Tonight’s 10-game slate of MLB DFS is rapidly approaching, and those of us who had surprise show duty today will have to punch up the lightning round version of an article intro. The slate breaks down on very interesting line. There are limited pitching options from which to choose and a few high-end lineups in extremely chalky situations. This leaves a wide-open board of options among the also-rans in both pitching and hitting, but some spots are far more viable than others. Getting the right mid-range stack in lineups alongside some of the chalk and a lesser-owned pitcher is a solid recipe for MLB DFS success. Those options could be available on a sneaky-good slate.
The Awesemo team will be here for all the action with daily fantasy baseball advice on the morning Strategy Show – which you can find on YouTube or your favorite podcast network and The Deeper Dive at 3 p.m., taking you through the main slate. We will constantly be updating all the tools and content. Speaking of tools, if you aren’t visiting the Top Stacks Tool regularly, you’re just making your MLB DFS picks incorrectly. The Top Starters Tool is every bit as important in deciding who takes the hill for your daily fantasy baseball lineup.
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MLB DFS Tournament Strategy: Top HR Options
Home Run Ratings
Home runs are the holy grail when making MLB DFS picks. Finding the right combination of sluggers who will knock one, or better two, out of the park to drive in the teammates you stack with them is critical to winning GPPs. Identifying the likely home run hitters is trickier than just looking at the big names. Using a model of my own design, based on a blend of several predictive statistics for the batter-pitcher matchup, I will give one of the top choices from each team. However, it won’t always be the absolute top-ranked player, particularly when there is an obvious star who would be in that spot every day.
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Scale: 5-10 Average; 10-20 Good; 20-25 Very Good; 25+ Great
Arizona Diamondbacks: Carson Kelly — 7.75
Atlanta Braves: Freddie Freeman — 8.78
Baltimore Orioles: Maikel Franco — 11.57
Chicago White Sox: Yasmani Grandal — 10.36
Colorado Rockies: C.J. Cron — 8.94
Detroit Tigers: Miguel Cabrera — 5.90
Houston Astros: Yordan Alvarez — 17.71
Los Angeles Angels: Justin Upton — 7.32
New York Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton — 19.03
Oakland Athletics: Matt Olson — 15.14
Philadelphia Phillies: Didi Gregorius — 5.99
San Diego Padres: Wil Myers — 13.38
San Francisco Giants: Alex Dickerson — 3.53
Seattle Mariners: Kyle Seager — 5.19
St. Louis Cardinals: Nolan Arenado — 8.35
Tampa Bay Rays: Randy Arozarena — 12.48
Texas Rangers: Joey Gallo — 11.98
Toronto Blue Jays: Rowdy Tellez — 11.41
Washington Nationals: Starlin Castro — 17.32
This is intended to capture the full range of home runs 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 (pitcher bats not included in non-DH games), and the second is for the top six hitters in the projected lineup.
MLB DFS Optimal Stacks & Leverage Plays
This section will feature a few standout MLB DFS spots and teams to look at for potential plays here. Make sure to check out the ownership projections for critical updates and monitor the top stacks tool throughout the day for changes.
On the Hill
Tonight’s pitching slate is ugly. There are a couple standout options at the top who are drawing heavy ownership, a few pitchers who are over-performing their career track records and are priced up in bad spots for it, and then a whole range of mediocre to bad pitchers. With limited selections, the public exposure on the one true ace, Tyler Glasnow, will be massive. Getting to shares of other starters in the SP1 spot on DraftKings is difficult but advisable for diversification purposes, while Glasnow is basically unavoidable for at last some shares of a 150 lineups slate of entries.
Glasnow is taking on the high-strikeout Oakland Athletics in a solid matchup. He has earned his high price tag, putting up a monstrous 39.7% strikeout rate across his 30 innings this season. Glasnow was at 38.2% in 57 innings last season and 33.0% in 60 innings in 2019, so the rates are very real and sustained above 30.0%, though there could be regression from the current apex. The Athletics’ active roster is striking out 24.2% of the time against right-handed pitching so far this season, which is about league average for this strikeout-heavy start. The team has a 23.4% rate in a larger sample going back to the start of the 2019 season in the split, but several of their biggest-upside hitters are also the biggest strikeout offenders, which caps the upside against a high-strikeout pitcher like Glasnow. There is reason to believe in the pitching spot despite the popularity; Glasnow could easily run away and hide with his MLB DFS score tonight.
German Marquez will be owned heavily as well, but he is probably the next-most talented pitcher on the slate and he comes in at a significant discount to Glasnow on both sites. Marquez is off to a steady but unspectacular start, which is something of a trademark for the Rockies pitcher. He has a 22.8% strikeout rate and a 4.02 xFIP across his first 28 innings this year. Last season he posted a 21.2% strikeout rate and a 3.83 xFIP and the year before those numbers were 24.3% and 4.06. Marquez is a reliable steady contributor with upside in the right matchup. He is on the road, which means there is no worry about the Coors Field factors for him for a change. Plus, gamers can potentially get excited about the park in San Francisco, though it has been playing for more power over the last 18 months. Marquez is taking on a Giants lineup that sits second to last in baseball with a 28.4% strikeout rate against right handed pitching this season. The team’s active roster is typically quite good at limiting strikeouts in the split. Back to the start of the 2019 season, they have a 22.2% rate in the stat, but they are clearly struggling in the small early season sample. Marquez is talented enough to take advantage of those struggles, and there is not a lot of threat coming back against him, adding a modicum of safety on an otherwise turbulent night of MLB DFS picks on the mound.
Zack Greinke is worth mentioning in this space, primarily because he is in a plus matchup against the Seattle lineup but also because he does not have much ownership in the spot. Greinke’s decline has been discussed over numerous shows and columns. Most of the underlying metrics support the idea that this is a pitcher getting by primarily on experience and elbow grease, perhaps with some luck on top. Greinke is throwing his fastball between 88 and 89 mph, which is not enough differential between that pitch and his 87 mph changeup. Greinke is somehow able to make it all work despite inducing just an 8.4% swinging strike rate this season, the lowest point in his career since a 7.8% blip in 2010 with Kansas City. The Mariners lineup will help him with their 25.3% strikeout rate in the split. There is not significant upside for strikeouts, but there could be enough room for quality on an ugly slate, which might be enough, even at a high price tag.
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The Phillies confirmed lineup is in an interesting spot, seemingly going under-owned on both sites in what looks like a plus matchup against Cardinals rookie right-hander Johan Oviedo. Oviedo has a sharp prospect profile with plus grades for his fastball and slider in traditional scouting, but he has concerning marks for command that could hurt him against high-level hitters. Oviedo got by with a 5.83 xFIP in his 24.2 inning cup of coffee last season, striking out just 14.3% of Major League hitters, walking 8.9% and inducing just 8.8% swinging strikes. This season, in a very short, four-inning sample, Oviedo did induce an impressive 16.9% swinging strikes, but that number is very likely to regress. Oviedo is a rookie who struggles with command and is yet to learn to strike out hitters at this level reliably. Oviedo’s largest minor league sample is 114.2 innings in A ball in 2018. He had an average 21.8% strikeout rate and a 14.6% walk rate. In 2019 Oviedo posted a 24.9% strikeout rate but a 12.5% walk rate in 113.0 AA innings. This is a targetable pitcher against a lineup with patient professional hitters.
Brad Miller leads off for Philadelphia today, hitting from the left side of the plate. Miller costs just $2,600 on FanDuel and $3,200 on DraftKings, with multi-position eligibility on the latter site. As a first base option on FanDuel, Miller works today because the lineup is without star catcher J.T. Realmuto, who would normally occupy that spot. Miller is off to a .345/.367/.448 start with a home run and is creating runs 26% better than average in his first 30 plate appearances this season.
Rhys Hoskins has one of the strong marks in my home run model for the Phillies today despite a same-handed matchup. Hoskins is priced up on both sites but not to unaffordable levels, and the low prices on some teammates make it easy to build him into stacks. This is a good pay up to be contrarian spot with Hoskins and the next hitter pulling in hefty salaries. Hoskins has an immense .341 ISO and eight home runs in just 96 plate appearances this season, with five of the coming against same-handed pitchers. Hoskins has a career .257 ISO against righties, which is excellent and only pales when compared to his robust .272 against lefties.
Star Bryce Harper is justifiably the most expensive bat on the team on both sites tonight, which is helping keep his ownership will below 10.0% across the industry. This creates a perfect MLB DFS GPP opportunity: Rostering a star-caliber player in a good matchup with a highly correlated high quality stack when most of the public is not getting there. Harper has always been a roller coaster, this season we’re on the uphill climb so far, with his slash standing at a steady .329/.452/.632 with a .303 ISO and 6 home runs in just 93 plate appearances, a tremendous start by any measure. Getting Harper into stacks is easy enough and he makes an interesting one-off at low ownership.
Shortstop Didi Gregorius will be hitting cleanup tonight with Realmuto out. He has long been an underrated producer on the offensive side of the game. Gregorius hit 10 home runs for the Phillies in his 237 plate appearances last season, going along with a .284/.339/.488 slash and a .205 ISO. He is inexpensive at just $2,800 on the positive side of splits.
Former star outfielder Andrew McCutchen has more left in his bat at age 34 than his .154/.300/.231 start shows. McCutchen has hit for no power, putting up a meager .077 ISO to start the season, but he is suffering heavily from a .191 batting average on balls in play that is bound to regress. This is a career .283/.375/.476 hitter with a .192 ISO who creates runs 33% better than the average across his long Major League track record. There is still upside and no one is rostering him in his first game back from a brief vacation on the bench.
Odubel Herrera, Andrew Knapp and Nick Maton are a disappointing bottom end to what became more of a top-heavy stack on lineup confirmation, but they are not without utility given the extremely low pricing. Herrera is back in the Majors once again, but he is carrying a minor league price at just $2,000 on DraftKings and $2,200 on FanDuel, making him easy to fit into the outfield on either site. Herrera hit 22 home runs for the Phillies in his 597 plate appearance breakout in 2018, but he saw just 139 plate appearances in 2019 and missed all of 2020. He just got back to the lineup, so gamers will have to forgive the 0.0 triple slash over his six plate appearances thus far in 2021. Knapp is a 29-year-old defensive oriented catcher who has never hit five home runs in a season at any level of professional baseball. Maton can be deployed as a sneaky low-owned wraparound option in a limited subset of lineups given his speed and stolen base upside.
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