A huge 13-game Friday night MLB DFS main slate has options from a wide range of angles, including premium pitching, excellent bats at low ownership against gas can pitchers, and Coors Field seemingly determined to be a factor. There are arguments for and against a number of different spots on the board, in an anything-goes season this slate could head in many directions, but the beacon of hope that is the acme of the Top Pitchers Tool on both sites remains one of baseball’s very best and is worthy of faith and significant investment. There is massive power that is getting ignored by the field with teams like the Yankees, the Rockies in Coors, and the Dodgers all going under-owned at high prices but strong probability ratings. The Top Pitchers and Top Stacks Tools are exceedingly important on this type of slate, there are numerous pockets of open leverage and value salaries into which shares of a 150-lineup portfolio should be placed for upside. Finding the right combination of those opportunities is the key to unlocking the top standings for DraftKings MLB DFS and FanDuel MLB lineups.
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Top Home Run Ratings & Predictions
Using a model based on a blend of several predictive statistics for the batter-pitcher matchup we will give each team one of the top choices from their projected lineup. However, the pick included below will not always be the actual top-rated player, particularly when there is an obvious star who rates atop his team’s lineup each day. 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
Arizona Diamondbacks: Jordan Luplow — 10.17
Atlanta Braves: Matt Olson — 11.77
Baltimore Orioles: Anthony Santander — 7.00
Boston Red Sox: Trevor Story — 5.31
Chicago Cubs: Patrick Wisdom — 9.78
Chicago White Sox: Yasmani Grandal — 7.49
Cleveland Guardians: Franmil Reyes — 9.14
Colorado Rockies: Ryan McMahon — 7.23
Detroit Tigers: Austin Meadows — 12.04
Houston Astros: Yordan Alvarez — 18.26
Kansas City Royals: Bobby Witt Jr. — 7.26
Los Angeles Angels: Jared Walsh — 9.34
Los Angeles Dodgers: Max Muncy — 7.54
Minnesota Twins: Byron Buxton — 12.82
New York Mets: Peter Alonso — 15.17
New York Yankees: Aaron Judge — 17.16
Oakland Athletics: Ramon Laureano — 8.65
Philadelphia Phillies: Kyle Schwarber — 9.79
San Diego Padres: Luke Voit — 4.23
San Francisco Giants: Mike Yastrzemski — 9.08
Seattle Mariners: Ty France — 6.32
St. Louis Cardinals: Tyler O’Neill — 4.39
Tampa Bay Rays: Ji-man Choi — 4.55
Texas Rangers: Brad Miller — 9.19
Toronto Blue Jays: Teoscar Hernandez — 6.14
Washington Nationals: Nelson Cruz — 5.20
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 and the second is for the top six hitters in the projected lineup.
MLB DFS Weather Update: Postponements & Risk Assessment
The Friday weather includes a few spots of minor concern, but they are at low probabilities of precipitation and would amount more to in-game delays than potential postponements. With temperatures heating up around the league, there should continue to be a few ballparks in the mid-west that play well for power and hitting upside.
MLB DFS Picks Today: Pitchers, Best Stacks & Low-Owned Plays
This section will feature a few standout MLB DFS spots and teams to look at for potential plays on DraftKings and FanDuel. Be sure to check out the Awesemo MLB DFS Ownership Projections for critical updates and monitor the top stacks tool throughout the day for changes.
On the Hill
The Friday MLB DFS pitching slate has a lot to offer, although it lost one of the premium options up top with the Dodgers putting Clayton Kershaw on the IL shortly after someone you know mentioned the potential for the injury shoe to drop into his otherwise excellent season. Jinxes aside here’s hoping Kershaw is back on the mound sooner rather than later. The slate remains loaded with arms however, there are targets including Max Scherzer, who stands glimmering with quality at the very top of the board on both sites but comes at negative leverage. He is joined by fellow aces Gerrit Cole, Walker Buehler, and Kevin Gausman, and yes, the latter does deserve that mantle at this point. The group of righties is expensive and popular, but they are all worth including in lineups at or around the field’s rate of ownership. The current leverage mark on Buehler is likely to shrink in later updates as he grows in popularity. He is filling in for the Dodgers in Kershaw’s absence, but he will be pitching on full regular rest. Several next-tier starters look like excellent leverage options on the board, with all of Yu Darvish, Logan Webb, and Max Fried efficiently owned at worst, where they are not positively leveraged. The trio may not reach the heights of the true aces regularly, but they are all capable of getting to that level on any given night, at ownership and price they are worthy of extension beyond the field. Several quality items can also be plucked from the discount rack, Nick Pivetta is facing a struggling Rangers lineup filled with strikeouts for a cheap price and positive leverage, and the opposing pitcher Dane Dunning has been sharp over his first six starts, all of which came against very good teams. Eduardo Rodriguez may be the unluckiest man in baseball, but he stands a strong chance of turning in a strong performance and his low price is pulling in significant popularity. The remainder of the slate is loaded with retreads and potential landmines, there could be SP2 value to be squeezed from the likes of Chase Silseth, Jordan Lyles, Zach Davies, or Aaron Civale in the $5,000 tier, but they are very low-end and very unlikely to succeed to the necessary levels.
The Mariners active roster has a 21st-ranked .131 collective ISO and a 20th-ranked 2.32% home run rate against right-handed pitching this season. The team is good at limiting strikeouts, they have just a 21% strikeout rate and they have created runs 9% better than average in the split, but they will be challenged by one of baseball’s best tonight. Max Scherzer has been as good as advertised over his first six starts for the Mets. The righty ace has a 34.3% strikeout rate in 37 innings, pitching to a 2.76 xFIP and a 0.95 WHIP while inducing a 14.6% swinging-strike rate. Scherzer is excellent at limiting premium contact as well, so far this season he has allowed just a 29.8% hard-hit percentage, down several points from last year’s already excellent 34.3%. He has allowed a high number of barrels within that contact profile, his rate currently sits at 11.9%, but Scherzer’s elite strikeout capability and his ability to pitch deep into games are fantastic MLB DFS assets on any slate. The righty is projected for around 25% popularity on FanDuel for $10,700, and at $10,400 on DraftKings he will be in roughly 40% of public lineups. He can be rostered at or beyond that level freely, but it may pay to consider a slight undercut to the field’s weight, simply in the name of spreading out shares of pitching ownership, particularly where gamers get only one bite at the pitching apple. Scherzer is the most likely candidate to put up a required score on the pitching slate, but he is not the only one capable of doing so, which is an important distinction in weighing options.
Blue Jays starter Kevin Gausman checks in at $9,800 on FanDuel and $10,000 on DraftKings for the seventh start of what is shaping up to be another outstanding season. The righty has thrown 38 innings and he has just one walk, a 0.7% rate for the season while pitching to a 1.97 xFIP and a 31.3% strikeout rate. Gausman has a 1.00 WHIP and he has induced a stellar 18.9% swinging-strike rate with a 33.3% CSW%. Hitters have managed to find a 44% hard-hit rate against the starter, but with just a 6.0% barrel rate and a 10.4-degree average launch angle that has translated into zero home runs allowed to this point in the season. Gausman will be facing a Rays team that has struggled to find their usual quality against righties so far this season. The team’s active roster has compiled a .144 ISO with a 2.64% home run rate, both ranked 14th in the league, and they have managed to create runs a 10th-ranked 11% above average, but they are baseball’s 26th ranked team with a 24.6% strikeout rate in the split against righties. The general lack of power and the enhanced strikeout opportunity should play well for Gausman in this spot, the Blue Jays look like a good bet to help him reach a win bonus as well, adding to the appeal. Gausman is justifiably popular at slightly negative leverage on DraftKings. He slips more into negative leverage on the FanDuel slate, but his raw ownership is just 18% which remains easily playable on a slate with some extremely low-owned hitting quality available.
The Yankees will have Gerrit Cole on the mound to face a strong White Sox lineup tonight. Cole comes at a bit of a cost discount by comparison to the other premium pitchers on the slate, and his raw ownership totals are fairly low, even if he technically lands at somewhat negative leverage across the industry. The Yankees ace has a 29.6% strikeout rate over his first 30.1 innings this season. He has struggled with premium contact at times across several of his starts, yielding a 40.8% hard-hit percentage with a 6.6% barrel rate, but he has been good overall. Cole has a 3.05 xFIP and a 1.12 WHIP with a 15.1% swinging-strike rate and a 32.1% CSW%. The righty struck out hitters at a better rate last season, sitting at 33.5% over his 181.1 innings, but he remains one of the top options on most slates. With a crowded field, Cole is arguably somewhat overlooked at 25% on DraftKings and 12% on FanDuel. He will have to tangle with a White Sox active roster that is second in baseball with an 18.2% strikeout rate against righties this season, but one that has also struggled for both power and run creation. Chicago’s roster has a 26th-ranked .115 ISO and a 2.05% home run rate that sits 22nd in the split this season. The White Sox have created runs 23% worse than average by collective WRC+ so far in 2022, the 27th-ranked spot in the split ahead of only the Royals, Athletics, and Tigers. While the White Sox are easily better than that, Cole could be in a better-than-expected situation as an under-the-radar target on both sites.
Using the DraftKings board, all of Yu Darvish, Max Fried, Walker Buehler, and Logan Webb are positively leveraged from the next tier of probability, which ranks in that order on the site. Buehler came into the slate late and costs $11,200, both factors should keep the public away from an excellent righty who has not quite found his form so far this season. Buehler has performed similarly to both Darvish and Webb so far this season, in that he has put together quality despite a drop in his strikeout rate. Last season the Dodgers righty had a 26% rate over 207.2 excellent innings, this year he is at just 21.8% over his first 36.2, but everything else holds up. Buehler had a 3.57 xFIP last season and a 3.58 this year. He walked hitters at 6.4% in 2021, and he is issuing free passes at a 6.1% clip this season. His swinging strikes are up but his CSW% is down, his hard hits are up but barrels are down. The numbers seem largely shaped by happenstance, and Buehler should ultimately be fine. At low ownership in a tough spot against the Phillies, he is a very interesting new wrinkle on this slate. Darvish and Fried are pitching against one another in Atlanta. The Padres veteran righty is sitting at just a 20.4% strikeout rate after pitching to a 29.2% mark over 166.1 innings last year, but as with Buehler, all of his other numbers are in line with expectations. The righty has changed his pitch mix early in the season, to limited effect, but he seems like a good candidate to turn things around, and he will be facing a Braves lineup that strikes out at an aggressive rate. The team is loaded with power and run creation quality, however, making it an unsafe but high-upside spot for the righty who is just 10.9% popular on DraftKings and comes at a third of that ownership projection on FanDuel. Fried has a 24.6% strikeout rate and a 2.56 xFIP with a 0.84 WHIP this season. He has induced more swinging strikes, and he has trimmed his already excellent contact profile. The lefty is an excellent option for leverage at just 4.8% FanDuel popularity and 11.2% DraftKings ownership for a cheap price. Fried will be facing a Padres lineup that has done well against lefties this year, San Diego has a .171 collective ISO in the split and they have hit home runs at a third-ranked 4.12% rate against lefties this season while striking out just 20.9% of the time. Fried is quite good at limiting opposing power, so this will be an interesting matchup between the overperforming Padres and the low-owned leverage pitcher. Logan Webb will be taking on the Cardinals, who have a strong 19.1% strikeout rate against righties but have struggled for power despite also creating runs 4% above average in the split. Webb has dipped from his strong 26.5% strikeout rate over 148.1 innings in his breakout 2021 to just 18% so far this year, but he is also pitching to almost exactly the same peripheral stats and ratios that he posted last season. The righty seems to be tinkering with his pitch mix, leading with his changeup and balancing out the distribution somewhat, to minimal effect. Webb is still a young developing pitcher, so this is unlikely to be a long-term problem, though some regression from last year’s excellence could certainly be in play. It makes sense to draw shares of a virtually unowned Webb while also hedging with low-owned St. Louis bats in other lineups; every Cardinals hitter is at less than 1% ownership on both sites on a hot sweaty sticky night in St. Louis.
Eduardo Rodriguez actually has a favorable batting average on balls in play against this season but has still managed to get unlucky in yielding more runs than expected stats would suggest. The hard-luck southpaw has made a career out of finding a way to yield runs and lose ballgames, making him a frustrating, volatile, and always interesting MLB DFS play. Last season, Rodriguez had a bumpy 4.74 ERA with a .363 BABIP against, but he had a clean 3.47 xERA and a 3.43 xFIP. He struck out 27.4% of opposing hitters and walked just seven percent, a career-low rate of issuing free passes and a career-high strikeout mark, but this season Rodriguez has dipped to just 23% strikeouts and crept back up to an 8.1% walk rate. He is also yielding more quality contact this season, with a 40.9% hard-hit percentage and a 9.7% barrel rate compared to last year’s excellent 33.6% hard-hit and 6.8% barrel rates. Rodriguez is facing an Orioles lineup that has been lousy against lefties so far this season. Baltimore has compiled just a .107 ISO and a 2.14% home run rate in the split, the 24th and 20th ranked marks in the game. The team has been worse for strikeouts and run creation. The Orioles active roster has a 25th-ranked WRC+ that sits 13% below average in the split and they strike out at a 27% rate that ranks 27th. Rodriguez stands a good chance of succeeding against this lineup, particularly if Ryan Mountcastle is absent once again, but with his popularity, it also makes sense to hedge with a minor subset of Orioles stacks in other lineups. The team has been atrocious this year, but they were good in the split against lefties last season. If Mountcastle does not start, playable Orioles bats include Cedric Mullins, Austin Hays, Trey Mancini, Anthony Santander and Jorge Mateo. This is a good both-sides opportunity for MLB DFS lineups, Rodriguez has a good chance to succeed, but he is also negatively leveraged at high ownership on both sites, making him targetable with low-owned bats.
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The Royals are visiting Coors Field to take on the Rockies, and the less that is said about the two pitchers in this game, the better. Kansas City is in a favorable spot in the premium pitching environment, but the groundball pitcher on the mound for Colorado may be able to tamp down their hit-tool and speed-based offense effectively enough that they lose appeal at the slate’s worst leverage score. Kansas City should be rostered, but they will be crushingly popular and must be used in conjunction with lower-owned second stacks and starters. Whit Merrifield and Andrew Benintendi are both popular hitting against the always playable Sal Perez, a home run hitting catcher who is one of the slate’s most popular players tonight at 26% on DraftKings and 30% on FanDuel. Perez is excellent, but it is difficult to justify that level of exposure to any individual hitter on a 13-game slate. The Royals lineup continues with Hunter Dozier, Bobby Witt Jr. and Emmanuel Rivera before slipping further in quality with backend players like Michael Taylor and Nicky Lopez. It is easy to argue that Kansas City should be aggressively rostered, but the contrary position has as much or more value, the mediocre Royals lineup is over-owned on both sites, undercutting them significantly in favor of spreading out shares is a quality approach on this slate.
One of the under-owned teams to consider is on the other side of the very same matchup, in the same hitter-friendly environment. The Rockies rank at the very top of the probability board on both DraftKings and FanDuel, but they project for half the ownership that the Royals are pulling in. Colorado is facing Zack Greinke, a pitcher that casual fans would likely guess retired around 2016. Greinke got by on guile and experience for the past two seasons or more, this year he at least has the experience. Against a pitch-to-contact opponent with low single-digit strikeout acumen, the Rockies should be expected to feast on balls in play. If they manage to get a few runners on ahead of power bats like C.J. Cron, this could be a spot with explosive MLB DFS scoring upside. The Rockies projected lineup includes Connor Joe, Charlie Blackmon, Cron and Ryan McMahon. The lefty infielder offers multi-position eligibility from the five spot in this lineup for just $3,600 on FanDuel and he is a third baseman who costs $4,500 and is projected for merely 6.7% popularity at Coors Field. McMahon’s power has a chance to get engaged for the season in this spot. Bats like Elias Dias, Yonathan Daza and lefty Samuel Hilliard, as well as either Brendan Rodgers or Garret Hampson can be mixed and matched through this stack as needed for any price and positional concerns tonight, but most of the lineup quality comes from the top half.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Phillies and Dodgers are both interesting teams at low ownership tonight. Philadelphia will be facing Buehler at low single-digit ownership for players including lefty-mashers Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper, and the righties in their lineup are excellent hitters like Nick Castellanos, Rhys Hoskins, J.T. Realmuto and emerging Alec Bohm. That said, the Phillies are facing one of baseball’s best, the team on the other side of the game will be facing limited righty veteran Kyle Gibson, and they may be the better play at similarly low ownership. Gibson is a low-strikeout righty who may struggle against a loaded Dodgers lineup. Los Angeles targets include essentially the entire lineup from one through nine, with stars like Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and Trea Turner leading the way. Will Smith is an excellent option where catchers are necessary and where they are not, his always-low ownership is an asset on the FanDuel slate. Justin Turner did not start but did pinch-hit last night, suggesting that he will be back in action here, and any of Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor, and Gavin Lux are strong options at less than 1% popularity and discounted pricing. Bellinger is slashing .205/.264/.420 with five home runs and a .214 ISO, his lefty thunder could be sneaky against a middling righty on this slate. The Dodgers and Phillies are both targetable, but Dodgers stacks make much more sense given the matchup.
New York Yankees
Yes, the Astros also look spectacular on this slate. Houston will be lightly owned in a strong spot against Josiah Gray, who allows too many baserunners and too much premium contact, but the Yankees are facing Vince Velasquez, who also does both of those things, only without Gray’s strikeout acumen and over a much longer sample. Playable Houston bats in their game include usual suspects Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Yuli Gurriel and Kyle Tucker. Outfielder Chas McCormick makes a habit of coming through when mentioned in this space, so don’t sleep on him, and Aledmys Diaz adds cheap multi-position flexibility. Meanwhile, the Yankees loaded lineup has options galore in a game against a righty hurler with a 45.6% hard-hit rate and a 13.2% barrel rate allowed so far this season. Velasquez is targetable for power in any start. He yielded a 43.3% hard-hit rate and a 12.2% barrel rate on a 20.6-degree average launch angle in 94.1 innings last season, allowing a 5.5% home run rate. With players capable of hitting the ball out of the yard at extreme exit velocities even at low trajectories like last night’s early tee shot into the right-field seats, this game could see significant fireworks from New York. Add in the fact that the Yankees have managed to limit strikeouts to just 21.9% against righties this season and the reasons to stack their bats gain ground.
The Yankees lineup leads off with D.J. LeMahieu who is back to his old excellent self, slashing .305/.381/.448 to start the season. If Marwin Gonzalez happens to play again tonight, he would be the second player in the lineup along with LeMahieu to offer three-position eligibility on the FanDuel slate, adding tremendous flexibility to an already strong stack. LeMahieu is inexpensive on both sites, and he checks in at less than 3% popularity across the board. He is an excellent option to start a Yankees stack against this pitcher.
Aaron Judge is the most popular and expensive Yankees bat on both sites, but his ownership reaches just 8.4% on DraftKings at $5,400 and 10% on FanDuel for $4,300. He is easily playable and is one of the leading contenders for power on the slate. Judge has a 64.2% hard-hit rate that would awe even the Bambino, adding a 25.9% barrel rate to the equation. The outfielder is leading baseball with 11 home runs, he has created runs 93% better than average, and he has a titanic .339 ISO.
Lefty Anthony Rizzo has reminded Yankees fans why he is no one’s consolation prize, hitting nine home runs and creating runs 63% better than average over his first 133 plate appearances. While he has been a master of the front row on some of his long balls, and he has scuffled with his usually strong hit tool, Rizzo should improve on the front-end of his .232/.353/.536 triple-slash while maintaining the run creation levels, even if the power does not last all season. He is owned at less than 6% on both sites and makes a strong play in the middle of Yankees stacks.
Giancarlo Stanton hit a pair of home runs last night and he looks like an excellent bet to repeat with another one tonight. The slugging outfielder has a 22.5% barrel rate with a 58.8% hard-hit percentage so far this season, numbers that only a masher like Judge can surpass. Stanton is slashing .277/.311/.527 with a .250 ISO while creating runs 44% better than average. He is excellent for MLB DFS purposes and somehow still costs just $4,800 on DraftKings. Stanton is below 6% owned on both sites.
Infielder Gleyber Torres has shown signs of life, to the great relief of Yankees fans worldwide. The former standout prospect hit the league like wildfire in his rookie season, before cratering over the last two years. This year, Torres has roared back to life with five home runs and a .220 ISO, creating runs 12% above average and dialing up a 51.3% hard-hit rate and an 11.5% barrel rate. He has also cut strikeouts to just 16% but has walked only 5.0% of the time, leaving room for additional improvement. Torres remains cheap and low-owned, though 12% of the field is including him at a mere $2,400 on FanDuel.
Outfielder Aaron Hicks has been on base with regularity in recent games, but he has struggled for power and run creation, slipping below average to a 98 WRC+. Hicks is an established option for medium power and speed when he is healthy, and he is highly regarded for his eye, his ability to extend plate appearances and pitch counts, and his on-base acumen. He is inexpensive, unpopular and capable of hitting one out against virtually any starter, which sounds an awful lot like an excellent MLB DFS tournament option.
Joey Gallo may be slashing .190/.297/.316 with just a .127 ISO while creating runs 10% below average, but he still has an absurdly strong contact profile, with a 52.3% hard-hit percentage and a 22.7% barrel rate. Gallo is still the three true-outcomes slugger he has always been, it’s just that the power outcome has been somewhat absent due to happenstance. The lefty masher has a 38.5% strikeout rate and a 13.2% walk rate this season. If he and Hicks are hitting six and seven, they may draw five walks between them tonight, which has correlation upside on its own. Gallo will hit his home runs this season. Against this pitcher, at cheap prices and negligible ownership, he is a great target.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Kyle Higashioka, and any other back-end players can be mixed and matched into stacks for correlation and price or position offsets, but they are substandard options by comparison to the rest of this lineup.
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