After a tumultuous offseason that included labor strife, surprising retirements, teams pushing $300 million in salary and a significant amount of player movement, the MLB season is finally set to get underway on Thursday. There will be two versions of this column, the same overview content below will be posted shortly with the American League version of the rosters and players update in a separate post. As we approach 10,000 words for the National League draft, the need to come back to this space and write an introduction is fading. The following represents a few best guesses at lineup situations, statistics presented in graphics are 2021 stats unless otherwise noted. Details are included for MLB DFS on FanDuel and DraftKings, as well as for late season-long fantasy baseball drafts.
MLB DFS: Overview & Strategy
MLB Notes — Universal DH, Double-Headers and Other Changes
The newly agreed upon Collective Bargaining Agreement brings some hard-struck changes to the sport, primarily the codification of the Universal Designated Hitter, bringing the laughable situation of pitchers having to hit in the National League to a long-overdue end. While there is certainly an additional layer of strategy in the former version of the Senior Circuit, the nature of the modern game and the complete ineptitude of most pitchers at the plate rendered the change necessary. Unifying the rules between the two leagues in the same sport makes sense, and it creates jobs to extend the careers of fan-favorite aging sluggers, leading to fun things such as Albert Pujols getting to finish his Hall of Fame career back in St. Louis where it began. This should also extend the available scoring for National League lineups, leveling the playing field for MLB DFS purposes.
Another excellent change enacted in the new labor agreement is the return to nine-inning double-headers. The absurd seven-inning concession to people who do not enjoy the sport in the first place that was implemented in the name of improving game speed is no more and double-headers will once again be properly projectable this season. Unfortunately, the league decided to continue the ludicrous automatic runner at second base in extra innings idea for one more year, despite acknowledging the absurdity in agreeing to scrap it after the season. Why it was left in place to ruin the fun tension of long extra-inning games this year is anyone’s guess, but the impact on MLB DFS scoring is ultimately minimal.
New roster rules were implemented for the start of the season, expanding the size of active rosters from the normal 26 players to 28 until the beginning of May. After May 2nd, teams will return to 26-man rosters and will be required to adhere to the 13-pitcher roster limitation. The expanded rosters will not be as unpredictable as they can be after September roster expansions in the past, but extra bats on the bench always means an additional pinch-hit risk for players later in a lineup or those with platoon concerns.
The final change is an interesting one that is primarily about one of the game’s biggest stars. Since coming over from Japan, superstar Shohei Ohtani of the Angels has dazzled both with the bat and on the mound. MLB has responded to Ohtani’s massive talent by implementing a new rule that will allow him to remain in a game as a hitter, acting as the team’s DH, even after a new pitcher comes in for him on the mound. This wrinkle allows the team to fully deploy their weapon. Ohtani will not be a one-or-the-other option on the field anymore, though MLB DFS rules will still require gamers to use him as either a hitter or a pitcher. He will not accrue points for both roles.
MLB DFS Weather
Unlike most other sports, weather plays a critical role in MLB DFS. The Boys of Summer typically take the day off at the slightest hint of a downpour, leaving it to amateur meteorologists of all stripes to pontificate and prognosticate on the potential precipitation around the nation any time it gets cloudy. The Awesemo team will be providing ongoing coverage, news updates and weather information in the form of our postponement probability metrics throughout the season to provide an authoritative source for all things MLB DFS weather.
Lineup Construction — Hitter Stacking
The critical thing to understand about MLB DFS is how the event-based correlation-driven nature of the game’s scoring relates to lineup construction. Unlike in a rate-based sport like basketball, where a player like Nikola Jokic will never turn in a 0 fantasy score without an outlier incident such as an injury. If Jokic is on the court for a given amount of time, he will produce fantasy points within a standard deviation or two of a mean projection based on his per-minute average fantasy point-scoring. In baseball, a player like Mike Trout will frequently deliver a zero, despite being one of the best plays on any given slate. It is always important to remember that a hitter who does his job right just a third of the time is likely on his way to the Hall of Fame. With that, the variance in baseball is extreme, making it critical to maximize a lineup’s fantasy scoring from any given on-field scoring event, which is achieved through hitter stacking.
Baseball scoring is highly correlated. If the leadoff hitter walks, he receives MLB DFS points for that event and he is on base as a potential run-scorer for the upcoming hitters to drive in. If the two-hitter singles, he receives fantasy points for that event and the team’s third hitter comes to the plate with men on first and third. If that hitter then doubles, he accrues points for his double, as well RBI points for the two runners he will drive in, and both baserunners score points for their runs. Having any of those players as an individual only scores a portion of the points created from the scoring event, while a lineup stack of the 1-3 hitters would include all of the involved fantasy points. More than in any other daily fantasy sport, lineup stacking is absolutely critical in MLB DFS.
The configuration of a stack can vary depending on site and from gamer to gamer, but it is always advisable to include several correlated hitters in a lineup at a minimum. Lineup maximums vary from site to site, FanDuel caps the hitters from the same team at four, leading to many constructions landing as a 4-4 or 4-3-1 build, while DraftKings allows five hitters, so 5-3, 5-2-1 and other similar constructions are highly popular. The sites offer different approaches to lineups as well, with DraftKings requiring a catcher where FanDuel does not, creating different potential approaches to player combinations from site to site. Focusing on combining tightly correlated hitters — those who hit sequentially in a lineup — is the goal of stacking hitters, at times this will mean using several low-cost players from the same lineup. It is important to remember that, while still advisable in most situations, it is not always critical to spend all of a salary cap in MLB DFS, player costs function completely differently in baseball than in other sports.
Lineup Construction — Pitching
There are different approaches to rostering pitching in MLB DFS, partly depending on the requirements of the site on which the lineup is being built, but also partly based on value and risk tolerance. Virtually every slate will feature a disparity of pitching talent, there will be obvious premium arms that are both expensive and popular for good reason. These make for fine choices, rostering a chalky ace and getting different by using the less popular hitters used in a popular team stack, or stacking hitters from a less popular team entirely, is a strong approach to building an MLB DFS lineup. The alternative is to identify pitchers who are underpriced, under-owned, or preferably both. This can also be done on virtually every slate, the situational nature of the sport leads to opportunities for those who are willing to hunt for them, finding inexpensive pitchers who can post scores comparable to those from several salary tiers up the board creates major purchasing power at the plate. Stacking popular premium hitters from popular teams with low-owned upside pitching is another sound approach to MLB DFS tournament lineups on DraftKings, where gamers have to choose two pitchers and can combine these concepts, as well as on FanDuel, where only one starter is required.
MLB DFS: Team Previews and Roster Changes — National League
National League East
Staff Summary: The Braves will be looking for innings and upside from a young talented pitching staff. There is significant depth into the minors, the Braves will be making a few decisions at the backend of the staff in the coming days, and the team will be without Mike Soroka to start the season. Max Fried falls short of a true ace, but he is a talented starter who is a viable MLB DFS option when he is correctly priced. Charlie Morton is aging but effective, while Ian Anderson and Huascar Ynoa have upstart talent. The Braves should offer quality pitching options from fair mid-range prices throughout the season; when they are undervalued or under-owned they can be rostered for tournament upside.
Projected Lineups & Key Hitter Statistics:
vs RHP: Eddie Rosario, Ozzie Albies, Matt Olson, Marcell Ozuna, Austin Riley, Adam Duvall, Dansby Swanson, Alex Dickerson, Travis d’Arnaud
vs LHP: Eddie Rosario, Ozzie Albies, Matt Olson, Marcell Ozuna, Austin Riley, Adam Duvall, Dansby Swanson, Guillermo Heredia, Travis d’Arnaud
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs RHP: .210 ISO (2nd), 24.7% K% (26th), 103 WRC+ (17th), 4.49% HR rate (1st), 193 HR (1st)
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs LHP: .218 ISO (2nd), 21.5% K% (10th), 112 WRC+ (9th), 4.61% HR rate (2nd), 69 HR (3rd)
Lineup Summary: The Braves made a major transition at first base this offseason, saying goodbye to longtime favorite Freddie Freeman and bringing in a younger model in thumper Matt Olson via trade with the Athletics. Olson brings a 12.7% barrel rate and a 48.4% hard-hit percentage to the heart of the lineup. The Braves are all about premium contact, Adam Duvall barreled the ball 16.1% of the time with a 43.9% hard-hit percentage last season, and the projected starting lineup has an average hard-hit rate above 41%. The Braves are loaded from top to bottom, even with superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. opening the season on the IL, if they get a return to form from troubled but talented outfielder Marcell Ozuna and continued growth from players like Austin Riley and Dansby Swanson, the sky is the limit for this offense.
Lineup Sleeper/Player to Watch — Dansby Swanson: The underrated shortstop is a former top overall pick who has displayed his power and premium contact skills over the last two seasons to minimal fanfare. He will once again be a strong source of low-owned power at a premium position at the back of an excellent lineup.
Staff Summary: The Marlins have been a bad baseball team for a long time, so it may be surprising to see that they have a relatively high-quality starting rotation coming into 2022. Led by the legitimately talented Sandy Alcantara, the Marlins boast a young up-and-coming rotation that could make noise in the NL East, even if the team’s bats are not up to the task. Alcantara is joined by a trio of premium young lefties in Pablo Lopez, Trevor Rogers and post-hype prospect Jesus Luzardo. If Luzardo can harness his high-end talent, limit his walks and rein in his incredible stuff he will surprise MLB DFS gamers from cheap price tiers early in the season.
Projected Lineups & Key Hitter Statistics:
vs RHP: Jazz Chisholm Jr., Jorge Soler, Garrett Cooper, Avisail Garcia, Jesus Sanchez, Jesus Aguilar, Brian Anderson, Jacob Stallings, Miguel Rojas
vs LHP: Jazz Chisholm Jr., Jorge Soler, Garrett Cooper, Avisail Garcia, Jesus Sanchez, Jesus Aguilar, Brian Anderson, Jacob Stallings, Miguel Rojas
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs RHP: .163 ISO (24th), 23.4% K% (18th), 97 WRC+ (20th), 3.15% HR% (20th), 110 HR (21st)
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs LHP: .169 ISO (19th), 25% K% (29th), 97 WRC+ (24th), 3.39% HR% (16th), 48 HR (21st)
Lineup Summary: While they may be a few steps behind the quality of their rotation overall, the Marlins lineup is not without its bright spots, they should provide sneaky value in the right situations. Leadoff man Jazz Chisholm Jr. offers a tantalizing blend of power and speed, but he needs to improve on a .303 on-base percentage to truly capitalize on his talent. The Marlins imported power in the form of Jorge Soler and Avisail Garcia, who had a top-notch 29 home run campaign last year. They will be joined by young Jesus Sanchez, who will look to build on a quality first 251 plate appearances of his career from the second half of last season.
Lineup Sleeper/Player to Watch — Jesus Sanchez: If he can reduce his strikeout rate and capitalize on an already excellent 12.7% barrel rate and 42.7% hard-hit percentage, Sanchez has the tools to become a star at the plate. As a rookie he hit 14 home runs in 251 plate appearances while posting a .238 ISO and a 116 WRC+.
New York Mets
Staff Summary: The Mets are already without the best starter in baseball, with frequently injured but always excellent Jacob deGrom not making it out of spring training before suffering an injury that will shelve him for at least two months. The Mets bolstered their rotation with two excellent acquisitions in Max Scherzer, one of the names on the next-best list after deGrom and former Athletics starter Chris Bassitt who had a breakout year in 2021. The backend of the Mets rotation is a question mark, Carlos Carrasco has not pitched much over the past three years, while Taijuan Walker and Tylor Megill — and others who will take turns in the final rotation spot — have much to prove.
Projected Lineups & Key Hitter Statistics:
vs RHP: Brandon Nimmo, Starling Marte, Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso, Dominic Smith, Eduardo Escobar, Jeff McNeil, Mark Canha, James McCann
vs LHP: Brandon Nimmo, Starling Marte, Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso, J.D. Davis, Eduardo Escobar, Jeff McNeil, Mark Canha, James McCann
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs RHP: .150 ISO (27th), 22.1% K% (12th), 103 WRC+ (14th), 2.85% HR% (28th), 108 HR (22nd)
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs LHP: .157 ISO (23rd), 21.5% K% (12th), 106 WRC+ (12th), 3.16% HR% (21st), 51 HR (19th)
Lineup Summary: The Mets are nearing $300 million in player salary. If they complete a rumored trade with the Padres, they will become the first, but surely not last, MLB team to breach that barrier. The assembly of talent in the Mets lineup is interesting, several players are coming off of down years and they will need to return to form for this team to live up to expectations. New York welcomed Starling Marte and Eduardo Escobar to the lineup, and they will have returning stars Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso anchoring the heart of the batting order. Alonso had a great year by human standards, but 37 home runs seemed like a disappointment for the Bunyan-esque slugger. Alonso maintained a 14.8% barrel rate and a 47.3% hard-hit percentage last season. He is a candidate for a monster season and will be a relevant performer in Mets stacks for MLB DFS lineups all year.
Lineup Sleeper/Player to Watch — Jeff McNeil: The batting average on balls in play cratered for McNeil in 2021, after three straight years of bolstering his production at seemingly unsustainable levels. McNeil has to prove that he is not the .249/.317/.358 player with a .109 ISO that we saw last season. A return to his previous on-base production in the .380s would be a solid start.
Staff Summary: The Phillies bring a strong combination of starters at the top of the rotation. Both Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler can bring apex starter quality for less than a top-shelf price on any given MLB DFS slate. Both starters finished the season above a 29% strikeout rate and below a 5.5% walk rate, with Nola coming in at a 3.37 xFIP and a 1.13 WHIP to Wheeler’s sparkling 2.84 xFIP and 1.01 WHIP. Wheeler turned in 20 quality starts in his 32 outings, a 62.5% quality start rate that was among the league’s better values. Kyle Gibson is a sturdy third starter who is a better real-life pitcher than he is a DFS option, while Ranger Suarez will provide erratic upside with his strikeout-inducing stuff.
Projected Lineups & Key Hitter Statistics:
vs RHP: Kyle Schwarber, Nick Castellanos, Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, Jean Segura, Didi Gregorius, Alec Bohm, Mickey Moniak
vs LHP: Kyle Schwarber, Nick Castellanos, Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, Jean Segura, Didi Gregorius, Alec Bohm, Mickey Moniak
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs RHP: .209 ISO (3rd), 22% K% (10th), 111 WRC+ (4th), 4.27% HR% (3rd), 149 HR (6th)
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs LHP: .171 ISO (15th), 24% K% (26th), 106 WRC+ (12th), 3.13% HR% (23rd), 49 HR (20th)
Lineup Summary: The Phillies loaded up in the offseason, importing sluggers Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos and their combined 66 home runs last season. The powerful pair joins Philadelphia’s already home run happy lineup, adding to the existing core of Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins and J.T. Realmuto to form a devastating 1-5 that will be a pricey but worthwhile stack night after night for MLB DFS lineups. The lackluster power marks that Philadelphia posted against southpaws last season warrant monitoring this year. Schwarber is a career .214/.324/.361 hitter with just a .684 OPS and a .146 ISO against same-handed pitching, and he is unlikely to change the equation against lefties.
Lineup Sleeper/Player to Watch — Mickey Moniak: The first overall pick of the 2016 draft, Moniak looks poised to arrive full-time in the Philadelphia outfield this season, playing his way into the job with a solid spring. The 23-year-old has a fair hit tool and reasonable speed, but he has not proven to be a game-breaker during his quick rise to the majors. Moniak is a candidate to post around 10 home runs and 15 stolen bases if he sees 450 plate appearances, but he has the skillset to be a sneaky inexpensive option as a wraparound play to differentiate a popular Phillies stack.
Staff Summary: There is truly not much to get excited about in the Nationals rotation this season. The team is in a transition period, they will be without staff ace Stephen Strasburg until at least May, as he gingerly makes his way back from thoracic outlet surgery. The fragile starter has not pitched in two years. His production is anyone’s guess, but that specific surgery is typically devastating to pitchers. Patrick Corbin was lost for all of 2021, but he leads the staff into the season in a search for quality. The ongoing development of Josiah Gray should be a top priority for Washington, the young righty posted an encouraging 24.8% strikeout rate but had an inflated 10.7% walk rate and a 5.05 xFIP in his 70.2 innings last year. Gray is a highly regarded 24-year-old surrounded by a pool of middling veterans.
vs RHP: Cesar Hernandez, Juan Soto, Nelson Cruz, Josh Bell, Keibert Ruiz, Lane Thomas, Alcides Escobar, Maikel Franco, Victor Robles
vs LHP: Cesar Hernandez, Juan Soto, Nelson Cruz, Josh Bell, Keibert Ruiz, Lane Thomas, Alcides Escobar, Maikel Franco, Victor Robles
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs RHP: .162 ISO (25th), 20.5% K% (1st), 99 WRC+ (18th), 3.09% HR% (24th), 96 HR (26th)
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs LHP: .179 ISO (11th), 19.7% K% (3rd), 112 WRC+ (7th), 3.48% HR% (14th), 51 HR (16th)
Lineup Summary: While they chose to mostly settle for mediocrity in the rotation, the Nationals imported some offense in the offseason to make up for the loss of Kyle Schwarber as well as previous departures. While ageless destroyer of baseballs Nelson Cruz won’t be around to see the seeds of this team blossom into a title contender in a few years, he can provide a bedrock of power for the young lineup to rely on for this season. Cruz had a gargantuan 52% hard-hit rate and a 13.5% barrel rate in 2021, his age-41 season. Nationals’ superstar Juan Soto hit 29 home runs and posted a nearly identical 52.4% hard-hit rate and a 13.3% barrel rate in his age-22 season. Soto is an absolutely extraordinary young hitter who has actually not gotten the attention he warrants, despite his popularity. Unlike other power hitters, Soto is a deadly patient hunter at the plate, waiting to ambush a mistake and drive it for power. At an age when most players are still working their way out of Double-A ball, Soto posted those major power marks along with a fantastic 14.2% strikeout rate and an eye-popping 22.2% walk rate, leading to a .313/.465/.534 triple-slash. Soto and Cruz make a titanic tandem atop the Nationals lineup, their teammates need to hold up their end of the bargain.
Lineup Sleeper/Player to Watch — Cesar Hernandez: Last season the veteran second baseman flashed power selling out for a career-high 21 home runs at the cost of letting his on-base percentage dip to .308. Hernandez is expected to lead off for the Nationals, the place atop the lineup ahead of Soto and Cruz should lead to his involvement in a number of high-scoring MLB DFS stacks, and he is a viable sleeper at second base in season-long formats. Hernandez is probably not going to return to the days of 19 stolen bases, but getting back to a .350 or so on-base percentage and scoring 85 to 90 runs while providing a modicum of power is a reasonable expectation. Hernandez is an obvious third man in for MLB DFS stacks that start with Soto and Cruz.
National League Central
Staff Summary: In case you haven’t been following his social media feeds, Marcus Stroman would like you to know that he is happy to no longer be pitching for the Mets. The motivated righty has a new home atop the lousy Cubs rotation. Stroman is a reasonably talented Major League starter who is rarely relevant for MLB DFS play, the righty averaged just 28.09 FanDuel points in his 32 starts last season and he is the best option in this rotation.
vs RHP: Rafael Ortega, Frank Schwindel, Willson Contreras, Ian Happ, Patrick Wisdom, Jonathan Villar, Seiya Suzuki, Nico Hoerner, Nick Madrigal
vs LHP: Seiya Suzuki, Frank Schwindel, Willson Contreras, Ian Happ, Patrick Wisdom, Jonathan Villar, Clint Frazier, Nico Hoerner, Nick Madrigal
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs RHP: .165 ISO (19th), 24.6% K% (27th), 92 WRC+ (25th), 3.36% HR% (13th), 111 HR (20th)
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs LHP: .153 (26th), 25.3% K% (30th), 94 WRC+ (27th), 3.14% HR% (22nd), 42 HR (24th)
Lineup Summary: The good news about the Cubs lineup is that they might make the team’s pitching staff look good by comparison. Chicago boasts few quality hitters, with Willson Contreras providing quality power for a catcher with his premium contact rates. Multi-position option Ian Happ will likely occupy mostly an outfield role this season and brings an underrated bat on both sides of the plate. Patrick Wisdom swatted 28 home runs in just 375 plate appearances last season, posting a tremendous 51.1% hard-hit rate, whether he can sustain that production is a major question mark for the Cubs.
Lineup Sleeper/Player to Watch — Seiya Suzuki: The Cubs splashy offseason play, Suzuki will join the team’s outfield for his age-27 season after a successful career in Japan. Suzuki hit 91 home runs over the last three seasons in Japan. In 2019 he added a career-high 25 stolen bases, but he was also caught stealing 16 times. The following two years he went 6-4 in 10 attempts and 9-4 in 13 tries, the brakes were clearly applied. It will be interesting to see how Suzuki adapts to the MLB game. His power is projected from 19 to 29 home runs in various models, and he has a chance to be a factor in MLB DFS lineups, particularly if he is sneaky and inexpensive in the early part of the season.
Staff Summary: Former ace Luis Castillo and Mike Minor will start the season on the IL, Castillo is included above because he is expected to return shortly after the season begins. A return to form can be expected for Castillo, who makes for a strong sleeper pick in season-long leagues and who should be a quality option at a cheap price when he returns. Tyler Mahle is the prime option from the Reds. He had a breakout year in 2021, posting a 27.7% strikeout rate and limiting opposing hitters to just a 33.9% hard-hit percentage. A repeat campaign from Mahle is a reasonable expectation, as he is a talented pitcher who has made noteworthy changes over the past two years.
vs RHP: Jonathan India, Tyler Naquin, Joey Votto, Tyler Stephenson, Mike Moustakas, Tommy Pham, Colin Moran, Kyle Farmer, Nick Senzel
vs LHP: Jonathan India, Aristides Aquino, Joey Votto, Tyler Stephenson, Mike Moustakas, Tommy Pham, Colin Moran, Kyle Farmer, Nick Senzel
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs RHP:.174 ISO (12th), 23% K% (16th), 103 WRC+ (12th), 3.29% HR% (14th), 125 HR (18th)
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs LHP: .140 ISO (29th), 22.2% K% (16th), 85 WRC+ (29th), 2.72% HR% (26th), 38 HR (27th)
Lineup Summary: The Reds lost two major weapons in outfielders Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos, both of whom post excellent power and contact marks. They will also be without enigmatic infielder Eugenio Suarez who hit 31 home runs but posted just a .198/.286/.428 slash and an 85 WRC+ last season. The team still fields an interesting lineup that features a dynamic mix of speed and power, as well as on-base acumen. Jonathan India is a quality play for all three of those attributes at the top of the lineup, while veteran Joey Votto can provide power and a fantastic eye at the plate. Votto hit 36 home runs while drawing a 14.4% walk rate and getting on base at a .375 clip last year in a bounce back. The Reds brought in outfielder Tommy Pham to partially fill the void in their lineup. Pham put up an inconsistent season across 561 plate appearances for the Padres last year, hitting 15 home runs and stealing 14 bases, but posting just a .154 ISO and a 102 WRC+. If Pham returns to form, and with some health for infielder Mike Moustakas as well as platoon production from Tyler Naquin and powerhouse Aristides Aquino, the Reds could make some noise in MLB DFS tournaments from time to time this season.
Lineup Sleeper/Player to Watch — Aristides Aquino: Aquino hit 10 home runs in his 204 plate appearances last season, posting a .190/.299/.408 slash in the process. He also managed to strike out in 36.8% of his opportunities, though he also walked 13.2% of the time. Aquino is a pure three-true-outcomes power hitter. He had a .218 ISO last year numbers supported by an excellent 14.9% barrel rate. Aquino memorably walloped 19 home runs in 225 plate appearances in 2019, managing a .259/.316/.576 slash. He is more than capable of repeating the task and surprising MLB DFS owners on the right nights throughout the season.
Staff Summary: The Brewers boast one of baseball’s best bullpens to go along with their absurdly talented starting rotation. With Josh Hader and Devin Williams striking out 45.5% and 38.5% of opposing hitters respectively, the door is effectively shut in the late innings, but the Brewers will reliably open each game with quality as well. All three of Milwaukee’s top starters posted a WHIP below 1.0 last season, with Corbin Burnes leading the way at 0.94 over his 167 excellent innings. Burnes struck out 35.6% of opposing hitters and had a phenomenal 2.30 xFIP with a 16.6% swinging-strike rate. He was nearly matched in quality by Freddy Peralta, who had a 33.6% strikeout rate of his own. With Brandon Woodruff joining them atop the rotation and reasonable options rounding out the rotation, the Brewers are an early-season team to beat in the National League.
vs RHP: Kolten Wong, Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich, Andrew McCutchen, Willy Adames, Rowdy Tellez, Hunter Renfroe, Omar Narvaez, Jace Peterson
vs LHP: Kolten Wong, Willy Adames, Christian Yelich, Andrew McCutchen, Keston Hiura, Hunter Renfroe, Pedro Severino, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Brosseau
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs RHP: .165 ISO (22nd), 24.2% K% (25th), 93 WRC+ (24th), 3.08% HR% (25th), 130 (16th)
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs LHP: .184 ISO (7th), 23.5% K% (24th), 104 WRC+ (15th), 4.0% HR% (6th), 71 HR (2nd)
Lineup Summary: Where the Brewers rotation is rock solid, the lineup is filled with question marks, not the least of which is which version of several players is the real one. Former National League MVP Christian Yelich is the top name on that list, Yelich put up a .248/.362/.373 slash with just nine home runs and nine stolen bases in 475 plate appearances last season. With that downturn coming on the back of a lackluster 2020 in the COVID-shortened season, it is fair to wonder if this is just a shell of the player who hit 44 home runs and stole 30 bases in 2019. The smart money remains on an impending turnaround for Yelich, getting in early is advisable. The outfielder is joined by Willy Adames, whose long-standing claims about hitting in Tampa Bay’s home park were bolstered by a strong first year in Milwaukee. The Brewers lineup is rounded out with mid-range veteran quality, including powerful righty bat Hunter Renfroe, who could have a big year for MLB DFS owners.
Lineup Sleeper/Player to Watch – Andrew McCutchen: McCutchen caught on with Milwaukee after the Phillies’ changes rendered him irrelevant to their plans. He is a value to look for in the latter stages of season-long drafts and he will be an inexpensive source of upside when stacking the Brewers early in the year. McCutchen posted a career-low .222/.334/.444 slash last year, but still managed to hit 27 home runs with a .222 ISO and a 107 WRC+ in his 574 plate appearances. With the added bonus of the designated hitter spot giving the aging outfielder the opportunity to take it easy, there are reasons to anticipate a standout year from another former NL MVP lurking in this lineup.
Staff Summary: The Pirates got a surprisingly serviceable year from starter J.T. Brubaker last season, the righty pitched to a 24% strikeout rate and posted a 4.00 xFIP over his 124.1 innings. All of the spring training buzz, however, is focused on Mitch Keller, who has teased scouts and fantasy owners alike with his elite stuff, only to fall short in several opportunities. Keller utilized this offseason to work with highly regarded organizations focused on rebuilding his mechanics, resulting in a pitcher who formerly sat in the mid-to-low 90s suddenly throwing 100 mph fastballs. Keller’s wipeout arsenal got a whole lot more dangerous during the offseason. If he is able to command it, he could deliver elite results. This time last year we were touting the possibilities with Chicago’s Dylan Cease, Keller is one of the leading candidates for that sort of breakout in 2022.
vs RHP: Dan Vogelbach, Bryan Reynolds, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Yoshi Tsutsugo, Ben Gamel, Michael Chavis, Roberto Perez, Diego Castillo, Kevin Newman
vs LHP: Michael Chavis, Bryan Reynolds, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Yoshi Tsutsugo, Ben Gamel, Cole Tucker, Roberto Perez, Diego Castillo, Kevin Newman
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs RHP: .137 ISO (30th), 23.6% (19th), 85 WRC+ (30th), 2.27% (29th), 62 HR (30th)
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs LHP: .153 ISO (26th), 22.9% (21st), 86 WRC+ (28th), 2.29% (29th), 24 HR (29th)
Lineup Summary: The Pirates are going to be better than you think this year. That is not to say that this is a good baseball team, but there are enough component parts, with more on the way, to form at least a few compelling stacks that will be inexpensive with high scoring upside in the early part of the season. Bryan Reynolds returned to form last year with 24 home runs and a .390 on-base percentage, creating runs 42% better than average. He is joined in the lineup by graduated top prospect Ke’Bryan Hayes, who hit just six home runs in his 396 plate appearances last year, posting a disappointing .116 ISO and a WRC+ 12% below average. Hayes grades out as a far better hitter than that in the long term, a fact that is borne out by his 45.1% hard-hit rate last season. There is power in the bats of Yoshi Tsutsugo and Dan Vogelbach who will both see more plate appearances than they have in their respective pasts. The Pirates also have a few intriguing positional battles in spring training, Diego Castillo has blasted six home runs and earned at least a backup role, while Cole Tucker, Kevin Newman, Josh VanMeter and Michael Chavis are competing for a limited number of infield and bench roles, with a major prospect looming over all of them. Of that group Chavis has the best bat, but he has done nothing to win the starting second base job in spring. The former first-round pick of Pirates general manager Ben Cherington while with Boston still seems likely to get extended opportunities in this lineup. He can play both corners of the infield as well as second base and even a corner outfield spot in a pinch. Chavis had an excellent start to his career in 2019 with the Red Sox, going .254/.322/.444 with 18 home runs in 382 plate appearances. He has extremely sneaky 25-home-run potential on almost every waiver wire in America if he wins the starting job.
Lineup Sleeper/Player to Watch — Oneil Cruz: No matter where one gets their MLB prospect news, the name Oneil Cruz has likely surfaced. Cruz is a hulking shortstop who projects for outrageous power and superstar potential. In traditional scouting, Cruz is carrying 70-grade potential for game power and 80-grade ranks on the 20-80 scale for raw power. At 6-foot-7, 210 pounds, it remains debatable if Cruz would not be better suited to an outfield role, but he has the raw athleticism to handle shortstop, where he would be a ridiculous asset for MLB DFS lineups. Cruz hit 12 home runs and stole 18 bases in just 273 plate appearances in Double-A last season. He will start the season with Triple-A Indianapolis, but it is only a matter of time before he makes a major impact for Pittsburgh. Play Cruz the day he is called up and stick with him in Pirates stacks until the salary and popularity catch up to the play across the MLB DFS industry.
St. Louis Cardinals
Staff Summary: St. Louis will start the season with ace Jack Flaherty on the shelf once again. After dealing with ongoing shoulder issues last season, the Cardinals and their righty starter repeatedly said there were no structural issues or tears in the shoulder until they revealed that there was a minor tear in the shoulder. Flaherty is without an established timeline to return after about three weeks since the injury was announced, it would be fair to expect he will not return until June. The Cardinals are left with a rotation headed by ageless Adam Wainwright, who had another fantastic season over 206.1 innings last year. After that workload, it is fair to wonder how Wainwright’s mostly bionic rebuilt arm will hold up this year, but the 40-year-old shows no signs of slowing after a 3.87 xFIP and 1.06 WHIP last year. Lefty Steven Matz is hoping to resuscitate his career in St. Louis, where his 22.3% strikeout rate last season is actually the top option in the rotation if Flaherty is removed. Matz joins low-strikeout options Miles Mikolas and Jake Woodford in what is likely a very skippable backend for MLB DFS needs.
vs RHP: Tommy Edman, Paul Goldschmidt, Tyler O’Neill, Nolan Arenado, Dylan Carlson, Yadier Molina, Corey Dickerson, Paul DeJong, Harrison Bader
vs LHP: Tommy Edman, Paul Goldschmidt, Tyler O’Neill, Nolan Arenado, Dylan Carlson, Yadier Molina, Albert Pujols, Paul DeJong, Harrison Bader
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs RHP: .161 ISO (26th), 20.5% K% (1st), 99 WRC+ (18th), 3.21% HR% (18th), 148 HR (7th)
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs LHP: .236 ISO (1st), 20.2% K% (5th), 124 WRC+ (1st), 4.84% HR% (1st), 62 HR (10th)
Lineup Summary: The current Cardinals active roster destroyed left-handed pitching and was just middling against righties last year. The lineup is comprised of several premium bats, including the stars occupying the corner infield spots. Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado combined for 65 home runs last season, with outfielder Tyler O’Neill adding 34 of his own hitting between them in the lineup. The trio follows quality speedster Tommy Edman, who stole 30 bases despite getting on base at just a .308 clip. Edman can improve the entire stack by simply getting on base more often. Veteran lefty Corey Dickerson and returning veteran Albert Pujols will likely share the DH role in a platoon, and there is mid-range quality throughout the lineup on any given slate, but the focus for MLB DFS stacks is on the four hitters at the top of the lineup.
Lineup Sleeper/Player to Watch — Tyler O’Neill: The outfielder saw a full season’s worth of plate appearances for the first time in 2021 and he delivered on his enormous promise in a big way. O’Neill obliterated 34 home runs and stole 15 bases as a bonus for fantasy baseball gamers. O’Neill had a dominant 17.9% barrel rate and a 52.2% hard-hit percentage last year, and he maintained a .286/.352/.560 slash despite striking out in 31.3% of his plate appearances, though some of that is due to an unsustainable .366 batting average on balls in play.
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National League West
Staff Summary: The Arizona rotation is topped by veteran southpaw Madison Bumgarner, who is somehow still only 32 years old. The lefty began his career pitching for the Giants in the 2009 season, anyone thinking he was pushing 40 can be forgiven for the misconception, Bumgarner is not a pitcher long past his prime, despite recent results. The lefty put up an unsightly 4.85 xFIP with a 1.18 WHIP and a 20.2% strikeout rate in his 146.1 innings last season. Bumgarner struggled through a very ugly 2020 in the pandemic-shortened season, but he threw a forgotten 207.2 innings in 2019 in his last year in San Francisco. If you didn’t believe his age, you probably also won’t believe that Bumgarner struck out 203 hitters that season and pitched to a 3.90 ERA with a 4.31 xFIP, but the numbers are there. A dip from a 24.1% strikeout rate to the 15.8% and 20.2% that the southpaw has posted the last two seasons is a major concern, but it is by no means outrageous to expect a bounce back for the three-time champion hurler. Bumgarner has had a high-end spring, striking out 10 hitters in 11 innings coming into the Monday before Opening Day. Zac Gallen is expected back from injury in time to pick up his place in the rotation, bringing another quality arm to the table for the Diamondbacks. Gallen led the team last season with a 26.6% strikeout rate. Veteran Dan Straily returned from the Korean Baseball Organization in the offseason to find a place in the rotation in the desert. Straily had a strong tenure in the KBO, but it remains to be seen if improvements will translate to Major League hitting.
vs RHP: Daulton Varsho, Ketel Marte, Christian Walker, David Peralta, Carson Kelly, Seth Beer, Pavin Smith, Geraldo Perdomo, Drew Ellis
vs LHP: Daulton Varsho, Ketel Marte, Christian Walker, David Peralta, Carson Kelly, Seth Beer, Pavin Smith, Geraldo Perdomo, Drew Ellis
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs RHP: .144 ISO (29th), 23.8% K% (21st), 86 WRC+ (28th), 2.20% HR% (30th), 68 HR (28th)
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs LHP: .165 ISO (21st), 21.5% K% (10th), 101 WRC+ (18th), 2.63% HR% (28th), 35 HR (28th)
Lineup Summary: The Diamondbacks will be without leadoff man Josh Rojas to start the season, but they have an option who has been effective at getting on base through his minor league career in Daulton Varsho, who is followed by the team’s top hitter, Ketel Marte. The switch-hitting Marte is coming off another strong year that saw him post a .318/.377/.532 slash with 14 home runs in just 374 plate appearances. Marte created runs 39% better than average across his limited season. He stands a chance to be a strong contributor individually, but his overall value may be limited by the bats around him. Veteran David Peralta is essentially a replacement-level outfielder at this point in his career, though he can still put the ball in play frequently with reasonable contact, which is also true of Christian Walker. Several post-hype prospects land in the back of the Arizona lineup, any one of them could be an interesting contributor, if all three happen to connect with their talent, Arizona could surprise. Seth Beer is getting his first full shot at age 25, everyone loves the name, the bat we are not so sure about. Beer hit 16 home runs in 435 plate appearances at Triple-A as a 24-year-old last season, posting a .224 ISO and creating runs 28% better than average. He has been graded with plus raw power marks for several years, but it is yet to truly shine through. Beer is one to watch this season. He is joined by Carson Kelly and Pavin Smith, a second-round and a seventh overall pick, respectively. Kelly posted a .240/.343/.411 slash with 13 home runs last year and he will be 28 in July, the window is closing fast. Meanwhile, Smith is coming off of just 11 home runs in 545 plate appearances, though he displayed a minor amount of acumen with the hit tool, posting a .268/.328/.404 triple slash. All three players have been highly regarded at points in their careers, Arizona will need them to come through if they are going to be at all relevant by early July.
Lineup Sleeper/Player to Watch — Corbin Carroll: It is highly unlikely that we will see the Diamondbacks prized outfield prospect in the majors this season, but he made enough noise in spring that the team is sending him directly to Double-A ball to start the year. Carroll is the team’s 16th overall pick from the 2019 draft. He played rookie ball and saw 137 plate appearances that year, with an additional 49 plate appearances at low-A, then COVID-19 happened. With the virus wiping out all of Minor League Baseball in 2020, Carroll looked to get back on track in 2021, starting the year in high-A, but he was derailed by a season-ending injury after just 29 plate appearances. Even with that lack of experience, Carroll is widely regarded as a ready-now prospect. Stranger things have happened than a player hitting his way into a lineup. With the focus on service time manipulation, Carroll has an outside chance of landing in lineups over the summer. He is a name to remember for September callups and dynasty leagues at worst.
Staff Summary: German Marquez is younger than Rangers second-year righty Dane Dunning. While not on a Bumgarner is 32 level, that is still a surprise, Dunning’s career is just getting started and he is a fringe candidate for fantasy relevance, while Marquez has been a part of the Rockies rotation for years. The righty debuted in 2016, making three starts and six appearances at age 21, and he was in the majors full time the very next year at just 22. Marquez will not turn 28 until next February. He is a prime target at the very end of dynasty drafts, with the assumption that he will eventually be rescued from Coors Field by trade or signing. Marquez had a 23.3% strikeout rate with a 4.40 ERA and a 3.64 xFIP despite making half his starts in the hitter-haven. Marquez is actually good at pitching at Coors Field. He walks more hitters but strikes out the same number as on the road, and he posted a 3.58 xFIP and a 3.67 ERA at home and a 5.38 ERA with a 3.72 xFIP on the road in 2021. Lefty Austin Gomber is arguably relevant for MLB DFS when the team is on the road, but there is little reason to chase Rockies pitching beyond Marquez.
vs RHP: Charlie Blackmon, Kris Bryant, Ryan McMahon, C.J. Cron, Brendan Rodgers, Randal Grichuk, Jose Iglesias, Sam Hilliard, Elias Diaz
vs LHP: Charlie Blackmon, Kris Bryant, C.J. Cron, Brendan Rodgers, Randal Grichuk, Connor Joe, Jose Iglesias, Garrett Hampson, Elias Diaz
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs RHP: .171 ISO (14th), 22.5% K% (13th), 86 WRC+ (28th), 3.18% HR% (19th), 136 HR (11th)
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs LHP: .184 ISO (7th), 20.7% (8th), 101 WRC+ (18th), 3.78% HR (9th), 64 HR (7th)
Lineup Summary: The Rockies are not going to surprise anyone this season. The team will have a respectable offense bolstered by their home ballpark and they will be likely to struggle on the road. Leadoff man Charlie Blackmon slipped to a .270/.351/.411 triple slash with 13 home runs and just three stolen bases last year, though hitting in front of Kris Bryant may help him find his form. Bryant was the big offseason surprise, signing a big deal to come to Colorado after a standout year between the Cubs and Giants. The veteran corner infielder/outfielder hit 25 home runs while posting a .264/.353./.481 slash with a .216 ISO and a 123 WRC+, adding 10 stolen bases. The pair will hit in front of Ryan McMahon, who pounds right-handed pitching and tends to sit against lefties, and C.J. Cron, who smashed his way to a .249 ISO last year. With graduated prospect Brendan Rodgers and newly acquired outfielder Randal Grichuk following them, there is certainly power lurking in the Rockies this season.
Lineup Sleeper/Player to Watch — Brendan Rodgers: A post-hype prospect who has been knocking on the door for dynasty league owners for several years now, Rodgers finds himself in a show-me situation with the team looking to lock him into the full-time role. Rodgers made 415 plate appearances for the Rockies last year, posting a .284/.328/.470 triple slash with a .186 ISO and 15 home runs. If he can make it to 550 plate appearances for the first time in his life, he could have excellent value in late rounds of drafts as well as MLB DFS lineups.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Staff Summary: The Dodgers’ ridiculous riches were bolstered by an excellent win-win trade with the White Sox, with the team exchanging veteran outfielder A.J. Pollock for closer Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel immediately steps into the big shoes in the Dodgers bullpen, backing up an absolutely loaded starting rotation. Los Angeles has multiple Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw in the middle of the rotation, with the fragile lefty getting overlooked across the fantasy sports industry despite posting a still fantastic 29.5% strikeout rate with a 2.87 xFIP and a 1.02 WHIP in his 121.2 innings last season. Kershaw will pitch behind ace Walker Buehler, who posted a league-leading 27 quality starts in 37 starts, including the playoffs. Buehler had a strong 26% strikeout rate, and he pitches deep into every game, allowing him to compile strikeouts while chasing quality start and win bonuses for MLB DFS purposes. With young lefty Julio Urias following up a breakout season, righty Tony Gonsolin looking to launch one of his own and veteran Andrew Heaney landing at the back end of the rotation, the team fields a deep staff that has several mix and match options in the bullpen as well. Troubled former ace Trevor Bauer remains a complete wildcard for this team.
vs RHP: Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Trea Turner, Max Muncy, Will Smith, Justin Turner, Chris Taylor, Cody Bellinger, Gavin Lux
vs LHP: Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Trea Turner, Max Muncy, Will Smith, Justin Turner, Chris Taylor, Cody Bellinger, Gavin Lux
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs RHP: .181 ISO (9th), 21.6% K% (8th), 111 WRC+ (4th), 3.69% HR% (8th), 153 HR (4th)
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs LHP: .191 ISO (6th), 19.7% K% (3rd), 110 WRC+ (10th), 3.89% HR% (7th), 64 HR (7th)
Lineup Summary: The loaded Dodgers have a potential star at every spot in the lineup. From the last big-ticket item, leadoff man Mookie Betts, to this year’s coup, first baseman Freddie Freeman, the team is absolutely loaded from top to bottom. It will be almost impossible to compile a full five-man Dodgers stack, given where the average hitter will likely be priced after just a few weeks. Any combination of Dodgers hitters is going to be a premium stack this year.
Lineup Sleeper/Player to Watch — Gavin Lux: The prime beneficiary from the A.J. Pollock trade could be young slugger Gavin Lux. The tantalizing toolset is tailor-made for MLB DFS output, Lux rates with 70-grade potential game power on the traditional 20-80 scale, and he adds a plus hit tool and decent speed. Lux’s professional high point so far came in 2019 when he hit 26 home runs across 523 plate appearances in Double-A and Triple-A. The 24-year-old lefty hit just seven home runs in 381 plate appearances for the big club last season, but the team believes in the bat after clearing the road for him to see plenty of opportunities this season. While not technically a rookie, Gavin Lux has a chance at being the season’s big breakout young player.
San Diego Padres
Staff Summary: Not to be outdone in the hyper-competitive NL West, the Padres added lefty Sean Manaea to an already deep rotation that features former standouts Yu Darvish and Blake Snell, as well as righty Joe Musgrove, who saw significant success in his first year away from Pittsburgh. Musgrove made 32 starts and posted a 27.1% strikeout rate with a 3.65 xFIP and a 1.08 WHIP over his 181.1 innings last year. He makes for a quality option from the upper mid-range of salary on most MLB DFS slates. Righty Chris Paddack is a major question mark. He struggled to just a 21.6% strikeout rate across 108.1 innings last season, posting a 5.07 ERA, albeit against a 3.79 xFIP. Paddack is one of several Padres rumored to be on the verge of heading out of town. He is an intriguing value option wherever he lands to start the season, Paddack posted a 26.9% strikeout rate as a rookie in 2019, that talent has not disappeared. The Padres seemingly have moved on from the idea of high-strikeout easy-injury Dinelson Lamet as part of the rotation, but if 29-year-old with a 30.9% career strikeout rate can harness his stuff as the team’s closer he could be a major bullpen value for season-long leagues both late in drafts and on the early season waiver wire, as well as being a late-game weapon for the real Padres.
vs RHP: Trent Grisham, Manny Machado, Jake Cronenworth, Luke Voit, Eric Hosmer, Wil Myers, Austin Nola, Jurickson Profar, Ha-Seong Kim
vs LHP: Trent Grisham, Manny Machado, Jake Cronenworth, Luke Voit, Jorge Alfaro, Wil Myers, Austin Nola, Jurickson Profar, Ha-Seong Kim
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs RHP: .167 ISO (17th), 22.6% K% (14th), 100 WRC+ (17th), 3.26% HR% (16th), 137 HR (9th)
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs LHP: .155 ISO (25th), 21.6% K% (13th), 100 WRC+ (22nd), 2.67% HR% (27th), 41 HR (25th)
Lineup Summary: The Padres roster begins the season without superstar shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. who will miss 2-3 months with a fractured wrist. Without their star, the team’s lineup is somewhat exposed, they are a collection of talented but flawed hitters who do not get on base with enough frequency or hit for enough power. Much like last year, the Padres seem primed to be a frequently over-owned stack for MLB DFS lineups, until the return of Tatis, at which point they will be immediately back on the table. The team could get sneaky production from remaining star Manny Machado during Tatis’ absence, but he is not surrounded by the premium contact he needs to drive tournament-winning lineup correlation on a regular basis.
Lineup Sleeper/Player to Watch — Luke Voit: Former Yankees’ first baseman Luke Voit is perhaps the most overrated hitter in baseball. Voit is a good-not-great hitter who happened to lead the Major Leagues with a massive power surge in the plague-truncated season in 2020. The first baseman blasted 22 long balls in just 234 plate appearances, an absurd and unsustainable 9.4% home run rate. Voit’s previous career-high was the 21 home runs he hit in 510 plate appearances in 2019, a 4.1% rate. In 2021, Voit managed just 241 plate appearances, returning to a human 11 home runs, a 4.6% rate that is much more in line with reasonable expectations. Voit struck out 30.7% of the time while walking in just 8.7% of his plate appearance last season, at his best he posted a 13.9% walk rate with a 27.8% strikeout percentage in his good but not great 2019 season. Voit had a .200 ISO that year while creating runs 26% better than average, and he posted a .197 ISO with a WRC+ 11% above average last season. The truth about the hitter is likely somewhere between his 2019 and his 2021, but it is absolutely not his 2020. Voit is much more likely to disappoint fantasy owners this season. He should be expected to hit between 22 and 25 home runs with a low average and middling counting stats, even in the middle of a strong Padres lineup. Voit has a 15.8% barrel rate and a 51.8% hard-hit percentage, but he needs to translate those into more game power on a regular basis to succeed.
San Francisco Giants
Staff Summary: The Giants pitching staff will wander into the darkness in 2022, operating without future Hall of Fame catcher Buster Posey for the first time since 2009. San Francisco has a loaded rotation, they brought lefty ace Carlos Rodon in from Chicago in a seemingly perfect match of player and team. Rodon will compete for a Cy Young Award if he throws 180 innings for the Giants this season. The southpaw posted a massive 34.6% strikeout rate over 132.2 innings last year, pitching to a 3.17 xFIP and a sparkling 0.96 WHIP, only injury can keep him down. The top spot in the rotation goes to Logan Webb who made a major impact in 148.1 innings last season in his first full year. Webb had a 26.5% strikeout rate and pitched to a 2.79 xFIP with a 1.11 WHIP while limiting opposing hitters to a -0.5 average launch angle that keeps the ball in the yard to offense-suppressing degrees. The dynamic righty-lefty combo will be joined by capable veterans in the remaining spots in the rotation, each of whom can provide serviceable MLB DFS starts at the right price against the right teams.
vs RHP: Tommy La Stella, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Lamonte Wade Jr., Wilmer Flores, Mike Yastrzemski, Darin Ruf, Joc Pederson, Joey Bart
vs LHP: Wilmer Flores, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Mike Yastrzemski, Darin Ruf, Austin Slater, Mauricio Dubon, Thairo Estrada, Joey Bart
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs RHP: .211 ISO (1st), 24.7% K% (28th), 110 WRC+ (7th), 4.22% HR% (4th), 156 HR (2nd)
2022 Active Roster: 2021 Splits vs LHP: .173 ISO (13th), 21.4% K% (9th), 103 WRC+ (16th), 3.72% HR% (10th), 54 HR (14th)
Lineup Summary: The Giants will be without retired Posey, and they will be starting the season with veteran third baseman Evan Longoria on the IL as well. With two of their prime bats from last year missing, it will be interesting to see if the always unexpected Giants get out to a good start this season. The team did not do anything to upgrade their offense during the offseason, remaining steady but unspectacular with hitters like Mike Yastrzemski, Wilmer Flores, Brandon Belt and LaMonte Wade Jr. occupying prime positions in the lineup. The Giants are unexciting, but they seem to always find their way to fantasy relevance.
Lineup Sleeper/Player to Watch — Joey Bart: After several years as a premium prospect, catcher Joey Bart will finally get an opportunity to take over the job for real in the wake of Posey’s retirement. Bart hit 10 home runs in 279 Triple-A plate appearances in 2021 but struck out 29.4% of the time and had just a .179 ISO. Overall, Bart needs to make more premium contact at the plate, if he manages that he could shine with his raw power potential at a typically weak-hitting position.
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