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MLB DFS Tournament Picks & Home Runs 5/29

Terry McBride

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MLB DFS Lineup Picks Today DraftKings FanDuel Tournament Strategy Home Runs

The Sunday afternoon main slate features an excellent set of eight games that offer something for every MLB DFS gamer. The board includes high octane spots for offense, with the Braves, Rockies, and Guardians lineups all pulling massive marks in the power index in premium home run matchups, several top aces in quality matchups against scuffling offenses, and a lot of mid-range quality in between, there should be plenty of approaches to the slate and to unique lineup construction. The odds board agrees is seeing fireworks in Boston once again for the finale of the high-scoring weekend series between the Orioles and Red Sox, that game is leading the slate at a 9.5-run total while the nine-run total for the game between the Rockies and Nationals seems to agree with the power index about the run creation potential in that contest. The Royals vs Twins game looks like another quality target for stacking, and any slate that includes the Yankees, Braves, and White Sox has obvious regular targets. The one premium lineup that may be facing a pitcher that takes them off the board is St. Louis; the Cardinals draw one of the Brewers’ elite righties today in a game carrying just a seven-run total. Pitching prices appear to be somewhat inflated for the available talent today, while the costs for bats are down in a number of lineups, making some interesting lineup combinations easy to reach while others are placed just out of reach on the Sunday MLB DFS main slate for FanDuel and DraftKings.

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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

Atlanta Braves: Matt Olson — 19.52

Baltimore Orioles: Austin Hays — 8.91

Boston Red Sox: Xander Bogaerts — 8.41

Chicago Cubs: Seiya Suzuki — 8.56

Chicago White Sox: A.J. Pollock — 5.56

Cleveland Guardians: Andres Gimenez — 11.40

Colorado Rockies: Ryan McMahon — 11.82

Detroit Tigers: Robbie Grossman — 5.88

Kansas City Royals: Salvador Perez — 8.17

Miami Marlins: Jesus Aguilar — 4.21

Milwaukee Brewers: Tyrone Taylor — 4.36

Minnesota Twins: Gary Sanchez — 7.44

New York Yankees: Aaron Judge — 8.94

St. Louis Cardinals: Nolan Arenado — 2.87

Tampa Bay Rays: Ji-man Choi — 3.83

Washington Nationals: Lane Thomas — 6.73

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

There appear to be no major weather concerns or risk of postponement for the Sunday afternoon main slate.

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 Sunday pitching slate breaks down along interesting lines, with clear cases of the haves and have-nots, with the possessions in question being talent and a good matchup. Rays starter Shane McClanahan is facing the Yankees at the highest price of the day on both sites. The Rays southpaw has been fantastic to start the season, he warrants every penny of his salary in a matchup against this version of the Yankees, a lineup that will be missing a number of its key star hitters. McClanahan is not the only ace-caliber pitcher on the board, the Brewers will have elite Corbin Burnes taking on the Cardinals as the only other pitcher priced above $10,000 on either site. That leaves an excellent trio of pitchers in the $9,000 tier, with Dylan Cease facing the Cubs, Luis Severino dueling with McClanahan in the Yankees vs. Rays game, and Max Fried taking on Miami. Among that group, Cease is the best pitcher in the best matchup, but he will also likely be the most popular pitcher in the group when ownership projections are released. Severino is the most likely to be challenged by the quality of his opponent while Fried tends to go under-owned on a number of slates, even when he lands in premium matchups. The list of available pitchers in that price tier on FanDuel also includes Guardians righty Triston McKenzie, who draws the low-end Tigers lineup, as well as Miles Mikolas, who does not belong on the tier with these other options, all of whom can find strikeouts. McKenzie is dramatically different from site to site; he checks in as the best value starter on DraftKings where he is inexplicably priced at just $7,600 in a great matchup. The mid-range features Boston’s Nick Pivetta at an affordable price and low popularity in his outing against the Orioles, but that game is drawing an inflated total and the series has been high scoring to this point with the Orioles’ offense beginning to emerge. Pivetta is joined in that range by Sonny Gray, the veteran righty will be challenged for strikeouts against the Royals, but he should be able to pitch through the lineup cleanly several times to provide salary-based value. The remaining pitchers on the slate take shape much more as targets for bats than plays to be made with pitching shares.

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Tampa Bay Rays lefty Shane McClanahan had a very good year in 2021, he made 25 starts and threw 123.1 innings in the Show as an outstanding rookie. The southpaw racked up an impressive 27.3% strikeout rate with a 3.23 xFIP and a 3.43 ERA while inducing a 14.8% swinging-strike rate from major league hitters. He has gotten better at everything this year. McClanahan has an outrageous 37.4% strikeout rate over his first 52.1 innings in nine starts while pitching to a 1.89 xFIP and a 2.06 ERA. The lefty has a 17% swinging-strike rate with a 35.3% CSW%, he has walked only 6.1%, down from 7.2% last year which has helped to lower his WHIP from 1.27 to 0.88. McClanahan has yielded a 3.03% home run rate on a 35.1% hard-hit percentage with an 8.1% barrel rate so far, moderate power that is easily acceptable with all of the quality and strikeouts. The Yankees’ active roster has good numbers against left-handed pitching this season, even in the absences of premium righty bats Giancarlo Stanton and Josh Donaldson. New York’s roster has a fourth-ranked .204 ISO and a 4.50% home run rate that sits second in the split against southpaws, and they have created runs 17% better than average against left-handed pitching so far this season. The team’s reputation for free-swinging has not been warranted this season, while they sit 18th overall in baseball, their 22.5% strikeout rate is not atrocious in a vacuum. McClanahan is a pitcher for whom the public is not entirely familiar with paying slate-high prices, particularly when he is facing a popular team, but he looks like an excellent spend-up play against a lineup that will include a bottom-half that features Miguel Andujar, Matt Carpenter, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Kyle Higashioka, Murderer’s Row this is not.

With a 30.5% strikeout rate over 57.2 innings in nine starts, Brewer’s righty Corbin Burnes has been sharp so far this season. While he has not reached the 35.6% rate that he pitched to over 167 innings last season, Burnes has been excellent across the board in 2022. The right-handed ace has a 2.78 xFIP with a 2.18 ERA while inducing a 17.5% swinging-strike rate. Burnes has walked just 4.5% and has a 0.87 WHIP to this point in the season. He has yielded more premium contact than last year, the jump from a 30.5% hard-hit rate to a 39.6% mark and a spike from 3.1% to 8.6% barrels has yielded a home run rate that leaps from 1.07% last season to 3.64% this year, but we are still dealing with a small sample that should normalize toward the more limited contact profile over time. Burnes is one of baseball’s best, he warrants attention against any lineup, even the loaded Cardinals. The St. Louis active roster has just a .144 ISO and a 2.62% home run rate so far against right-handed pitching, though lefty slugger Nolan Gorman may have something to say about that as the season goes along. The heavily right-handed Cardinals lineup has limited strikeouts to just 17.8% in the split, the second-best mark in baseball, and the team has managed a seventh-ranked 115 WRC+ against righties so far this season, in spite of the power outage. It is clear that this is not an upside matchup by any means, but Burnes has more talent than most and he seems like a strong bet who may not pull the ownership he should on DraftKings or FanDuel with other high-end pitchers at lower prices in better matchups.

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The Cubs have a 24.9% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching this season, the 27th-ranked team in baseball. They have created runs 3% better than average, that mark and their 2.75% home run rate and .150 ISO all rank 15th, the exact middle of the league, against righties this season, they are a targetable opponent for MLB DFS pitching. White Sox righty Dylan Cease lands on the slate at just $9,800 on DraftKings and $9,600 on the blue site, which should draw a significant amount of public attention to the excellent strikeout artist. Cease has a 35.3% strikeout rate with a 9.5% walk rate so far this season. The righty has pitched to a 2.79 xFIP over 46.2 innings in his nine starts, though his 4.24 ERA may fool some casual observers. Cease has induced a 15.9% swinging-strike rate with a 30.6% CSW%. He has allowed a moderate amount of premium contact, his 34.5% hard-hit percentage is a quality rate, but he has yielded an inflated 10% barrel rate within that contact, but that has amounted to just a 2.49% home run rate to this point. Cease has every opportunity to rack up a big score on both DraftKings and FanDuel, he should have no difficulty finding strikeouts against this Cubs team, and there are only a few threats for run creation and power in the projected lineup. Cease should pitch deep into the game while chasing a win and quality start bonus, the only question about the start is related to where he will land in ownership and leverage projections, if the field is dramatically overweight to him as lock approaches there are many options to spread shares to, while still including a large share of Cease in a full portfolio of lineups.

At $9,000 on DraftKings and $9,900 on FanDuel, Yankees righty Luis Severino is another pitcher who lands somewhat differently from site to site. Severino is likely to land as a positively leveraged option at his price on the blue site, but he is the least expensive option from the top two tiers of starters on the DraftKings slate, which should push his popularity, at least as compared to Cease and Max Fried. Severino has been sharp in his return to the rotation after multiple injuries and years of absences. The righty has a 24.4% strikeout rate with a 6.3% walk rate and a 3.02 ERA to this point in the season. His 3.67 xFIP supports the surface level production and Severino’s 12.9% swinging-strike rate suggests there could be additional upside in the future. He has compiled just a 27.3% CSW% to this point, which is somewhat low for a pitcher who induces swing-and-miss at that rate, but Severino has been good at avoiding premium contact, he has yielded just a 3.03% home run rate on a 35.1% hard-hit percentage and 8.1% barrel rate. The Tampa Bay active roster has been 5% better than average creating runs against righties this season and they have good relative power marks to this point as well with a 3.09% home run rate and a .155 ISO. The team’s 23.7% strikeout rate ranks 22nd in the split, there is MLB DFS point-scoring upside on the table for the Yankees’ righty, Severino should be utilized on both sites, with leverage dictating the distribution of shares between him, Cease, and Fried.

Triston McKenzie has been good over 43.1 innings in 2022. The young righty is learning to pitch at the major league level, and he has seemingly harnessed his control and command in cutting his walk rate from 11.7% to 7.3% since last season. Unfortunately, that has also resulted in a dip from a 27.5% strikeout rate over 120 innings last year to just a 22.4% mark this year, but whiffs have never been McKenzie’s problem, the strikeout numbers seem very likely to return as the 24-year-old grows as a pitcher. McKenzie has reliably been in the high 20s to mid-30% strikeout rate on his rocket-like trajectory through the minor leagues. There are some concerns around the 47.8% hard-hit percentage and 8.8% barrel rate that McKenzie has allowed to this point, but he has gotten away with the contact at just a 2.42% home run rate, and he has just a 0.90 WHIP which means he is rarely in trouble when he makes a mistake. McKenzie benefits from a premium matchup against a Tigers roster that has a league-worst .098 ISO and a 29th-ranked 1.84% home run rate so far this season. Detroit’s 25.9% strikeout rate sits 29th in the split and the team has created runs 32% worse than average against right-handed pitching, by far baseball’s worst mark for run creation in the split. McKenzie is far too cheap on DraftKings, he should be an extremely popular and worthwhile SP2 option on that site. At his high FanDuel price, he seems likely to come in as a good leverage target, but he will be worth owning in this matchup even at slightly inflated popularity.

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox land as the team with the highest probability of finishing as the top stack of the day on both DraftKings and FanDuel. The team is facing lefty Bruce Zimmermann in a game with the highest run total of the day, and there should be fireworks on both sides once again. The southpaw starter serves up plenty of contact, he has just a 20.2% strikeout rate over 47.2 innings in his nine starts this year and he was at a 19.6% rate in 64.1 innings last year. Zimmermann has yielded a 42.3% hard-hit percentage and a 12% barrel rate that amount to a 4.15% home run rate so far, he is targetable for power and the Red Sox lineup has plenty of talent to capitalize on the opportunity. As the top-ranked team in a somewhat obvious spot, Boston is drawing a lot of popularity on both sites this afternoon, most of the team’s key hitters are projected for upwards of 20% ownership on FanDuel and they land in the mid-teens on the DraftKings slate. The obvious hitters from one through five, including Enrique Hernandez, Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Trevor Story are where the vast majority of public shares are landing, with good cause. The spectacular five-man stack, give or take Hernandez, has an average WRC+ of 42% better than average to this point in the season. That sample included the lowly 72 WRC+ carried by Hernandez in the leadoff role, from two through five the projected Red Sox lineup creates runs 59% better than average. After the extremely popular bats, Christian Arroyo is drawing just limited attention as a $2,800 outfielder on DraftKings. Arroyo is somewhat more popular on the blue site where he checks in at minimum salary with three-position eligibility between the outfield, second base, and third base. Lefty outfielder Alex Verdugo and power-packed Bobby Dalbec will be options from late in the lineup, but Dalbec is drawing popularity in line with the top players in this lineup on both sites, given a significant price discount from his peers. At $2,100 on the blue site, Dalbec is one of the better low-cost potential home run purchases available on either site today.

Minnesota Twins

Minnesota is facing righty Zack Greinke who is pitching to a 4.56 xFIP with just an 11.3% strikeout rate over his first 47.2 innings this season. Greinke was at just a 17.2% strikeout rate over an extended 171-inning sample last year, his swinging-strike rate has dipped from 9.2% to 6.8% this season as the xFIP and WHIP have risen. The righty has been better for home run power so far, but with a 44.7% hard-hit percentage and 7.1% barrel rate it seems like only a matter of time before the current 1.97% home run rate reverts to something more like last year’s 4.30% mark. Surprisingly, that high home run rate came on a 35.4% hard-hit percentage and 6.5% barrel rate last year, so there is the lingering notion that when the crash comes it will be explosive and spectacular. Targeting the power bats in the Twins lineup is a semi-obvious spot that the field is getting to today, but it seems like a worthwhile target with a few pockets of relatively low popularity to exploit. Superstar Byron Buxton is an obvious name. If he is in the lineup, he should be in Twins stacks in all situations, but he will always be the most popular play from this team. Buxton is pulling in an ownership projection of more than 30% at his $3,800 price on FanDuel, he is at a more reasonable 19.3% on DraftKings, but he costs $5,800 on that site. Everyone else in the lineup is at 10% popularity or less on the DraftKings slate, and no other Twins bat cracks the 20% mark on FanDuel. Luis Arraez is a hit-tool and correlated scoring option from near the top of the lineup, shortstop Carlos Correa is far too cheap at $3,400 on the blue site, as is infielder Jorge Polanco who has hit five home runs and created runs 10% better than average despite slashing just .231/.332/.375 with a .144 ISO. Catcher Gary Sanchez is projected for just 10.5% popularity where the position is needed and even less across town, where premium bats who happen to be catchers tend to go underappreciated. Sanchez is slashing .227/.293/.417 with a .189 ISO while creating runs 5% better than average this season, and he has an excellent 48.9% hard-hit percentage with a 14.1% barrel rate that should be targeted for power. Lefty Trevor Larnach is an under-owned target from late in the projected batting order, while Gio Urshela and Ryan Jeffers are mix-and-match options and Nick Gordon is limited for MLB DFS purposes.

Colorado Rockies

Wrapping up their weekend series in the nation’s capital, the Rockies look like an excellent stack for tournament play on both DraftKings and FanDuel. Colorado ranks fourth on the DraftKings board at an excellent leverage score and they sit fifth on FanDuel with low ownership but a slightly lower leverage score. The team is facing Nationals righty Josiah Gray, a graduated prospect who is finding his footing with an extremely long leash at the major league level on a team with very little to play for but the future. Gray has a solid 25.5% strikeout rate over his 46.1 innings in nine starts this season, and he was at a 24.8% rate over 70.2 innings in 13 outings last year. While those seem like strong numbers for a young pitcher, Gray has struggled with most everything else in the game to this point in his career. Last year he posted a 10.7% walk rate and a 5.05 xFIP with a 1.36 WHIP and a 5.48 ERA. This season, Gray has improved his xFIP to 4.46, but his 10.5% walk rate, 1.36 WHIP, and 5.44 ERA will look familiar to anyone who read the sentence about last year’s numbers. Gray’s most concerning flaws to this point, however, have been his contact profile and home run problem. Last year, the righty yielded a 36.2% hard-hit percentage with a 12.2% barrel rate that amounted to a massive 6.19% home run rate that is entirely unsustainable for success. He has been worse for contact so far this season. Gray has a 6.0% home run rate on a 43.5% hard-hit percentage with a 16.1% barrel rate this year, yielding a 24.9-degree average launch angle that is going to play well for home run hitters like some of the bats in Colorado’s projected lineup.

While he may not be a household name, Rockies leadoff man Connor Joe has been a solid contributor to this point in the season. Joe lands at low single-digit ownership for his $5,200 price on DraftKings. He will be owned below 10% for just $3,200 on FanDuel, where he adds first base eligibility to the outfield positioning he receives across town. Joe is slashing .272/.354/.399 with a WRC+ 3% better than average this season. He has four home runs and two stolen bases in his 195 plate appearances, and he is good at putting the ball in play with just a 17.9% strikeout rate.

Right-handed part-time outfielder Yonathan Daza is projected to hit second today, despite the same-handed matchup. Daza is slashing a robust .361/.417/.412 but he has hit no home runs and has just a .052 ISO on his way to creating runs 26% better than average. Daza puts the ball in play regularly, he has just a 7.4% strikeout rate with a matching walk rate so far this season, the low walk rate seems to betray the currently excellent on-base percentage that Daza is putting up, he got on base at a .332 clip last year which is more in line with who Daza really is as a hitter. The outfielder is a playable correlated scoring piece at low cost and low ownership across the industry, but he does not stand out among Rockies bats and would lose value in later spots in the batting order.

Charlie Blackmon hits from the left side of the plate and he has managed six home runs on just a 31.9% hard-hit percentage and 5.8% barrel rate so far this season. Blackmon has slipped from his previous heights, but he is still a cheap unpopular veteran bat in the middle of the lineup who has struck out just 14.1% of the time and puts the ball in play to create scoring for MLB DFS. Against this pitcher, even the limited version of Blackmon has a good shot at producing power, he lands at an above-average home run mark today, a level to which he rarely ascends in 2022.

Star first baseman C.J. Cron is somehow only the fourth-most popular Rockies bat on FanDuel at just 8.8% ownership for $3,900. On DraftKings, Cron is priced up to $6,000 and he is drawing less than 2% popularity, making him a fantastic target for MLB DFS tournaments and a near requirement for Rockies stacks. Cron has blasted 13 home runs in 197 plate appearances this season and he is slashing a fantastic .317/.367/.600 with a .283 ISO while creating runs 54% better than average this season. Cron has a 39.8% hard-hit percentage and a 12.8% barrel rate this year, he is capable of hard-hit production beyond 40% when he is going right so there is potentially more power to come this season. Cron has excellent upside in Rockie stacks on both sites today.

Lefty Ryan McMahon follows Cron in the five spot in the lineup, bringing power potential that has been somewhat unrealized so far this season. McMahon has just four home runs and a .142 ISO after hitting 23 home runs with a .195 ISO in 596 plate appearances in an emergent 2021. The third baseman has a 43.8% hard-hit percentage with an 8.9% barrel rate, he should be able to generate more power which is the appeal that 11% of the FanDuel public is seeing in the $3,200 lefty today, making McMahon the most popular Rockies hitter on the site. He is projected for less than 5% popularity on DraftKings, given a $5,100 price tag that makes him a good pay-up option for tournaments. McMahon is worthwhile on both sites today.

Second baseman Brendan Rodgers is slashing .243/.287/.343 with just two home runs this season, he has created runs 34% worse than average and he has not stolen a base in his 150 plate appearances. Last year, Rodgers hit 15 home runs and created runs at league average over 415 plate appearances, and he has been a well-regarded prospect on his way to the majors, but the limited production this season is a concern. The infielder does have a quality 41.1% hard-hit percentage with an 8% barrel rate, and he has only struck out in 19.3% of his plate appearances, so there are reasons for optimism. Given the matchup and very low ownership and prices, Rodgers can be rostered at a generally weak second base position on both sites this afternoon.

Outfielder Randal Grichuk is another quality power bat lurking with a strong home run projection in this lineup. Grichuk has hit five long balls this season, slashing .279/.322/.419 over 146 plate appearances but he has created runs 4% worse than average and he strikes out at a 26.7% rate that sits second to only McMahon on the team. Grichuk is sitting below 2% ownership across the industry, which is simply too low for a quality power hitter against a pitcher with a home run rate like what Gray has posted over an extended sample, there is tournament-winning upside in the $4,300 DraftKings and $3,200 FanDuel bat.

Jose Iglesias is slashing .319/.370/.393 with no home runs and a .074 ISO while creating runs 6% better than average. Iglesias and catcher Elias Diaz are mix and match pieces for price and positional needs from late in the lineup. Diaz is slashing just .209/.256/.313 with two home runs and a .104 ISO, though he did hit 18 home runs with a .219 ISO in 371 plate appearances last season, so there could be a touch of sneakiness to including him, at least where the position is a necessity. Most of the Rockies’ quality runs from one through seven in the projected lineup, the team is under-owned for their potential as a high-scoring stack on both DraftKings and FanDuel, they are an excellent target for MLB DFS tournaments today.

Home Run Prediction Today: C.J. Cron — Colorado Rockies

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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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