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MLB DFS Tournament Strategy: Leverage, Home Runs, Optimal Picks | Today, 6/11/21

Terry McBride



Awesemo's expert MLB contest breakdown on Jock MKT MLB for today + top MLB DFS picks + fantasy baseball advice with Jesse Winker on 8/5/21.

The 13-game Friday slate is loaded with aces and bats in great spots, according to the Awesemo MLB DFS projections. There are some of the highest-end pitchers in the game starting tonight, and several of the league’s most powerful offenses are going up against pitchers who have been yielding runs and power throughout the season. This is shaping up to be another night of monster MLB DFS scores, with 300 FanDuel points potentially being a requirement for success once again. With this many lineups in play, the focus once again is on full-team stacks and capturing the broadest range possible of likely high-end outcomes.

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MLB DFS Tournament Strategy: Top HR Options

Home runs are the holy grail when making MLB DFS picks. Finding the right combination of sluggers who will knock one, or better two, out of the park to drive in the teammates you stack with them is critical to winning GPPs. Identifying the likely home run hitters is trickier than just looking at the big names. Using a model of my own design, based on a blend of several predictive statistics for the batter-pitcher matchup, I will give one of the top choices from each team. However, it won’t always be the absolute top-ranked player, particularly when there is an obvious star who would be in that spot every day.

Home Run Ratings

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

Arizona Diamondbacks: Ketel Marte — 3.09

Atlanta Braves: Austin Riley — 6.58

Baltimore Orioles: Freddy Galvis — 2.74

Boston Red Sox: Xander Bogaerts — 12.56

Chicago White Sox: Andrew Vaughn — 13.92

Cincinnati Reds: Eugenio Suarez — 8.23

Cleveland Indians: Bobby Bradley — 11.02

Colorado Rockies: Trevor Story — 9.75

Detroit Tigers: Jonathan Schoop — 7.71

Houston Astros: Carlos Correa — 20.51

Kansas City Royals: Jorge Soler — 7.59

Los Angeles Angels: Jared Walsh — 9.87

Los Angeles Dodgers: Cody Bellinger — 22.26

Miami Marlins: Adam Duvall — 7.06

Milwaukee Brewers: Christian Yelich — 15.02

Minnesota Twins: Miguel Sano — 9.38

New York Mets: Francisco Lindor — 11.02

Oakland Athletics: Mitch Moreland — 6.46

Pittsburgh Pirates: Ke’Bryan Hayes — 4.99

San Diego Padres: Manny Machado — 6.99

San Francisco Giants: Wilmer Flores — 7.07

Seattle Mariners: Mitch Haniger — 10.11

Tampa Bay Rays: Austin Meadows — 5.72

Texas Rangers: Joey Gallo — 9.62

Toronto Blue Jays: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. — 8.91

Washington Nationals: Juan Soto — 11.33

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Power Index

This is intended to capture the full range of home runs-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 (pitcher bats not included in non-DH games), and the second is for the top six hitters in the projected lineup.

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mlb dfs daily fantasy baseball picks today stacks top pitchers home runs ownership rankings draftkings fanduel lineups astros dodgers white sox red sox brewers

MLB DFS Pitchers, Optimal Stacks & Leverage Plays

This section will feature a few standout MLB DFS spots and teams to look at for potential plays on DraftKings and FanDuel. Make sure to check out the ownership projections for critical updates and monitor the top stacks tool throughout the day for changes.

On the Hill

Friday’s pitching slate is fairly loaded. Adding Max Scherzer (click here for yesterday’s Scherzer write up) to the pool after the Nationals game from yesterday was postponed only increases the number of highly playable options on the board, though there is significant rain in the forecast again tonight. Scherzer is joined atop the board by Brewers ace Brandon Woodruff, Mets righty Jacob deGrom, Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw and Blake Snell of the Padres. With the slate adding names like Lucas Giolito and Shohei Ohtani to the list and featuring mid-range options like Tyler Mahle, there is simply an embarrassment of riches tonight.

deGrom has been nothing short of outstanding over the first third of the season. He is simply one of the best pitchers in baseball, if not the clear-cut best, every time he takes the mound. deGrom has made nine starts and has completed 58.0 innings, pitching to a 1.53 xFIP and a 0.57 WHIP with a ridiculous 45.4% strikeout rate. Facing a Padres team that ranks second in baseball against right-handed pitching with just a 21.4% strikeout rate could present a minor challenge, but the smart money is clearly on deGrom to overcome the Padres bats with little fanfare. San Diego’s active roster has a .144 ISO in the split and has created runs 3% behind the average this season. For $12,000 on FanDuel and $11,300 on DraftKings, deGrom is a valuable pay-up option. He will be popular on both sites but not prohibitively so, this is a pitcher worth rostering in any lineup in any format on any site.

Woodruff will be taking on a Pirates team that is lacking in power and run creation ability but does one thing well: Limit strikeouts. He will be taking on a Pirates active roster that sits third in baseball with a 21.6% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching this season. Outside of that mark, the Pirates have just a .124 ISO and have hit only 29 home runs in the split (a 2.21% home run rate). Pittsburgh has created runs 13% worse than average through the first part of the season against righties, Woodruff is in a strong spot to severely limit the opposition, and he could find a few more strikeouts than the average pitcher in this matchup. He has a 2.69 xFIP and a 0.74 WHIP on the season, striking out 32.5% of hitters he has faced while walking just 6.0%. Woodruff has a dominant 31.8% called plus swinging strike rate and generates 12.8% swinging strikes. He has been outstanding to start the season and he is at worst not threatened by the weak opposition in this spot.

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Kershaw draws the Texas Rangers, a team that has a reputation for strikeouts but actually sits in the top-12 in the league with just a 23.5% rate against southpaws this season. Texas has struggled to hit for power or create runs in the split, posting a .136 team ISO and creating runs 13.0% worse than average against southpaws. Kershaw, meanwhile, has been solid to start the year. He has a 3.08 xFIP and a 1.01 WHIP with a 28.3% strikeout rate and an excellent 15.8% swinging strike rate. He has made 13 starts, completing 76.1 innings, providing reliable depth and an opportunity to pick up win and quality start bonuses most nights he toes the rubber. There are compelling reasons to get to Kershaw at just $9,800. He is under-owned on the blue site and makes a strong pay-up SP2, or a quality SP1 across town.

Reds righty Tyler Mahle is on the board as a pay-down option, taking on a Rockies team in what should be a plus matchup. Mahle has been strong through the first portion of the season, posting a 28.2% strikeout rate over his first 62.1 innings in 12 starts. He needs to provide more depth to make the leap to the next level of MLB DFS value, but his price is just $8,500 on FanDuel and $7,900 on the DraftKings slate, which gives us plenty of room to operate. Mahle has a steady 3.63 xFIP and a 1.12 WHIP on the season, inducing 10.7% swinging strikes and getting a 29.6% CSW% overall. Mahle is facing a weak Rockies team that did just return Trevor Story to the lineup, but his success may be more threatened by the weather than the opposition. The Reds game is not in the best-looking spot for rain, it will be important to keep an eye on it as lock approaches, with the hopes that it plays but enough of the public backs off. The opposing Rockies are one of the weakest lineups in baseball, they have created runs 34.0% worse than average for the season and have just a .136 ISO against right-handed pitching. Colorado strikes out around the league average as a unit, compiling a 23.8% rate in the split. This is a strong spot for Mahle; he should be rostered and will be justifiably popular.

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Houston Astros

We covered the Astros from top to bottom in this space yesterday and the team delivered. Houston leads the slate on both sites by probability of being the top stack, they are well worth paying for in this spot. The Astros are facing Matt Shoemaker who has a 5.23 xFIP and a 1.58 WHIP on the season while striking out an anemic 14.5% of hitters. This is a fantastic spot for Astros bats, they are projecting for power and fantasy point/run creation and are easily one of the leading options on the slate, despite their popularity. Getting to the undervalued hitters like Yuli Gurriel is a key to rostering Astros bats in a stack once again.

[osBestBetsSingleGameOdds league=”mlb” date=”06/11/2021″ team=”astros”]

Cincinnati Reds

The Reds have rolled through the early part of the season from an offensive standpoint. The team sits seventh in total runs and fifth with 83 home runs this season, despite losing several key hitters to injury. The Reds are facing Colorado lefty Kyle Freeland who has struck out just 11.1% of hitters over his first 13 innings in three starts this season. Freeland has a 6.26 xFIP and an unsightly 2.08 WHIP, while generating just 7.1% swinging strikes. This is a highly targetable pitcher.

Infielder Jonathan India slots into the leadoff role in the projected Reds lineup. India is inexpensive at just $3,000 on FanDuel and $4,200 on DraftKings and he provides multi-position eligibility between second and third base on the blue site. He has been steady for the Reds in the absence of some of their better infield bats, posting a .250/.361//401 with a .151 ISO and five home runs over his first 184 plate appearances. India has created runs 11.0% better than average this season, and there is plenty of appeal in his on-base percentage ahead of the heart of the Reds lineup.

Jesse Winker is having a tremendous breakout season over the first third of 2021. He has mashed 17 home runs and has a .346/.413/.645 slash, MVP-caliber numbers to this point. Winker is pricey at $5,500 on DraftKings and $4,500 on FanDuel but is drawing virtually no ownership. This is likely a product of price viewed through the prism of his career numbers against same-handed pitching. Over his short career (240 plate appearances against lefties), Winker has just a .103 ISO and has created runs 24.0% worse than average with a .206/.322/.309 slash, while obliterating pitching from the other hand. This season, Winker has a .244/.346/.333 slash with a .089 ISO and created runs 7% worse than average against fellow southpaws, however, not all lefty pitchers are created equally, and Freeland may not be long for the game. As a pay-up to be contrarian option, Winker is very much on the board.

Nicholas Castellanos hits from the right side of the plate and should have no issues doing whatever he wants against a starter like Freeland. Castellanos is off to an excellent start, over 242 plate appearances in 2021 he has put together a .367/.413/.624 slash and has hit 12 home runs. He outfielder has created runs 80.0% better than average, his on-base skills are a fantastic asset to roster in stacks and help with the sequential hitting portion of stacking lineups. Castellanos somehow only costs $4,800 on DraftKings, which should be viewed as a sign reading “play me.” On FanDuel, Castellanos is under-owned at just around 11.0% public popularity for his $4,200 price. This is a great spot and a strong player to include in MLB DFS stacks today.

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Tyler Stephenson slots in at first base and catcher on DraftKings and just as a catcher on the FanDuel slate. Stephenson’s popularity depends on whether the site requires a catcher. He is drawing much more attention on DraftKings, but if he is hitting cleanup he should not be overlooked on the FanDuel slate. He has hit just three home runs in his 147 opportunities this season but comes in with a strong .266/.361/.398 while creating runs 10.0% better than average.

First baseman Joey Votto is a known commodity for MLB DFS players. Votto has been one of the better pure hitters of his generation throughout his career, though he is off to an ugly start after missing time this year. He has made just 130 plate appearances and has an ugly .217/.308/.426 but has hit six home runs and is driving the ball with a .209 ISO. Votto will not be popular on the slate, despite costing just $2,900 on FanDuel, this makes him an excellent target for shares on both sites.

Eugenio Suarez is one of the league’s best pure power bats when he is going right. Suarez hit 34 home runs in 606 plate appearances in 2018, topping that mark with 49 the following season, despite making just 56 additional plate appearances. This season, Suarez has hit 13 home runs in 251 opportunities, posting a .204 ISO but struggling with the hit tool at just .160/.239/.364 and creating runs 37% worse than average. Suarez is struggling with a .167 batting average on balls in play, suggesting that a major part of his problem is simply bad luck. The power has not declined in any way. With shortstop eligibility on top of his significant home run upside, Suarez should be included in more stacks than skip him.

With the projected lineup rounding off at Scott Heineman and Kyle Farmer, the bottom two in the Reds lineup leaves something to be desired, if there is a nit to be picked it is that the Reds may have difficulty turning the lineup over with the bottom two being a .071/.235/.286 hitter (17 plate appearances and an unfair sample) in Heineman and a .203/.266/.304 hitter in Farmer (173 plate appearances). This is a minor quibble with a stack in an excellent spot, while it is not wise to roster significant shares of either player, they can be used to offset price, popularity and positioning as needed.

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[osBestBetsSingleGameOdds league=”mlb” date=”06/11/2021″ team=”reds”]

HR Call: Cody Bellinger — Los Angeles Dodgers

To get even more action down on tonight’s MLB slate, check out the betting markets and Awesemo’s expert MLB betting picks for today.

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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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