A weird split Saturday slate of MLB DFS action gets going with a 4:10 ET main slate on FanDuel, that includes eight games through the 7:15 ET start window, while DraftKings begins their six-game contest at 7:15 with those three games and the three West Coast games that all begin after 10pm ET. With crossover on three games and a lack of time before the start of the action on the blue site, the analysis in this article will largely be focused on what is the DraftKings main slate and what can be played in alternate contests on the blue site. The power index and home run picks below include the FanDuel main slate games, and a brief mention will be given to some of the picks from that slate. With very limited time to provide information and create lineups for that tournament, we will forego a standard introduction in favor of diving headlong into analysis of the MLB DFS day.
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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: David Peralta — 2.67
Atlanta Braves: Ronald Acuna Jr. — 8.61
Baltimore Orioles: Ryan Mountcastle — 10.81
Boston Red Sox: Rafael Devers — 14.23
Chicago Cubs: Patrick Wisdom — 8.43
Chicago White Sox: Andrew Vaughn — 6.50
Cincinnati Reds: Joey Votto — 6.02
Houston Astros: Kyle Tucker — 8.27
Los Angeles Angels: Shohei Ohtani — 11.34
Los Angeles Dodgers: Cody Bellinger — 7.17
Miami Marlins: Brian Anderson — 5.79
New York Mets: Starling Marte — 5.13
New York Yankees: Anthony Rizzo — 6.46
Oakland Athletics: Ramon Laureano — 8.65
Philadelphia Phillies: Bryce Harper — 11.58
Pittsburgh Pirates: Rodolfo Castro — 5.97
San Diego Padres: Manny Machado — 12.43
San Francisco Giants: Joc Pederson — 10.24
Seattle Mariners: Eugenio Suarez — 9.34
Tampa Bay Rays: Wander Franco — 6.16
Texas Rangers: Adolis Garcia — 11.08
Toronto Blue Jays: George Springer — 6.59
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
There is some threat of rain for the game between the Orioles and Red Sox in Boston, which is a part of the FanDuel main slate, but there appears to be enough dry weather available to play the game. As lock draws nearer it will be important to monitor any updates, there will be two hours to make pivots between the start of the slate and the scheduled start of this game at 6:10 ET. The remaining games from both slates on both sites look clean of weather concerns.
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.
FanDuel Main Slate
The FanDuel main slate offers several interesting arms from the afternoon games, including Gerrit Cole in a start against the Rays and Sandy Alcantara taking on the powerful but high-strikeout Braves lineup. With options including Alex Wood at a deep discount in a start against the Reds, and young lefties Taylor Hearn and Zach Logue on opposite sides of the Rangers vs Athletics game, there are numerous quality pitching options available on the blue site. Cole is the dominant arm of the day, he tops the probability board but comes with a fair amount of negative leverage. The Yankees ace is facing a Tampa Bay Rays team with an active roster that strikes out at a 23.4% rate against right-handed pitching while creating runs seven percent ahead of the league average with a 3.17% home run rate. Cole is an excellent option even with the popularity, but he is not invulnerable to the Rays’ run creation and pop. Pivoting shares to Alcantara, who ranks near the top of the probability list while falling at positive leverage in the difficult matchup could be a strong strategy decision for blue site play. The Marlins righty has a 20.8% strikeout rate over 59.2 innings in nine starts this season, down significantly from his 24% rate over 205.2 innings last year. Alcantara is a quality option who tends to pitch deep into ballgames, he will be challenged by a Braves active roster that is elite for power but provides plenty of strikeout upside. Atlanta ranks last in the sport with a 26.6% strikeout rate against righties, and they have slipped below average by two percent for run creation in the split. Alcantara has a chance to play spoiler at low ownership and positive leverage, but he is not nearly a safe play. Alex Wood is ranked near the middle of the board, he has a 23.2% strikeout rate over his first 37.1 innings in 2022, and he is facing a Reds lineup that has been useful for finding pitching scores, despite some recent friskiness. Wood pitched to a 26% strikeout rate over 138.2 innings last season, he has additional strikeout upside in this matchup and could be a strong contributor at his low prices and fair ownership. The duel between Hearn and Logue is interesting, between the two, Hearn is in a far better spot, pitching against a team with a .140 ISO and a 23.8% strikeout rate against southpaws this season. Oakland has created runs one percent below average, Hearn has made eight starts and thrown 34.1 innings while striking out 20.6% of opposing hitters. Logue is 22.1 innings into his Major League career, he offers a 20.4% strikeout rate with a 4.99 xFIP and a 5.10% home run rate to this point, Hearn has pitched better and is facing the worse opponent, he is the stronger choice if one is forced to draw a starter from this game. Several of the options that appear on both slates can be considered for FanDuel’s main slate, including Tony Gonsolin in a start against the Diamondbacks that will see him positively leveraged.
The Giants look like the most targetable stack on the FanDuel slate, they will be facing limited righty Vladimir Gutierrez who has a 16.4% strikeout rate over 30 innings this year. Gutierrez has yielded a 4.79% home run rate on 43.2% hard hits, he is a target on the mound for any offense. The Giants land at negative leverage atop the FanDuel probability board, they are extremely popular but the value metric is keeping their leverage score somewhat reasonable, despite a projected batting order that sees the top six hitters all carrying ownership projections in excess of 20%. Targetable Giants bats include Tommy LaStella, a fine correlation piece, as well as Mike Yastrzemski, Wilmer Flores, Joc Pederson, provided you don’t talk about his fantasy football league, Brandon Crawford, and Evan Longoria. Outfielder Luis Gonzalez is an interesting late-lineup play at lower ownership, Gonzalez is slashing .321/.368/.452 while creating runs 33% better than average, but he costs just $2,900 and is drawing single-digit popularity despite how much the field is using his teammates in stacks. The highest-ranked team that is also carrying positive leverage into the slate is the Baltimore Orioles in their matchup against Josh Winckowski, a moderate right-handed prospect who will be making his Major League debut tonight. The Orioles exploded for 12 runs in a high-scoring contest after being doubted in this space last night, their leverage on tonight’s slate is highly appealing for FanDuel tournament play, with the field surprisingly leaving them on the shelf in the second game of a doubleheader. Baltimore bats include Cedric Mullins II, Trey Mancini, Anthony Santander, Austin Hays, Adley Rutschman, and Ryan Mountcastle.
On the Hill
The six games that make up the DraftKings main slate and the evening slates for FanDuel, with three crossover games into the main slate on the blue site, include Padres ace Joe Musgrove, who stands alone as easily the most talented starter on the board. Musgrove is at significant negative leverage in a matchup against the Pirates, but it is most likely still worthwhile to include him, even at ownership approaching 60%. The balance of the board includes one appealing pitcher, but he lands in a very difficult matchup. Young Logan Gilbert will be hard-pressed to navigate the elite Astros batting order, but if last night’s starter Chris Flexen can manage the trick then anyone can. It is a weird slate of MLB DFS action when White Sox veteran Johnny Cueto lands second by his probability of being a top-two starter on DraftKings in 2022, but that is the way of the world on this Saturday. Cueto is extremely limited overall, but he has surprised with quality over his first 12 innings of the season, and the Cubs lineup is filthy with strikeouts against right-handed pitching. Blue Jays starter Yusei Kikuchi is negatively leveraged facing the Angels, while JT Brubaker is the day’s most positively leveraged pitcher in his matchup against Musgrove and the Padres. Phillies starter Zach Eflin is seeing very little public love in his first start after an outrageous 12 strikeout outing over seven innings against the Dodgers the last time he was on the mound. Eflin faces the Mets on the road, he will be efficiently owned by the field and seems unlikely to repeat the trick from last time, but on a very thin pitching slate, he is not unplayable.
Padres righty Joe Musgrove has been sharp all season, he has a 25.1% strikeout rate over his first 52 innings in eight starts while pitching to a 3.11 xFIP and a 0.94 WHIP. He has walked just 4.4% of opposing hitters while inducing a 12% strikeout rate and a 31.7% CSW%. Musgrove has been strong for premium contact as well, he has a 1.97% home run rate on a 36.2% hard-hit percentage with a 5.7% barrel rate. The Padres are facing the lowly Pirates offense, Musgrove should see little difficulty in dominating a team with a 23rd-ranked .128 ISO and a 2.16% home run rate that sits 25th in the game against righties. Pittsburgh’s active roster has struck out 23.6% of the time while creating runs nine percent worse than average so far this season, the only question with rostering Musgrove is the ratio at which he is included relative to the field’s exposure. The Padres’ ace will be the most popular option on the DraftKings slate and likely the most utilized option on the FanDuel evening slate as well. Musgrove deserves the weight of ownership that he will receive on both sites, he is by far the best option on this slate, making it a night on which riding with the public, even at negative leverage, might be a worthwhile notion. The remaining pitching options could break free of Musgrove on the scoreboard, but he sits 16 percentage points ahead of Cueto by his probability of being a top-two starter on DraftKings, and his separation on the FanDuel evening slate is even more dramatic.
Despite a lousy night after being featured in this space in a matchup against Chris Flexen, the Astros lineup remains elite and one to fear against right-handed pitchers. Houston’s active roster has a .180 ISO and a 3.67% home run rate that rank fourth and third respectively for power in the split. The team has created runs 18% better than average while striking out at just a 19.8% rate, both of which sit sixth in the sport. They will be facing a better pitcher tonight, in the form of young Logan Gilbert, who will be taking the mound for his 10th start of the season. Gilbert has a 26.2% strikeout rate over his first 52 innings this season, up slightly from the 25.4% he posted last year. He has a 3.56 xFIP and a 2.38% home run rate so far this season, despite yielding premium contact at a 46.7% hard-hit rate. Gilbert has stayed out of trouble with just a 5.2% barrel rate, but hitters are able to elevate the ball against him, he has a 13.7-degree average launch angle allowed so far this year, which could be trouble against a home run hitter like Yordan Alvarez. Still, Gilbert looks like an excellent option as the fourth-ranked starter on the DraftKings probability board, but the first option who comes at positive leverage. Gilbert is better than Cueto or Kikuchi on talent while landing at a higher price, but he comes in a worse matchup, the leverage is a nice tiebreaker that says we should push additional chips in with the Mariners’ righty.
If you believe that the 26.1% strikeout rate and 3.28 xFIP with a 1.00 WHIP that Johnny Cueto has posted over his first 12 innings are real, we have beachfront property in Kansas to sell you. Cueto was most recently good in 2016, which even in these strange times you may recognize as quite a while ago. Since that season, the righty has had xFIPs of 4.45, 4.52, 4.89, 4.78, and 4.27, and his strikeout rate has not broken the 21% that he posted in 2017. It may surprise some to see that Cueto was never truly a good option for strikeouts. The righty had just one season with better than a 22.5% strikeout rate, the mark he posted in 2016, that season was 2014, the best on his ledger. In 243.2 innings that year, Cueto posted a 2.24 ERA with a 3.21 xFIP and a 25.2% strikeout rate, he was a dazzling 28-year-old at the time, he is now a dismal 36-year-old. The righty is facing a Cubs team that has a .154 ISO and a 2.87% home run rate against righties, both rank in the middle of the league. The team has been creating runs five percent better than average in the split, though they do strike out at an aggressive 25.6% clip. Cueto is priced down at just $7,200 on the DraftKings slate, he is at extreme negative leverage as the second-most popular pitcher on the slate.
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Los Angeles Dodgers
This one has not moved over the past few days. The Dodgers are once again in an excellent situation at the top of the board on the Top Stacks Tool. The team is facing Merrill Kelly in a matchup in the desert that lands on both main slates. The Dodgers loaded lineup ranks third on the board on FanDuel and they land at positive leverage on both sites. Kelly is not a pushover starter, but he has not been outstanding either, he is a contact-oriented pitcher who has a 20.3% strikeout rate over 49 innings this season after posting a 19.5% rate over 158 last year. Kelly is limited and will allow the ball to be put in play, but he bites into home run upside with a strong 34.2% hard-hit percentage and a 0.97% home run rate to this point in the season. There may be happenstance baked into that quality, however, last year Kelly allowed a 39.4% hard-hit percentage and a 3.15% home run rate in the extended sample. The Dodgers projected lineup includes most of the same targetable hitters from the last few days, and as usual, the top of the lineup is far more popular than the excellent bottom. The obvious names up top include Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Trea Turner, and catcher Will Smith, who is always under-appreciated on the blue site. Lefty masher Edwin Rios may vault into the middle of the lineup today, he would be a sharp play at any popularity, Rios has hit six home runs and has a .279 ISO over his 72 plate appearances this season. Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, and Chris Taylor are as good as most 1-3 hitters in baseball, while Gavin Lux can provide sneaky quality, he just has not done so all that frequently this season. Lux is slashing .262/.347/.333 with one home run and two stolen bases while creating runs one percent better than average. The Dodgers are owned in the low teens down to the low single-digits, they are an excellent stack on the main slate on both DraftKings and FanDuel tonight.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays are only available on the DraftKings slate, where they rank second by their probability of being the top stack while also landing at positive leverage in a game against Michael Lorenzen. Toronto is the only team after the Dodgers on the DraftKings main slate that is carrying a double-digit probability of being the top stack, they are a major part of the puzzle at low relative popularity on this slate. They will be facing a righty with a 17.9% strikeout rate over 41.1 innings this season, all of the available implied contact should play well for Toronto’s power and run creation abilities. The starter has allowed just a 36.4% hard-hit rate with a 2.47% home run rate, but this is a very good lineup featuring excellent bats like George Springer, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Bo Bichette. The underrated Teoscar Hernandez comes in slashing just .157/.213/.253 with two home runs over 89 plate appearances after his season was slowed by an early injury. Hernandez is underrated, affordable, and unpopular, making him an excellent MLB DFS tournament target. The slugging outfielder hit 29 home runs with a 122 WRC+ just last season. The bottom of the lineup includes Matt Chapman, who is still a strong power target, Raimel Tapia, who is a lackluster DFS option with a touch of speed, catcher Danny Jansen, and Cavan Biggio, who has returned from his banishment to the minors and will be looking to reclaim a regular role with this team. Biggio has talent, but he is slashing .071/.235/.071 over his first 34 plate appearances this season. At positive leverage, the Blue Jays are one of the premium targets on tonight’s DraftKings slate.
New York Mets
The Mets are another team that appears on the main slate for both sites. The team is facing Zach Eflin, who struck out 10 hitters in a game only once in his seven-year career prior to the outstanding 12-strikeout performance he posted against the stingy Dodgers lineup his last time on the mound. Eflin has a career strikeout rate of just 19.7% although he was at 28.6% in the short 2020 season and 22.4% over 105.2 innings last year. Eflin pitched to a 4.47 xFIP with a 3.98% home run rate on 39.4% hard hits last year, this season he has been more effective with a 4.12 xFIP and a 1.65% home run rate on 37.2% hard hits, but so have a great many pitchers. Eflin has a 23% strikeout rate with a 4.6% walk rate, he walked just 3.6% last season with a 1.25 WHIP, he has never been bad with the free passes or getting himself into trouble, but he is not an apex predator pitcher worthy of fear, particularly when facing a quality lineup like what the Mets can offer at positive leverage.
Outfielder Brandon Nimmo has excellent on-base acumen that has been highlighted in this space any time he is mentioned. This season, Nimmo is slashing .293/.386/.452 while creating runs 44% better than average. The lefty strikes out at just a 15.6% rate while walking 12.4% of the time, he is a terrific option for correlated MLB DFS scoring and he is capable of making an impact on his own, Nimmo is projected for less than 10% popularity across the industry, despite very fair prices for his quality.
Starling Marte has created runs nine percent better than average for his new team so far this season. Last year, Marte was 33% better than average in an excellent season, he is very likely to improve as he sees more plate appearances. Marte ht 12 home runs and swiped 47 bases last season, outstanding production for a relatively cheap price and no real popularity. This year he has hit four home runs and stolen seven bases in 177 plate appearances, he is a major cog in the machine who belongs in most Mets stacks.
To say that the Mets have not gotten their money’s worth from former star Francisco Lindor would be an understatement. Lindor hit just 20 home runs and stole 10 bases in 524 plate appearances while slashing .230/.322/.412 and creating runs only three percent better than average for New York last season. This year he is 28% better than average creating runs while slashing .253/.344/.444 with eight home runs and a .191 ISO in a more respectable but still disappointing start to his season. Lindor has more talent than he has shown with this club, his run creation marks remain strong and he is a part of the action who should remain a fixture in Mets stacks at the shortstop position, particularly when he is low-owned.
Slugger Peter Alonso is projected for less than five percent popularity for $5,200 on DraftKings and under two percent for $4,100 on FanDuel. Alonso has hit 12 home runs with a .244 ISO while creating runs 47% better than average in the middle of the Mets’ regular lineup, he has been terrific all year. The cleanup hitter is slashing .283/.348/.528, he strikes out just 21.6% of the time and has a 47.1% hard-hit percentage with a 15% barrel rate. Alonso has a better than average rating in the home run model today, he should be played in far more lineups than the rate of public exposure projected for the star infielder.
Regular readers know what we think of Jeff McNeil in this space. One of the luckier slap-hitters in baseball, McNeil is slashing .319/.371/.450 with a .131 ISO while creating runs 39% better than average. His correlated scoring and the frequency with which he puts the ball in play are assets for real baseball and, in a more limited sense, for MLB DFS. McNeil has hit two home runs this season, he has just a 34.3% hard-hit rate and a 2.1% barrel rate, his ability comes from putting bat-on-ball and finding holes in the defense in the outfield and infield. McNeil strikes out at just a 10.3% rate and walks just 7.4% of the time, when the BABIP is high, the player looks good.
Third baseman Eduardo Escobar hits from both sides of the plate, but has not delivered much for the Mets so far this season. Escobar is slashing just .225/.315/.363 with two home runs and a .138 ISO while creating runs at league average. Last season, in 599 plate appearances, he managed 28 home runs and a .219 ISO with a 107 WRC+ for Arizona, there is more in Escobar’s bat than he has shown this year, which makes him a strong buy with no popularity and a price that is too low for his MLB DFS point-scoring upside.
Lefty first baseman Dominic Smith is another cheap low-0wned bat from late in the Mets lineup. Smith is scuffling with just a .198/.290/.272 triple-slash and no home runs with a .074 ISO while creating runs 28% worse than average this year, he may or may not be in the lineup. If Smith plays, he can be rostered in limited shares at his low prices, but the expectations should remain low for what is beginning to look like a career quad-A type of player.
Luis Guillorme and Patrick Mazeika seem like late lineup afterthoughts, but Guillorme is quietly creating runs 48% better than average over his 80 plate appearances this season. The utility man comes in at the minimum price on FanDuel, where he has three position eligibility, and he costs $2,600 with second and third base eligibility on DraftKings. Guillorme has just one home run and a .103 ISO, Mazeika has one home run and a .240 ISO, but his sample is just 26 plate appearances. Depending on the final configuration of the lineup, the eight and nine spots in this batting order should be considered mostly mix and match pieces at best.
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