standard 7:05 start and a seven-game setup. Then things changed. The start time of the Orioles – Athletics game was moved up to 6:07 ET in an effort to duck incoming bad weather, in response FanDuel moved their slate’s start time up to 6:07, while DraftKings remained firm at 7:05 ET, dropping the game and going with a six-game slate. Then things changed again. The Rays – Cubs game also moved forward on the schedule, this one landing at 6:30 ET, which fits inside of the new FanDuel schedule, but falls off of what is now a five-game DraftKings slate. To recap, FanDuel’s 10-game slate starts at 6:07 ET, while DraftKings is running a five-game slate starting at the original 7:05 ET lock time. Chaos and opportunity and ancient proverbs aside, the radically different slates will demand very different approaches to lineup building from site to site across the MLB DFS industry tonight.
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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
Arizona Diamondbacks: Seth Beer — 8.72
Baltimore Orioles: Anthony Santander — 10.85
Boston Red Sox: Rafael Devers — 8.89
Chicago Cubs: Seiya Suzuki — 6.22
Detroit Tigers: Jonathan Schoop — 9.00
Houston Astros: Kyle Tucker — 7.12
Kansas City Royals: Whit Merrifield — 4.68
Los Angeles Angels: Jared Walsh — 12.21
Miami Marlins: Jorge Soler — 9.12
Minnesota Twins: Kyle Garlick — 7.04
New York Mets: Pete Alonso — 8.43
New York Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton — 10.04
Oakland Athletics: Billy McKinney — 9.48
San Francisco Giants: Darin Ruf — 5.10
Seattle Mariners: Ty France — 5.23
St. Louis Cardinals: Paul DeJong — 5.08
Tampa Bay Rays: Josh Lowe — 4.48
Texas Rangers: Adolis Garcia — 7.74
Toronto Blue Jays: Matt Chapman — 9.31
Washington Nationals: Keibert Ruiz — 6.13
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
As covered in the introduction, two games have already moved forward on the schedule to try to duck under the weather. The Orioles – Athletics and Rays – Cubs games are still not entirely safe from the weather, but the hope is that they will be able to play. If the game in Chicago does take place, there is a strong wind blowing out to left, which is always a good thing for hitters at Wrigley Field. The remaining games on the slate seem relatively safe from inclement 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
What a difference 58 minutes can make. There are 20 pitchers on the board on FanDuel and half as many on the DraftKings slate that starts less than an hour later and requires two choices at the position. The DraftKings pitching conundrum is exacerbated by the fact that two of the top options on the slate are facing one another in the same game. That should not block anyone from including both Carlos Rodon and Chris Bassitt in the same lineup on the DraftKings slate, on a night short of options the requirement to book the win bonus is minimal. The five-game slate also includes Jose Berrios and Nick Pivetta, two quality righties who will be dueling against loaded lineups on both sides of the Blue Jays – Red Sox game, while young starters Dane Dunning and Logan Gilbert offer quality from the last game of the night. The FanDuel slate adds several standout options with Luis Severino facing the Tigers, Eduardo Rodriguez looking to get on the right side of his bad luck against the Yankees, Sandy Alcantara in a difficult spot against the Cardinals and the elite Shohei Ohtani with his hands full with the low-strikeout Astros.
Despite all the site-to-site differences on tonight’s MLB DFS slate, the top two options on the Top Pitchers Tool are the same on both sites. San Francisco’s Carlos Rodon is in the lead spot by his probability of success on both sites, but he will of course be highly popular. Rodon was outstanding over 132.2 innings in 24 starts for the White Sox last season, only innings pitched separates the elite lefty from Cy Young Award contention, Chicago deliberately limited the injury-prone starter’s opportunities down the stretch last year, hoping to preserve him for the playoffs, he should see a bit more leeway with San Francisco. Rodon posted a sparkling 34.6% strikeout rate and a 6.7% walk rate last season, racking up a 0.96 WHIP and pitching to a 3.17 xFIP. The southpaw generated a 15% swinging-strike rate and he was good at limiting quality contact, holding hitters to a 36.1% hard-hit rate and a 6.6% barrel rate. Rodon is facing a Mets active roster that compiled middle-of-the-road numbers against lefties last year. New York’s compiled ISO was .162 in the split, good for 21st overall, but they limited strikeouts to just 21.5%, the 12th-best team in the split, and they had a 104 WRC+, also 12th best. The team’s power did not come through fully, they had a 3.35% home run rate that ranked 18th overall. Rodon has the talent to get through this team and find a few strikeouts, but they will not be given to him freely, the lefty is elite and he looks like the best option on the board on both sites, but this is not a pushover of a matchup. Rodon’s ownership is nearly three times his probability of being the top starter on the FanDuel slate and it sits 25 percentage points higher than his odds of landing as a top-two starter on DraftKings. Weighing the ownership against his chances of success, as well as the quality of the other options on DraftKings leads to the conclusion that it is probably worth the weight of public popularity to include Rodon in a wide array of lineups on the site, but undercutting the massive popularity is viable. Rodon has a strong chance of putting up the night’s lone dominant start on FanDuel, he is well worth owning, but undercutting the massive public ownership in favor of some of the under-discussed options that are only available on the blue site is a sound approach to the MLB DFS chalk of the night.
On the other side of the same game, Chris Bassitt will look to continue his strong start to the season. Bassitt came seemingly out of nowhere to pitch very well for the Athletics in 2019, he had been on the team since 2015 seeing a variety of spot starts, but never saw even 100 innings until his age-30 season. Over his 144 innings in 2019, Bassitt pitched to a 3.81 ERA but a 4.61 xFIP with a 23% strikeout rate. He stood out in the short 2020 season with a 2.29 ERA but again an inflated xFIP mark of 4.49, while his strikeout rate dipped to 21.1%. Things finally came together in full last season, Bassitt made 27 starts and put up a 3.15 ERA and a 3.93 xFIP while striking out 25% of opposing hitters with a 6.1% walk rate and a 10.1% swinging-strike rate. The righty was excellent at limiting quality contact, opposing hitters barreled the ball in just 6.5% of batted ball events, generating just a 32.7% hard-hit rate. Bassitt has a 31.8% strikeout rate over his first two starts this season, he is a strong option to continue with quality throughout the season, though that rate may be unsustainable. Bassitt is pulling in an ownership projection 16 percentage points higher than his probability of being a top-two starter on DraftKings and 6.2 percentage points higher than his top pitcher probability on the FanDuel slate. He is very much in play with a raw ownership total half that of Rodon’s on the blue site, and the pair of pitchers can be rostered together on DraftKings at extremely heavy ownership. In that scenario, focusing on using very different bats than where the public may go is the only recourse for getting different with MLB DFS lineup constructions.
Seattle sophomore Logan Gilbert sits third on the DraftKings board when sorting by the probability of him landing as a top-two starter. Gilbert is drawing roughly nine percentage points more popular than he is likely to post that score, but he is a strong consideration on a slate that is light with options. Gilbert drops to fourth on the FanDuel board and his ownership draws to a spread of just three percentage points. By all appearances, Gilbert arrived in the Show fully formed. The highly regarded righty made 24 starts in his first year in the Majors, posting a 25.4% strikeout rate and a 5.6% walk rate while inducing an excellent 12.5% swinging-strike rate. He pitched to a 4.19 xFIP and a 1.17 WHIP, his CSW% was a low 25.9% and he allowed a 44.6% hard-hit rate with an 8.8% barrel rate, so there is much room for improvement for the already good starter. Gilbert draws a Rangers active roster that is dangerous against right-handed bats. The compiled .192 ISO and 3.98 home run rate that this team compiled last season are good for seventh and fifth overall in the split, they created runs an 11th-ranked 6% better than average by collective WRC+ and they struck out at a middling 22.7% rate in the split. This seems like a good spot for rostering both sides of the matchup, the Texas bats come positively leveraged on both sites, while Gilbert is clearly worth at least around the same level of attention as he is receiving from the public.
With an extremely limited set of choices on DraftKings, one could easily land on Jose Berrios in the middle of the board when simply looking for lower-owned talented pitchers. Berrios comes with slightly positive leverage in a tough spot against the Red Sox, he has a 17.5% probability of landing as a top-two starter and the field is including him in 14.5% of their lineups. For just $7,300, Berrios is interesting on the DraftKings slate, and he is owned at less than 1% while still pulling in a 4.6% chance of being the top starter on the blue site. While Berrios makes for a good option and he is clearly under-owned, Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta is getting almost completely ignored. The righty costs $8,900 on DraftKings and he lands at the very bottom of the board with an 8.8% probability of being a top-two starter on the slate. Pivetta is facing the loaded Blue Jays and he has not exactly gotten out to a strong start to his season, allowing four earned runs in both of his starts so far. In the first outing, Pivetta made it through 5.2 innings, striking out four and walking three, but allowing two home runs. He got tagged in the second outing, completing just two innings, allowing a home run while striking out two and walking two. Pivetta is a better pitcher than that in general, while he is certainly a low-odds play he is also almost entirely unowned on a two-pitcher site with only 10 options available. Pivetta threw 155 innings over 30 starts last season, racking up a high quality 26.5% strikeout rate but walking 9.8% of opposing hitters. The righty pitched to a 4.28 xFIP but he had a bumpy 1.30 WHIP, allowing too many baserunners has always been a hiccup for Pivetta. He also allowed a 40.1% hard-hit rate and an 8.2% barrel rate last season, something this elite Blue Jays lineup could capitalize on for certain. Still, with just 1% of the field including him in lineups. Considering a small amount of Pivetta shares on a slate of this nature is not out of bounds. He is not off the board for DraftKings tournaments despite landing at the bottom of it.
For FanDuel gamers, the addition of Luis Severino in a matchup against the improving Tigers looks like a strong option. Severino ranks third on the FanDuel slate with a 6.1% probability of being the top pitcher but he is drawing ownership at a rate more than double that mark at 14.1%. By comparison, Logan Gilbert sits fourth with a 5.9% probability of success and a 7.7% ownership rate, still negative leverage in a technical sense, but far less raw popularity on essentially the same probability of landing as the top option. Severino has had a strong start to his comeback, he threw three innings of five-strikeout baseball while yielding five hits and two runs to the Red Sox in his first appearance, then he faced 21 hitters, striking out six and allowing just two hits and two walks in shutting out the mighty Blue Jays over five innings. Severino should be in line for a similar workload tonight, but the matchup is more friendly. The Tigers active roster compiled a .170 ISO and a 3.21% home run rate last season against righties, the 15th and 19th-best in those categories. The team’s 23.7% collective strikeout rate in the split ranked them 21st overall and they were 2% below average at run creation by WRC+ against righties. The Tigers are a team on the rise, but that does not happen all at once. They are still a target for a pitcher of Severino’s quality; as long as the endurance holds up, he should have a good chance at posting a big MLB DFS score.
The remaining options of note that are on the FanDuel slate are Sandy Alcantara, who ranks fifth by his probability of success at slightly negative leverage for his $9,200 price tag; Shohei Ohtani who manages to slip behind Erick Fedde to land seventh on the probability board at $9,100; and Eduardo Rodriguez, who is several spots further down the board with a 4% probability of being the top starter but just a 1.3% popularity projection. While Ohtani and Alcantara are the more popular options, Rodriguez demands some attention with next to no ownership projected. The unlucky lefty is a much better pitcher than the back of his baseball card may indicate. Rodriguez had a 27.4% strikeout rate over 157.2 innings in 31 starts in his last season in Boston in 2021. The southpaw induced an 11.7% swinging-strike rate and walked hitters at a 7.0% clip, pitching to an excellent 3.43 xFIP but an unsightly 4.74 ERA that creates the perception that he is a below-average pitcher. With a bit of luck or some better defense behind him, Rodriguez has a chance to surprise a great many baseball fans and MLB DFS gamers this season, he is in a tough spot against the Yankees’ powerful and heavily right-handed lineup, but there are obvious strikeouts available for the lefty as well. Eduardo Rodriguez is by no means safe, but that’s what drives popularity away from the player, making him at least interesting for a handful of tournament dart throws.
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The Blue Jays and Red Sox were two of yesterday’s featured stacks and the clash of titans resulted in a 2-1 Boston victory that the word “disappointing” fails to accurately describe. With Jose Berrios and Nick Pivetta on the mound for their respective clubs, we could see a repeat performance of quality pitching overcoming extremely talented bats, but the probability ratings for either team to land as the top option on the slate would indicate otherwise. The Blue Jays rank second on both sites by their probability of being the top stack, though the raw percentage is far lower on the FanDuel slate with twice as many options. Toronto is projected for efficient ownership on DraftKings and slightly negative leverage on FanDuel, but they can be targeted for stacks on both sites. The top three hitters in the projected lineup will all be highly popular but there are plenty of ownership offsets through the middle of the lineup, including Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Zack Collins and Matt Chapman. Boston comes in ranked third on DraftKings with strong positive leverage marks and a 5.5% total team ownership share. The Red Sox drop to seventh best on the FanDuel slate, where they are efficiently owned but at a relatively low raw total. The Red Sox are less popular than the Blue Jays, Rafael Devers will be in 18.5% of the public’s lineups on the FanDuel slate and 12.9% on the DraftKings board, but every other Red Sox hitter on the blue site is owned in the mid-to-low single digits, and only Alex Verdugo has his head above the 10% waterline on the DraftKings slate. The expensive Red Sox bats are difficult but not impossible to include in a lineup, they make for good leverage targets in tournaments across the MLB DFS industry.
The Nationals are facing right-handed starter Merrill Kelly who threw 158 innings in his 27 starts last season. Kelly was an average to below-average pitcher, he had a 4.24 xFIP and a 1.29 WHIP with a low 19.5% strikeout rate. The righty walked 6.1% of opposing hitters but induced just an 8.8% swinging-strike rate. He allowed a 39.4% hard-hit percentage and a 6.3% barrel rate with a 3.15% home run rate. The Nationals land as one of the night’s better options despite a top-heavy lineup. Washington ranks fourth on DraftKings and they have a strong 3.3 leverage score on the site against their 9.6% probability of being the top stack. The team comes at efficient ownership because of a lower probability of success with the added teams making an impact on FanDuel, but they are still worthy of consideration at just a 4.8% ownership share as the eighth-ranked team out of 20 options. Cesar Hernandez is making a habit out of getting on base once or twice in his five plate appearances per game leading off for this lineup, he should be a decent option for correlated scoring but minimal individual production all season. Hernandez is followed by a trio of premium hitters with the best bat in baseball in Juan Soto fronting a power-packed pair in Nelson Cruz and Josh Bell. That obvious top-of-the-lineup stack is playable but popular, though Bell’s single-digit ownership on both sites is instantly interesting. Catcher Keibert Ruiz adds a playable bat at an important DraftKings position for a low price and no ownership, while the balance of the lineup includes familiar faces like Maikel Franco and Alcides Escobar. Potentially interesting Victor Robles is at the bottom of the projected batting order. Robles has long had the foot speed and bat speed necessary to be an MLB DFS star, but he has never sustainably put his tools together. The speedy outfielder has some pop and could function as a wraparound play for low ownership.
The Rangers are an intriguing play from further down the board on the Top Stacks tool. On DraftKings, the slate features the Twins at the top of the list at 18.1% likely to be the top stack of the day. They are followed by the Blue Jays at 17.3% and then the Red Sox at 9.9%. While the Rangers technically rank eighth out of the 10 available teams, their probability of landing the top spot is a highly comparable 7.4%, and they are one of the few options not drawing the requisite attention on the short slate. On FanDuel, the Rangers rank 17th with a 3.2% probability of being the top stack and just a 2% ownership share. While that is certainly a low rank and a low raw probability number, the top-ranked Twins are at just a 10% probability of being the best stack of the night and the slate dips to below 6% with the fifth-ranked Cubs, making it more of a flat consideration than the ranked sort may make it seem. The Rangers are facing popular Logan Gilbert, who was featured above as a pitching option. While Gilbert had an excellent rookie season, the contact metrics are definitely targetable, and drawing down on his 30.6% ownership share on DraftKings is a sharp approach to the short slate. Texas is a flawed but improving lineup, they have already been frisky for early season MLB DFS and they could contribute to victory again at low ownership tonight.
Left-handed Brad Miller is expected to be in the lineup leading off for Texas after returning from some bumps and bruises last night. Miller had an excellent year for quality contact last season, racking up a 12.3% barrel rate with a 47.9% hard-hit percentage over his 377 plate appearances. He translated that contact into 20 home runs and a .227 ISO while creating runs 5% better than average and slashing .227/.321/.453. The contact is consistent as well, Miller had a 12.8% barrel rate with a 46.8% hard-hit mark in 2019 and a 13.4% with a 43.3% in 2020. Miller is a heavy-strikeout hitter who can draw a walk, he struck out at a 29.7% rate with an 11.9% walk rate last year. He is a quality piece at $3,600 on DraftKings, but he is drawing 10.6% popularity, he will be owned below 3% at just $2,800 with multi-position eligibility on FanDuel.
Infielder Marcus Semien slots into the two-spot in the lineup coming off a monster season in Toronto. Semien hit 45 home runs and had a .273 ISO, slashing .265/.334/.538 over 724 plate appearances. He struck out at a 20.2% clip and walked in 9.1% of his plate appearances, creating runs 31% better than average. Semien is owned at an 11% rate on DraftKings, where he costs a mere $4,500 on the slate. He is the most popular Rangers bat on both sites, but the FanDuel ownership mark is just 4.8%. Semien can and should be included in most Rangers stacks.
Fellow free agent signing Corey Seager checks in at a 7.3% ownership mark as the most expensive Rangers bat on DraftKings and he is a 2.8%-owned player who somehow costs just $3,400 on FanDuel. No player who gets walked with the bases loaded should cost under $4,000 on FanDuel at any point. Seager hit 16 home runs in his 409 plate appearances last season, posting a .215 ISO and creating runs 47% better than average.
Nate Lowe costs just $2,900 on FanDuel and he will be rostered by less than 1% of the field. Lowe is an excellent option at low ownership on DraftKings as well, he is projected for just 2.9% popularity on the site. Lower is an under-appreciated bat, he made 642 plate appearances last season and hit 18 home runs while creating runs 15% better than average. His .264/.357/.415 triple-slash is not exactly what one wants from a cleanup hitter, where Lowe is projected in the lineup today, he is effective in the role but he could be more useful leading off with Miller’s power in the cleanup spot. Either way, both players are options for a stack and they can be rostered together. Lowe had a 9.5% barrel rate and a 45.5% hard-hit percentage last season while drawing a 12.5% walk rate, he is cheap and easy to roster in the middle of Rangers stacks.
The breakout star for the Rangers last season was outfielder Adolis Garcia who burst onto the scene with 31 home runs and 16 stolen bases in his 622 plate appearances. Garcia struck out at a massive 31.2% rate while walking in just 5.1% of his plate appearances and posting a .243/.286/.454 triple-slash and creating runs at league average. The power hitter needs to get on base more reliably, but he is a strong option for a home run and some runs batted in on any given slate. Garcia had an 11.5% barrel rate and a 45.3% hard-hit percentage last year, the fifth hitter in a row with a hard-hit mark above 40% in this lineup.
Willie Calhoun is another post-hype prospect who had a 41.4% hard-hit percentage but just a 3.5% barrel rate last season. Calhoun made 284 plate appearances in the show, scuffling his way to a .250/.310/.381 triple-slash with a .131 ISO. Calhoun’s hard-hit rate in the limited sample brings the average of the first six hitters in the projected Rangers lineup to a 45% hard-hit percentage against a pitcher who was very good but still allowed a 44.6% hard-hit to opponents last year, a combination that could lead to some fireworks. As a cheap low-owned option in the middle of the lineup, Calhoun has upside and he can be included at the backend of Rangers stacks.
Catcher Jonah Heim is the lesser option among the Rangers backstops, he hit 10 home runs while slashing .196/.239/.358 with a .162 ISO over 285 plate appearances last season. Heim is projected for the seven spot in the lineup and is not overly interesting. Kole Calhoun hits from the left side of the plate and has platoon-based upside at a low $2,200 on FanDuel and $2,900 on DraftKings, but the overall opportunities are limited at the end of the batting order. Calhoun is projected for 1% ownership or less, he can be deployed as a dart throw option for power. Nick Solak is not a name that leaps to mind for quality either. The utility man had a .120 ISO while creating runs 11% below average last season, the last few spots in this lineup trail off from the earlier quality, focusing on under-owned bats from one through six is the approach to rostering Rangers on this slate.
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