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MLB DFS Tournament Picks & Home Runs 4/27/22

Terry McBride



The Wednesday main slate of MLB DFS action is an eight-game affair with one ace-caliber pitcher, a handful of mid-range third starter types and several arms that should be targeted with bats. A glance toward the power index points the way toward some of the hardest-hitting teams in baseball, with 3/5 of the AL East and the Atlanta Braves dominating the top of the board for home run probability. There are numerous approaches to putting together quality stacks from among those four teams, but other spots on the slate are worthy of consideration as well. The highest Vegas game total on the board is just nine, in the contest between the Red Sox and Blue Jays, while the Orioles and Yankees will battle in a game carrying an 8.5 total. Every other game on the slate is totaled at eight or fewer runs, but there is a somewhat level playing field and the haves and have-nots are somewhat obvious for MLB DFS lineup creation. Getting to under-appreciated stacks is always a strong way to offset the popularity of a starting pitcher, which could come into play around tonight’s lone ace, who is pulling in large ownership projections from site to site. This was a topic of discussion on yesterday’s MLB Live Before Lock, as related to Giants’ ace Carlos Rodon, who stood high above the field in projections and expectations but was overwhelmingly popular. Rostering the most popular pitcher with the most popular value plays is not a strong approach while undercutting the ownership on the top ace can hamper the upside of a full slate of entries. Splitting the difference and looking for positively leveraged value stacks to use alongside an expensive high-end pitcher with extreme popularity is sound. From the opposite perspective, undercutting the popularity of the prime starter while focusing on underappreciated options on the mound allows gamers to roster more popular and more expensive upside bats. In last night’s specific case, Rodon performed well and did not go bust, but other starters equaled or exceeded his performance for cheaper prices and far less ownership, those who combined premium Yankees bats alongside a pitcher like Pablo Sandoval or the out of nowhere David Lynch were rewarded for their effort in getting away from the chalk, but neither decision was wrong on the way into the slate.

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Top Home Run Options

Home runs are the holy grail when making MLB DFS picks. Finding the right combination of sluggers who will knock one or two out of the park to drive in the teammates you stack with them is critical to winning GPPs. Identifying the likely home run hitters is trickier than just looking at the big names. Using a model based on a blend of several predictive statistics for the batter-pitcher matchup, this will give each team one of the top choices. However, it will not always be the absolute top-ranked player, particularly when there is an obvious star in that spot every day.

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Home Run Ratings

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

Atlanta Braves: Adam Duvall — 11.15

Baltimore Orioles: Cedric Mullins — 6.62

Boston Red Sox: J.D. Martinez — 13.46

Chicago Cubs: Seiya Suzuki — 6.33

Cleveland Guardians: Franmil Reyes — 8.95

Detroit Tigers: Spencer Torkelson — 10.17

Houston Astros: Kyle Tucker — 5.70

Los Angeles Angels: Taylor Ward — 7.46

Miami Marlins: Jorge Soler — 10.95

Minnesota Twins: Miguel Sano — 7.01

New York Yankees: Joey Gallo — 11.90

Oakland Athletics: Billy McKinney — 7.90

San Francisco Giants: Joc Pederson — 9.80

Texas Rangers: Kole Calhoun — 7.81

Toronto Blue Jays: George Springer — 13.97

Washington Nationals: Josh Bell — 5.61

Power Index

This is intended to capture the full range of home run upside for each team. It is not meant as a stack ranking and does not account for pricing or popularity — only home run potential. The first column is the average rating for the full projected lineup and the second is for the top six hitters in the projected lineup.

MLB DFS Weather Update: Postponements & Risk Assessment

Today’s eight-game 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

The slate has one shining star at the top of the pitching heap in Shohei Ohtani, who will be crushingly popular as the most likely option on the board. Ohtani is projected for nearly 20 percentage points more popularity than second-ranked Joe Ryan of the Twins, who checks in the second spot only a few points behind Ohtani in terms of probability of being a top-2 DraftKings starter. On FanDuel, Atlanta’s Charlie Morton slips in between those two top starters. Morton comes at a major price discount, which is pushing his popularity upward on the blue site. On DraftKings, the right-handed veteran ranks third and is similarly cheap with extreme popularity as the go-to SP2 option. Simply choosing to not combine Ohtani and Morton is an instant differentiator on the two-pitcher site. On both sites, Miami’s Pablo Lopez sits in fourth, under-owned and at a high price. Additional potential options include Yankees lefty Jordan Montgomery, who is facing an Orioles lineup that can be pesky against southpaws and Cristian Javier, who is making his first start of the year after relief appearances. Javier threw three innings in each of his last two appearances but expecting more than five might be a lot for the live-armed young hurler.

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The Angels offense loses superstar Shohei Ohtani for MLB DFS purposes, but the two-way superstar will be on the mound, where he has excelled over his first 14.1 innings of 2022. Ohtani may not look like his dominant self in the 4.40 ERA, but his xERA is just 2.39 and he has a sparkling 1.28 xFIP so far, all while striking out hitters at an absurd and unsustainable 44.1%. Ohtani has yielded a 6.8% walk rate in his small sample this season, he has a 1.05 WHIP and he has allowed just two barreled balls and a 34.5% hard-hit percentage to this point in the early part of the year. Ohtani finished last season with 130.1 innings in 23 starts, posting a 29.3% strikeout rate with an 8.3% walk percentage and a 3.55 xFIP. The elite righty did allow a 39.9% hard-hit rate and some maximum exit velocity marks, but the average of just 88.4 mph average exit velocity is strong for limiting power in general. Ohtani had a 2.81% home run rate last year, an excellent mark for limiting the upside of a team like the Guardians, the opponent he will face this evening. The team has a handful of hitters who do not strike out frequently, but they rely on power from some free-swingers throughout the order to produce run-scoring events, Ohtani should be able to cap that production while finding bonus strikeouts on talent alone. The Guardians’ active roster had a .168 ISO and a 22.6% strikeout rate against righties last year, good for 19th and 15th best in baseball, but they created runs 4% below average and had a 3.27% home run rate in the split. This is a team that can be targeted with Ohtani shares, but unlike last night’s slate this is a more challenging matchup than what Carlos Rodon faced in the Athletics, Ohtani does not quite pop to the same degree against Cleveland, which makes his ownership share and negative leverage a more concerning factor with other quality options on the board. The Angels righty is the most likely pitcher to put up a big score, he should be rostered frequently and aggressively, with an eye toward hitter differentiation in stacks, but undercutting the field on the popular pitcher may be a sharp approach to the slate when next-tier arms come with price and popularity discounts and similar ceilings.

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The Twins have a few good young pitchers in the system, leading the way at the Major League level is rookie Joe Ryan, who has thrown 16 innings over his first three starts of the year. Ryan made five starts and threw 26.2 innings in a cup of coffee last season, he pitched to a 4.05 ERA and a 3.73 xFIP with a 30% strikeout rate in his first taste of Major League action, tantalizing Twins fans with his electric fastball. Ryan is off to a terrific start this year. While the strikeouts have dipped to 26.7% in the tiny sample, his walk rate has bounced from 5.0% to 8.3%, Ryan has a solid track record of success through the minors, and he is one of the franchise’s highly regarded prospect. The righty has a 1.69 ERA but a 4.07 xFIP over the first three starts this year, he has benefitted from some happenstance and defense, but his talent is obvious. Ryan is already priced up for his abilities on both sites, he ranks second on the DraftKings board at $9,600 and he is still drawing 29.7% popularity against a 25.7% probability of being a top-2 starter. Ryan costs $9,200 with a 10% probability of being the best play on FanDuel, but he is pulling in 16.9% ownership. If he were still discounted for youth or anonymity, Ryan would be a steal, but at his prices he is simply on the board in as-is condition, with a touch of “caveat emptor” in his start against the Tigers. Detroit’s improving active roster had a 13th ranked 3.43% home run rate and created runs exactly at league average against righties last season, and they compiled a .174 ISO. There are plenty of strikeouts in the lineup, the team had a 26th-ranked 24.6% strikeout rate in the split last year. This season, Detroit’s active roster is out to a 14th-ranked 23.3% strikeout rate against righties but they have just a .108 ISO and have created runs 12% worse than average. This should be a good spot for Ryan but his fair pricing and negative leverage are definite warts when more proven starters are available at similar projections.

The Braves will have Charlie Morton on the mound to face the Cubs in Atlanta. The veteran righty costs just $7,700 on FanDuel, where he sits second with a 10.1% probability of being the top option but has a 24% ownership projection. Morton is an $8,200 DraftKings pitcher who has a 19.8% chance of being in the top-2 on that site, but his popularity is pushing 45%, making him a fairly easy undercut to public ownership. Morton has had a bumpy start to his season, he has a 4.84 xFIP and just a 19.4% strikeout rate while walking 9.7% of opposing hitters. This could be an older pitcher simply working out the kinks after a shortened Spring Training, but Morton has had his ups and downs through his long career. He was firmly on the “up” side of that equation last season, throwing 185.2 innings over 33 starts in which he racked up a 28.6% strikeout rate and allowed a 7.7% walk percentage. He pitched to a firm 3.31 xFIP and a 1.04 WHIP, inducing swinging strikes 12.4% of the time with a 31% CSW%. Morton was also excellent at limiting premium contact, he had just a 4.9% barrel rate and a 32.5% hard-hit rate last year. This season’s short sample includes an 8.2% barrel rate but also a still-good 32.7% hard-hit percentage. Morton will be facing a Cubs lineup that was sneaky for power last year, the Chicago active roster compiled a .181 ISO, good for 12th on the board, while their 3.79% home run rate was eighth overall. The team did strike out at a very aggressive 25.2% clip, tied for 27th in baseball, a trend they have been good at limiting early this year. The same active roster has just a 21.8% strikeout rate in the split so far in 2022. They combine that improved rate with an odd pairing of a .132 ISO and a WRC+ 29% above average. The team has been excellent for run creation in the split, but the power has been out to a degree. Morton is an interesting pitcher to watch on this slate, if his struggles continue the Cubs could do damage to a wide swath of the slate that utilized the underpriced starter. Undercutting the field’s massive ownership projections seems like the wiser choice until Morton proves that he has gotten his year on track.

The best available pitching pivot on today’s slate is Miami’s Pablo Lopez, who is expensive at $9,900 on DraftKings, where he has a 16.9% probability of being a top-2 starter but just a 9.8% ownership projection. On FanDuel, the positively leveraged Lopez sits at 8.4% likely to be the best play of the day, but just 3.5% popularity for his $10,400 salary. Lopez has completed 17.1 innings in his three starts so far this season, pitching to a 0.52 ERA and a 2.68 xFIP with a 2.70 xERA. The righty has certainly benefitted from some run prevention and happenstance in those marks, but the expected numbers are still elite and he is a proven commodity who is not drawing enough attention in a start against the top-heavy Nationals. Lopez has a 26.6% strikeout rate with a 4.7% walk percentage so far this year, last year he was at 27.5% strikeouts and 6.2% walks over 102.2 innings in his 20 starts. Over that stretch, Lopez pitched to a 3.32 xFIP and induced an 11.8% swinging-strike rate while limiting hard contact to just 33.3% at an 86.7 mph average exit velocity. The righty is still just 26-year-old, he broke into the league at just 22 in 2018, but his innings pitched have been limited every year so far; last year’s 102.2 was his second-highest output so far, he threw 111.1 innings in 2019. When he is on the mound, Miami’s righty is an excellent option, adding in the matchup against a Nationals active roster that managed just a compiled .159 ISO that sat 25th in baseball and a 3.15% home run rate that ranked 21st. The team was very good at limiting strikeouts in the split, their 20.3% rate was the best on the board, though the Astros would have that spot if a few key hitters were not on the IL. Still, Washington’s ability to limit strikeouts is the only concern. Lopez is under-owned for his talent and matchup. He is worth the pay-up in order to get different in MLB DFS lineup constructions across the industry.

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New York Yankees

After yesterday’s power outburst rocketed them to the top of MLB DFS standings — particularly for anyone who rostered Anthony Rizzo and his three-home-run day — the Yankees look like one of the best bets again this evening. The team is at home to face the Orioles, who will have righty Tyler Wells on the mound… for a little while. Wells yielded an 11% barrel rate and a 41.1% hard-hit percentage over his 57 innings out of the bullpen last season. He had a 29% strikeout rate with a 4.11 xFIP, but he has been very limited in his brief tenure as a starter so far this season. Wells made three starts so far, the longest he has lasted in a game was four innings of shutout ball against this same Yankees lineup. Wells allowed three hits, struck out three and walked two in that performance. In his two other outings, Wells threw 1.2 and 2.1 innings, yielding four runs and 10 hits with just two strikeouts in the 1.2 inning game and two runs with just one strikeout in the 2.1 inning appearance. The shaky righty will probably be limited to around 75 or 80 pitches even if he is going well, but he seems like a target for these premium Yankees bats. In addition to Rizzo, who will be in a good situation once again, the Yankees roster boasts nearly endless power and home run hitting upside with players including Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Donaldson and Joey Gallo in the mix. Most teams have one, maybe two, power hitters that good, this team is loaded with them and the surrounding players are solid on-base options – when they are not underperforming post-hype prospects, yes Gleyber Torres, we are referring to you. DJ LeMahieu has returned to form after hiding an injury all of last season. The infielder is out to a .339/.413/.500 triple-slash and has created runs 76% better than average for this team. LeMahieu is a career .301/.357/.423 hitter, while some of that comes from his tenure in Coors Field, LeMahieu has more than proven his capability while with the Yankees. In the shortened 2020 season he slashed .364/.421/.590 and he went .327/.375/.518 in 2019. The bottom of the lineup includes Torres as well as catcher Kyle Higashioka and shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa on most nights. The latter is a punch-hitter who led the league in singles last year, he has little MLB DFS value. Higashioka had a red-hot Spring, but the blacksmith of the baseball gods must have dunked him in cold water prior to the start of the season. In regular-season action this year, the catcher is slashing just .111/.154/.139 with no home runs and a .028 ISO. Higashioka has created runs 115% worse than average (-15 WRC+) so far this season, but there is quality power in his bat. In 211 plate appearances last year, the catcher hit 10 home runs and had a .207 ISO, struggles aside, he can be utilized where the position is required. Overall, the top-ranked Yankees stack has a touch of positive leverage on the DraftKings slate, but the team is at a -4.8 leverage score on FanDuel. Rostering Yankees bats with the most popular pitching may not be viable, but there are simple offsets, and even a Yankees stack with the expensive but low-owned Lopez is not out of the realm of possibility from a lineup construction standpoint.

Negative Leverage Land

The Braves, Astros and Blue Jays follow the Yankees on the probability board on both sites. All three teams are worthy of rosters spots, they have outrageous talent up and down their lineups, but they all come at negative team stack leverage. The Astros provide the top value rating on the FanDuel slate, while the Braves have that honor on DraftKings, where they also come with an ugly -9.3 leverage mark. At 19.2% team popularity and that bad a leverage posture, it makes sense to avoid over-stacking Braves hitters in multiple lineups on the site, making them the third-best choice in this group. The Astros are owned efficiently while the Blue Jays are pulling in a -3.5 leverage score but a very low rating for value. The three teams come at similar popularity between 10.8% and 12.5% team ownership on the FanDuel slate, their leverage scores land between -1.4 and -2.7, and they are all playable on that site. All three of these excellent teams can be rostered from top to bottom, with position, price and popularity factors pushing configurations and selections.

The primary targets from the Blue Jays are George Springer, Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Matt Chapman, while catcher Zack Collins provides pop at the position and the end of the lineup features sneaky upside. The Astros projected lineup is short a Jose Altuve but projected leadoff man Kyle Tucker is an excellent bat who is pulling massive ownership that skews the team mark significantly. Tucker will be owned at a 22.5% clip on DraftKings and a 29.3% rate on FanDuel where he is at the jaw-droppingly low price of $2,700. Every other Astros hitter is projected for less than 10% popularity on DraftKings, they are more popular on FanDuel where Yordan Alvarez is also pulling a large share of ownership at 21.3% for his broken $3,200 price. The team is too cheap from top to bottom on the blue site, the DraftKings pricing team got it right, they are more of a target on that site but can be rostered on both. Finally, the Braves were featured in this space yesterday and did not deliver. Today’s lineup looks similar with quality power from top to bottom and they are in a redemption situation against Mark Leiter Jr. a gas-can of a pitcher that this team should ignite early. Quality Braves bats include Ozzie Albies, Matt Olson, Austin Riley, Marcell Ozuna, Adam Duvall and always-underrated Dansby Swanson. Positional and price options are baked in as well, with low-cost Alex Dickerson and catcher Travis d’Arnaud available. All three of these teams are capable of posting gigantic MLB DFS scores, but the field looks over-extended on each team collectively.

Los Angeles Angels

On a day with popularity at every turn on the top of both the hitting and pitching boards, finding an offset to ownership is a priority. This leads to the Angels, with no Ohtani in the lineup for DFS purposes, the team still ranks sixth with a 7.3% probability of being the top stack but with a 3.2 leverage score on DraftKings and they are fifth with a 7.8% probability of being the top stack while maintaining a 1.9 leverage score on FanDuel. Not being able to include Ohtani in a lineup when he is pitching no doubt makes a dent in the quality of this stack, but the Angels youth movement has arrived in style early in the season, and the formerly top-heavy team has become far more balanced, leaving premium under-owned choices available in a matchup against soft-tossing Zach Plesac. The righty has just a 14.5% strikeout rate this season, though he is out to a quality 1.53 ERA and a 3.90 xFIP over his first 17.2 innings in three starts. Still, a contact-based pitcher against a team with as much power as Los Angeles has displayed seems like a spot that should benefit the bats. Plesac is much more the pitcher who had a 4.77 xFIP last season.

The projected Angels lineup starts off with Taylor Ward, who saw 237 plate appearances last year and responded with a .250/.332/.438 triple-slash and a .188 ISO. Ward created runs 11% better than average and hit eight home runs in the small sample, barreling the ball in 10.3% of his batted-ball events and generating a 39.7% hard-hit rate. This season, Ward has slashed .353/.500/.647 with a .294 ISO and three home runs in his first 44 plate appearances. Those unsustainable marks have led to run production 138% better than average by WRC+, again a number that will not hold through the season, but one that is encouraging for the player’s general upside. Ward is a strong way to start a stack at just $4,700 and 3.8% popularity on DraftKings and for $3,000 and 10.7% ownership on FanDuel.

Shohei Ohtani will be on the mound and unavailable to MLB DFS gamers in the batters’ box, but he will be in the real-life lineup to help drive this offense, something that must be remembered when considering the general run-scoring upside. While we cannot benefit from Ohtani’s direct fantasy points, he can still drive in correlation scoring and provide an invisible boost to Angels stacks.

As always, Mike Trout is Mike Trout. He will be in 11.4% of the public’s lineups on DraftKings and 19.7% on FanDuel. He is expensive on both sites but always worth including in Angels stacks. Trout is slashing .347/.458/.776 with a ridiculous .429 ISO and five home runs over his first 59 plate appearances this season. He has created runs 156% better than average… which is about in line with how far above average the player seems in a more subjective sense. Include Trout in Angels stacks where he can be afforded from a salary and ownership perspective.

Jared Walsh adds another premium bat to the middle of this lineup. Walsh had an 11.3% barrel rate and a 41.2% hard-hit percentage last season, though he struck out in 26% of his plate appearances. The $4,700 first baseman is unpopular on DraftKings and he is similarly low owned for $3,300 on FanDuel. Walsh hit 29 home runs and had a .232 ISO while creating runs 27% better than average last year, he is worthy of inclusion and helps with the weight of popularity. Walsh has hit two home runs already this year, he is slashing .255/.305/.382 with just a .127 ISO but has still created runs 6% better than average. The seemingly low power output will come around, for now, it is keeping the public at bay and the price low, take advantage.

Right-handed third baseman Anthony Rendon had a down year last year, hitting just six home runs in a limited 249 plate appearances. Rendon is a proven star who has not found himself fully since coming to Los Angeles prior to the COVID-shortened 2020 season. This year he is out to a middling .226/.354/.396 start with a .170 ISO and two home runs, but he has created runs 27% better than average and belongs in stacks. Rendon is projected for a mere 2.9% popularity on DraftKings and 5.5% on the blue site.

Brandon Marsh hits from the left side of the plate for solid power and contact. In his 260 plate appearances last year, Marsh had a 10.9% barrel rate and a 51.7% hard-hit percentage that rivaled the output of Ohtani and Trout for premium contact. Despite his blistering .308/.396/.538 start to the season, Marsh is projected for low single-digit ownership on both sites. Nothing about the player’s profile suggests that his .231 ISO is unsustainable, Marsh has hit two home runs and created runs 72% better than average so far, with a 51.6% hard-hit rate and a 6.5% barrel rate in a limited 31 batted-ball events. He is easy to build into Angels stacks tonight.

All-or-nothing slugger Jo Adell should see a lineup spot this evening against the low-strikeout pitcher despite the same-handed matchup. Adell has a .231 ISO and has created runs 18% better than average while hitting three home runs in his first 53 plate appearances. The long-awaited 70-grade raw power may be translating into game power, which will make the outfielder an instant star. Adell has been a premium prospect on his way up, the power is very real, as is his 30% or higher strikeout rate. Against this pitcher, if he is in the lineup, Adell is a both-barrels shot at a monster game at low cost and popularity.

Catcher Max Stassi is a cheap source of power where his position is required, he is worth less consideration on the FanDuel slate but he would be fine to use to differentiate a few lineups if rostering many Angels stacks. Infielder Tyler Wade offers a low-end wraparound play with his speed and on-base acumen, while Andrew Velazquez is a far more limited option.

Home Run Prediction Today: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. — Toronto Blue Jays

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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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