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MLB DFS Tournament Picks & Home Runs 5/24/22

Terry McBride

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Free MLB DFS picks today from Awesemo fantasy baseball projections and rankings, and the best lineups & value targets for DraftKings & FanDuel 6/10.

Tuesday’s huge 12-game main slate features a top of the pitching rotation day for a number of teams on the schedule, providing a wealth of strong options for MLB DFS arms from site to site. The power index is showing a few excellent spots for home run upside against soft starters, and some of the best lineups in baseball are available at positive leverage, paying for them while still accessing key pitching is the trick. The slate is shaping up for a high-scoring night with both big pitching scores and run-scoring outbursts seeming likely, full stacking hitters is the recommended approach for a slate of this size. Typically that is the suggested approach within this space, and across the Awesemo platform in general, but smaller slates with lower-end options tend to yield more flexibility, tonight allows for a more straightforward approach to building full stacks with positively leveraged high probability teams and pitchers. The Top Stacks and Top Pitchers tools have been invaluable and recommended all season, and Awsemo’s new Top Batters Tool (Beta version for DraftKings only) can now provide additional insights into which hitters are the key plays within any given team stack.

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Top Home Run Ratings & Predictions

Using a model based on a blend of several predictive statistics for the batter-pitcher matchup we will give each team one of the top choices from their projected lineup. However, the pick included below will not always be the actual top-rated player, particularly when there is an obvious star who rates atop his team’s lineup each day. Check out all of Awesemo’s top-notch baseball content and free MLB DFS picks.

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

Arizona Diamondbacks: Pavin Smith — 6.97

Atlanta Braves: Adam Duvall — 6.70

Baltimore Orioles: Anthony Santander — 7.17

Boston Red Sox: Rafael Devers — 9.81

Chicago White Sox: Yasmani Grandal — 7.97

Cleveland Guardians: Franmil Reyes — 5.67

Detroit Tigers: Spencer Torkelson — 7.11

Houston Astros: Yordan Alvarez — 11.92

Kansas City Royals: Carlos Santana — 5.44

Los Angeles Angels: Shohei Ohtani — 9.41

Los Angeles Dodgers: Edwin Rios — 12.45

Milwaukee Brewers: Mike Brosseau — 6.05

Minnesota Twins: Gary Sanchez — 20.64

New York Mets: Francisco Lindor — 3.60

New York Yankees: Aaron Hicks — 7.68

Oakland Athletics: Seth Brown — 10.47

Philadelphia Phillies: Bryce Harper — 5.42

San Diego Padres: Wil Myers — 2.10

San Francisco Giants: Joc Pederson — 4.66

Seattle Mariners: Kyle Lewis — 8.08

St. Louis Cardinals: Juan Yepez — 5.59

Texas Rangers: Kole Calhoun — 2.80

Toronto Blue Jays: Bo Bichette — 10.56

Washington Nationals: Josh Bell — 6.31

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

Tuesday’s weather includes minor risks of passing showers on the East Coast and in St. Louis, but none of the games rises near to a risk of postponement, bats and pitchers in all contests can be considered for normal circumstances, with average conditions around the league.

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

Tuesday’s MLB DFS pitching slate is absolutely loaded with talent. The board includes good starters in great spots at fair prices, and a few value and upside plays for inexpensive costs. Brewers ace Corbin Burnes tops the board for both DraftKings and FanDuel in a strong spot against the Padres, he is at a minor negative leverage score, but he should be playable at just 25% popularity on DraftKings and half that on the blue site. Burnes is rivaled for talent on the pitching slate by a few options, White Sox right Dylan Cease is facing the suddenly surging Red Sox, while Kevin Gausman will be dueling with the excellent Cardinals lineup, both premium starters come at positive leverage for less than $10,000 on the DraftKings slate. Wedged between the pair of aces on the Top Pitchers Tool is Twins righty Sonny Gray, who checks in at an extreme value price and massive popularity, Gray is an uncomfortable and unreliable but undeniable talent, his performance will be a major inflection point for tonight’s slate. There is far more talent down the board at positive leverage for discounted prices. Max Fried is in a tough spot against the Phillies and he is still drawing popularity, while Logan Webb and Walker Buehler land at positive leverage scores in matchups against the Mets and Nationals. Buehler in particular looks far too cheap and unpopular for his talent in the matchup against Washington. Any of Chris Bassitt, George Kirby, who has a highly targetable matchup against the Athletics, Zac GallenNoah Syndergaard, Jordan Montgomery, Blake Snell, the underrated Dane Dunning, and Framber Valdez are also in play in a variety of value and popularity positions for this slate as well. Even Nick Pivetta could stand out in a start against the struggling White Sox as a low-owned SP2. This is a slate that demands a broad spread covering a wide range of potential pitching outcomes.

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In a deck stacked with aces, excellent Brewers righty Corbin Burnes is pulling in the highest probability of success on both DraftKings and FanDuel, but he also comes with one of the higher ownership projections of any premium starter on the board. Burnes is negatively leveraged on both sites, but his ownership is easily playable along with lower-owned stacks and a positively leveraged second starter. Pairing Burnes and Sonny Gray will be extremely popular, merely avoiding that pairing – more on Gray in a moment – will make lineups immediately different from a large portion of the field. Burnes warrants plenty of attention, he can be rostered at or about the field’s number, but shares for other strong options should be drawn from this source in building a full portfolio of lineups. Burnes has a 31.5% strikeout rate with a minuscule 4.1% walk percentage and a sharp 2.62 xFIP. He was better for strikeouts last season when he pitched to a 35.6% rate over 167 innings with a 2.30 xFIP, but he has induced more swinging strikes this year, pushing his rate from 16.6% to a massive 17.9% with a 33.4% CSW%. The Brewers ace has yielded some premium contact, his 41.5% hard-hit percentage, and 9.8% barrel rate allowed so far this season have translated into a 4.06% home run rate for opposing hitters, last year Burnes yielded just 30.5% hard-hits and a 3.1% barrel rate with a microscopic 1.07% home run rate. The opposing Padres, meanwhile, have been lousy against right-handed pitching this season. San Diego’s active roster has a .117 ISO with a 1.44% home run rate in the split this season, the ISO ranks 26th in baseball while the home run rate is dead last among 30 teams. The Padres have struck out at an 18th-ranked 23% rate against righties while creating runs nine percent below average, this is a highly appealing spot in which Burnes could post a gigantic fantasy score on the right night.

Dylan Cease and Kevin Gausman are both ace-caliber pitchers at positive leverage from near the top of the board. Cease is facing a Red Sox lineup that struggled early but has been coming on strong over the past 10 days. Boston’s active roster has a 19.8% strikeout rate that ranks seventh against righties this season and they have created runs four percent better than average with a 10th-ranked .158 ISO in the split. Cease, on the other hand, checks in for less than $10,000 on both sites, but he is owned in just the mid-teens on DraftKings and under 10% on FanDuel. The righty has a 36.8% strikeout rate and a 2.59 xFIP this season while doing a fantastic job limiting premium contact, he is a strong target at positive leverage on both sites. Gausman is lined up to face a Cardinals team that keeps improving their already excellent lineup. The team brought up uber-prospect Nolan Gorman to start the week, adding an excellent left-handed power bat to their righty-laden lineup. Regardless, Gausman is clocking low single-digits ownership on both sites at less than $9,500 across the industry. The righty has a 28.9% strikeout rate over 50 innings this season, and he has pitched to a 2.30 xFIP with a ludicrous 1.5% walk rate and just a 0.51% home run rate. Even against a very good lineup Gausman is in play at low ownership and discounted prices. These two pitchers should be clear targets near the top of the board, saving room for the following deeper looks.

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The public is being drawn to righty Sonny Gray like they’ve been caught in a tractor beam of value. The veteran is facing a toothless Tigers active roster that has a league-worst .097 ISO against right-handed pitching this season with a 28th ranked 25.8% strikeout rate and a 1.76% home run rate that also sits 28th in the sport. Detroit has created runs 30% worse than average against righties this season, also the worst mark in baseball. This team is a target given this season’s performance, but Gray is drawing explosive popularity on this slate. The righty is priced down to just $6,800 on the DraftKings slate, making him the go-to SP2 for much of the public at 40% ownership. Gray costs $8,200 on the FanDuel slate but the increased price only serves to cut the ownership in half. The starter has thrown 20.2 innings of 3.19 xFIP ball so far this season, striking out 28.7% but walking 10.3% of opposing hitters. Gray has a 1.26 WHIP and he has induced just a 9.7% swinging-strike rate with a 30.7% CSW% while allowing an inflated 41.5% hard-hit percentage and an 11.3% barrel rate. The righty has yielded a 3.45% home run rate to opposing hitters, which could be somewhat lucky with the contact numbers, last season he allowed a 3.30% rate while giving up just a 32% hard-hit percentage and a 4.7% barrel rate. Gray is an effective veteran pitcher most of the time, but he allows too many men on base and too much opportunity to be considered fully reliable. While he projects well and ranks among the slate leaders in terms of probability, the weight of negative leverage is dragging Gray’s overall value down significantly. The pitcher can be utilized, but undercutting the field’s massive exposure seems like a reasonable approach.

In one of the more likely spots for a pitcher to do well, find some strikeouts, and pitch to both a win and a quality start bonus, MLB DFS gamers need to look no further than the first game on the slate. Dodgers righty Walker Buehler is underpriced and very low-owned in a start against the Nationals, a team with an average-at-best offense. Washington’s active roster sits 25th with a .124 ISO and 24th with a 2.22% home run rate in the split against right-handed pitching this season, while their 20.3% strikeout rate sits 10th. The team has created runs one percent better than average by WRC+, the 19th ranked team in the split. Buehler has not been entirely himself to start the season, of course, which is why his price and popularity have both crumbled. The righty has struck out just 20.1% of opposing hitters over the first 46.2 innings of 2022, he had a 26% strikeout rate over 207.2 innings in 2021 and his 27.7% rate between 2018 and 2021 ranked 17th in baseball. Buehler has been throwing his fastball less and his cutter far more this season, to limited impact. The righty still has a sharp 2.89 ERA and a 3.70 xFIP and he has allowed just a 1.55% home run rate on 39.7% hard-hit and a five percent barrel rate. If Buehler finds his strikeout form he should have no major issues pitching through this lineup cleanly several times over, and his Dodgers look primed for a major outburst of scoring against young Josiah Gray, aligning the starter for an easy win bonus.

The preferred value play of the day in this space looks surprisingly low-owned from site to site. Seattle’s George Kirby is projected for just 15% popularity at $6,000 on DraftKings and he is a $7,000 option on the blue site, where he pulls in low single-digits popularity and positive leverage. Kirby is at a better price point than Sonny Gray on both sites for a small portion of the popularity in an equally good matchup. Kirby is facing the flatlined Athletics offense that has a .106 ISO and a 1.67% home run rate while creating runs 21% worse than average in the split against righties, all of which rank 29th among baseball’s 30 teams. The team’s active roster has a 20th-ranked 23.1% strikeout rate against righties this season, which should set Kirby up for a nice opportunity for MLB DFS scoring on this slate. The talented young strike-thrower has racked up just a 17.7% strikeout rate over his 15 innings in his first three starts at the major league level, walking just 3.2% and pitching to a 1.13 WHIP with a 3.78 xFIP. Kirby has yielded an inflated 53.1% hard-hit percentage and a 10.2% barrel rate this season, amounting to a 3.23% home run rate in the small sample. Kirby is a well-regarded prospect with an electric fastball and excellent command, he has been at or above a 25% strikeout rate at every stop through the minors and he should have a good opportunity to find his form against a lineup with roughly triple-A talent in many spots. Kirby is underappreciated on this slate, he is a strong value tier pivot away from the massive popularity that Sonny Gray is drawing on the DraftKings slate, and he is the most interesting value pitcher on the board on FanDuel.


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Minnesota Twins

The Tigers pulled the ol’ switcheroo on us yesterday, first listing Elvin Rodriguez as the starter, before switching to Beau Brieske, then back to Rodriguez before the start of the game. Brieske will take the ball tonight, he was the starter who the Twins were projected against as the featured stack yesterday, and they are right back at the top of the power index for the matchup on today’s slate. Brieske has allowed a 42% hard-hit rate and an 11.4% barrel rate in his 26.1 innings this season, which hitters turned into a ridiculous 6.14% home run rate so far this year. The power numbers for Byron BuxtonCarlos CorreaJorge Polanco, Max KeplerGary Sanchez, and other Twins are spiking to ridiculous levels, Sanchez was yesterday’s home run pick before scratching from the lineup late, if he is back in the batting order he is an excellent low-owned home run option from site to site. Ryan Jeffers makes a strong alternate catching play with power, while hit-tool focused Luis Arraez is a correlation play for MLB DFS purposes. The balance of hitters who may land in the lineup can be used as steady mix-and-match options, Trevor Larnach stands out as a cheap left-handed bat with reasonable power expectations, Larnach has no home runs but he has a 42.9% hard-hit rate and a 10.2% barrel rate that suggest they could be coming soon. The outfielder costs $2,300 on DraftKings and the minimum price on FanDuel, where he is projected for just four percent popularity. Stacking Twins is a popular but worthwhile play on this slate, though Buxton’s 35% popularity on FanDuel is somewhat problematic in general. Between that and a few other players, the Twins are negatively leveraged across the industry, they must be played in combination with lower-owned assets in other positions when utilized.

Atlanta Braves

The Braves draw capable veteran righty Kyle Gibson in one of the night’s early games, creating a situation that appears unpopular on both sides. While Gibson may find a few additional strikeouts in a good game against this roster, the leverage and probability marks are firmly on the side of Braves bats. Gibson has pitched to a 20.8% strikeout rate and a 3.44 xFIP while yielding a 2.25% home run rate so far this season, but the Braves’ power may shine through against the contact-oriented righty. The most popular bat is the obvious name atop the Braves batting order, Ronald Acuna Jr. is projected for nearly 10% ownership despite a $6,200 price on DraftKings, he will be owned at roughly 15% for just $4,100 on FanDuel. Acuna has hit two home runs and stolen eight bases in his 75 plate appearances since returning to the lineup, the Braves have handled the star with kid gloves so far, but he has been elite when he is on the field, the power is coming and Acuna belongs in most Braves stacks. The superstar is followed in the lineup by Matt Olson, who drops into the middle single digits for ownership on DraftKings and falls to 10% popularity on FanDuel. Every other Braves bat on both sites comes at a low-to-mid single-digit ownership projection. Targets from the rest of the lineup include Marcell OzunaOzzie Albies, and Austin Riley. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud is a valuable bat where the position is required, and any of Dansby SwansonAdam Duvall, or Travis Demeritte can add value at low prices and virtually zero ownership from the bottom of the batting order.

Detroit Tigers

The Tigers are not good this season. The team outperformed expectations last year and made a few additions to the offense that were supposed to help them take the next step, yet they have regressed in nearly every facet of the game to this point in the season. With Sonny Gray on the mound at extreme popularity on both sites, it may be worth considering rostering a handful of low-owned Tigers stacks in a pure leverage play. Gray is not invulnerable on the mound, he walks too many and allows enough premium contact that even the lowly Tigers could do some damage on the right night. There is not a single hitter in Detroit’s projected lineup carrying more than three percent popularity on either DraftKings or FanDuel. There is also not a single hitter in the Tigers lineup who costs more than $4,100 on DraftKings or $2,500 on FanDuel, the team is a strong value in a purely salary-based vacuum. Of course, there is also not a single hitter in the projected Tigers lineup that has created runs at better than seven percent above average, the mark carried by veteran Miguel Cabrera of all people. Willi Castro is sitting at a 105 WRC+ over his first 76 plate appearances, while everyone else in the lineup is below average for run creation this season. The projected lineup has an average ISO of just .096 and they top out at the four home runs hit by Jonathan Schoop and Spencer Torkelson, with Cabrera, Javier Baez, and Jeimer Candelario each hitting three to this point in the season. Only Schoop and Torkelson have better than a 40% hard-hit rate and no one on this team is barreling the ball at even a 10% rate. Still, between the low prices and the total lack of popularity against a starter with half the field on his back, the Tigers are a reasonable tournament play. Rostering any of the hitters mentioned here would be a viable approach to rostering Tigers bats. Leadoff man Robbie Grossman should not be overlooked, while Castro is likely outperforming his talent to this point. Baez and Torkelson are the premium talents in the lineup, the rookie first baseman’s struggles have been difficult on this roster, Torkelson is slashing just .186/.295/.327 with a .142 ISO while creating runs 12% below average so far this season. The premium prospect will find his way at the plate eventually, he should be included in stacks for the dead minimum on DraftKings and just $2,300 on FanDuel when no one else in the field is doing it.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers top the stacks board on DraftKings, where they come at surprising positive leverage by virtue of their high prices. The team is fairly owned on FanDuel where they also top the probability board. The top four hitters in the lineup are all priced over $5,000 on DraftKings, with the leadoff man at $6,100, while the team is arguably cheap on the blue site. The Dodgers are facing Josiah Gray, who has yielded a 4.95% home run rate on 42.6% hard hits and a 14.8% barrel rate this season. Last year, Gray had an atrocious 6.19% home run rate, so the still-high mark represents an improvement, but not enough to avoid targeting the young righty. Gray has struck out 25.3% of opposing hitters, but he allows too much opportunity for sequencing and run creation, given his 9.9% walk rate. Stacking Dodgers is a strong approach to tonight’s slate, they can be paired with their under-owned starting pitcher to reinforce upside in the spot as well.

Star infielder Trea Turner slots in as a shortstop on DraftKings, where he costs a team-high $6,100, and he picks up second base eligibility on the FanDuel slate for a $4,000 price tag. Turner is slashing .289/.352/.409 while creating runs 20% better than average so far this season, and he has swiped eight bases in his 179 plate appearances. Turner has hit just two home runs this year and he has a .119 ISO after totaling 28 long balls and a .208 ISO in 646 chances last season. The righty still has an excellent 53.1% hard-hit rate but just a 6.3% barrel rate, with improvements in his launch angle, the power is likely on the way. Turner is a worthwhile play with 10% public popularity on DraftKings and 15% on FanDuel.

First baseman Freddie Freeman has a 44.5% hard-hit percentage and a 10.9% barrel rate but just three home runs and a .171 ISO. The minor power outage has not hampered his ability to create runs however, Freeman checks in with a team-leading 150 WRC+ and he is slashing a robust .310/.397/.481 so far this season while striking out at just a 12.5% clip. Freeman is an on-base machine and he is an excellent play for both individual performance and correlated scoring. He is one of the most popular Dodgers at nearly 20% on FanDuel, where he inexplicably costs just $3,900 but he will be owned by just 10% of the field for $5,500 across town.

Catcher Will Smith checks in with a .255/.367/.422 triple-slash and four home runs in 120 plate appearances. The elite backstop has created runs 29% better than average and he is under-owned at less than 10% popularity where the position is required. Smith can be utilized on FanDuel as well, the top bats at the catcher position are often overlooked on the site, making them a good source of value and upside in the right situations. Smith is projected for less than 10% popularity on the blue site as well.

Lefty infielder Max Muncy has a 36.6% hard-hit rate this season, well off his 46.3% rate from last year and his 41.8% career mark. The slugger has actually increased his launch angle so far this year, but his barrel rate has slipped with the hard-hit, as soon as the contact marks correct Muncy’s power should explode and this seems like an excellent opportunity for that to happen. Muncy is a $5,100 multi-position option between second base and third base on DraftKings, he lands as a $3,000 20% popular first or second baseman on the FanDuel slate. Muncy is worth extended shares as a part of Dodgers stacks, he is one of the more likely performers at the plate tonight.

Third baseman Justin Turner is the point at which the bottom falls out of the team’s projected popularity. Turner is carrying just a 2.9% ownership share on DraftKings and a 6.4% mark on FanDuel, he is priced down for his talent level on both sites as well. So far this year the veteran has scuffled to a .207/.265/.364 triple-slash while creating runs 20% worse than average with an 18.7% strikeout rate and a 36.8% hard-hit percentage. Turner was a .278/.361/.471 player who hit 27 home runs just last season, while he is aged up it seems unlikely that he is completely shot, he should be utilized to offset popularity and price in the middle of this lineup.

Outfielder Cody Bellinger has hit five home runs and has a .196 ISO with a run creation mark two percent above average. While not back to his former MVP form, Bellinger is coming on while still underpriced and unpopular. The outfielder costs just $4,300 for 2.6% popularity on DraftKings and he is under 10% owned for only $2,800 on FanDuel. The big lefty bat can be rostered with much more enthusiasm than the field seems to be generating for the player in this excellent matchup for home run upside.

Chris Taylor is slashing .240/.329/.403 while creating runs eight percent better than average. he is cheap and low-priced on both sites, and he offers both second base and outfield eligibility on the FanDuel slate. Taylor is the first of three multi-position options at the bottom of the projected Dodgers lineup on the blue site, none of whom are at high prices or a significant popularity projection. He also joins a group of four late lineup hitters, starting with Bellinger, who are creating runs above average so far this season. The final four hitters on this list have an average WRC+ of 112, though that is inflated by the projected nine hitter’s current 134 mark. Taylor is easy to mix and match in Dodgers stacks, he can be included from anywhere in this lineup.

Gavin Lux offers left-handed quality from late in the batting order. The prospect is striking out just 18.5% of the time, but he has just a 34.1% hard-hit rate with a 5.5% barrel rate. Lux has hit one home run and stolen two bases in his 130 plate appearances while slashing .263/.346/.342 with a .079 ISO. The lack of counting stats is somewhat surprising for a generally well-regarded power and speed prospect. Lux is cheap, low-owned, and easily playable.

The final hitter in the projected lineup could land as high as the cleanup spot again tonight. Young Edwin Rios has mashed the baseball to this point in the season, slashing .240/.283/.560 with a .320 ISO over his first 53 plate appearances. Rios has hit five home runs in the tiny sample, generating a 46.4% hard-hit rate with a 21.4% barrel rate, but also striking out 41.5% of the time. Rios underperformed at significant ownership for low prices on the last two slates, but he is a target once again tonight, the lefty slugger costs just $2,700 for six percent popularity on DraftKings, he is twice as owned for $2,300 at both first base and third base on FanDuel.

Home Run Prediction Today: Max Muncy — Los Angeles Dodgers

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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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