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MLB DFS Tournament Picks & Home Runs 5/11/22

Terry McBride



The Wednesday slate brings an interesting set of options to the MLB DFS table. The slate is lacking for strong pitching options to almost the same degree that yesterday’s main slate was overloaded with quality. There are increasing temperatures around the league that are leading to expectations of significant upside in offense on this slate, where quality lineups are facing targetable pitchers. The Top Pitchers and Top Stacks tools on both sites reflect a large number of options with positive leverage, while the field is overloading with concentrated popularity on a few premium selections. Getting to a diverse portfolio of lineup combinations and undercutting the chalkiest chalk, while still including outstanding options like the Angels starting pitcher of course, is the approach to building successful lineups for FanDuel and DraftKings MLB DFS tournaments tonight.

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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: Adam Duvall — 7.09

Baltimore Orioles: Cedric Mullins — 4.82

Boston Red Sox: J.D. Martinez — 6.83

Detroit Tigers: Spencer Torkelson — 10.03

Houston Astros: Jose Altuve — 8.90

Kansas City Royals: Hunter Dozier — 6.79

Los Angeles Angels: Taylor Ward — 5.17

Minnesota Twins: Gary Sanchez — 8.49

New York Mets: Francisco Lindor — 2.95

Oakland Athletics: Ramon Laureano — 10.18

St. Louis Cardinals: Nolan Arenado — 13.28

Tampa Bay Rays: Brandon Lowe — 8.57

Texas Rangers: Adolis Garcia — 5.82

Washington Nationals: Josh Bell — 11.62

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.

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MLB DFS Weather Update: Postponements & Risk Assessment

Wednesday’s weather looks favorable to hitting, with increasing temperatures around the country. The primary concern for delay or postponement appears to be in Minneapolis, where there is a large block of rain slated to arrive sometime around 8 p.m. Keeping an eye on the forecast and the postponement probability in Awesemo’s projections is a good way to monitor the situation, both the Astros and Twins offer appealing bats on a relatively short slate. The chalk of the night is going to be Cardinals bats against a weak pitcher on a day that will be well into the 90s in St. Louis. The game in Anaheim is also one to watch, it is a 4:07 afternoon game in California, which should play toward hitting in general, with a strong wind blowing out and gusting.

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.

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On the Hill

Remember all of the amazing pitching options from yesterday? Hang onto those positive memories, because today’s slate is awfully thin on premium options. The board is easily topped by Angels ace Shohei Ohtani even in a difficult matchup against the Rays. While Tampa Bay might have been no-hit by a rookie that a certain analyst might have referred to as “… not ready for the Show…” just yesterday, they are a challenging team for even a top-level starter like Ohtani to face. Regardless, the rest of the board is bumpy and Ohtani is far too cheap for his talent. The second-ranked starter by his probability of being a top-two pitcher on the DraftKings slate is Shane McClanahan who is on the mound on the opposite side of this contest as the highest-priced pitcher on the slate. McClanahan joins Ohtani atop the board by their probability ratings and salaries on the FanDuel slate as well. Red Sox righty Nathan Eovaldi is facing the tough Braves lineup, but he should stand a fair chance of finding a healthy strikeout total if he is not blown up early. Tylor Megill has a good matchup against the Nationals and he comes with positive leverage on both DraftKings and FanDuel tonight. The righty is an underappreciated option who should be targeted for leverage on a weak slate. On the other side of Eovaldi’s start is young Braves hurler Ian Anderson who offers quality and leverage for a fair price on both sites. Adding in the Red Sox struggles, last night’s performance notwithstanding, Anderson could be a sneaky option on this slate. The slate is very short on premium value options, the likely leader at a low salary appears to be the Royals’ Brady Singer, a talented 25-year-old former first-round pick who costs just $6,100 as he finds his footing at this level.

In the day game in Anaheim, Shohei Ohtani will be looking to continue his strong start to the season. Ohtani has thrown 26.1 innings in five starts, pitching to a sparkling 1.55 xFIP and a 1.03 WHIP while inducing a whopping 17.5% swinging-strike rate with a 37.7% CSW%. Ohtani is striking out opposing hitters at a hefty 38% rate while walking just 4.6%. Ohtani has been great at limiting premium contact as well, the righty has yielded just a 33.9% hard-hit percentage with an 8.1% barrel rate. Last season, the righty had a 29.3% strikeout rate and a 3.55 xFIP with a 39.9% hard-hit rate, he has made strides over what were already premium pitching performances. Ohtani will be facing a Rays active roster that is 24th in baseball with a 24.6% strikeout rate but also sits fifth by collective WRC+ at 15% better than average for run creation in the split. Tampa Bay is in the middle of the pack for power so far this year against righties, the team has a .146 ISO and a 2.62% home run rate that both rank 14th in baseball. Ohtani is overwhelmingly popular for just $8,800 on the DraftKings slate, the misprice has roughly two-thirds of the field including him in lineups. The superstar is carrying a -25 leverage score on that site, he is one of only three negatively leveraged pitchers on the board, one of whom is discount dandy Joey Wentz. Ohtani is easily the most likely pitcher to land in the top two, but making literally any other decision on the mound gets a lineup well away from the bulk of the field. The righty will be owned at around a 35% rate even with a $10,800 sticker price on the blue site, he is negatively leveraged on FanDuel, where the top three probability selections are also the most popular options. Ohtani is well worth playing in a large number of lineups across 150 entries, but undercutting the field in favor of more efficiently owned options who rank similarly by probability is the preferred approach.

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On the mound for the opposing team, lefty Shane McClanahan ranks second for his probability of success on both sites. McClanahan is pulling in a negative five leverage score on the DraftKings slate and nearly a -10 on FanDuel, where he is projected for 21.3% popularity. Between Ohtani and McClanahan, more than 50% of the projected FanDuel pitching ownership is in this one game. McClanahan is facing an Angels active roster that has been outstanding against left-handed pitching to this point in the season. Los Angeles has created runs 40% better than average in the split, the second-best mark in baseball, and they have a .173 ISO with a 3.10% home run rate in the split, the sixth and 10th ranked spots on the board. The Angels’ 23.3% strikeout rate in the split is marginally targetable, it sits 20th among baseball’s 30 teams and McClanahan has the strikeout acumen required to exploit the swing-and-miss. The Tampa Bay southpaw has an elite 36.7% strikeout rate and a 16.4% swinging-strike rate over six starts and 32.1 innings so far this season. Last year, McClanahan posted a 27.3% strikeout rate over 123.1 innings in 25 starts, pitching to a 3.23 xFIP and 1.27 WHIP. This year he has excelled by xFIP with a 1.81 mark, and he has been strong keeping hitters off the basepaths with a 0.99 WHIP despite a walk rate that basically matches last season’s 7.2%. As a negatively leveraged option against a premium lineup, there are reasons to explore an undercut to the field’s ownership on both sites for McClanahan as well. He stands a strong chance of posting a slate-relevant fantasy score, and his raw ownership total on DraftKings is half that of Ohtani, making him the more playable of the pair from this game.

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Red Sox righty Nathan Eovaldi is a good option to differentiate pitching on the DraftKings slate, where he is projected for just 23.4% popularity at $9,400. Eovaldi ranks third on the probability board and he has the faintest hint of positive leverage, at worst he will be efficiently owned. On the FanDuel slate, he is slightly into negative leverage as the third-best option by his probability of success, but the righty seems very playable with just a 14% raw ownership mark. Eovaldi is one of a great many pitchers who has been strong out of the gate this year, he has a 26.3% strikeout rate over his first six outings, and he has pitched deep into games, making it through 33.2 innings while posting a 2.91 xFIP and a 1.07 WHIP. Eovaldi induces a solid 11.7% swinging-strike rate, but he has just a 26.1% CSW%, and he has yielded a significant amount of premium contact so far this season. Opposing hitters have generated a 44.7% hard-hit percentage with an 11.7% barrel rate against Eovaldi this season, last year those marks stood at 36.2% and 6.3%, much more manageable contact that helps to limit hitters. Despite his quality performances, Eovaldi has allowed at least one home run in five of his six outings and he yielded two long balls in three of those starts. Eovaldi has allowed eight home runs for a 5.84% home run rate so far this season. Eovaldi will be facing a loaded Braves lineup that hits for major power but also strikes out at a significant clip, putting this matchup firmly in “anything goes” territory. The Braves active roster has a 28th-ranked 25.5% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching so far this season, but the team has a .179 ISO and 3.62% home run rate that both rank sixth in the split. Eovaldi will be helped by the absence of superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. atop the Braves lineup, but he will be challenged by the quality that remains. Particularly as a positive leverage play, but also on the single-pitcher FanDuel slate, Eovaldi is well worth consideration tonight.

The MLB DFS gaming public does not seem ready to pay big-ticket salaries for Mets starter Tylor Megill, who costs $9,900 on DraftKings and $10,000 on the FanDuel slate. The righty has a sharp 27.7% strikeout rate over his first 33.1 innings in 2022, following the 26.1% he posted over 89.2 innings as a rookie last season. Megill pitched to a 3.92 xFIP and 1.28 WHIP while inducing a 12.1% swinging-strike rate in last season’s sample, but he allowed too much quality contact with a 41.8% hard-hit percentage and 10% barrel rate. This year, Megill has cut those contact marks to a 37.2% hard-hit and a 5.8% barrel rate, while improving to a 2.76 xFIP and a 0.90 WHIP with a 13.3% swinging-strike rate. The growth seems real and sustainable, Megill should be expected to be at or around his strikeout and contact numbers throughout the season, while the xFIP and WHIP will presumably increase some, they should remain very solid. New York is in Washington D.C. to face the Nationals, affording Megill the opportunity to pitch in a generally good matchup. Washington has been slightly better than expected in the split against righties, they have a 21.1% strikeout rate that sits ninth overall and they have created runs 7% better than average in the split, but their power has largely been absent. The Nationals have a .128 ISO that sits 20th in baseball and their 2.32% home run rate ranks them 18th in the split. Megill has an opportunity to post a slate-relevant fantasy score while going under-owned as a pay-up to differentiate selection on both sites tonight.

From the bargain bin, Royals righty Brady Singer is taking on a scuffling Rangers lineup and he costs just $5,000 with 10.5% ownership on DraftKings. His utility for $6,100 and 1.2% popularity on the FanDuel slate is highly debatable, but Singer could present a strong SP2 pivot from lesser cheap arms like Joey Wentz or Zach Logue. Singer was the Royals’ first-round pick, 18th overall, in 2018 and he was pitching for the team in the Majors in 2020. As a rookie that season, the righty posted a 4.06 ERA and a 4.05 xFIP with a 23.2% strikeout rate over 64.1 innings in a weird season for everyone. The following year, Singer made 27 starts for the Royals but reached a total of only 128.1 innings via either workload management or exposure. Singer’s game log from last season includes a number of starts that saw him go six or more innings, but also many clunkers that saw him removed after only three or four with several runs on the board. Overall, the righty posted a 22.4% strikeout rate and a 4.91 ERA but a 4.11 xFIP. Singer has thrown 5.2 innings out of the bullpen at the Major League level this season, posting a 23.1% strikeout rate and a 3.8% walk rate with a 2.97 xFIP but he has yielded premium contact and put too many on base with a 1.41 WHIP and an 11.1% barrel rate. The righty pitched in triple-A last week, making a start on May 1st and another on May 5th, he reached five innings and faced 18 hitters in that outing, he should be expected for around 80-85 pitches. The Royals are taking on a Texas Rangers active roster that has just a .101 ISO against righties this season, the 29th-ranked mark in the sport. The Rangers have a 23.6% strikeout rate that sits 20th and they have created runs 19% worse than average in the split with a 2.25% home run rate, putting them 26th and 19th in those categories. Singer has an opportunity to chase a win through five or six innings, his team projects well against Rangers’ opener Matt Bush and likely follower Matt Moore, if Singer finds a few strikeouts along the way he could be a quality under-owned cheap play where two starters are required.

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New York Mets

The Mets will be looking to back Megill with some runs in a matchup against Nationals starter Aaron Sanchez. The veteran righty has made three starts this season, completing 13.2 innings and pitching to a 3.91 xFIP with an inflated 8.56 ERA and a 3.80 xERA. Sanchez has struck out just 15% of opposing hitters, somewhat below his already unintimidating 18.5% career strikeout rate. Sanchez has also yielded a 59.6% hard-hit rate this season, though the 2.1% barrel rate helps limit opposing power. The righty historically has been solid in that department, he has a career 52.7% groundball rate and 39.7% hard-hit percentage on a 5.8-degree average launch angle. Sanchez has allowed two home runs so far this season, a 3.33% rate, but his career rate sits at a gleaming 2.4%, which is part of what is behind the low rating for the Mets in today’s power index. Regardless of that rating, the team looks like a strong option for sequential hitting and run creation. New York’s active roster has created runs 27% better than average, the third-best mark against righties to this point, while also limiting strikeouts to just 18.8%, also third in the sport. The team has lacked power with just a .134 ISO and a 2.24% home run rate against righties, but the number of balls in play against this pitcher should yield a strong run total with quality correlated scoring that fits into stacking well. The Mets rank as the top stack on DraftKings and they sit second behind the Cardinals on FanDuel. While they are negatively leveraged on both sites, there are enough low-owned individuals in the lineup to make the stack playable. Target bats include Brandon Nimmo, Francisco Lindor, Peter Alonso, and Starling Marte. Alonso has created runs 46% better than average while slashing .280/.351/.500 with a .220 ISO and seven home runs in the first part of the season, he is projected to be owned in the low teens across the industry. Marte is slashing .263/.315/.381 while creating runs 9% better than average with three home runs and four stolen bases, he is a quality option who is owned in the low single-digits. Infielder Jeff McNeil’s quality has been litigated in this space repeatedly. The hit-tool specialist is back to an excellent batting average on balls in play, which makes him look like a far better player than he really is. McNeil had three seasons where his BABIP did not drop below .335, then he dropped to .280, a non-tragic number that completely tanked his triple-slash. In 2019, McNeil had a .335 BABIP and slashed .318/.384/.531 with a career-high 23 home runs and a .214 ISO. The inexplicable power surge aside, the triple-slash numbers were excellent but cratered to .251/.319/.360 against the .280 BABIP in 2021. McNeil is currently slashing .333/.400/.465 but he has just one home run and a .131 ISO, with no signs of the 2019 power returning. As long as fortune is on his side, McNeil is a fine option in Mets stacks, it is just important to remember the true nature of this hitter. Additional Mets bats including Eduardo Escobar, Dominic Smith, and a few scraps are targetable to offset ownership at low cost, pending the final batting order.

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St. Louis Cardinals

On a hot muggy 90-degree day in St. Louis, the Cardinals are looking for a power surge against Orioles starter Spenser Watkins, who needs no assistance from Sol to fully self-immolate on any given slate. Watkins has matching strikeout and walk rates this season, which is rarely a good thing. The righty has struck out and walked 10.3% of opposing hitters over 22.1 innings, pitching to a 3.22 ERA but a 5.11 xFIP and a 6.06 xERA, he has been extremely lucky to keep the flawed run stat looking good to the casual baseball fan. Watkins has allowed a 40% hard-hit percentage with a 9.3% barrel rate so far this season, though that has amounted to just a 3.1% home run rate so far. Last season, Watkins yielded 14 home runs in 255 plate appearances against, a 5.5% home run rate that is more in line with expectations for this starter. The Cardinals have been fantastic against lefties this season and decidedly mediocre against right-handed pitching, but this is a targetable righty, and they will at least put the ball in play with regularity given his total lack of strikeout acumen. The St. Louis active roster has just an 18.8% strikeout rate against righties this year, but they have created runs only 2% better than average with a .123 ISO and a 1.96% home run rate. By comparison, the Cardinals are the best offense in baseball in every category against lefties so far, putting up a .233 ISO that defies everything we have seen about this season, a 4.95% home run rate, and a 16.5% strikeout rate, all while creating runs 58% better than average. While the team is most likely not that good overall, they should certainly better than they have been to date against righties. Targetable bats in the Cardinals’ projected lineup include excellent leadoff man Tommy Edman, who is slashing .290/.388/.450 with three home runs and seven stolen bases while creating runs 48% better than average ahead of a deadly trio of righty bats. Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, and Tyler O’Neill are playable against any starter, while rookie Juan Yepez has shown strong quality in his first 24 plate appearances at this level. Yepez is slashing .455/.500/727 with a home run and a .273 ISO in the microscopic sample, he has been involved in the offense hitting in the heart of this batting order. The bottom of the lineup includes playable bats like Dylan Carlson and Harrison Bader, while the rest can be mixed and matched for price, popularity, and position concerns as needed.

Kansas City Royals

Before adjusting the power index to reflect the opener-follower nature of the Matt Bush and Matt Moore combination they will be facing, the Royals were blowing the lid off of today’s power index. Those high-teens numbers in the home run model were with Bush listed as the starter, but the team looks like a quality stacking opportunity regardless of which pitcher will be on the hill in any given inning. Moore is a lefty who is likely to see bulk relief work after Bush pitches an inning or so, over 12.2 innings of relief work this season, Moore has a 25.5% strikeout rate, a 20% walk rate, and a 4.43 xFIP that betrays the reality underlying his outstanding 0.71 ERA. Moore has been a targetable pitcher for power for some time, he had a 4.49% home run rate across 73 innings last season. Meanwhile, the Royals’ active roster has not been outstanding against either hand, there is a reason they are rare visitors to this space, but they are good at keeping the ball in play and they stand a chance to put up some runs against a mediocre bullpen at low ownership. Kansas City ranks sixth on both sites with good positive leverage scores, they are worth rostering as a quality stack that plays well in combination with the premium options from the top of the board on this slate.

After starting the season in the Show right out of Spring Training, premium prospect Bobby Witt Jr. has largely failed to deliver on his grand expectations. Witt has just one home run and five stolen bases in his 104 plate appearances, creating runs 34% below average in the extended opportunity. The young hitter is slashing .220/.250/.320 and may be due for a brief trip down the ladder for some additional seasoning. While that seems unlikely in a year that the Royals can easily use to run prospects out at the Major League level, it does make Witt somewhat difficult to fully trust when nearly 20% of the FanDuel field is still including him in lineups for a cheap price and multi-position eligibility. He will be owned at around 11% on the DraftKings slate where he costs just $3,900 and seems more playable.

Lefty Andrew Benintendi follows Witt in the projected lineup. The former top-end Red Sox prospect hit 17 home runs and stole eight bases in 538 plate appearances in his first season in Kansas City last year. So far this season, Benintendi is off to a strong start, slashing .327/.370/.398, though he has suffered from the leaguewide power outage, hitting just one home run and posting an anemic .071 ISO. Benintendi has created runs 29% better than average atop this lineup in his 108 plate appearances, he is a strong contender for shares when stacking the Royals, and he will be owned at just a 6.6% clip on DraftKings. On FanDuel, Benintendi is more popular because he costs a mere $2,600, he remains playable at 13.5%.

The most popular Kansas City bat on either site is catcher Salvador Perez, with good reason. Perez is the team’s primary source of power, he hit a massive 48 home runs in 665 plate appearances last season, defying any and all reasonable expectations for what catchers should do at the plate. Perez has hit five home runs and has a .196 ISO, but he is scuffling with just a .196/.232/.393 triple-slash and he has created runs 18% below average. The turnaround is inbound, and Perez belongs in Royals stacks.

Righty-hitting Hunter Dozier slots into the cleanup spot in the projected lineup, and he comes with multi-position eligibility for a cheap price and single-digit ownership on both sites. Dozier is slashing .258/.298/.461 and has created runs 22% better than average in his 94 plate appearances so far. He has hit three home runs and has a .202 ISO on the back of a 41.5% hard-hit percentage and an outstanding 12.3% barrel rate. Dozier is an underappreciated option for power in the middle of this lineup in this matchup.

Multi-position contributor Whit Merrifield is another player who comes at a low price and single-digit popularity. Merrifield stole 40 bases in his 720 plate appearances last season but managed to create runs 9% below average for the season. The righty slashed .277/.317/.395 with a .117 ISO and just 10 home runs, but he hit 16 long balls in 2019 and 19 in 2017, there is dormant power and an ability to drive the ball still lurking in the speedster. To this point in 2022, Merrifield has managed just a .139/.179/.167 triple-slash over 117 plate appearances, with no home runs, three stolen bases and a -2 WRC+, meaning he has created runs 102% worse than average. This is a better player than that, he can be included in stacks, but he should probably be less expensive given the recent run of tragedy in his stat-line.

Emmanuel Rivera has made 17 plate appearances this season, slashing .200/.294/.200 with no counting stats to speak of. Last season, Rivera saw 98 plate appearances and posted a .256/.316/.333 triple-slash with a .078 ISO while creating runs 20% below average in the Show, but he hit 19 home runs with a .306 ISO over 282 plate appearances at triple-A. Rivera is 26 years old, he is likely in a make-or-break season for his career, he is an average player who can be utilized with tempered expectations.

Rookie MJ Melendez has highly regarded power and not much else at the plate. Melendez hit 41 home runs across 531 combined plate appearances as a 22-year-old in double-A and triple-A last year, with 28 coming in 347 plate appearances at the lower of the two levels and 13 coming in 184 tries at the more advanced level. Melendez has made 18 plate appearances at the Major League level this season, slashing .313/.389/.375 but he is yet to hit a home run. At a cheap price and little popularity, Melendez is interesting from later in the lineup, assuming he is in the confirmed batting order. He positions as a catcher on both sites, which would create an interesting lineup situation where only one player can be used at the position.

Outfielder Michael Taylor and infielder Nicky Lopez round out the projected lineup with veteran mediocrity. Both players are capable of driving the ball or stealing a base in the right situation, Taylor has hit two home runs this season, but neither has distinguished himself much early on. Last year, Taylor hit 12 home runs and stole 14 bases in 528 tries, Lopez had just two home runs but stole 22 bases in his 565 plate appearances as a regular. Neither option is exciting, either can be used with appropriate expectations for a cheap price with minimal public ownership.

Home Run Prediction Today: Salvador Perez — Kansas City Royals

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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 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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