Sunday sees both DraftKings and FanDuel united on what constitutes the main slate, with 10-games of action on both sites starting at 1:35 ET this afternoon. The slate includes a mixed bag of mid-range pitching options, with only one expensive proven ace and a handful of young talented arms landing as the most popular MLB DFS selections of the day. This slate seems like one on which to spread out pitching shares to grab additional funds for bats in an attempt to win the day with hitting, if the apex starter does not win the day outright, the pitching slate could go in any number of directions. The Vegas board includes four teams with an implied total of five runs or more, with the Phillies and Braves checking in at 5.6 and 5.5 implied runs, the Yankees at 5.2 and the Royals landing at 5.1. The Brewers and Cardinals both land at 4.9 on the current board, adding another pair of hard-hitting potential stacks to the list of upside spots for MLB DFS scoring output. Finding positively leveraged options from the value tier and the mid-range that combine well with these highly likely stacks is the recommended approach to lineup building, reaching a well-diversified portfolio of entries is critical on a slate of this nature on both DraftKings and FanDuel. The afternoon start has us in Sunday short-form mode for the main slate review that follows.
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Top Home Run Ratings & Predictions
Using a model based on a blend of several predictive statistics for the batter-pitcher matchup we will give each team one of the top choices from their projected lineup. However, the pick included below will not always be the actual top-rated player, particularly when there is an obvious star who rates atop his team’s lineup each day. Check out all of Awesemo’s top-notch baseball content and free MLB DFS picks.
Scale: 5-10 Average; 10-20 Good; 20-25 Very Good; 25+ Great
Arizona Diamondbacks: Jordan Luplow — 3.22
Atlanta Braves: Matt Olson — 12.49
Baltimore Orioles: Rougned Odor — 5.55
Chicago Cubs: Patrick Wisdom — 10.93
Chicago White Sox: Luis Robert — 8.94
Cincinnati Reds: Joey Votto — 6.53
Detroit Tigers: Austin Meadows — 12.26
Houston Astros: Jose Altuve — 11.30
Kansas City Royals: Andrew Benintendi — 9.05
Miami Marlins: Jesus Sanchez — 10.49
Milwaukee Brewers: Hunter Renfroe — 11.59
Minnesota Twins: Carlos Correa — 10.85
New York Yankees: Joey Gallo — 8.18
Philadelphia Phillies: Bryce Harper — 12.05
Pittsburgh Pirates: Jack Suwinski — 5.94
St. Louis Cardinals: Tyler O’Neill — 13.76
Tampa Bay Rays: Ji-man Choi — 8.77
Texas Rangers: Kole Calhoun — 5.49
Toronto Blue Jays: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. — 11.01
Washington Nationals: Juan Soto — 13.49
This is intended to capture the full range of home run upside for each team. It is not meant as a stack ranking and does not account for pricing or popularity — only home run potential. The first column is the average rating for the full projected lineup and the second is for the top six hitters in the projected lineup.
MLB DFS Weather Update: Postponements & Risk Assessment
The afternoon has a few spots that look nasty for weather, though the overall risk of postponement is relatively low with the entire day open and teams looking to end their respective series and get out of town. The game between the Cubs and Yankees is currently the most threatened, but the weather in the New York area is more dark, chilly and rainy, not raining. The same is true about Philadelphia for the game between the Diamondbacks and Phillies, but the forecast calls for even less precipitation in that area, both games may risk delays during or prior to the contest, but both should play a full nine innings eventually.
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
At first glance, it would be easy to say that the Sunday pitching slate leaves something to be desired, but on further examination, the board features several compelling options. The most obvious name available is Justin Verlander, who will be facing a Marlins lineup that has been frisky against right-handed pitching this season. The slate also includes several sturdy young starters, Kyle Wright will look to continue his strong season against a Pirates team that has been yielding big MLB DFS scores to right-handed pitchers all season, Tarik Skubal is facing a tough Blue Jays squad that will challenge him to continue his run of avoiding the premium contact issues that plagued him last season, Ranger Suarez has a strong strikeout matchup against the Diamondbacks, Michael Kopech draws an interesting matchup against the free-swinging Rangers and Edward Cabrera, the least proven of the group, is facing a major test in taking on the Astros. At a variety of price points, any of the young starters could provide slate-altering upside in their matchup, but only Wright appears to be on the safer side of the risk coin. A few veterans are sprinkled through the slate as well, Jameson Taillon could easily post a relevant start against the Cubs, and Jon Gray is finding his form and taking on a disappointing White Sox lineup, but most of the remaining options on the board are more targets for stacking than they are worthy of pitching shares.
With a 27% strikeout rate and a 2.13 ERA, Astros veteran Justin Verlander has beaten expectations for his return to action this season. The aging ace has pitched to a 3.40 xFIP over his 71.2 innings in 11 starts this season, he has been excellent at limiting opportunities with just a .084 WHIP and a 5.2% walk rate and he has induced an 11.6% swinging-strike rate. While he may be slightly diminished from the form in which we last saw him two years ago, this version of Verlander is still absolutely capable of dominating a slate against any opponent, he is worthy of shares regardless of popularity and leverage on this slate as the lone proven ace on the board, but he is not entirely safe against the Marlins active roster. Verlander has yielded a touch of premium contact this year, he has a 37.2% hard-hit percentage and a 7.2% barrel rate that has amounted to a 3.33% home run rate to this point in the season, Miami’s roster, meanwhile, has a 3.59% home run rate that sits seventh against right-handed pitching. The Marlins have also compiled a .178 ISO that sits sixth and they create runs 15% better than average, also the sixth-best mark in the split. There are strikeouts available for Verlander, Miami’s roster has a 22.4% strikeout rate that ranks 18th against righties, but they are not the pushover they may be in the minds of some MLB DFS gamers. If Verlander approaches lock at massive ownership numbers, including him while undercutting the field in favor of additional options is wise.
The soft spot of the day goes to Kyle Wright, who has been mostly outstanding to start the season. Wright is facing a Pirates active roster that has a 25.6% strikeout rate against righties, the 29th-ranked out of 30 teams in the split. Pittsburgh has created runs 11% worse than average and they have just a .146 ISO and a 2.78% home run rate against righties. Wright should be able to find strikeout upside while pitching cleanly through a solid handful of innings against a weak opponent, he should chase both a win and quality start bonus. The righty has a 27.2% strikeout rate with a 3.27 xFIP and a 2.39 ERA over his 67.2 innings in 11 starts this season. Wright has been great at limiting premium contact, he has allowed just a 34.5% hard-hit percentage with a 7.1% barrel rate this year, amounting to just a 1.12% home run rate. Wright will undoubtedly be popular on this slate, but he is easily worth the hefty salaries from site to site.
Chicago righty Michael Kopech has produced a 25.5% strikeout rate over 51 innings in 10 starts this season. He has a 4.49 xFIP that betrays his sparkling 1.94 ERA and 0.94 WHIP, the righty has walked an unsustainable 12% of hitters to this point but he has gotten away with it through happenstance and his strikeout acumen. Kopech has yielded a 1.0% home run rate on a 38.7% hard-hit percentage with a 6.5% barrel rate this year. Last year’s contact numbers were lower, but his home run rate was higher in an anomalous result. In a matchup against the Rangers, the righty should provide good upside for MLB DFS scoring, the Texas active roster has a .146 ISO and a 3.23% home run rate, the 18th and 10th ranked marks on the board. The Rangers have produced runs 7% below average in the split and they strike out at a 24.3% clip, both rank 24th out of baseball’s 30 teams.
The Blue Jays active roster pounds left-handed pitching with regularity. The team has a .170 ISO and a 2.84% home run rate that rank eighth and 15th in the split, but they have created runs 25% better than average, the third-best mark against southpaws this season. Toronto has also been very good at limiting strikeouts in the split, their 19.6% rate sits ninth in the sport, they are a very good offense that has even more upside than has been on display to this point in the season. All of which is to say that Tigers lefty standout Tarik Skubal will have to be at his best to get through this start. Skubal has a sharp 27.7% strikeout rate this season and he has cut his walks from 7.4% last year to just 4.0% this season. The southpaw has a 2.79 xFIP and a 2.33 ERA over his 65.2 innings in 11 starts this season, but most impressively he has cut his premium contact numbers dramatically. Last year, Skubal scuffled with a 45.1% hard-hit percentage and a 13.9% barrel rate that amounted to a 5.52% home run rate, making the lefty more of a target than an asset. This season, Skubal has allowed a tiny 1.19% home run rate on an improved 40.7% hard-hit percentage and a stellar 4.7% barrel rate. The lefty comes at a high price, but the matchup may render him less popular than his talent suggests he should be on this slate.
Toronto Blue Jays
For the third day in a row, the Blue Jays are exploding through the top of the power index with a significant home run upside. The team is drawing some of that from Tarik Skubal’s longer-term profile, which includes major struggles with home run power last year, but as detailed above the lefty has dramatically improved in that department. Still, with premium right-handed bats throughout the lineup and with the pitcher still allowing an above-average hard-hit percentage, the Blue Jays may make for an interesting stack once again on this slate. This is a both-sides situation, Skubal has a good chance of posting a strong start with a handful of strikeouts while limiting the Toronto bats, but if they connect, they can absolutely drive the ball against this pitcher. Toronto targets include the obvious names atop the lineup, all of George Springer, Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. should feature prominently in a mix of Blue Jays stacks. Red hot backup catcher Alejandro Kirk is in a prime role for the foreseeable future, he is slated to hit in the cleanup spot tonight with Teoscar Hernandez dropping to fifth, both players should be rostered with enthusiasm. Santiago Espinal slots in ahead of Lourdes Gurriel, who will be followed by top prospect call-up Gabriel Moreno, who adds a second catcher bat to the equation. Moreno is a consensus top-10 prospect who deserves attention in this lineup, as does nine-hitter Cavan Biggio, who has struggled to find any consistency, but remains a solid any-given-slate option as a wraparound.
Houston is facing Edward Cabrera, a highly regarded young prospect pitcher who has a 27.1% strikeout rate but a 12.5% walk rate over his first 12 innings in two starts. Cabrera has pitched to a 4.68 xFIP while inducing a 13.5% swinging-strike rate, but he is facing an Astros team that is very difficult to sit down via the strikeout and very good at creating runs. Houston’s lineup includes Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez, who would be an excellent four-man stack on their own. The team adds a star-caliber bat in Kyle Tucker in the fifth spot in the lineup, with Yuli Gurriel, last year’s AL batting champ, rookie Jeremy Pena and outfielder Jose Siri hitting sixth, seventh and ninth. Catcher Jason Castro brings a limited left-handed bat to the bottom of the lineup in the eighth spot, he is somewhat skippable but can be deployed as needed.
The Brewers are facing Washington’s Paolo Espino and the Nationals’ bullpen in a game that can be stacked for bats on both sides. Espino has a 19% strikeout rate over 26.2 innings this season and he has pitched to a 4.05 xFIP, but he will only be on the mound briefly before handing off to the bullpen. The Brewers have the talent to take advantage of the opener and get to the limited Nationals pen all day long. On the other side of the game, Washington is showing excellent power marks in the middle of the lineup in their matchup against Brewers’ rookie Jason Alexander. Both sides can be stacked and these teams fit together interestingly for a full game stack, but the Brewers are the prime target with a slate-leading stack score.
After his contact profile was mentioned in this space yesterday, former MVP Christian Yelich delivered his sixth home run of the season last night. Yelich lands in the leadoff spot once again, he is still scuffling in terms of his triple-slash numbers, but the power is returning on the back of a 50.3% hard-hit percentage and an excellent 11.3% barrel rate. The lack of barrels was the issue with Yelich’s power outage in general, he was still hitting the ball hard but directly into the ground in most opportunities. The lefty outfielder is slashing .242/.328/.384 and creating runs 2% better than average, he has more than that to give and he will be a great addition to Brewers stacks.
Willy Adames missed some time recently, but he has already hit 10 home runs in just 165 plate appearances this season, continuing his torrid pace from last year. In 2021, Adames hit 25 home runs in 555 plate appearances while slashing .262/.337/.481 and creating runs 19% better than average. The triple-slash quality has abandoned the shortstop this season, Adames is slashing just .192/.285/.438 with a WRC+ 1% above average, but he is an excellent power bat at a premium position who should be included in stacks even at hefty popularity.
Rowdy Tellez has pounded 10 home runs this season as well. The lefty first baseman checks in at fair ownership and low prices this afternoon, he is an excellent play who is slashing .251/.317/.468 while creating runs 16% better than average this year. Tellez has a 44.5% hard-hit percentage and a 12.3% barrel rate that translate into an above-average home run mark in today’s power index.
In the cleanup role, Luis Urias is drawing a fair amount of attention at low prices and infield position eligibility. Urias is slashing .221/.324/.377 over 142 plate appearances, but he has already hit six home runs and he is creating runs exactly at league average. The infielder has a 9.8% barrel rate but just a 30.4% hard-hit percentage, he hit 23 home runs in 570 plate appearances last season so the power is believable and there could be more quality to come. Urias is popular but worthy of inclusion in stacks.
Veteran outfielder Andrew McCutchen is another former MVP bat lurking in this lineup. McCutchen is slashing .233/.286/.317 with just a .085 ISO this season while creating runs 29% worse than average. We are still believers in McCutchen in this space, but the outfielder is rapidly approaching show-me time. The 38.9% hard-hit percentage and 6.9% barrel rate do not inspire confidence in the turnaround, but McCutchen is at least a playable piece at low prices and no popularity.
Catcher Omar Narvaez is more interesting where the position is required, but he adds a potentially sneaky under-owned bat in the middle of the lineup on the blue site. Narvaez has made 125 plate appearances and he is slashing .275/.368/.413 while creating runs 21% better than average with two home runs. The capable catcher hits from the left side of the plate and he could provide low-owned quality for MLB DFS tournaments this afternoon.
Ranking second on the team with a 13.3% barrel rate, outfielder Hunter Renfroe is a well-known power option who tends to get left somewhat on the table against same-handed pitching. The righty slugger has hit 10 home runs in his 175 plate appearances this season, he is slashing .252/.286/.479 with a .227 ISO and creating runs 8% better than average overall, he is inexpensive and not popular enough, making him a strong tournament play in Milwaukee stacks.
Jace Peterson has had a surprising year for power to this point in the season. Peterson has hit six home runs in 151 plate appearances, posting a .209 ISO and creating runs 3% better than average, he is surprisingly playable from day to day at the bottom of the Brewers lineup for no cost or popularity. The same can be said of outfielder Tyrone Taylor, who rounds out the lineup hitting ninth. Taylor is slashing .220/.269/.403 but he has also hit six home runs in just 171 plate appearances, posting a .182 ISO but creating runs 15% worse than average overall.
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