MLB DFS Picks, Spotlight Pitchers & Top Stacks: SP1 Jared Jones + Pirates Bats = Differentiation (May 16)

Thursday has varied featured tournaments, depending on your MLB DFS site of choice. There is a five-game slate locking at 6:40 p.m. ET on DraftKings and FanDuel. Yahoo is rolling with a four-gamer and a 7:10 p.m. first pitch. Before we get to our MLB DFS picks, as always, we will use Stokastic’s tools to help identify today’s MLB DFS stacks, key pitchers and daily fantasy baseball lineups. Look to Tyler Glasnow and Jared Jones as Thursday’s aces, with the Astros as a core stack and the Pirates providing differentiation.

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MLB DFS Picks: Spotlight Pitchers and Top Stacks | May 16

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MLB DFS Picks: Spotlight Pitchers

Main Slate Primary Pitching Target: RHP Jared Jones at Chicago Cubs — 4.1 implied runs

First Pitch: 7:40 p.m. ET

  • DFS Salary: DraftKings $9,100 | FanDuel $10,400 | Yahoo $45

The Stokastic Top Pitchers Tool has RHP Jared Jones as an intriguing option today for tournaments. The clear top option is RHP Tyler Glasnow, who is at home against the Cincinnati Reds. Glasnow is coming off back-to-back 10-strikeout games, a milestone he has reached in four of his last starts while striking out 58 total in these 40 innings. That is what we call being at peak performance.

Below Jones on the pricing sheet is RHP Cristian Javier, who has the cherry matchup against the visiting Oakland Athletics. Javier had a rough outing last Saturday, being knocked around for seven runs in just 1.1 innings against the Tigers in Detroit. He had missed just over three weeks with neck discomfort, so there is a risk that he is not back to full health. It will be interesting to see how gamers handle this situation. Considering that Jose Urquidy, Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers Jr. have each been out all season and J.P. France is dinged up, Javier may have come back a little too early.

That brings us back to Jones, who has been impressive as a rookie. Tonight he will be making his ninth start, and he has allowed three or fewer runs in each appearance, though he has ceded a trio of multi-home run games. The 22-year-old has an impressive 56 strikeouts in his 47 innings, though the Cubs are not an easy matchup, with Seiya Suzuki and Cody Bellinger now healthy. However, Dansby Swanson is on the injured reserve and leadoff man Nico Hoerner is dealing with a tender hamstring. This should be a fun slate with several decision points.

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Main Slate Wild Card Pitching Target: RHP Cooper Criswell vs. Tampa Bay Rays — 4.4 implied runs

First Pitch: 7:10 p.m. ET

DFS Salary: DraftKings $6,800 | FanDuel $7,200 | Yahoo $36

There is no doubt that RHP Cooper Criswell will be popular on DraftKings and Yahoo, where his favorable salary allows gamers to pair him with Glasnow and not break the bank. Criswell was drafted in the 13th round of the 2018 MLB Draft by the Los Angeles Angels, spending a few seasons in their farm system, with one appearance in The Show. In July 2022, Tampa Bay claimed Criswell off waivers, and he saw action in 11 games over two seasons as a long reliever. Ultimately, the Rays chose not to offer him a contract, so the Red Sox signed him this winter, with a chance to make the Boston rotation.

That brings us to tonight’s matchup, with Criswell facing his most recent team while also looking like a find as a back-end rotation option. In his last two starts, the 27-year-old has logged 9.1 innings, allowing three runs on three solo shots while also racking up 14 strikeouts. He has shown reasonable strikeout potential, but those were in short bursts of action as a reliever. It will be interesting to see if he can maintain something close to a strikeout per inning, or if he slides down to the 6.7- to 7.3-per-nine ratio assigned by most of the season-long projection systems (Steamer, ZiPS, The BAT, etc.)

MLB DFS Picks: Top Stacks

Main Slate Primary Target: Houston Astros vs. RHP Joey Estes — 5.1 implied runs

First Pitch: 8:10 p.m. ET

The point of offering up different pitching options is that it is hard to get away from the Astros against visiting RHP Joey Estes. The 22-year-old rookie will be making his second start of the season and his fourth overall in The Show. Estes is the 14th-ranked prospect for the Athletics, and he is not even close to making the top-100 industry lists. He came over to Oakland as part of the Matt Olson deal with Atlanta, having never cleared Single-A, though this was partly because of the lost 2020 season that was his second year with the organization.

Estes is a high-fastball pitcher who does not have much in the way of breaking balls or a changeup. He profiles best as a reliever who could get four or five outs while not going through the order more than once.

Look to the usual suspects at the top of the lineup with Kyle Tucker, Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, who is finally heating up. If he is in the lineup, catcher Yainer Diaz has been excellent against right-handed pitching, actually mirroring the production of Tucker since the start of last year, albeit in fewer plate appearances.

Main Slate Secondary Target: Pittsburgh Pirates at LHP Justin Steele — 3.6 implied runs

First Pitch: 7:40 p.m. ET

The Stokastic Top Stacks Tool, of course, loves the Los Angels Dodgers, who are going against what looks to be a bullpen game for the visiting Cincinnati Reds. LHP Brent Suter is the listed starter, and he has gone multiple innings several times this season, though someone could also be called up with LHP Nick Lodolo (groin) being placed on injured reserve yesterday.

Pittsburgh is more of a complementary stack, though that is something that will be necessary for gamers looking to differentiate from other lineups rolling with Glasnow and the Dodgers or on the two-pitcher sites where Glasnow and Criswell will be a popular duo.

Last year LHP Justin Steele built on his 2022 breakout, making his first All-Star Game while also ranking fifth in the Nation League Cy Young Award voting. Unfortunately, the 28-year-old suffered a strained left hamstring in his season opener, which put him out of commission for six weeks. He has made two starts since returning, one good and then one against the Pirates last Saturday that was not so good, resulting in six earned runs and three home runs in just four innings. In these 8.2 innings of action, Steele has just five strikeouts and three walks. We have just seen firsthand what Pittsburgh is capable of, though this rematch is far from the main reason to roster the Bucs.

Look to the top of the order, with Connor Joe and Edward Oliveres as the primary pair. Veteran Andrew McCutchen has a long track record of success against southpaws, though the 37-year-old is now a decade removed from his 2013 National League MVP Award winning season. Oneil Cruz and Bryan Reynolds are also options, though there is no need to go overboard against Steele. He has earned our respect, and this recommendation is about finding differentiation with potential upside against a currently struggling ace.

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Other DFS and Sports Wagering Opportunities

This is the first time this season for recommending a stolen base prop, but the numbers are lining up in favor of Bryson Stott for the +400 on his stolen base prop, which is currently available on FanDuel.

OddsShopper shows this bet has +336 “true odds,” so the +400 line still brings a fantastic 14.7% expected ROI. We can also see how crucial it is to shop the odds, as sportsbooks tend to vary wildly with their offerings. This can be seen with Hard Rock and Fanatics offering +240 by way of comparison.

Currently the New York Mets are allowing 1.33 steals per game, and this has long been an issue with the franchise over a variety of managers, catchers and pitchers (long live Noah Syndergaard and his inability to hold runners). This year the team leads the league with 56 stolen bases allowed, which is 10 more than any other team in the league. The key has been catcher Omar Narvaez, who has allowed 30 stolen bases himself in just 15 starts.

Tomas Nido has been behind the plate for the last three starts by LHP Jose Quintana, but he caught yesterday and five of the last six days. Quintana has allowed just three steals in his eight starts, but if Narvaez is behind the dish, this is a great spot to target.

Stott has been successful on 10 of 11 attempts this season and 31 of 34 last year, for a 91.1% success rate. Yes, there is a good chance that he doesn’t attempt a steal tonight, but if the conditions all lineup up between Narvaez catching and Stott getting on base, this +400 payout bears fruit on a long-term time horizon.

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Final Thoughts for Wednesday, May 15– MLB DFS Picks

Keep tabs on Minnesota, as there is a chance of rain in the Twin Cities. Be sure to check in with your favorite MLB Weather Report page closer to first pitch for updates.

Before you finalize your MLB DFS picks, check out today’s Stokastic MLB Live Before Lock Show, at 6:00 p.m. ET brought to you by Sleeper – new users, use this link to receive a $500 first deposit match! Full details here.

Eric "EMac" MacPherson won the 2007 Fantasy Baseball grand prize (trip for two to the MLB All-Star game) in the Roto format on ESPN. He won again in 2008, this time in the H2H format. As one of the early adopters of daily fantasy sports, EMac has been providing content for baseball and basketball as well as both professional and college football since 2012 for a variety of websites including DraftKings Playbook, FanVice, RotoWorld, Daily Fantasy Bootcamp, and RotoGrinders. He is well into his third decade of fantasy sports and has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Follow him on Twitter @EMacDFS or contact EMac by emailing [email protected].

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