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MLB DFS Tournament Strategy: Leverage, Home Runs, Optimal Picks | Today, 6/2/21

Terry McBride



MLB DFS picks. Daily fantasy baseball strategy show for DraftKings and FanDuel lineups. FREE expert projections for 8/9 with Jose Abreu.

With a day split between afternoon action and the main daily fantasy baseball slate in the evening, there are only eight games from which to make our MLB DFS lineup picks today. The slate features one true ace and numerous pitchers who can at worst be described as terrible and at best as overpriced. There are very limited pitching options, and the assumption should be that bats will rule the day. In addition to lousy starters facing quality offenses, MLB DFS gamers will also have a Coors Field game with which to contend tonight, making lineup picks even more daunting when it comes to landing on the correct stacks. Getting to some positively leveraged team stacks and hitting the bullseye on pitching selection is going to be a key to accessing the top of GPP standings this evening.

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Tracking the top MLB DFS pitchers will be key, as will monitoring the public ownership distributions on stacks via the Top Stacks Tool. Let’s get into the MLB DFS picks for DraftKings and FanDuel, as well as some home-run candidates for each team.

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: Dansby Swanson — 5.29

Baltimore Orioles: Freddy Galvis — 4.05

Boston Red Sox: Rafael Devers — 5.14

Colorado Rockies: Ryan McMahon — 11.52

Houston Astros: Alex Bregman — 7.15

Los Angeles Dodgers: Justin Turner — 6.00

Miami Marlins: Starling Marte — 8.03

Minnesota Twins: Miguel Sano — 10.99

New York Yankees: Gleyber Torres — 9.17

Oakland Athletics: Mark Canha — 4.28

Seattle Mariners: Ty France — 5.76

St. Louis Cardinals: Paul Goldschmidt — 11.41

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Tampa Bay Rays: Mike Brosseau — 6.71

Texas Rangers: Adolis Garcia — 8.11

Toronto Blue Jays: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. — 5.19

Washington Nationals: Ryan Zimmerman — 11.13

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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.

MLB DFS picks daily fantasy baseball expert projections ownership home run calls draftkings fanduel yankees nationals cardinals rockies coors field top stacks contrarian GPP tournament strategy advice pitchers hitters one-offs

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

Today’s slate of pitching options is downright ugly. With only Walker Buehler standing as a clear-cut ace, options are extremely limited, particularly where two pitchers are required. Sean Manaea and Jordan Montgomery are not typically names we would expect to rank nearly at the apex of the Top Pitchers Tool with 16 options available, but that is where the lefties land for Wednesday’s slate. Rookie Alek Manoah is priced up on both sites in his matchup against the Marlins. He is the FanDuel slate’s highest priced pitcher at $10,000 in just his second career start, while he costs just $8,200 and is in play as an SP2 on DraftKings. Pablo Lopez is on the other side, taking on the tough Blue Jays lineup. He provides a quality arm but one that is in a bad spot and reversed site to site pricing from his opponent. The remaining starters are mix-and-match options at best.

Buehler owns the slate’s highest probability of being a top option across both DraftKings and FanDuel, but he will be very popular on both sites. Coming in at just $9,700 on FanDuel, Buehler is underpriced even against the Cardinals decent lineup. He has been sharp to start the season, though his strikeout numbers have dipped from last year’s 28.6% across 36.2 innings to 25.3% in 64.1 innings. Buehler has covered those frames in 10 starts this year, providing reliable depth and a decent path to a quality start. The Dodgers are heavy favorites in this contest as well, meaning Buehler stands an excellent chance of providing a win as well. He is facing a Cardinals lineup that has been steady, striking out at just a 23.1% clip against right-handed pitching as a team this season. St. Louis has a .153 team ISO and have created runs 12% below average in the split, though they have managed to muster 51 home runs against righties so far, among the league leaders. Buehler is not absolutely safe in this spot, but he is easily the slate’s best option for any format.

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Manaea will be facing a Seattle team in the last game of the night. He should benefit from the Mariners’ current 28.0% team strikeout rate against southpaws, the fifth-worst mark in the league so far in 2021. Seattle has been productive for power in the split however, hitting 22 home runs and posting a team ISO of .182 against left-handed pitching this year, though they have created runs at a pace 9% below average. Manaea, meanwhile, is back to full health and pitching in excellent form. He has a solid 24.2% strikeout rate across his first 60.2 innings in 11 starts. He is carrying a 3.60 xFIP and a 1.32 WHIP but is walking just 5.5% of hitters and is perhaps getting a bit unlucky with a .343 batting average on balls in play against. Manaea sits in the 61st percentile in chase rate this season and he induces a 12.1% swinging strike rate. He is an underappreciated option on many slates, but he stands to be extremely popular at a fair price for this evening’s contests across the industry.

Jordan Montgomery has been a different pitcher so far in 2021. He is in the 89th percentile in chase rate and the 79th percentile in hard hit rate allowed, striking out 24.7% of hitters and pitching to a 3.81 xFIP. Montgomery has completed just 53.1 innings in 10 starts, so his length and ability to provide MLB DFS owners a quality start bonus is in question, as is the upside of the struggling Yankees roster in general. New York is favored in this game, but not massively so, putting the win bonus in jeopardy as well. Montgomery will be facing a frisky Tampa Bay lineup that is not as good in the split as they are against righties. For the season, the Rays are second worst in baseball with a 30.1% strikeout rate against southpaws. They have a sub-par .143 team ISO and have created runs 7% below average in the split. He will be the lowest owned of the top-ranked viable starters on the DraftKings slate, and possibly even under-owned on the FanDuel slate, making him a good option despite the potential for a shorter start, Montgomery has clear strikeout upside in this matchup.

The overreaction to one good start by prospect Manoah is astounding. He was Toronto’s first-round pick in just 2019, going 11th overall. He is now the veteran of exactly 10 professional starts at any level, making six appearances in low-A rookie ball in his draft year, followed by a full year off as no minor league ball was played in 2020, and into three AAA starts and his debut last week. Manoah was inarguably electric and looked like a seasoned pro in striking out seven Yankees hitters while yielding just two hits and two walks in his six innings. He throws a four-pitch mix that includes a four-seam fastball averaging 94.9 mph, a slider that he deals at 82.4 with excellent break, a 94.5 mph turbo sinker and an 89.3 mph changeup that he only deployed 13 times in his first start, getting a 42.9% whiff rate on the pitch. Manoah is the Blue Jays’ sixth-ranked prospect and his talent is clear, but he is priced as FanDuel’s most expensive pitcher, coming in at $10,000. At $8,200 on DraftKings, Manoah is a better option for easy lineup construction. He is taking on a Miami Marlins team that sits fifth worst in baseball with a 26.4% strikeout rate against right-handed pitchers. The Marlins have created runs 14% worse than average and have hit just 29 home runs with a .121 ISO in the split, this is a weak offense and Manoah is in a good spot. As a pay (way) up to be contrarian option he is not without appeal on FanDuel.

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Colorado Rockies

The Rockies are home in the spacious expanses of Coors Field and, while it is rare that a Coors team will appear in this space, they are facing Jordan Lyles who is just a mid-level pitcher on his best days, and they are tracking to be under-owned. Lyles has a 4.48 xFIP and a 1.50 WHIP that are both about to go up. He has completed 56.0 innings in 11 starts, striking out just 21.1% of hitters and generating 11.2% swinging strikes. He is facing a Rockies lineup that is not overly talented, particularly without All Star shortstop Trevor Story but ranks well and is not pulling in the appropriate ownership for a team playing at Coors Field. Colorado’s active roster ranks in the exact middle of baseball with a 24.3% strikeout rate against righties this season. The team has just a .135 ISO collectively and they have created runs 37% worse than average in the split while hitting just 36 home runs, which is also below average though only slightly. The confirmed lineup has a current-year strikeout rate of just 22.9% overall, a number that is dragged down by the anchor that is Dom Nunez’ atrocious 40.7% rate. No one is arguing the quality of the Rockies lineup in a vacuum, but they do have upside when they are under-owned by the public in a home game.

Outfielder Raimel Tapia is discounted for a leadoff hitter at Coors. He costs just $3,300 on FanDuel and $4,800 on DraftKings and is not drawing enough ownership on the latter site. Tapia is off to a solid start in 2021, hitting five home runs over his first 213 plate appearances, though he has just a .098 ISO and the home runs are somewhat out of character. Tapia has five stolen bases and is slashing .253/.310/.351 on the season, creating runs 31% below average. This is not an ideal leadoff man for baseball purposes, but for MLB DFS needs he is very much an option.

Yonathan Daza slots into the outfield at a discount on both sites. Daza costs just $3,100 on DraftKings and $2,500 on FanDuel, a major discount for the opportunity. He has made 130 plate appearances this season and owns a .328/.372/.395 slash, though his power output has been minimal with just one home run and a .067 ISO. Daza has created runs 1% better than average and contributes with his ability to get on base. He is an important part of Rockies stacks on this slate.

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Ryan McMahon has been excellent so far in 2021, finally fulfilling his long-term hype. He has mashed 13 home runs and posted a .252 ISO in his first 219 plate appearances this season. McMahon has created runs 9% better than average and is sitting at .262/.315/.515 so far, well up from the miserable .215/.295/.419 he reached in 193 plate appearances last season. McMahon is priced up to a massive $5,600 on DraftKings but is easily affordable — and subsequently popular — at just $3,800 on the FanDuel slate. With dual position eligibility between second and third base, McMahon is an asset to lineup construction on both sites, though his ownership on the blue site is high and climbing.

[osBestBetsSingleGameOdds league=”mlb” date=”06/02/2021″ team=”rockies”]

First baseman C.J. Cron is another slugger lurking in the middle of the Colorado lineup. Cron has hit just five home runs this season, putting up a .273/.380/438 slash with a .164 ISO along the way. He has missed time; those stats come in just 150 plate appearances and include a solid on-base percentage and improved hitting. He has created runs 16% better than average with those marks, and the power has not vanished, despite not being on display as frequently as in 2019 when Cron hit 25 home runs in just 499 plate appearances.

Charlie Blackmon has created runs 7% worse than average this season, but he remains the team’s highest priced option on the blue site, coming in at $3,900. This is suppressing the public popularity, as is the $5,400 price tag on DraftKings. If the public is not getting to Blackmon, it makes sense to include him in Rockies stacks. He has a .250/.353/.378 slash with just three home runs in 190 opportunities this season but was at .303/.356/.448 with six home runs in 247 tries just last year and owns a career slash of .302/.359/.501 while creating runs 15% better than average in 4,944 plate appearances. Blackmon has a .199 career ISO with 181 home runs in that sample, and he swipes the occasional base, stealing 131 in his nine seasons, peaking at 43 in 2015. It is important to note, however, that Blackmon barely runs these days. He stole just two bases each of the last two seasons (881 plate appearances) and has none this year.

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Josh Fuentes will not be overly popular on the slate, though he costs just $2,800 on FanDuel and is hitting sixth at Coors Field, Fuentes projects for under 2% ownership. Similarly, he is at under 1% projected popularity on the DraftKings slate for $4,200. Fuentes has made 163 plate appearances this season and owns a .242/.282/.392 slash with a .150 ISO while creating runs 31% worse than average. He has hit four home runs but the lack of quality on-base skills or run creation contributions makes him a detriment most nights. Still, with no ownership, at a fair price and in an “any given night” sense, Fuentes should certainly be included in many Colorado stacks.

Garrett Hampson slots in as an outfielder on DraftKings and adds second base eligibility on FanDuel. Hampson has surprised with five home runs this season but comes in at just a .223/.289/.411 slash with a .189 ISO. Hampson hit just eight home runs in 328 plate appearances for the Rockies in 2019 and has long been regarded as light in the power department, carrying 40-grade ratings from traditional scouting for both game power and raw power. The upside with Hampson has always been his speed. He stole 15 bases in 2019 and has 10 already this season, despite the pathetic .289 on-base percentage. There is clear upside at nearly no ownership and little cost on FanDuel, where Hampson is just $3,000; if he gets on base, he can provide bonus scoring with a steal while producing runs as part of our stack of correlated hitters. He is hilariously overpriced at $5,600 on the DraftKings slate, a number that made me stop to check if there was a bad pitcher with the same name whose pricing was appearing in my spreadsheet.

Catcher Dom Nunez is in play on DraftKings, where he fills a required role. He has a $4,600 price tag and under 2% projected public popularity. Nunez has a lowly .167/.262/.389 slash, but a robust .222 ISO and five home runs in the limited number of chances. He has created runs 41% worse than average, however, limiting the overall upside if he does not hit one over the fence.

HR Call: C.J. Cron — Colorado Rockies

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