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MLB DFS Tournament Picks & Home Runs 5/15/22

Terry McBride

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The Sunday main slate opens at 1:35 ET and features eight games on DraftKings and a loaded 10-game slate on FanDuel. The blue site chose to extend the afternoon to capture the Coors Field game and will pick up the Red Sox vs Rangers contest along the way as well. The board features a robust selection of pitching, with a far broader swath of options available than on the last two days’ worth of slates. The board in Vegas is restricting every game to 8.5 runs or fewer, with the exception of the Coors Field game that lands at an 11-run total. With plenty of pitching available at every salary tier, unique lineup builds should come somewhat easily on this slate. Several arms are positively leveraged, as are a few of the key stacks in play, using the Top Stacks and Top Pitchers Tools, and the newly revamped leverage column is the best guideline for how to approach the combination aspects of today’s main slate on FanDuel and DraftKings. With just a few hours before lock and a Live Before Lock show coming up, we are in Sunday short-form mode in this space once again, as much as possible anyway.

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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

Baltimore Orioles: Austin Hays — 12.42

Boston Red Sox: Xander Bogaerts — 6.39

Chicago White Sox: Luis Robert — 11.13

Cincinnati Reds: Tyler Naquin — 6.51

Cleveland Guardians: Amed Rosario — 4.12

Colorado Rockies: Connor Joe — 7.00

Detroit Tigers: Jonathan Schoop — 7.95

Houston Astros: Yordan Alvarez — 13.73

Kansas City Royals: Bobby Witt Jr. — 8.17

Miami Marlins: Jazz Chisholm Jr. — 5.95

Milwaukee Brewers: Rowdy Tellez — 15.84

Minnesota Twins: Gary Sanchez — 8.57

New York Mets: J.D. Davis — 7.26

New York Yankees: Joey Gallo — 8.02

Pittsburgh Pirates: Michael Chavis — 10.46

Seattle Mariners: Eugenio Suarez — 9.10

Tampa Bay Rays: Brandon Lowe — 6.88

Texas Rangers: Adolis Garcia — 2.66

Toronto Blue Jays: Bo Bichette — 11.18

Washington Nationals: Nelson Cruz — 12.63

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.

MLB DFS Weather Update: Postponements & Risk Assessment

Sunday weather appears to be fairly clear, with no games threatened by rain and pleasant to downright hot conditions. The game with all the heat is the Red Sox vs Rangers contest that is only available on the FanDuel slate, hitting conditions should be ripe in Texas this afternoon, adding two potentially important sources of offense to the blue site’s slate, with Coors Field coming in the late afternoon as well.

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 pitching options on Sunday provide multiple angles into the slate on both DraftKings and FanDuel. There are several ace caliber starters in play at reasonable prices and the fair expectation of popularity, but there are too many quality arms for the slate to cover them entirely, leaving pockets of positive leverage around capable pitchers. From the top shelf, the Astros will have Justin Verlander on the hill to face the Nationals and Brandon Woodruff will lead his Brewers against the pesky Marlins offense. Both right-handed aces project well for their pricing and by comparison to the rest of the board by their probability of success. The slate also features southpaw Robbie Ray in a more difficult matchup against the Mets. Ray found his form in his most recent outing after scuffling through his first few starts of the year, but he will be challenged to maintain in this spot while pitching at a low salary and hefty popularity on both sites. The Blue Jays, Twins, White Sox, Guardians and Tigers will all have young talented pitchers on the mound, with Alek Manoah leading the way by projection but also salary in his start against the Rays. Skubal will be facing the Orioles, who are drawing reasonably good power marks against the lefty in what looks like a “both sides” game, and Ryan draws the stubborn Guardians lineup that has excelled against right-handed pitching and refuses to strike out against anyone. Michael Kopech is in a dangerous spot in his start against the Yankees, but his strikeout acumen should not be overlooked, and Triston McKenzie has the opportunity to rack up some whiffs against the Twins as well. Crafty mustachioed lefty Nestor Cortes will be on the opposite side of the Yankees vs White Sox game, looking to continue his run of quality in a very difficult matchup that may not play well into his pitching approach, making Cortes a difficult click at his elevated prices. After hitting on the Rockies’ starter yesterday, the low salary wildcard du jour looks like Reds rookie flamethrower Hunter Greene in his start against the Pirates. The deep pitching slate offers plenty of ways to get different on both DraftKings and FanDuel this afternoon, MLB DFS gamers should embrace the chaotic lower-owned options in search of funds for bats.

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Astros ace Justin Verlander has made six starts and is sporting a 3.26 xFIP with a 0.64 WHIP while striking out 25.4% of opposing hitters. The veteran righty has answered all questions about age and post-surgery status, he has walked just 4.2% and has been reasonably effective at limiting premium contact with a 39.4% hard-hit percentage and a 7.1% barrel rate. Verlander is facing a Nationals team that exploded for runs last night but still remains top-heavy with only a few high-quality bats in the lineup. Washington has been good at limiting strikeouts in the split against righties and they are above average for run creation with a 107 collective WRC+ and a 20.7% strikeout rate, but they have shown only middling power against righties this season. The active roster has a .136 ISO and a 2.60% home run rate that rank 16th and 15th respectively. Verlander stands a good chance at putting up a strong start, but his numbers are not quite at the pinnacle they once reached, and he is still priced like the ace of old. Verlander is the most likely candidate to put up a required pitching score, but he is not the only one. He can be safely rostered at or around the field on both sites, but spreading shares on a large slate is always worth consideration.

With a matchup against the Marlins, Brandon Woodruff is another strong option. In six starts, Woodruff has a 29.4% strikeout rate while inducing a 13.3% swinging-strike rate. The righty has an ugly 5.97 ERA but a 3.60 xERA and a 3.35 xFIP show his true quality. Woodruff has suffered from a .342 batting average on balls in play, which is largely attributable to defense and happenstance, he is far better than the baseball card numbers may indicate to the public at large. Woodruff has yielded too much premium contact and his walks are up from 6.1% to 7.9%, which also contributes to the minor bumps he has seen to this point. The righty has yielded a 42.9% hard-hit rate and 10.4% barrel rate to this point, and he has a 1.36 WHIP that shows too much opportunity for opposing hitters to this point in the season. The growing Marlins are emerging as a quality lineup, the team has created runs 9% better than average against righties and they have a 22.6% strikeout rate that ranks 18th in the split. Miami has a .145 ISO that sits 14th and a 2.72% home run rate that ranks 13th, none of those numbers are particularly intimidating for a pitcher of Woodruff’s quality, he should be deployed with confidence in this matchup on all sites.

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Lefty Robbie Ray is facing a Mets active roster that has underperformed against southpaws this season. The Mets are 24th in baseball with a .112 ISO in the split, and they have a 26th-ranked home run rate that sits at a lowly 1.67%. New York has created runs 6% below average against lefties and the team has struck out at a 26th-ranked 25.7% clip. All of this should help Ray if he has his form, but the unpredictable nature of his stuff always leaves question marks on the way into a start. Ray struggled out of the gate this season, after a year of dominance in 2021. The lefty has just a 23.6% strikeout rate over his first 42.2 innings in seven starts. He has posted a 3.91 xFIP and a 1.17 WHIP while inducing a 13.3% swinging-strike rate, all of which are quality marks but nowhere near where he was last season. Ray has also continued to allow his usual share of premium contact while walking more hitters at 8.6% compared to last year’s career-best 6.9%. The veteran is not entirely lost, he showed signs of improvement in striking out 10 Phillies and walking just two over just 5.2 innings in his last start, on the heels of a 6.2-inning start against the Rays in which he walked just one and struck out five. Ray comes at a cheap price due to the recent lack of polish, but he has probably been cut too deeply at a mere $7,700 on DraftKings and $8,800 on FanDuel.

The public may not be ready to pay $10,000 on FanDuel and $9,600 on DraftKings for Alek Manoah, but the righty is worthwhile on this slate. Manoah has struck out 25% of opposing hitters while pitching to a 3.72 xFIP and a 0.89 WHIP and inducing a 12.8% swinging-strike rate this season. The righty will be facing a Rays lineup that has slightly above average run creation skills in the split but also strikes out at a 26th-ranked 24.6% rate against righties this year. Nestor Cortes costs $10,000 on DraftKings and $10,200 on FanDuel, he is striking out 33.9% of opposing hitters over 32 innings in what is becoming a sustained performance. Last season, Cortes posted a 27.5% strikeout rate in 93 innings. His ability to keep hitters off-balance with a ridiculous variety of arm angles, release points, breaks and changes in timing is fun to watch, but may not play well against a premium lineup like the White Sox. Chicago’s active roster has a .166 ISO and a 3.37% home run rate against lefties this season, the ninth and seventh-ranked marks in the split. The team has struck out just 18.3% of the time, fifth best against lefties, and they have created runs at a pace 34% better than average in the split, the second-best offense in baseball against southpaws. Cortes will be challenged to succeed once again, but putting a touch of faith in him could pay big rewards on this slate. Young Twins righty Joe Ryan will be similarly challenged by a Cleveland lineup that strikes out just 18.6% of the time against right-handed pitching while creating runs 32% better than average in the split. Ryan is cheap for his talent; he has a 24.4% strikeout rate and a 9.4% walk rate this season while pitching to a 4.33 xFIP and inducing a 12% swinging-strike rate in his first six starts and 31.2 innings. The rookie hurler is an interesting play on this slate, his ability to limit hard contact has been a strong asset so far, he will need to continue the trend to find success at $8,400 on DraftKings and $9,400 on FanDuel.

The scuffling Reds have a few bright spots on the roster, one of which is rookie righty Hunter Greene, who has put up a strong 27.6% strikeout rate over his first 26 innings in six starts. Greene has a 4.35 xFIP and an inflated 1.81 WHIP due in part to his 11.8% walk rate in the small sample, but he has induced a 12.2% swinging-strike rate with a 28.3% CSW%. Greene is a premium prospect with an 80-grade plus-plus fastball and excellent secondary options, and he is well regarded for his command, so the walks are likely a product of a young strikeout pitcher finding his footing at the Major League level. Greene has walked four in three of his starts but did not walk more than two in the four others. He has struck out six or more in all but one of his starts. The righty threw 100 pitches in his last outing, and he reached 95 two starts ago, so there is no concern about workload management in a start against the lowly Pirates. Pittsburgh’s offense has been frisky against lefties this season, but they have struggled against right-handed pitching, the team’s active roster has a .135 ISO and a 2.48% home run rate that rank 17th and 18th, and they have been 6% below average in run creation in the split. The Pirates are striking out at a 23.4% rate against righties this year, the 21st-ranked rate in baseball. This is a very good spot for Greene, who comes in surprisingly cheap on both sites. The righty costs just $6,700 on DraftKings and $6,200 on FanDuel, salary savings that pay for significant hitting upgrades on both sites.


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Coors Field

DraftKings gamers get lucky, Coors Field is only on the FanDuel slate. With lefty Daniel Lynch on the mound for the Royals and Austin Gomber pitching for the Rockies, the public will likely flock to this game once again. Monitoring ownership projections and leverage when they are updated will inform how this game should be handled. The Royals are likely to come up very popular again, despite the matchup against a reasonably talented righty who is good at limiting premium contact. Meanwhile, the Rockies are also likely to draw popularity, but they have been the lower-owned option through the weekend. Colorado’s significant right-handed power could play well against a lefty who has yielded a 47.9% hard-hit percentage and an 11.3% barrel rate this season. Targetable bats from the Rockies include Connor Joe, Charlie Blackmon, C.J. Cron, Ryan McMahon, Brendan Rodgers if he is in the lineup, Yonathan Daza and Sam Hilliard, again lineup depending.

Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles seem likely to be a strong source of leverage and value on this slate. The team is in Detroit once again, this time facing lefty Tarik Skubal, after they were shut down on Friday night by southpaw Eduardo Rodriguez and again on Saturday by lefty Bruce Zimmermann. The third time may be the charm for Baltimore, the team has been inept against lefties all season though, they have a 26.3% strikeout rate and a 2.05% home run rate in the split while creating runs 10% worse than average. The Orioles’ active roster was generally better against left-handed pitching last season, and they have a number of quality bats on the right side of the plate, so improvement should be expected in the long term. Skubal is a talented young pitcher who has highly regarded stuff but struggled with contact last season. Over 149.1 innings, Skubal struck out 25.9% but yielded a 45.1% hard-hit rate and a 13.9% barrel rate with a 5.52% home run rate. This season the lefty has gotten the contact issues under control through six starts. Skubal has a 25% strikeout rate and a 37.5% hard-hit percentage with a sharp 6.3% barrel rate and he has cut his average exit velocity allowed from 90.5 mph to 89.6 while limiting launch angle to 12.4 after yielding a 14.1-degree average last season. The improvements have cut his strikeout rate to just 1.47% this season, an excellent turnaround for a developing starter. Baltimore will be without slugger Ryan Mountcastle, who was added to the injured list, but Austin Hays seems likely to play in spite of a lacerated hand. Assuming Hays is in, the top of the Orioles lineup is targetable for quality, with Cedric Mullins, Hays, Trey Mancini, and Anthony Santander as stackable bats in the first few hitters and a few additional pieces that follow. Speedster Jorge Mateo may hit anywhere from the top of the lineup to the bottom, but the right-handed infielder should be included in lineups at just $2,600 on FanDuel and $4,400 on DraftKings. The Orioles blew a thick layer of dust off of Mateo’s prospect pedigree and may have uncovered a worthwhile post-hype player, the infielder is slashing just .243/.282/.378 but he has stolen 10 bases in spite of the lack of clear on-base acumen and he has hit two home runs in his 118 plate appearances. The balance of the lineup is primarily comprised of mix and match pieces, this is not a stack on which we want to get carried away with massive exposure, but a few shares of potential value-based upside is a reasonable proposition as long as they remain low-owned.

Toronto Blue Jays

The loaded Blue Jays lineup is taking on Tampa Bay opener Jeffrey Springs and the quality Rays bullpen. Springs has reached as much as four innings and 57 pitches in his most recent outing, but he should not be considered a full starter in this spot. Still, the lefty should see one or two turns through the lineup, which leads to the notion of stacking the premium bats the Blue Jays make available for MLB DFS on both sites. Toronto’s lineup is excellent from top to bottom, George Springer is creating runs 48% better than average but costs just $4,900 on DraftKings and $3,900 on FanDuel from atop the lineup. Shortstop Bo Bichette has three home runs and three stolen bases in a slow start to the season, but he is priced down for the struggles and makes a great target in Blue Jays stacks, particularly hitting ahead of the otherworldly talent of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. who is slashing .281/.355/.488 with seven home runs and a .207 ISO while creating runs 43% better than average. Outfielder Teoscar Hernandez homered last night, his power was missed in this lineup during a multi-week injury absence to start the season, he should be included in lineups while he remains inexpensive and overlooked. Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Matt Chapman, Alejandro Kirk, Zack Collins and Santiago Espinal are all playable from the bottom of the lineup as pricing, popularity and positioning require.

Milwaukee Brewers

It is difficult to predict where the Brewers will fall in popularity in advance of the morning update to ownership projections. The team seems like they may slip past the notice of the public in what appears to be a good matchup against righty Elieser Hernandez, who has a 6.37 ERA and a 4.58 xFIP but a 3.85 xERA to start the season. Hernandez has yielded just a 33% hard-hit percentage but an 11.7% barrel rate to start the season, and opposing hitters have managed a monster 6.01% home run rate off of him to this point in the young season. Hernandez has struck out just 21.1% while walking 6.8% and he has a targetable 1.42 WHIP while inducing just a 9.7% swinging-strike rate with a 24.9% CSW%. The Brewers, meanwhile, have been baseball’s second-most powerful team against righties this year. Milwaukee’s active roster has a .193 ISO in the split while their 3.75% home run rate ranks third overall. The Brewers do strike out aggressively, the roster’s 24.6% rate in the split is 26th out of baseball’s 30 teams, but they have created runs 12% better than average by WRC+ and they make for a strong target in this game. If they happen to be positively leveraged in the Top Stacks Tool, so much the better.

Left-handed hitting second baseman Kolten Wong is likely to leadoff for the Brewers. Wong has struggled with his hit tool and on-base skills to start the season, two of the primary attributes that he typically brings to a lineup. The infielder is slashing just .243/.306/.393 to start the season, but he has contributed two home runs and six stolen bases while creating runs 4% below average. Wong is difficult to strike out, he sits at 19.8% overall this season, and he should be a good play for $3,600 on FanDuel. He will likely be very under-owned at an aggressive $5,600 DraftKings price tag.

Shortstop Willy Adames is slashing .209/.306/.465 with nine home runs and a .256 ISO to start the year. The righty has created runs 18% better than average and he has been hitting at an excellent clip since joining the Brewers last season. Adames has a strong 44.8% hard-hit rate with a superb 14.9% barrel rate, he strikes out frequently, but he also walks 11.6% of the time, helping his run creation and correlated scoring when he is not driving the ball.

Outfielder Christian Yelich is slashing .258/.350/.467 with a .208 ISO and five home runs amid widespread rumors of health and good feeling. The former MVP has struggled with injuries that have sapped his talent and turned him into a groundball hitter over the past season and a half, but he has always maintained a sturdy contact profile. This season, Yelich has a whopping 56.2% hard-hit percentage with an excellent 18% barrel rate, and he is sitting at a 9.9-degree average launch angle that rivals the 11.3-degree trajectory he posted in his MVP year after flailing at just 2.8 degrees last season. Yelich is a fantastic option in Brewers stacks.

Luis Urias is back in the lineup and the Milwaukee infield, and he has gotten off to a solid start slashing .278/.409/.472 with two home runs over his first 44 plate appearances. Urias hit 23 home runs in 570 opportunities last year, he is continuing a strong trend and could be a sneaky option in the middle of this lineup. So far, Urias has created runs 54% better than average, but he costs just $4,700 on DraftKings and $3,000 with three-position eligibility on FanDuel.

Rowdy Tellez will probably be a popular one-off play, given his undeniable power and positive split against a pitcher who is handing out home runs freely. Tellez has blasted seven home runs in 122 plate appearances in 2022, posting a .265 ISO with a .504 slugging percentage. The lefty is creating runs 22% better than average and has a 48.2% hard-hit rate with a 19.3% barrel rate, he should be added to Milwaukee stacks wherever possible. Tellez is the fourth hitter in the top five to cost more than $5,000 on DraftKings, it is difficult to stack the team on that site, which should render them unpopular. At just $3,200 on FanDuel, Tellez might as well be free, he should be far more popular on the blue site.

From the right side of the plate, Hunter Renfroe is another masher in this lineup. Renfroe has a 39.3% hard-hit percentage with a 15.5% barrel rate that has translated into nine home runs and a .271 ISO over 125 plate appearances. The outfielder is a $4,900 item on DraftKings, and he costs just $3,300 on FanDuel, he should be targeted in spite of an aggressive 28% strikeout rate wherever Brewers are being stacked together.

Catcher Omar Narvaez has shown moderate pop over his first 79 plate appearances. The backstop has two home runs and a .149 ISO while creating runs 21% better than average, he is playable where the position is mandatory and usable where it is not. Narvaez hit 11 home runs last season, but created runs 1% below average, he is moderately useful in an “any given day” sense.

Outfielder Lorenzo Cain and infielder Jace Peterson share the same attribute, they are both cheap. Neither player is a prime target on this slate, but either can offset a significant amount of salary as a late-lineup correlation piece at the least.

Home Run Prediction Today: Christian Yelich — Milwaukee Brewers

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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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