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MLB DFS Tournament Strategy: Leverage, Home Runs, Optimal Picks | Today, 8/01/21

Terry McBride

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Awesemo's expert MLB contest breakdown on Jock MKT MLB for today + top MLB DFS picks + fantasy baseball advice with Jesse Winker on 8/5/21.

The Sunday afternoon main slate has a loaded 10 games that lean far more toward bats than toward pitching. The slate of arms is largely made up of third, fourth and fifth starters, with just a few reliable sources of MLB DFS point production. Getting to a broad base of the most talented pitchers while leveraging stacks is the approach for GPPs on a slate like this.

MLB DFS Tournament Strategy: Top HR Options

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 will not always be the absolute top-ranked player, particularly when there is an obvious star in that spot every day.


Be sure to catch the MLB DFS Deeper Dive & Live Before Lock, where we will review all the games, emphasizing finding the best stacks and top MLB DFS picks for DraftKings and FanDuel fantasy baseball lineups.


Home Run Ratings

Check out all of Awesemo’s top-notch baseball content and free MLB DFS picks.

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

Atlanta Braves: Jorge Soler — 9.34

Baltimore Orioles: Ryan Mountcastle — 12.12

Chicago Cubs: Patrick Wisdom — 11.04

Chicago White Sox: Yoan Moncada — 4.36

Cincinnati Reds: Jesse Winker — 6.56

Cleveland Indians: Franmil Reyes — 25.23

Detroit Tigers: Eric Haase — 3.57

Kansas City Royals: Carlos Santana — 7.48

Miami Marlins: Jesus Aguilar — 7.78

Milwaukee Brewers: Willy Adames — 4.76

Minnesota Twins: Josh Donaldson — 9.52

New York Mets: Pete Alonso — 17.50

New York Yankees: Aaron Judge — 7.95

Philadelphia Phillies: J.T. Realmuto — 7.80

Pittsburgh Pirates: Ke’Bryan Hayes — 5.98

Seattle Mariners: Kyle Seager — 19.30

St. Louis Cardinals: Tyler O’Neill — 9.41

Texas Rangers: Curtis Terry — 9.19

Toronto Blue Jays: George Springer — 7.16

Washington Nationals: Josh Bell — 13.04


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Power Index

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 Pitchers, Optimal Stacks & Leverage Plays

This section will feature a few standout MLB DFS spots and teams to look at for potential plays on DraftKings and FanDuel. Ensure to check out the ownership projections for critical updates and monitor the top stacks tool throughout the day for changes.

On the Hill

Sunday’s pitching slate is light on aces and heavy on question marks. The safest options on the board appear to be starters in their first outings with their new franchises, following trade deadline acquisitions. Righties Kyle Gibson and Jose Berrios will be toeing the rubber for Philadelphia and Toronto, respectively. Both make for solid options though Gibson draws the better matchup between the two. The slate features New York’s Jordan Montgomery navigating an ugly Marlins lineup as well as veteran Adam Wainwright, who is looking to pick up his run of quality. Additional options that can easily come into play include Sandy Alcantara, Michael Pineda, Charlie Morton and Adbert Alzolay.

Gibson pitched at least well enough to earn his way out of Texas through the first four months of the season. He comes to Philadelphia carrying a 4.15 xFIP with a 20.4% strikeout rate over 113 innings in 19 starts. He provides relatively reliable depth in most spots and has a low-quality opponent that should push his upside. Gibson induces a 10.8% swinging strike rate and has a sub-par 28.2% CSW, but he is good at limiting premium contact. Gibson has just a 3.8% barreled ball to go with his 37.2% hard-hit rate and 7.6-degree average launch angle, helping him limit the quality of opposing bats, his .344 expected slugging percentage lands in the 74th percentile. The opposing Pirates have a 2.77% home run rate in the split, the fifth-worst mark in baseball. Pittsburgh has a .136 ISO and creates runs 18% worse than average against righties. They limit strikeouts to just 22.2% but do everything else well behind the curve. Gibson is not a knockout option with major strikeout upside atop the board, but on a slate lacking such a pitcher, he is a strong bet for a serviceable outing.

Berrios will be making his first start for the Blue Jays, coming in with 121.2 innings on his ledger after 20 starts. He has a solid 25.7% strikeout rate and a 6.5% walk rate this season, and he has pitched to a 3.58 xFIP with a 1.04 WHIP. Berrios induces a 10.2% swinging strike rate and has a 28.9% CSW with an 8.6% barrel rate. He yields a 37.7% hard-hit rate and an 88.2 mph average exit velocity, though his .399 expected slugging percentage against stands in just the 45th percentile. Berrios draws a Royals lineup that has just a 21.6% strikeout rate in the split. Kansas City is largely devoid of power after the deadline, they have a 3.02% home run rate against righties and a .146 ISO that show the lack of pop, while their collective WRC+ sits 10% below the average. This is a solid spot for Berrios, but he is also lacking for significant strikeout upside other than what he typically brings to the table.

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Montgomery will be supported by a solid lineup that should give him a decent shot at the win and quality start bonuses. He has thrown 109.2 solid innings over his 20 starts this season, pitching to a 3.99 xFIP with a 1.19 WHIP and a 24.3% strikeout rate. Montgomery induces a solid 13.3% swinging strike rate but has just a 28.2% CSW. He allows a 7.8% barrel rate and walks 7.5% of hitters while allowing a 36.8% hard-hit rate. Montgomery is a solid choice at $8,000 on FanDuel and $7,400 on DraftKings. He will be facing a Marlins team that is second worst in baseball with a 26.7% strikeout rate against left-handed pitching this season. Miami has just a 2.64% home run rate and a .132 ISO while creating runs 16% behind the curve. Montgomery is inexpensive and in a very strong spot for MLB DFS upside on both sites.

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners get their second mention of the weekend in this space given a matchup against Mike Foltynewicz. He has given up 31 home runs in 106 innings this season, allowing a 44.4% hard-hit rate and a 91 mph average exit velocity with a 10.5% barrel rate. He has thrown 106 innings in 20 starts, striking out a mere 16.8% of opposing hitters and tuning in a 5.16 xFIP with a 1.36 WHIP in spite of a respectable 5.5% walk rate. If he allowed more free passes, he would be an even greater disaster who would be unstartable, which is what the other 29 teams in the league already consider him. The Mariners lineup includes interesting hitters from J.P. Crawford, Mitch Haniger, Ty France and Kyle Seager at the top of the lineup to Luis Torrens, Abraham Toro and Jarred Kelenic. The Mariners are affordable and not overly popular on the slate, putting them in play yet again.

Cincinnati Reds

The Reds are going under-owned on both sites in their matchup against Marcus Stroman. He has a 3.59 xFIP with a 1.11 WHIP but just a 20.5% strikeout rate. He does not walk many, coming in with a 5.7% mark, but he allows too many hard hits at 42.3%. Stroman tends to keep the ball in the yard by limiting elevation via a 6.7-degree average launch angle. The Reds have a 3.94% home run rate with a .178 ISO and a 22.8% strikeout rate against righties while creating runs 6% better than average. The Reds have been a strong play when low owned all season.

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Jonathan India is eligible at both second and third base on the FanDuel slate, where he costs $3,300. On DraftKings, India is a $5,000 third baseman. He will be unpopular on both sites despite slashing .278/.403/.434 over 388 plate appearances this season. India has hit 10 home runs and stolen seven bases, creating runs 29% ahead of the average with his ability to get on base ahead of the thumpers later in this lineup. India belongs in Reds stacks.

Jesse Winker is slashing .301/.379/.538 with 21 home runs and a .236 ISO, creating runs 43% ahead of the average. Winker has a 48% hard-hit rate, 11.4% barrel rate, strikes out just 16.4% and walks 9.7%. He is pricey at $5,200 on DraftKings and $4,400 on FanDuel but well worth the investment.

Kyle Farmer is a $3,300 shortstop on DraftKings and he adds second base eligibility while coming in at $2,600 on the blue site. Farmer is slashing .263/.329/.414 with 10 home runs and a .152 ISO this season, though his run creation has slipped to 1% below average. He has just a 32.2% hard-hit rate and a 4.7% barrel rate on the season, but he reliably puts the ball in play with just a 17.2% strikeout rate. Farmer is in play as a mix-in option in the middle of Reds stacks.

Tyler Stephenson is a nearly unowned catcher option on the DraftKings slate where he costs $4,400. On FanDuel Farmer is in play for his $2,600 price and his lack of popularity in the middle of the Reds batting order. He has made 264 plate appearances and is slashing .283/.375/.412 with five home runs and has created runs 13% ahead of the average in his short sample. Stephenson has upside on an any given slate.

Max Schrock slots in at second and third base on DraftKings for $3,500 and just second base for the minimum price on FanDuel. He has made just 40 plate appearances in the Show this season, slashing .243/.300/.486 with one home run in the miniscule sample. Schrock is a non-prospect with stolen base upside, but for low cost and no ownership he can be included in some shares of Reds stacks.

Eugenio Suarez has hit 20 home runs in 421 plate appearances this season but is slashing .173/.257/.368. He slots into third base on DraftKings for $3,600, while he adds shortstop eligibility at a mere $2,800 on FanDuel. Suarez has a 35% hard-hit rate, 13.8% barrel rate, 30.4% strikeout rate and 8.8% walk rate. He had 15 home runs in 231 tries in 2020 and 49 home runs in 662 plate appearances in 2019; he is simply making far less contact than he did those seasons.

Tyler Naquin costs just $2,700 on both sides of the industry. Naquin is slashing .243/.306/.420 with 13 home runs and four stolen bases on the season. He has made 337 plate appearances and has a .177 ISO though he is 8% behind the curve creating runs. Naquin is inexpensive and unpopular and can be rostered ahead of the field.

Aristides Aquino has hit six home runs in his 91 plate appearances, posting a massive .307 ISO and creating runs 24% better than average. These are numbers that not typical of a hitter who costs $2,400 on DraftKings and $2,500 on FanDuel. Aquino is a solid upside play that can surprise many on this slate.

HR Call: Mitch Haniger — Seattle Mariners

To get even more action down on tonight’s MLB slate, check out the betting markets and Awesemo’s expert MLB betting picks for today.


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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 Awesemo.com. 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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