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MLB DFS Tournament Picks & Home Runs 5/16/22

Terry McBride

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A mega Monday main slate features 11 games on both sites, a premium Coors Field game, several interesting pitchers but arguably no apex aces, and stacking opportunities galore. The pitching slate breaks down along very clear lines, there are several quality options, one potentially clear-cut ace, but numerous risky propositions. The choice between riding with the chalk or embracing a bit of risk around lower-cost less popular starters will be a key in determining where lineups land at the end of the night. The opportunity to roster premium bats while skipping over-exposed pitchers is significant when teams like the White Sox, Yankees, and Rockies in Coors Field appear to be less popular than their opportunities would dictate. A broad spread of high-end bats and some less than comfortable pitching can often lead to high-upside MLB DFS lineups on both DraftKings and FanDuel, which seems to be the angle for which this slate is headed tonight.

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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.

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

Arizona Diamondbacks: Christian Walker — 4.05

Atlanta Braves: Matt Olson — 8.00

Baltimore Orioles: Cedric Mullins II — 4.12

Boston Red Sox: Trevor Story — 6.89

Chicago Cubs: Ian Happ — 6.07

Chicago White Sox: Luis Robert — 6.21

Colorado Rockies: C.J. Cron — 6.87

Houston Astros: Kyle Tucker — 5.17

Kansas City Royals: Ryan O’Hearn — 6.74

Los Angeles Angels: Shohei Ohtani — 11.31

Los Angeles Dodgers: Max Muncy — 11.66

Milwaukee Brewers: Rowdy Tellez — 6.45

Minnesota Twins: Gary Sanchez — 10.51

New York Mets: Dominic Smith — 3.68

New York Yankees: Aaron Judge — 15.50

Oakland Athletics: Seth Brown — 7.79

Pittsburgh Pirates: Michael Chavis — 5.52

San Francisco Giants: Joc Pederson — 4.80

Seattle Mariners: Julio Rodriguez — 6.85

St. Louis Cardinals: Tyler O’Neill — 11.37

Texas Rangers: Brad Miller — 3.04

Toronto Blue Jays: Teoscar Hernandez — 6.74

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 and the second is for the top six hitters in the projected lineup.

Best MLB home run prop bet predictions Monday May 16

MLB DFS Weather Update: Postponements & Risk Assessment

Monday’s main slate weather is looking wet in the New York area, which may impact the Cardinals vs. Mets matchup. Writing this column while looking out the window in the mid-afternoon, roughly 10 miles west of the stadium as the crow flies, there are giant raindrops splashing into deep puddles, and there is consistent rain in the forecast through 10 pm. It seems likely that the game in Queens will either be hit by in-game delays or postponed outright. Further up I-95, the game between the Astros and Red Sox may see some late-inning raindrops, but there should be ample time to complete the game before the heavy stuff arrives.

Update: Cardinals vs. Mets has officially been rained out.

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.

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On the Hill

Today’s pitching slate takes an interesting shape, depending on how one views Brewers’ starter Freddy Peralta, it could be argued that there are no premium starters available. Peralta is a strong strikeout option who is not without his flaws, but he is typically excellent for MLB DFS purposes. Today, the righty will be challenged by the loaded Braves lineup, but the team offers enough strikeout upside to push Peralta to the top of the board on both sites at fair pricing and ownership. The rest of the slate is comprised of starters who at best have abundant question marks, and at worst are flashing “hit me hard” signs for opposing stacks. The most likely options include Luis Severino who will lead the Yankees into Baltimore, Noah Syndergaard, who faces the low-end Rangers but will do so without his previous strikeout upside, and Yusei Kikuchi who brings an average strikeout rate and bad contact numbers into a matchup against the Mariners. Red Sox righty Garrett Whitlock has an excellent strikeout rate this season, but he will be hard-pressed to find much swing-and-miss in the Astros lineup, Whitlock is an interesting tournament option at a low cost and strong leverage. Tony Gonsolin is priced up against the Diamondbacks, who have plenty of strikeouts in their lineup but have been pesky against right-handed pitching; Gonsolin is a “pay-up to be different” option on the DraftKings slate, where he checks in at a massive $10,200 salary. Braves starter Ian Anderson is a reasonable target at positive leverage and a fair price against the Brewers, but he has struggled with a dip in velocity and a major decrease in strikeouts this season. Anderson still looks like a better option than an over-exposed Chris Archer or Jon Gray against a lethal Angels lineup. Those looking to embrace the chaos and take on some risk for value can choose to tangle with the Yankees lineup by rostering $5,800 Kyle Bradish, or $5,500 Chris Flexen, who faces the Blue Jays, but the best value target on the board may be the extremely uncomfortable Wade Miley selection against the Pirates. Miley is a very low-end pitcher with a low probability of success, and he comes at negative leverage for his $4,400 DraftKings salary. An alternate value play that no one will be rostering is $6,400 Madison Bumgarner, who lands at a very low probability of success, but a positive leverage score in a deadly dance with the Dodgers. Los Angeles has surprisingly scuffled against lefties this season. Bumgarner has a good ERA but a bad xFIP and no strikeout rate to speak of this year. There is little to support the idea of his success in this spot, but there is just enough of an argument to throw some longshot darts at the veteran if gamers find themselves in a particularly masochistic mood.

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The Braves are in Milwaukee to take on righty Freddy Peralta tonight. The team’s active roster has a 25.3% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching this year, which is a solid number to target with the pitcher’s strikeout acumen. On the other hand, the Braves have been elite for power and run creation against righties this year. Atlanta’s active roster has a .183 ISO that ranks fourth in the split, a 3.84% home run rate that sits third, and they have created runs 8% better than average, largely without superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. With the elite outfielder back atop the lineup, the Braves will only get better, they are low-owned and they make for an appealing stack either on their own or to hedge against significant shares of Peralta, which are also very worthwhile. The righty has a 30.6% strikeout rate with a 3.10 xFIP and a 1.26 WHIP while inducing a 12.8% swinging-strike rate this season, but he has allowed a significant amount of hard contact. Peralta is sitting at a 47.2% hard-hit percentage with a lifesaving 4.2% barrel rate. If hitters were barreling the ball slightly more often, the power numbers against Peralta would be ugly. The righty was excellent for contact over his 144.1 innings in 2021, putting up a 31.1% hard-hit rate with a 6% barrel rate, so this may be the product of a small sample in his 28.2 innings this year. He has maintained the low barrel rate and just an 87.5 mph average exit velocity, and the strikeouts are worth chasing against a lineup that willingly yields them. Peralta is extremely popular at $10,500 as the top-ranked starter on the DraftKings slate, but he is worth rostering at or around the field, while also including Braves stacks in other lineups. On FanDuel, Peralta costs just $9,700. He is negatively leveraged at his 19% ownership projection, but rostering him around the field’s rate of exposure should be a playable approach if one chooses not to undercut the ownership.

The most popular and most negatively leveraged pitcher on both sites is Yankees starter Luis Severino. The righty seems to be picking up steam with his strikeouts, pushing his way to 25% over his 28.2 innings in six starts this season. Severino is pitching to a 3.36 xFIP with a 1.33 WHIP and a 7.3% walk rate, while inducing a 12.1% swinging-strike rate. The righty pitched to higher strikeout numbers in the past, but returning to even a mid-20s rate is a very good sign as he continues the comeback from a long multi-season injury absence. Severino has yielded some premium contact, but he has a 3.23% home run rate and a 38.6% hard-hit percentage with a 7.2% barrel rate, all reasonably fair power numbers. The righty will be facing a Baltimore lineup that has been bad in the split for multiple seasons. The Orioles’ active roster is 27th-best in baseball with a 1.76% home run rate against righties and they have a .128 ISO that ranks 22nd in the split. Baltimore strikes out at a 22.5% clip and has created runs 2% below average this season, they are an appealing opponent for Severino to be facing on this slate, it is easy to see him posting a dominant start while piling up strikeouts. Unfortunately, the field is not failing to notice the obviously primed situation, the Yankees’ starter is underpriced on both sites, which is only serving to push his popularity to greater heights. Severino is projected for more than 40% popularity on the single-pitcher blue site, and he is pushing 50% on the two-pitcher DraftKings slate. The starter is easily worth the salary, Severino’s price is too low on both sites, but with such a significant weight of public popularity, it is difficult to get to the same level of exposure as the field. Simply undercutting some of the ownership, while still rostering the pitcher at around 20-25% seems appropriate for tournament play.

Angels righty Noah Syndergaard is another starter who was blipped out of existence for a couple of years by Thanos Tommy John Surgery. Syndergaard is back in full health, and he has been pitching well for Los Angeles. He has a 2.45 ERA with a 3.97 xFIP, but his strikeout stuff has not returned nearly to previous levels. The former ace topped out at a 29.3% strikeout rate in 2016, but he has consistently been in the mid-20s throughout his on-and-off career. This season, the strikeout numbers have dipped to just 17.5% while Syndergaard learns to pitch with his new mix and a diminished fastball velocity. The righty is facing a Rangers team that has been lousy in the split this season. Texas’ active roster has a 22% strikeout rate that ranks in the middle of the league, but they have created runs 26% worse than average and they have just a .121 team ISO, both ranked 26th in the league. Syndergaard may not rack up a giant strikeout total, but he seems like a strong bet to suppress power and limit run-scoring, while pitching deep and chasing the win and quality start bonuses as applicable. With a very limited public ownership projection and strong leverage marks on both sites, Syndergaard looks like an excellent target for tournament play.

Toronto southpaw Yusei Kikuchi could be a major inflection point for tonight’s slate. The lefty has been a low-20s% strikeout pitcher for the past two years, and he is in that range again this season with a 23.7% rate, a major improvement upon the 16.1% he posted as a rookie in 2019, in enough of a sample to make it believable. Kikuchi is pitching to a 4.15 ERA with a 4.24 xFIP and a 5.69 xERA, and he has major problems with premium contact, though he has managed to keep the ball in the yard this season with just a 3.51% home run rate. That was a 4.1% rate last season, so there are likely a few more long balls in the starter’s future, given his 50% hard-hit percentage and 14.3% barrel rate allowed this year. Kikuchi has gotten by on a 5.1-degree average launch angle, but the barrel rate tells us that not everything is on a downward trajectory, the pitcher is more vulnerable than the 28% ownership on DraftKings would suggest, but he is highly appealing for the value in his $6,300 salary. Seattle’s active roster has a 20.8% strikeout rate against lefties this season with a 3.23% home run rate and a .173 ISO and they have created runs 19% better than average in the split, this seems like a strong “both sides” opportunity with the low-owned stack against the popular value pitcher. Kikuchi is projected for single-digits ownership at $7,500 on the FanDuel slate, putting him at efficient ownership relative to his probability of success for the salary. A lack of faith in the starter and the premium contact numbers running into a lineup with several quality right-handed bats will most likely lead to more of this writer’s personal shares landing on the low-owned Seattle bats side of the equation tonight.

Young Ian Anderson had a very strong season for Atlanta last year, posting a 23.2% strikeout rate and a 3.96 xFIP with an 11.9% swinging-strike rate and a reasonably good contact profile. This season, Anderson has dipped to just a 17.1% strikeout rate as he is struggling with diminished velocity and the impact it has on the delta between his fastball and changeup velocity. Anderson has pitched to a 4.55 xFIP and a 1.40 WHIP with a 12.4% walk rate this year as well, while also yielding a 42.9% hard-hit percentage but just a 4.4% barrel rate. With the dip in quality and recent enthusiasm for the Brewers stack, Anderson is projected for less than 1% ownership from site to site, even in spite of a $7,900 price tag on the FanDuel slate. He is worth more than that on talent alone and should be rostered ahead of the field’s low projected exposures. Milwaukee has been 15% better than average creating runs and they have a .198 ISO in the split against righties, but they also strike out at a targetable 24.1% rate in the split, No. 26 in the league. Anderson is a playable tournament piece on FanDuel for value and as a spend-up contrarian option on DraftKings, but including hedge stacks of Brewers would be advisable as well.


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Coors Field

Coors Field is on the slate once again, this time with the Giants as the visiting team. San Francisco is drawing a massive amount of popularity, the lefty-laden lineup should align very well against limited starter Antonio Senzatela. The Colorado righty is a bottom-of-the-barrel pitcher who has a 6.2% strikeout rate with a 6.1% swinging-strike rate in 27.2 innings this season, while allowing a 41.6% hard-hit rate. Senzatela is targetable for power and sequential hitting, but the Giants stack comes at significant negative leverage scores on both sites, with every relevant hitter in the lineup pushing nearly 25% ownership on DraftKings and mid-teens popularity on FanDuel. Giants targets include LaMonte Wade Jr., Brandon Belt, who has a .184 ISO while creating runs 36% better than average in 105 plate appearances, Joc Pederson, a big lefty bat with seven home runs and a .280 ISO in just 91 opportunities, and Mike Yastrzemski. Shortstop Brandon Crawford and veteran Evan Longoria add plenty of quality to the stack from opposite sides of the plate, and lefty Luis Gonzalez is one of the lone lower-owned spots to target. Catcher Joey Bart and any mix-and-match options like Wilmer Flores can be included depending on their lineup positioning. The only issue with stacking Giants is the popularity, it is basically mandatory that they be used in tandem with low-owned pitching and second stacks.

On the other side of the same contest, the Rockies are coming up as an interesting play for relatively low ownership from site to site. The heavily right-handed team will be facing lefty Alex Wood, a good pitcher who has been slightly off-form in his strikeout numbers to start the season. Wood has a 23.4% strikeout rate over 30 innings this year. He was a 26% strikeout rate pitcher over 138.2 innings in 2021. The dip is represented in a reduction from a 12.5% swinging-strike rate to his 10.6% rate this year, but he still has a 3.01 xFIP this season. The Rockies are all projected for less than 10% ownership on DraftKings, with the exception of affordable shortstop Brendan Rodgers, who peaks at 12.6% popularity. On FanDuel, righty thumpers C.J. Cron and Connor Joe both vault over 10% popularity, while Rodgers ducks back down to just 5.8% despite picking up multi-position eligibility at a cheap price. The rest of the lineup is projected for just single-digit ownership, including Charlie Blackmon and Ryan McMahon, lefties on the wrong side of splits who will still see several quality plate appearances, as well as righty Yonathan Daza and the bottom of the lineup. The appeal in stacking the under-owned Rockies, even against a good starter, should be clear given the ballpark and implied run totals.

New York Yankees

The Yankees are in new-look Camden Yards to face Kyle Bradish, which has the stack ranked in the top three on both sites by their probability of success. The power-packed lineup is positively leveraged on the DraftKings slate and at just slight negative leverage on FanDuel. The Yankees lineup projects for individual ownership below 10% for every player on DraftKings, and only Aaron Judge is crawling over the 10% mark on the FanDuel slate, making this a targetable stack for power and run creation upside. The list of go-to Yankees bats should be a familiar refrain by now, DJ LeMahieu, Aaron Judge, Anthony Rizzo, and Giancarlo Stanton are a playable four-man stack literally every day they are in the lineup against any pitcher in baseball. The lineup fills out around them with options like Josh Donaldson, Gleyber Torres, and slowly emerging Joey Gallo, who is now over the Mendoza Line and has five home runs while creating runs 14% better than average. The three-true-outcomes masher has a 51.9% hard-hit percentage and a 21.2% barrel rate that rivals that of Judge and Stanton, the home runs will come in buckets. The bottom of the lineup includes missable Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who is primarily a correlation play for the salary, and catchers Jose Trevino or Kyle Higashioka, but outfielder Aaron Hicks can be targeted as a quality wraparound piece with his on-base acumen if he is hitting ninth again tonight.

Chicago White Sox

The White Sox are positively leveraged on both sites in a matchup against Brad Keller. That should really be all the information that needs to go in this section, the loaded lineup is incredibly appealing at their projected single-digit ownership totals and the matchup is excellent. Keller is a righty with a 15.5% strikeout rate and a 3.94 xFIP this season. He has yielded a 41.4% hard-hit rate and has just a 23.8% CSW%, this in what is considered an uptick. Last year, Keller had a 19.6% strikeout rate, but he posted a 4.56 xFIP and had a 44.3% hard-hit percentage with a 10.9% barrel rate and a 10.4% walk rate. Despite the extremely missable improvements, Keller is a target for elite bats like those in Chicago’s daily lineup.

Tim Anderson is an elite shortstop but he is priced down to just $4,600 on DraftKings and $3,700 on FanDuel. Anderson is slashing .336/.368/.504 this season with four home runs and five stolen bases. He has created runs 60% better than average over his 125 plate appearances, and he strikes out just 12% of the time while walking at a 2.4% clip so far, meaning the ball is almost always in play with this hitter. Anderson is excellent for independent or correlated scoring; he is a perfect way to start White Sox stacks.

Third baseman Yoan Moncada has returned to the lineup with a fury, hitting two home runs and posting a .286 ISO while creating runs 83% better than average over his first 24 plate appearances back in the lineup. The extremely small sample is perhaps more than one should expect the player to maintain in the long-term, but Moncada is a proven bat who costs just $3,000 on FanDuel and $3,800 on DraftKings. He is under-exposed on both sites at 12% and 10.4% popularity, respectively. Moncada should be included in most White Sox stacks, and he makes for a serviceable one-off play where needed for his price.

With a triple-slash sitting at a lowly .197/.272/.311 and just a .115 ISO and three home runs in 136 plate appearances, it is fair to say that slugger Jose Abreu is struggling to get his season in gear. The excellent first baseman hit 30 home runs while slashing .261/.351/.481 last year. He is a strong bet for a return to form as the season continues. Abreu has significant power upside, and he has maintained his premium contact profile throughout the struggles. This year he has a 54.1% hard-hit percentage and a 10.2% barrel rate. He will be fine, and he is extremely cheap while also going under-owned in this matchup in the middle single digits.

Luis Robert costs $4,500 on DraftKings and $3,600 on FanDuel, the outfielder is a better player than that, but he is seemingly priced down on both sites for no real reason. Robert is slashing .304/.343/.451 with four home runs and six stolen bases while creating runs 38% better than average to start his season. The outfielder is projected for less than 10% popularity despite the affordable prices for his star-level talent. He should be much more popular than this on both MLB DFS sites, and he is a key target in stacking White Sox bats on this slate.

Switch-hitting catcher Yasmani Grandal is another White Sox star who has not found his form yet this year. Grandal has struck out in just 18.3% of his plate appearances while walking in 14.8%, but those numbers are a slip from last year and he has not delivered in the power department to this point in the season. Grandal has hit just one home run while slashing .165/.287/.216 and creating runs 41% worse than average. He hit 23 home runs with a .420 on-base percentage and a 159 WRC+ in 375 plate appearances last season, so he is a safe bet at low prices and no popularity.

Lefty slugger Gavin Sheets has hit four home runs in 88 plate appearances, creating runs 8% better than average while slashing .232/.284/.415. Sheets has a .183 ISO and he has barreled the ball in 12.7% of his batted ball events. The lefty is limiting strikeouts to just 21.6% this season, which is a fine rate for his power, and he offers cheap multi-position eligibility on DraftKings. Sheets is just cheap at $2,700 with only first base eligibility on FanDuel, but he should be played in a sub-set of White Sox stacks.

Outfielder A.J. Pollock is a strong veteran bat on the right side of the plate from anywhere in this lineup. Pollock is scuffling at just .192/.221/.274 but he is far better than that. The outfielder hit 21 home runs while slashing .297/.355/.536 in Los Angeles last season and he has not lost all of that talent. Pollock is marked down to just $2,500 on FanDuel and $3,400 on DraftKings, where he is projected for single-digit popularity. He is an excellent bolt-on to the end of a stack and can be deployed as a loose wraparound play to the premium bats up top if he hits deep in the batting order.

Adam Engel and Leury Garcia can provide on and off power, speed, and correlated scoring in the right spots. Engel has stolen four bases and hit one home run in his 76 plate appearances but is creating runs 9% below average overall. Garcia has stolen one base and hit two home runs, and is creating runs 49% worse than average, which can be what one finds at the bottom of a lineup at times. Either player works in minimal amounts to help with price, popularity and positioning, but they are not the key bats in this lineup.

Home Run Prediction Today: Joey Gallo — New York Yankees

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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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