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MLB DFS Tournament Strategy: Leverage, Home Runs, Optimal Picks | Today, 6/14/21

Terry McBride

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MLB DFS DraftKings FanDuel Tournament Strategy Home Runs

Monday brings a solid slate for getting back in the MLB DFS saddle after a horse named the Cleveland Indians bucked pretty hard beneath our entries on yesterday’s slate. Missing the Indians on the heavy side and, consequently, landing short of the unbelievable power outburst by the Toronto Blue Jays was a perfect recipe for a dramatically down day. The Monday slate is another loaded affair. There is a 13-game evening slate to start the week, and it includes a warm-weather Coors Field game and several high-end stacking options once again. While no team seems quite likely to hit eight home runs like the Blue Jays did yesterday (a total that would have broken or tied the team record for most teams in the league but fell two home runs shy of the MLB record of 10 in a game, held by the same Blue Jays), but there are several major power spots on the board. The pitching slate is far less stacked, with a few premium arms and a broad collection of mid-range to l0w-end pitchers giving the slate an interesting shape. Let’s get into the DFS MLB advice for today, Monday, June 14, 2021.

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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 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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Home Run Ratings

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

Arizona Diamondbacks: Carson Kelly — 4.14

Baltimore Orioles: Trey Mancini — 12.78featured3

Boston Red Sox: Hunter Renfroe — 12.95

Chicago Cubs: Kris Bryant — 8.70

Chicago White Sox: Brian Goodwin — 8.02

Cincinnati Reds: Nicholas Castellanos — 16.46

Cleveland Indians: Eddie Rosario — 9.75

Colorado Rockies: Ryan McMahon — 3.98

Detroit Tigers: Jonathan Schoop — 4.28

Kansas City Royals: Salvador Perez — 10.32

Los Angeles Angels: Shohei Ohtani — 11.65

Los Angeles Dodgers: Cody Bellinger — 14.87

Miami Marlins: Isan Diaz — 7.20

Milwaukee Brewers: Willy Adames — 7.74

Minnesota Twins: Nelson Cruz — 12.77

New York Mets: Pete Alonso — 14.32

Oakland Athletics: Matt Olson — 9.84

Philadelphia Phillies: Bryce Harper — 3.62

Pittsburgh Pirates: Ke’Bryan Hayes — 6.81

San Diego Padres: Wil Myers — 5.25

San Francisco Giants: Wilmer Flores — 10.71

Seattle Mariners: Mitch Haniger — 11.41

St. Louis Cardinals: Paul Goldschmidt — 16.33

Tampa Bay Rays: Brandon Lowe — 8.96

Toronto Blue Jays: Bo Bichette — 5.14

Washington Nationals: Kyle Schwarber — 11.90


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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 daily fantasy baseball picks today monday june 14 2021 draftkings fanduel expert strategy advice projections ownership rankings leverage tournament GPPs cash games home runs top stacks top pitchers cardinals reds red sox dodgers orioles brewers giants marlins mets

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. Make sure to check out the ownership projections for critical updates and monitor the top stacks tool throughout the day for changes.

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On the Hill

The pitching options available on Monday make for a challenging slate. Pitching on both sites is topped by Tyler Glasnow and Lance Lynn, the two best name brands available, though they happen to be facing one another as the Rays are in Chicago to face the White Sox. This situation puts a win bonus cap on one of the starters, though both pitchers are strong options who can easily provide at least a quality start. Beyond the pair dueling on the Southside, the slate is sorely lacking for quality. The Angels will have Dylan Bundy toeing the rubber against the powerful left-handed bats of the Athletics, while Alex Wood and Adam Wainwright look to continue their respectable starts to the season against the Diamondbacks and Marlins respectively. Kenta Maeda remains extremely cheap, given his continued struggles, but he is facing a Mariners team that could help him get right at least for a night. Could Dinelson Lamet be a sneaky play at Coors Field? On this slate, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Glasnow is the most likely name on the slate to deliver a mandatory ceiling score tonight. He has made 13 starts in 2021, completing 84.0 innings and posting an excellent 2.72 xFIP and a 0.93 WHIP with a fantastic 17.3% swinging strike rate and a robust 33.7% CSW. Glasnow throws a fastball that averages 97-mph, this leads to some naturally low marks in average exit velocity against, though the seventh percentile is concerningly low when paired with a 31st percentile barrel rate and seventh percentile hard hit rate; when Glasnow isn’t missing bats he’s finding the sweet spot on them, yet he is cruising in the 76th percentile of expected slugging percentage against and 89th percentile expected batting average against. The opposing White Sox are a quality lineup that has been better with sequential hitting and run creation than they have been for power so far. Chicago comes in just 26th in the league with a 2.8% home run rate (43 total) against right-handed pitching. The team has a .143 ISO in the split but creates runs 8% better than average and has only a 23.0% strikeout rate in the split. The White Sox are not pushovers, but Glasnow is on-form.

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On the opposite side, Lynn is likely the second-most talented starter on the slate and is a reliable workhorse in his own right. He has made 11 starts in 2021, completing 65.2 innings, but his innings average is dragged down by several shorter starts early on after he missed two weeks with an injury then stretched back out. Lynn has completed at least six innings in four of his last five starts, pitching through the seventh in two of them. While it could be simple noise, a case could be made that he has been building back up to form with more strikeouts in recent outings as well. Lynn currently sits at a 27.7% strikeout rate with a 3.88 xFIP and a 0.88 WHIP on the season and is inducing a 12.3% swinging strike rate. Facing a Rays team that is fourth worst in baseball with a 26.0% strikeout rate against righties could be a nice bonus, though Tampa Bay has a .179 team ISO in the split that lands seventh-best in baseball and they create runs 14.0% better than average, tied with the Dodgers for third-best against righties. The Rays’ 3.99% home run rate (52 total) against right-handed pitching ranks eighth-best in baseball, this team has power and could threaten Lynn, but the strikeout upside is clear.

Wainwright will turn 40 before the season ends, but instead of slowing down he has been pitching better in 2021 so far. He is in the 66th percentile in hard hit rate allowed, the 71st percentile in average exit velocity allowed and the 55th percentile in barrel rate allowed, though his 21.8% strikeout rate ranks in just the 33rd percentile. Wainwright has a 3.95 xFIP that would be lower than any mark he has hit for a season since 2016, though he is inducing just 7.9% swinging strikes. He still works hitters with a 30.7% CSW% however, and he has induced 48.0% ground balls this season, a mark that represents a return to form over where he was last season. Wainwright draws the Marlins bats, a lineup that can be oddly frisky in the right spots for MLB DFS purposes but is not a good baseball team overall. Miami’s 2.72% home runs rate against righties ranks fourth worst in baseball and the team strikes out at a 25.7% rate in the split, well into the bottom-third of the league. The Marlins have only a .135 team ISO against righties this season. There is simply not a major threat coming back against Wainwright, and he may get a few additional strikeouts. Wainwright can never be considered totally safe – and there are a few talented bats to roster as hedge stacks if so inclined – but on this slate he is one of the leading options in terms of projection and probability of success.

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[osBestBetsSingleGameOdds league=”mlb” date=”06/14/2021″ team=”cardinals”]

The Kenta Maeda bandwagon got awfully lonely awfully quickly this season. He has been an enigma all year, going from elite status as one of the league’s best pitchers at limiting hard contact and inducing soft contact to a starter who currently sits in the 17th percentile in hard hit rate allowed, the 24th percentile in average exit velocity allowed and the 17th percentile in expected slugging percentage against. For perspective, in 2020 those numbers were 98th, 93rd and 72nd, along with a 100th percentile chase rate and 88th percentile strikeout rate that currently sit 81st and a miserable 27th respectively. Maeda has a 4.02 xFIP and just a 20.5% strikeout rate over his 42.2 innings in nine starts, putting up an unsightly 1.48 WHIP despite a steady 5.8% walk rate. He is inducing 12.7% swinging strikes, which is a quality mark, but last season Maeda was at 17.2% and the two years before he averaged 14.5%. As such, his CSW has also dropped from 32.8% last year and 31.4% the year before to a 27.3% rate that would represent a career low by more than 2.5 percentage points. Complicating things further, this will be Maeda’s first start back from the IL. He made one AAA rehab start, completing four innings and throwing 52 pitches. He should go around 75 pitches or five innings. For $7,400 on the DraftKings slate, Maeda is drawing attention in his matchup against the Mariners, and the value is relatively clear. Maeda stands a reasonable chance of delivering enough quality for that salary on a weak slate that he should draw ownership. However, given that the ownership is currently outpacing his probability of being a top-two starter on the DraftKings slate by nearly twice as much, it seems to make sense to undercut the field on a shaky play with an obvious upside limitation, even against a Mariners lineup that is league average for power and below average for run creation and strikeouts in the split. If you roster Maeda, pin your hopes on five innings of upside and hope that he used the time off to adjust his release point two inches upward to where it was during last season’s excellent run.

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Coors Field

With the temperature climbing in Colorado the conditions in Coors are such that they might as well be playing this game on the moon. The ball will be flying all over the yard tonight, though not necessarily out of it. The game is easily justifiable as the highest total on the Vegas board by a full two runs with the Padres in town and these conditions, though Rockies southpaw Austin Gomber has been solid throughout the season. Gomber is in the 76th percentile in hard hit rate allowed and the 73rd percentile of average exit velocity against, while landing in the 59th in expected slugging percentage and 55th in barrel rate. He has been very good at keeping the ball in the yard through his career at all professional levels, though he has yielded nine home runs in 68.1 innings this season, a 1.19 HR/9 that would match a career-worst set in AAA in 2018; most of Gomber’s professional stints have marks well below 1.0 in the category. The Padres seem more likely to win through quality sequential hitting as well as their league-leading willingness to steal bases and manufacture runs in an old-fashioned way that plays well for MLB DFS purposes. The Padres’ projected lineup has an average of six stolen bases per hitter, with Fernando Tatis Jr. leading the way at 13 (with 19 home runs!) and Tommy Pham sitting at 11. This is a good lineup to roster, but they will be extremely popular and very expensive tonight. While there are many bad pitchers to roster cheap on this slate as total dart throws, the more likely upside spots are all pricey, making unique roster construction extremely difficult.

On the other side of Coors, the Rockies are drawing significantly less ownership for having to face Dinelson Lamet. Lamet completed 5.0 innings for the first time in his last start, facing 21 hitters and striking out six, the second straight game he has hit that mark. Lamet has major strikeout upside on any slate, but he also has given up quality contact this season. He is in just the eighth percentile in barrel rate and the 14th percentile in hard hit rate allowed, though he does sit 81st percentile in chase rate, 89th in whiff rate and 70th in strikeout rate. Colorado’s active roster, meanwhile, has been league-worst against right-handed pitching this season, creating runs 34.0% worse than average. The team has just a .137 ISO and a 2.56% home run rate against righties. This is a bad lineup, but they are in Coors field and the Rockies are inexpensive.

[osBestBetsSingleGameOdds league=”mlb” date=”06/14/2021″ team=”rockies”]

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs are in Queens on a rainy overcast 67-degree day in the New York area and they draw rookie southpaw David Peterson. He has been better than advertised this season, though he has significant work to do in some areas before he can be relied upon at the Major League level. Peterson has had several standout games for MLB DFS purposes, and he is pitching to a 25.5% strikeout rate and 3.61 xFIP over 11 starts, though he has finished just 47.0 innings in those appearances. Peterson is walking an untenable 10.1% of hitters and has a bumpy 1.51 WHIP on the season. He induces 11.6% swinging strikes but needs to bump his 28.9% CSW% higher if he is going to make another leap in quality. He is facing a Cubs lineup that is eighth worst in baseball with a 25.7% strikeout rate in the split but makes up for it by landing second with a 4.70% home run rate and a .192 team ISO against southpaws. Chicago creates runs 14.0% better than average in the split this season, they appear under-owned on both sites and make for a great target for stacks tonight.

A catcher who leads off for his team is a ridiculous luxury that Willson Contreras can provide to DraftKings owners out of the gate with this team. He will be completely underappreciated tonight, coming in at just a 4.4% projected ownership clip despite just a $4,800 price tag. Contreras has hit 11 home runs and has a .196 ISO while creating runs 14.0% better than average in 226 plate appearances this season. As a catcher. The .237/.336/.433 up top may leave something to be desired as a truly functional leadoff hitter, but that is a Cubs problem more than an MLB DFS problem. He is also easily playable for just $2,800 on the blue site.

Superstar Kris Bryant has earned back that branding this year with a major return to form. Bryant is slashing .297/.377/.554 with a .257 ISO on the year so far. He has made 252 plate appearances and is creating runs 54.0% better than average. He has 13 home runs already this season and has even thrown in three stolen bases. Bryant is underpriced and, thanks to friend of the site xxCubsFan23xx, eligible at both third base and outfield on FanDuel today. On DraftKings he is an excellent pay-up to be contrarian option at $5,900.

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First baseman Anthony Rizzo brings a lefty bat to the plate, though the power has been out a bit to start the season. Rizzo has just seven home runs and a .181 ISO this year, but he is holding up otherwise with a .265/.360/.446 while creating runs 22.0% better than average. Rizzo is drawing no ownership on either site against Peterson. This is a dramatic overreaction to a platoon split situation. For his career Rizzo slashes .253/.354/.427 with a .174 ISO in the split, creating runs 15.0% better than average against same-handed pitching. He is undoubtedly better against righties, but he is perfectly fine in all matchups.

Javier Baez brings us back to the other side of the plate and back to a discounted price point on DraftKings where he is just $4,700 and pulling under 1% projected ownership. Baez costs just $3,000 on the FanDuel slate and will be under 10.0% owned on the site. He has hit 14 home runs and stolen nine bases this season, which at last check still count for MLB DFS scoring. The unpopularity and lack of price are borderline inexplicable on Baez. He has a .231 ISO on the season though he is slashing just .236/.271/.467 and creating runs 1% below league average overall. As the cleanup bat in the middle of this lineup against this pitcher, getting over the field on Baez seems like an easy decision, particularly with Cubs stacks. Baez makes for a good name to keep in mind as a discounted one-off at shortstop for those looking to fill the last spot in a lineup as well.

Patrick Wisdom slots in as a $4,800 third baseman on DraftKings and a $2,900 option at the same position on FanDuel. Wisdom has hit a ridiculous eight home runs in just 56 plate appearances, smashing together a ludicrous .500 ISO and creating runs 120.0% better than average in his tiny sample. He is slashing .327/.375/.827 over that run. Wisdom is not mashing out of nowhere, though those marks are clearly mentioned for fun and unsustainable over time. In 2019, Wisdom hit 31 AAA home runs in just 453 plate appearances in the Texas system. He hit the same mark in 506 tries for St. Louis’ AAA affiliate in 2017. There is clear power upside, and the price and ownership projections are still right.

[osBestBetsSingleGameOdds league=”mlb” date=”06/14/2021″ team=”cubs”]

Outfielder Jake Marisnick is likely to draw a start with a lefty on the hill. Marisnick is cheap at $3,200 on DraftKings and $2,100 on FanDuel. He helps make things work for the money and low ownership. He has a .283/.358/.600 slash in just 67 plate appearances this year. He has hit four home runs and created runs 59.0% better than average in that small sample, excellent MLB DFS production for the cost.

Switch hitting Ian Happ still hits everything hard. He sits in the 88th percentile in hard hit rate and 67th percentile in barrel rate this season, as well as an outstanding 91st percentile with a 13.7% walk rate. Happ is slashing just .192/.315/.360 on the season though, suffering somewhat from a .240 batting average on balls in play, but he is also striking out too much at 29.3%, up from 27.3% last season. Happ’s on-base percentage and run creation have taken a major dive this season, the latter mark crashing from 32.0% above average last season and 28.0% above average the year before to 7% below average this season. Still, the talent is clearly there, and when Happ makes contact the ball tends to explode off the bat. At no cost or ownership and with multi-position eligibility, Happ can be rostered as an endcap for mid-lineup stacks or even as a wraparound if he is hitting eighth or ninth.

Infielder Sergio Alcantara is just $2,100 on FanDuel and $2,800 on DraftKings, but he would primarily serve as a blocker for better teammates at either shortstop or second base. Alcantara has made 35 plate appearances this season and does have a quality .290/.343/.742 with two home runs in the irrelevant sample, but he is prospect based almost entirely on his glove and not his bat.

HR Call: Nolan Arenado — St. Louis Cardinals

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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