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MLB DFS Tournament Strategy: Leverage, Home Runs, Optimal Picks | Today, 6/12/21

Terry McBride



MLB DFS Lineup Picks Today DraftKings FanDuel Home Runs Tournament Strategy

Saturday’s MLB DFS slate is chopped up in different ways from site to site. FanDuel includes all 14 full games in their main slate, starting in the late afternoon and carrying all the way through the 10 pm start for the final game of the night, while DraftKings is going with a split slate of 11 games in the afternoon and a four-game evening slate that includes game two of the Giants – Nationals doubleheader. The focus of this article will be on the main slate as it appears on FanDuel, with all 14 games in play, giving us the ability to touch on both slates for DraftKings players. The home run picks and power index both include the full 14-game slate but leave out the Giants and Nationals. For DraftKings gamers, the San Francisco stack looks somewhat appealing for upside, though they will be in a shortened game.

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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: Christian Walker — 5.97

Atlanta Braves: Austin Riley — 7.40

Baltimore Orioles: Trey Mancini — 7.05

Boston Red Sox: Hunter Renfroe — 17.48

Chicago Cubs: Javier Baez — 1.26

Chicago White Sox: Jose Abreu — 6.18

Cincinnati Reds: Tyler Naquin — 4.63

Cleveland Indians: Jose Ramirez — 8.12

Colorado Rockies: CJ Cron — 5.52

Detroit Tigers: Nomar Mazara — 7.43

Houston Astros: Kyle Tucker — 7.31

Kansas City Royals: Carlos Santana — 12.22

Los Angeles Angels: Justin Upton — 11.33

Los Angeles Dodgers: Justin Turner — 5.87

Miami Marlins: Jazz Chisholm — 4.43

Milwaukee Brewers: Christian Yelich — 12.37

Minnesota Twins: Nelson Cruz — 12.06

New York Mets: Billy McKinney — 6.37

New York Yankees: Gleyber Torres — 11.11

Oakland Athletics: Mitch Moreland — 11.39

Philadelphia Phillies: Rhys Hoskins — 17.76 (how do we ignore a 1776 rating in Philadelphia?)

Pittsburgh Pirates: Colin Moran — 1.49

San Diego Padres: Fernando Tatis Jr. — 10.83

Seattle Mariners: Mitch Haniger — 14.81

St. Louis Cardinals: Nolan Arenado — 11.47

Tampa Bay Rays: Brandon Lowe — 12.81

Texas Rangers: Nate Lowe — 9.03

Toronto Blue Jays: Teoscar Hernandez — 8.48

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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 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

The Saturday pitching slate is relatively loaded with talent at the top end and features several intriguing options from the mid-range of salary as well. Looking at the full 14-game slate on FanDuel, Corbin Burnes leads the way in my personal model, while Trevor Bauer comes in a close second; on the site’s Top Pitchers tool, those positions are reversed, but the two aces are a clear 1-2 combo in either direction. The slate features several compelling mid-range options, including a mispriced Joe MusgroveMax Fried in a good spot against the Marlins, and Dylan Cease taking on the lowly Tigers. The slate tapers off quickly after those names, offering mostly mediocrity or second-tier starters in bad spots, making landing on the correct arm or combination of arms of paramount importance on Saturday.

Bauer has been solid through the first part of the season, striking out 32.0% of hitters over his first 13 starts and 82.1 innings. The righty has a 3.65 xFIP and a 0.89 WHIP while inducing 12.4% swinging strikes, though he has just an average 29.8% CSW%. Bauer has been embroiled in some of the “sticky stuff” narrative flying around baseball, but it is not something that we should consider until there are numbers to back up any speculation. Odds are the entire issue is dramatically overblown. Bauer is still Bauer, and he is facing a Texas Rangers team that is third-worst on the season with a 26.7% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching. The Rangers have just a .142 team ISO in the split and create runs 12.0% worse than average. This is an excellent spot for a premium arm. Bauer will be massively owned on the evening slate on DraftKings, where he is the clear-cut best pitcher by several miles, he is virtually a must-roster on that slate, and he ranks highly for the full 14-game affair on the blue site.

Burnes has been one of the best pitchers in the league through his first 10 starts this season. The righty has a ridiculous 42.2% strikeout rate and is walking just 3.1% of hitters, posting a microscopic 1.71 xFIP and a 0.71 WHIP. Burnes is inducing an absurd 18.5% swinging strikes and has a whopping 36.3% CSW%. This is a pitcher operating at the peak of his powers, going up against one of the worst lineups in the league. As we’ve covered numerous times, the one thing the Pirates do well is avoid striking out. So far this season, Pittsburgh’s active roster is second-best in baseball, with a 21.6% strikeout rate against righties. Beyond that, they do nothing well. The Pirates are worst in baseball with a .127 team ISO against right-handed pitching, they sit sixth-worst in run creation in the split at 14% below average, and they have a league-worst 2.32% home run rate in the split. Burnes is in a strong position to dominate once again, and his talent and form should overcome the selectiveness with which the Pirates hitters swing the bat.

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Musgrove is underpriced at $9,300 on DraftKings and $8,300 on the FanDuel slate. The righty has been excellent this season, posting a 34.2% strikeout rate with a 5.0% walk rate. He has a 2.55 xFIP with a 0.84 WHIP so far this season, inducing 14.6% swinging strikes and generating a 33.0% CSW%. The electric righty is the third-highest projected pitcher on my personal board and ranks in the same spot on the site’s Top Pitchers Tool. He will be popular on the DraftKings afternoon slate, but not to unplayable degrees. On the full slate on FanDuel, he is at a comfortable 13.2% projected popularity, making him a go-to for the price. Musgrove is facing a Mets lineup that is eighth-best in baseball with a 22.9% strikeout rate against righties and is exactly league average in run creation in the split. The Mets have a .149 team ISO and a 3.16% home run rate against righties this season. Musgrove should be relatively safe from getting blown up in the spot, and his talent and current form suggest upside despite New York’s quality in limiting strikeouts.

Cease is facing a Tigers team that ranks second-worst in the league with a 26.8% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching this season. The Tigers are a below-average lineup in run creation, coming in nine percent below average, while they are around league average for power in the split. Cease, meanwhile, is striking out 29.4% of hitters over his first 61.2 innings in 12 starts. His walks are still high at 10.6%, and he has a 1.30 WHIP that needs work, but the 4.09 xFIP is serviceable, and the strikeout upside facing this lineup is significant for a pitcher who induces 15.1% swinging strikes. Cease is expensive at $9,700 on FanDuel and $9,600 on DraftKings, which is more than Musgrove costs, but he is likely worth a pay-up to deflect some public popularity.

Chicago White Sox

The White Sox are in a prime position as both the top-ranked stack on the Top Stacks Tool and one of the stronger leverage plays by popularity compared to the probability of success. The team is facing Jose Urena, a gas can of a righty who has just a 14.0% strikeout rate in his 59.1 innings on the season. Urena is pitching to an ugly 4.76 xFIP and a 1.45 WHIP on the season, generating just 7.2% swinging strikes. Urena sits in the 12th percentile in hard-hit rate allowed, the 27th percentile in average exit velocity, but the 67th percentile in barrel rate, which is suggestive that he has been somewhat lucky in reaching his still lousy numbers. Against a team like the White Sox, this could be a disastrous outing.

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Tim Anderson leads off and is one of the more expensive options at $5,400 on the DraftKings slate, but he costs just $3,600 on FanDuel. The shortstop has been one of the top options at his position over the last few seasons, given his upside for both power and speed. So far this year, Anderson has a .291/.335/.422 slash with an uncharacteristic .131 ISO but is still creating runs 12.0% better than average. Anderson is a solid option who hit 20 home runs and stole 26 bases in 2018 and followed that with an 18-17 season in 2019 and 10-5 in the short season last year. He makes a great way to start a White Sox stack.

Brian Goodwin finds himself in the two-spot in the Chicago lineup today, where he will see his first plate appearances of the season. Goodwin was at just .215/.299/.417 through 164 plate appearances last year, but he slashed .262/.326/.470 the year before, hitting 17 home runs and stealing seven bases. For his career, Goodwin has a .250/.317/.425 slash with a .205 ISO, and he creates runs one percent ahead of the league average. He is a sneaky option in White Sox stacks.

Catcher Yasmani Grandal has struggled for quality with the hit tool this season, with just a .160 batting average, but he completes his triple-slash with a very strong .400 on-base percentage and a decent .429 slugging percentage while posting a mighty .269 ISO and creating runs 40.0% better than average. Grandal has hit 10 home runs in just 171 plate appearances and is driving the ball with authority when he makes contact. He should be far more highly owned for just $3,000 on FanDuel and is in play as a $4,600 catcher on the DraftKings slate.

[osBestBetsSingleGameOdds league=”mlb” date=”06/12/2021″ team=”white sox”]

First baseman Jose Abreu costs $5,300 on DraftKings and $3,300 on FanDuel in the cleanup spot. The righty slugger has 11 home runs so far this season, putting up a .213 ISO and creating runs 24.0% better than average. Abreu is slashing .256/.336/.469, numbers that are down from his career .292/.350/.517. Abreu was a .317 hitter last season with a .370 on-base and a strong .617 slugging percentage. He is a premium bat who is not owned enough on either site.

Yermin Mercedes is the second catcher in the confirmed lineup on both sites, meaning we have to choose between him and Grandal on DraftKings, but we can play them both on FanDuel, though that would require sacrificing Abreu at first base. This creates complications in stacking the heart of the White Sox lineup, though it also opens exploitable holes in ownership projections, particularly where catchers are a requirement. Mercedes has surprised through the early part of the season, slashing .289/.348/.441 with seven home runs in his 224 plate appearances and creating runs 22.0% better than average. He is a quality option in the middle of this lineup.

Adam Eaton is a mid-range power and speed bat who has lacked in the speed department this season and is slashing just .199/.299/.360 with a .161 ISO in his first 188 plate appearances in 2021. Eaton has stolen just two bases this year, suffering from his lack of getting on base. The outfielder is cheap on both sites, coming in at $3,800 on DraftKings and $2,900 on FanDuel. He is playable primarily due to the total lack of ownership across sites, and there is upside beyond what the season numbers have given us to this point in the season.

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Slugging lefty Jake Lamb is pulling down some ownership for his price at $3,300 on DraftKings, where he is an outfielder, and $2,200 on FanDuel, where he is eligible at both first and third base. Lamb has made just 73 plate appearances so far this season, hitting four home runs and slashing .242/.356/.468 with a .226 ISO. The lefty has created runs 33.0% better than average in the small sample and is a three true outcomes type of hitter with a 26.0% strikeout rate this season. Lamb is not without upside, but at the ownership and hitting seventh, he is somewhat skippable in some White Sox stacks to offset some probability of duplicated lineups.

Leury Garcia has a .230/.285/.291 slash with a .061 ISO on the season. He is creating runs 35.0% worse than average over his 184 plate appearances which have him priced down to $2,100 on FanDuel, where he slots in as a second baseman or shortstop, and $3,400 on DraftKings, where he is an outfielder drawing essentially no ownership. Garcia has a modicum of pop in his bat and reasonable speed, topping out at eight home runs with 15 stolen bases in 2019. There is minor upside as a cheap play from late in the lineup, but this is not a go-to.

The White Sox lineup rounds off with Danny Mendick, who is at just .210/.300/.306 on the season. Mendick has hit two home runs and is creating runs 23.0% worse than average over his 71 plate appearances this season. He comes in at the minimum on FanDuel and costs $3,700 on DraftKings, dramatically different pricing. Mendick has shown midrange quality in the minors. He hit 17 home runs and stole 19 bases in 558 plate appearances in AAA in 2019, so he does not entirely lack for upside. As a late lineup play for a few shares in both wraparound and endcap format, Mendick is potentially slightly sneaky, and his salary makes things work well on FanDuel.

HR Call: Rhys Hoskins — Philadelphia Phillies

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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