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MLB DFS Tournament Strategy: Leverage, Home Runs, Optimal Picks | Today, 10/19/21

Terry McBride



According to a report, the New York Yankees may act "quickly" in their pursuit of Freddie Freeman after the lockout was finally lifted Thursday

Despite some stiff competition for attention, MLB DFS action rolls on tonight with a two-game Championship Series set. With both leagues in action, gamers will have slightly more choice and something of a normally formatted tournament, rather than the wild crapshoot that is Showdown and single-game baseball DFS. There are two entirely different-looking games on the board this evening, with the National League contest carrying a low run total, typical of what we see in October. In the American League game in Boston, we have an inflated mid-summer style run total to work with. The pitching matchup in that contest is not nearly as good as in the senior circuit, which has a lot to do with the monster projections for both offenses. Getting to a broad spread of bats from the American League game and arms from the National League seems the obvious and highly popular approach, mixing up that equation is an easy way to get different on both DraftKings and FanDuel this evening.

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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 design, based on a blend of several predictive statistics for the batter-pitcher matchup, I will give each team one of the top choices. However, it will not always be the absolute top-ranked player, particularly when there is an obvious star in that spot every day.

Home Run Ratings

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

Atlanta Braves: Freddie Freeman — 7.96

Boston Red Sox: Rafael Devers — 10.95

Houston Astros: Yordan Alvarez — 11.58

Los Angeles Dodgers: Will Smith — 6.57

Power Index

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

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MLB DFS Picks: 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 Awesemo Ownership Projections for critical updates and monitor the top stacks tool throughout the day for changes.

On the Hill

Tuesday’s pitching slate is strongly bent toward the National League game, where both the Braves and Dodgers will have high-end righties on the mound. Walker Buehler is easily the best pitcher on the board on both talent and performance this season. He posted a 3.57 xFIP with a 26% strikeout rate over his 207.2 innings this season, leading baseball in quality starts. He is a terrific option but is likely to be wildly popular on such a limited slate. On the other side, the visiting team will have veteran Charlie Morton on the bump. He threw 185.2 innings in 33 starts, striking out 28.6% of opposing hitters and pitching to a 3.31 xFIP with a 1.04 WHIP. Morton was terrific for limiting contact as well, holding hitters to just a 4.9% barrel rate and a 32.5% hard-hit percentage. He faces a tough opponent in the Dodgers, but there is upside available with the strikeout acumen, if he can manage to get through five clean innings Morton will be in play this evening. Boston’s Nick Pivetta is the better option in the American League game. He threw 155 innings in 30 starts and posted a 26.5% strikeout rate with a 4.28 xFIP. He has rough contact numbers that are inflating the Astros’ power marks somewhat, Pivetta allowed a 40.1% hard-hit percentage and an 8.2% barrel rate this season. On the other side, however, the Astros are down to veteran Zack Greinke. He threw 171 low-velocity innings this season, pitching to a 4.21 xFIP and a 17.2% strikeout rate. Greinke is here to get through four or five innings of relative quality while not getting absolutely obliterated by the Red Sox lineup. He might be able to pull that off in real life, but for MLB DFS purposes there is little to see here.

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The Top Stacks Tool will be invaluable for this format once again. Getting to a positively leveraged stack where possible and combining it with lower-owned hitters from other teams is a good approach to lineup differentiation in a limited format like this. On the American League side, both teams are coming in around level ownership, with the Red Sox pulling in slightly less as a total. Every hitter in the projected Red Sox lineup, other than catcher Christian Vazquez, created runs at a level above league average by WRC+ this season. Leaving out Vazquez, the eight other hitters had a WRC+ that was an average of 22% better than the league average. Go-to Boston bats include essentially the entire lineup, but the true focus should be placed on Kyle Schwarber, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez and Hunter Renfroe. Alex Verdugo should not be ignored, particularly against a weak right-handed pitcher. Vazquez can be rostered as a catcher play where required and Christian Arroyo fills out the lineup.

Of the two National League teams, it is the Braves coming up with positive leverage on this slate, which makes sense given the heavy public ownership anticipated on Buehler. The Braves lineup has been excellent for power throughout the entire season, they had a league-leading home run rate against right-handed pitching this season. The Atlanta lineup plays from one through eight without a true weak spot. The projected configuration sees Eddie Rosario in the leadoff role, which is not an ideal spot for a hitter with a .305 on-base percentage this season. Rosario leads the way into the Braves heart, with Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley, and Joc Pederson making up a mighty string of hitters who are impossible to match up against later in the game given their varying handedness and Albies’ switch-hitting ability. Powerful Adam Duvall follows that group with his thunderous stick and should not be forgotten in building Braves lineups. After Duvall, the team includes excellent options at catcher and shortstop with Travis d’Arnaud and another of our column favorites, Dansby Swanson rounding out the batting order.

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HR Call: Adam Duvall — Atlanta Braves

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 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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