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MLB DFS Tournament Strategy: Leverage, Home Runs, Optimal Picks | Today, 6/13/21

Terry McBride

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Today’s MLB DFS slate features an 11-game afternoon main slate on both sites. The slate is stacked toward bats, we have just a few primetime pitchers available at the top of the board, followed by a broad range of mediocre options who are likely to yield some offense in certain spots. The Vegas totals are not inflated compared to what we have seen, but MLB DFS indicators and power marks are where we want to see them for several different stacks, giving us the room to spread out ownership shares and draft a wide range of hitting outcomes, while focusing on a few key pitchers for tournament play for MLB DFS picks today on both DraftKings and FanDuel.

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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

Atlanta Braves: Ozzie Albies — 4.23

Baltimore Orioles: Anthony Santander — 13.70

Boston Red Sox: JD Martinez — 17.99

Chicago White Sox: Yasmani Grandal — 6.87

Cincinnati Reds: Jesse Winker — 7.71

Cleveland Indians: Bobby Bradley — 32.17

Colorado Rockies: Trevor Story — 12.71

Detroit Tigers: Miguel Cabrera — 3.23

Houston Astros: Alex Bregman — 8.27

Miami Marlins: Adam Duvall — 11.95

Milwaukee Brewers: Avisail Garcia — 10.54

Minnesota Twins: Josh Donaldson — 5.92

New York Mets: Dominic Smith — 8.89

New York Yankees: Aaron Judge — 11.66

Philadelphia Phillies: JT Realmuto — 9.11

Pittsburgh Pirates: Bryan Reynolds — 5.41

San Diego Padres: Eric Hosmer — 4.02

San Francisco Giants: Brandon Belt — 11.20

Seattle Mariners: Kyle Seager — 6.44

Tampa Bay Rays: Randy Arozarena — 12.87

Toronto Blue Jays: Randal Grichuk — 6.58

Washington Nationals: Juan Soto — 9.74

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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

Sunday’s pitching slate has some stark separation from several strong options up top to an immediate quality crevasse. The slate is topped by Shane Bieber, easily the highest quality arm available. He is followed on the board by Carlos Rodon who faces the lowly Tigers and Aaron Nola in his matchup against the Yankees. Following those options the board becomes thin awfully fast. Chris Paddack provides some value for his low cost but is not the safest play in his game against the Mets and Robbie Ray will be in a tough spot taking on the Red Sox. Most of the remaining options are subpar, though Adrian Houser could surprise against the lousy Pirates offense. This leaves a short pool of pitchers with which we can mix and match a wide range of stacks to capture the potential for several of these starters to get torched by opposing bats.

Bieber has been on form and pitching deep into games. The Cleveland righty has completed 85.0 innings in his 13 starts, providing reliable depth and a great shot at a win and a quality start bonus in this game. Bieber has a 34.4% strikeout rate for the season to go with his crisp 2.79 xFIP and a 1.19 WHIP. The pitcher is inducing 16.7% swinging strikes and has an excellent 34.2% CSW%, he has simply been one of the best starters in baseball. Bieber is facing a Mariners team that has a 25.2% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching that ties for eighth-worst in baseball. The team is creating runs 14.0% below average for the season in the split, though they have a .156 team ISO and have hit an average amount of home runs against righties with 49, a 3.39% rate. Bieber is in a very strong spot for upside and at worst he is one of the safest options available. He is expensive on both DraftKings and FanDuel and he will be justifiably popular, but he should be rostered in spite of these complications.

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Rodon is in a very strong spot facing a Tigers team that strikes out far too much against both hands. Detroit ranks second-worst in baseball with a 28.8% strikeout rate against southpaws so far this season. The Tigers have compiled just a .137 ISO as a unit and have hit only 14 home runs against lefties in 2021, creating runs 14.0% worse than average. Meanwhile, Rodon has been extremely sharp this year. The lefty has finally harnessed his talents and is pitching to a 2.72 xFIP and a 0.89 WHIP. Rodon has struck out 37.1% of opposing hitters and walked just 6.3%, making outstanding strides in both metrics. He has induced a 16.2% swinging strike rate and has a 30.5% CSW%. There are some indicators in his quality of contact metrics that bear monitoring as the season rolls forward, but against this team on this slate, Rodon is a very obvious number two.


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Nola is not necessarily safe against the Yankees, though he is in a spot that has seen far lesser pitchers succeed so far this season. Nola is facing a New York squad that strikes out 24.5% of the time, 12th-worst in baseball. The Yankees have a surprising lack of power with just a .151 collective ISO and 48 home runs in the split, a 3.60% collective home run rate. The team is creating runs just two percent better than average in the split, though New York tabloids would have us believe that mark to be far lower. Nola has pitched well through the season, though he is a clear step down in terms of strikeout upside at just 27.0%. He has a 3.58 xFIP and a 1.21 WHIP on the year, inducing 12.9% swinging strikes and hitting a 30.4% CSW%. The righty is inexpensive for his quality on the FanDuel slate at just $8,100, while he is more appropriately priced on DraftKings where he comes in at $9,600, making him more difficult to play but also affording some room in ownership projections.

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Cleveland Indians

The Indians are showing strong power metrics in their matchup against Mariners rookie Logan Gilbert, who is a well regarded prospect who has been just serviceable in his first few starts. Gilbert has put together a 24.0% strikeout rate and a 4.90 xFIP with a 1.25 WHIP and 7.3% walk rate over his first five starts, completing just 21.2 innings in the process. The rookie is fully stretched out, he threw five innings his last time around and six in the previous start, but he could get chased by Cleveland bats if things go the wrong way for him on a few batted balls. Gilbert currently sits in the fourth percentile in hard hit rate allowed, the second percentile in average exit velocity allowed and the eighth percentile in barrel rate, as well as the eighth percentile in expected slugging percentage, marks that signal impending doom at some point for the young righty. Cleveland has been good at avoiding strikeouts in the split this season, adding to the pitcher’s problems and enhancing the spot for the Indians stack. They have a .173 ISO as a team against righties, though they have created runs 5.0% worse than average so far this season and have just 42 home runs, a 3.78% rate that ranks in the top half of baseball.

[osBestBetsSingleGameOdds league=”mlb” date=”06/13/2021″ team=”indians”]

Cleveland starts things off with Cesar Hernandez a second baseman who costs $2,600 on FanDuel and $4,700 on the DraftKings slate. Hernandez is a veteran who has delivered moderate quality throughout his career. This season the switch-hitter has a .217/.299/.391 slash but has hit a surprising 10 home runs, though he has just a .174 ISO, suggesting those are among the only balls he has hit hard this season. Hernandez has created runs nine percent worse than average and leaves a lot to be desired in terms of getting on base, but leading off in front of the sluggers we expect to do damage, he makes sense in stacks.

Amed Rosario costs $3,800 on the DraftKings slate and $2,800 on FanDuel where he is both a shortstop and an outfielder. Rosario has a .279/.335/.411 slash and has hit four home runs this season. He adds to fantasy scoring with six stolen bases so far this year and has created runs six percent ahead of the average, though he lacks pop in his bat, he currently sits at just a .132 ISO, though there is long-scouted upside for more. Rosario is in play for a small investment as part of the top-end of Indians stacks.

Jose Ramirez is where my home run model really begins to pop. Ramirez has the best mark we have seen in June and he costs just $3,700 on the FanDuel slate. At $5,500 on DraftKings, he is a logical spot at which to pay up to hopefully claw back some shares of ownership from the public. Ramirez has been strong to start the season, he has 14 home runs in 252 plate appearances, posting a .266 ISO and creating runs 41.0% above average. He hits from both sides of the plate and is slashing .275/.361/.541 on the season. This is an excellent bat in a great spot and he is matchup proof even if the team chases the right-handed starter early. Ramirez belongs in most Cleveland stacks.

Outfielder Eddie Rosario is a powerful lefty bat for just $3,600 on DraftKings and $2,800 on FanDuel. Rosario has only managed four home runs and has a lowly .107 ISO on the season, but we know there is more power available in his bat. Before the shortened 2020 season that saw him hit 13 home runs in only 231 plate appearances, Rosario had been over 24 home runs in each of three straight seasons, topping out with 32 in 2019. The slugger has struggled with his quality of contact this season, but given the contact allowed by the opposing pitcher there is reason to believe in Rosario’s upside.

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Given playing time Bobby Bradley has the raw power to compete for a home run crown. The slugger is drawing titanic marks in the home run model today. The big lefty has hit two home runs in his 16 plate appearances this season and he will be an inexpensive option hitting fifth in this lineup. There is major sneaky upside in the player as a part of stacks and if he is low-owned this is a very strong one-off play from site to site as well. Bradley is somewhat a post-hype prospect, or at least one who is slightly late in arriving, with just 65 Major League plate appearances at age 25. Still, this is a slugger with 70-grade power in traditional scouting. He hit 33 home runs in 453 plate appearances in AAA ball in 2019 and he had already hit nine home runs in just 109 opportunities at AAA before getting the call to the Show this season. Bradley is a major option for power on this slate. (Bradley’s 16 plate appearance triple slash is virtually meaningless, but it is amusing to at least report, Bradley currently sits at .500/.563/1.071 with a .571 ISO creating runs 232% better than average. Again, this is in just 16 tries and means nothing.)

Righty Harold Ramirez costs just $2,800 on DraftKings and $2,600 on FanDuel. The outfielder is slashing .275/.316/.440 over his first 117 plate appearances this season, he has a .165 ISO and has created runs four percent better than average. Ramirez is in play as a mix and match option to help offset both cost and ownership, he is not without upside as a part of stacks, though he is not a great one-off candidate.

Josh Naylor is a lefty power bat with first base and outfield eligibility on both sites. Naylor costs a mere $2,100 on FanDuel and $3,330 on DraftKings. He has made 209 plate appearances this season, hitting five home runs and slashing .247/.298/.381 with a .134 ISO while creating runs 14.0% worse than average. He has upside beyond those marks but is not showing it with much regularity, making him more of a mix in with moderate upside and an easy cost offset from this position in the lineup.

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Catcher Austin Hedges is a power bat from behind the plate who costs very little, but that cost matches his production so far this season. Hedges has made 108 plate appearances and has just three home runs with a .103 ISO. He is slashing .155/.219/.258 on the season and is creating runs 71.0% worse than average. These are not good marks. Hedges is in play mostly where catchers are required, though there is minor dart throw upside in rostering him on the blue site as well.

With just 548 plate appearances under his belt at age 28, Bradley Zimmer can officially be considered post-hype and is rapidly approaching never-was status. The formerly highly regarded prospect has struggled to stay in the lineup with regularity since seeing 332 of those 548 plate appearances in 2017. That season he hit eight home runs and stole 18 bases at the Major League level, flashing major upside that vanished in subsequent opportunities, though those are few and far between. Zimmer has not made even 150 plate appearances in the minors in any single season since that 2017 year. With relative health for the moment, Zimmer has seen 38 tries so far in 2021. He has responded with a .250/.368/.250 slash and three stolen bases, though he has not homered or hit for extra bases, his ISO stands at 0.0 (a perfect Dean Wormer) and he has created runs 13.0% worse than average. Between the on-base ability and speed, Zimmer is still somewhat in play as a wraparound option for just $2,500 on DraftKings and $2,100 on FanDuel.

HR Call: Jose Ramirez — Cleveland Indians

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 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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