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MLB DFS Tournament Strategy: Leverage, Home Runs, Optimal Picks | Today, 6/9/21

Terry McBride



Free MLB DFS picks today from Stokastic fantasy baseball projections and rankings, and the best lineups & value targets for DraftKings & FanDuel 6/17.

A big 12-game MLB DFS Wednesday is on tap for tonight, and there is a slate that sees inflated run totals across the board. Between a few less-than-stellar pitchers and some warming weather in hitting environments, Vegas is expecting a bonanza of run creation with several 9.5- and 10-run games and five teams with implied run totals over 5.0. There are a few strong pitchers from which to choose, but this slate is not nearly the luxury-laden list of starting pitchers that was available on Tuesday. If one does not pay all the way up to the obvious premium ace on the board, it seems like a good day to shop around and spread-out ownership, covering numerous potential outcomes across the more talented mid-range pitchers, or those in a plus matchup. The key to today’s slate is going to be identifying the right teams on the Top Stacks Tool by both leverage and probability of success once again. With more available value on the mound, getting to premium bats is a must, and with a slate this size we want to focus primarily on full stacks in a 4-4 or 4-3-1 format on FanDuel and 5-3 or 5-2-1 on DraftKings.

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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 — 7.28

Baltimore Orioles: Anthony Santander — 6.44

Boston Red Sox: Hunter Renfroe — 20.30

Chicago White Sox: Yermin Mercedes — 9.45

Cincinnati Reds: Eugenio Suarez — 8.75

Cleveland Indians: Eddie Rosario — 10.33

Colorado Rockies: Ryan McMahon — 15.82

Detroit Tigers: Nomar Mazara — 3.92

Houston Astros: Kyle Tucker — 4.94

Kansas City Royals: Hunter Dozier — 6.75

Los Angeles Angels: Anthony Rendon — 4.22

Los Angeles Dodgers: Justin Turner — 5.26

Miami Marlins: Jesus Aguilar — 5.50

Milwaukee Brewers: Christian Yelich — 13.13

Minnesota Twins: Josh Donaldson — 10.41

New York Mets: Francisco Lindor — 10.48

New York Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton — 11.82

Philadelphia Phillies: Rhys Hoskins — 23.15

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Pittsburgh Pirates: Gregory Polanco — 2.36

Seattle Mariners: Kyle Seager — 10.35

St. Louis Cardinals: Nolan Arenado — 11.98

Tampa Bay Rays: Mike Zunino— 8.91

Toronto Blue Jays: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. — 9.47

Washington Nationals: Trea Turner — 9.34

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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

Today’s pitching slate is similar in quantity but by no means quality to yesterday’s robust offering. The slate is topped by Gerrit Cole, who is dealing with a hurricane of media questions related to his alleged use of tacky substances to gain additional spin on his pitches. With apologies to Lance Lynn, all of the other options on the board are at least two tiers down from Cole. Lynn is priced like an ace and has been at or around that level, but he is in a difficult matchup and compares more favorably with the mid-tier pitching options today. Other starters from the mid-range who are in potentially good spots include Taijuan Walker facing the Orioles, Adam Wainwright taking on the Indians, Austin Gomber against the Marlins and, if willing to embrace risk with a struggling, formerly high-end arm, Patrick Corbin against the Rays.

Cole is one of the primary targets of the current pitching witch hunt, given the ridiculous levels at which he has performed recently. For DFS purposes, simply put, even if Cole has been gaining an advantage (read: cheating) there is just no way to quantify the possibility in projections. Cole remains the top projected option on the slate. He is reliable for depth, he has completed 75.2 innings in his 12 starts, posting a sparkling 2.34 xFIP and a 0.87 WHIP. Cole generates 15.2% swinging strikes and has struck out 36.5% of hitters through the season, while walking a mere 3.9%. He throws strikes at will, chalking up a 33.6% CSW. Cole is facing a Twins team that ranks ninth best in baseball with a 22.8% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching. Minnesota’s active roster has a .177 ISO creates runs 4% better than average against righties this year, hitting 54 home runs in the split so far. Cole is the top projected option on the slate and stands a strong chance of putting up a run-off-and-hide score tonight, but he is not entirely safe against this lineup.

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Wainwright ranks well on the Top Pitchers tool, but he is drawing heavy ownership for the low price on FanDuel where he is basically doubling his probability of being the top pitcher. On the DraftKings slate, Wainwright is slightly under-owned for his chances of landing in the top two. He makes a solid pay-up option as an SP2 to pair with Cole, but that salary pairing limits the bats that would follow. Wainwright has been around a league average pitcher in 2021, completing 66.2 innings in his 11 starts while putting up a 4.11 xFIP and a 1.22 WHIP with a 21.6% strikeout rate. He induces juts 8.0% swinging strikes, but still manages a sharp 30.9% CSW and has the ability to fool hitters with his dynamite curveball. He is facing an Indians lineup that sits in the middle of the league with a 23.6% strikeout rate against righties this season. Cleveland has a .167 ISO as a unit this year, but they have hit a subpar 42 home runs and create runs 12% worse than average in the split. There is upside and a modicum of safety in getting to Wainwright on this slate.

Gomber has been a surprise this season. He has a 3.81 xFIP and a 1.14 WHIP through his first 63.1 innings in 12 starts. He induces 11.3% swinging strikes and has a crisp 31.1% CSW, striking out 25.2% of hitters he has faced. Gomber sits in the 74th percentile of hard-hit rate allowed, the 69th of average exit velocity but just the 47th in barrel rate allowed. He is in the 57th percentile of expected slugging percentage against and just the 49th in chase rate. Gomber may be pitching slightly over his head, but he is in a plus matchup against the Marlins. Miami’s active roster is fifth worst in baseball with a 26.0% strikeout rate against righties. The team has just a .132 ISO and creates runs 10% worse than average in the split, while hitting just 38 home runs, ranking in the bottom third of the league. Gomber is a pay-up to be contrarian option on FanDuel. He is entirely different on DraftKings where he costs just $6,000 and is pulling down 35.2% public ownership; Gomber is a highly owned but quality SP2 on the site.

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Washington’s Patrick Corbin is perhaps the most precarious upside play on the board. Corbin has a meager 18.0% strikeout rate this season, a weak mark that he has paired with an atrocious 1.52 WHIP. Somehow, Corbin has managed to cobble together a 4.31 xFIP through the mess, completing 57.1 innings in his 11 starts and inducing 11.1% swinging strikes but just a 26.2% CSW. Corbin is in the 33rd percentile of hard-hit rate, the 44th in average exit velocity allowed and the 33rd in barrel rate allowed. He is targetable for power and could be in trouble with a few of the mighty righties on the Rays. Corbin’s one positive metric on the main Statcast board is his solid 78th percentile chase rate, which could come into play against a swing-happy Rays team that sits second-worst in baseball with a 29.6% strikeout rate against southpaws. Tampa Bay has a .152 ISO in the split, hitting a league average 21 home runs against lefties so far, but they have created runs 8% worse than average. Corbin has not completed the sixth in any of his four most recent starts, but he provides at least win bonus depth in most outings, lending him a touch of potential upside if he can get to the quality start as well. This is by no means a safe play, but at $6,300 and 5% projected popularity on FanDuel and $7,400 as a moderately owned SP2 option on DraftKings, Corbin is very much on the board.

[osBestBetsSingleGameOdds league=”mlb” date=”06/09/2021″ team=”red sox”]

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox lead the power index with some titanic home run marks in the model. Boston’s lineup is loaded, and they are facing the discarded cicada shell that was once Jake Odorizzi. He has struggled through 16.1 innings in five starts, putting up a 4.58 xFIP and a 1.47 WHIP while striking out 23.6% of hitters and posting just a 24.3% CSW. Odorizzi has faced just 72 hitters this season, giving up four home runs in the process, which is better than the four he yielded to just 60 hitters in an abbreviated 2020 season. With a hitter like Alex Verdugo in front of mashers like J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and Hunter Renfroe the Red Sox have major upside for run creation; that group of five hitters currently sits 33% above average creating runs as a unit this year, they are a prime target for stacking.

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies are an interesting case as a stack today. The team is profiling extremely well for home run upside in the model, but the overall MLB DFS projections do not necessarily support them as a top stack unless that home run upside comes through. The Phillies are taking on Braves lefty Tucker Davidson, who has made two starts this season, completing 11.2 innings and posting just a 21.7% strikeout rate. Davidson has a 13.0% walk rate and a 4.46 xFIP but just a 1.03 WHIP. He has induced 13.1% swinging strikes but is below average in strikeout rate and has only a 26.3% CSW. Davidson is a well-regarded prospect, but he may simply need more time to fully develop. In 20.0 AAA innings this year, he has a 32.4% strikeout rate and a 5.6% walk rate. Still, this is a young pitcher who has a targetable profile at the major league level this season.

Odubel Herrera is a very low-owed low-cost option from the top of Philadelphia’s lineup. He comes in at just $2,900 on the FanDuel slate and $3,500 on DraftKings. Herrera has been steady for the Phillies this time around; he has made 149 plate appearances and is slashing .271/.338/.429 with a .158 ISO while creating runs 12% better than average. Herrera has four home runs and three stolen bases on the season, at the top of the lineup he is a solid MLB DFS bargain.

Jean Segura will bat second in the projected Phillies lineup. He has a .323/379/.456 triple slash with three home runs and six stolen bases in his first 174 plate appearances this season. He is creating runs 30.0% better than average and his solid on-base percentage is an asset ahead of the Phillies’ thumpers.

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Bryce Harper returned for the Phillies and gave an instant boost to the team’s offense. Harper is at .274/.398/.493 for the season and has created runs 44.0% better than average. He has hit eight home runs and stolen five bases, posting a .219 ISO and creating plenty of MLB DFS points throughout the box score. Harper still strikes out more than one would like at 26.7%, but he is a premium bat in the heart of this order and is well worth paying full freight. Harper costs a mere $4,700 on the DraftKings slate and $3,700 on FanDuel. He is under-owned for the upside.

Rhys Hoskins has made his living mashing lefty pitching so far in his career. Hoskins has a .256 career ISO in the split, creating runs 44% better than average. Hoskins has an excellent power profile against both hands, with a current year barrel rate of 12.8% and an average launch angle of 19.2%. He has hit 26 home runs in his 410 at bats against lefties (537 plate appearances), a 6.3% home run rate. This is an excellent spot for Hoskins to go deep. For just $4,700 on DraftKings and $3,200 on the blue site, he is one of the leading bats on the slate for power upside.

All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto is one of the best backstop bats in the business. As the most expensive Phillies hitter on the DraftKings slate, Realmuto’s ownership is somewhat reasonable in a strong spot where catchers are required. He is a luxury item on the FanDuel slate at just $3,100 but the field is rostering him like more of a league-average catcher, coming in well under 10.0%. Realmuto has made 166 plate appearances this year and is slashing .294/.410/.500 with a .206 ISO and six home runs. he has even stolen four bases already this season, adding to his already significant MLB DFS appeal.

Andrew McCutchen is hiding in the back end of the heart of the Phillies lineup. McCutchen has a .224/.335/.427 slash this season, disappointing with the hit tool and on-base skill to this point in the season. McCutchen is a career .283/.375/.477 hitter who creates runs 33.0% better than average, but the batting average and on-base percentage have declined as he ages. Still, he has mashed 10 home runs this season and he still carries a .203 ISO while creating runs 11.0% better than average. This is not a player to sleep on when stacking Phillies, particularly at no popularity and discounted salaries.

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[osBestBetsSingleGameOdds league=”mlb” date=”06/09/2021″ team=”phillies”]

Another disappointing Phillies bat on the opposite end of his career is young third baseman Alec Bohm. He exploded onto the scene in Philadelphia last season, putting up a robust .338/.400/.481 triple slash while creating runs 39.0% better than average over his first 180 major league plate appearances. Bohm hit four home runs and had a .144 ISO last season, but traditional scouting has always projected him for more raw power than that. He has equaled the home run total in 228 plate appearances in 2021 but sits at just a .090 ISO and has created runs 44% worse than average. Bohm is slashing an ugly .214/.259/.305 this year. He is a tough ask at the bottom of the lineup, but he is basically free at $2,200 and with first and third base eligibility on FanDuel, and costs just $2,800 as an unpopular DraftKings third baseman. Bohm is not entirely off the board, though he is not a go-to.

Utilityman Ronald Torreyes is lineup filler. He costs very little and will be in few lineups as the projected eighth hitter for the Phillies. Torreyes is a career backup, he has hit five home runs in his 693 plate appearances over six major league seasons plus this year so far. Torreyes is slashing .288/.315/.404 in 55 plate appearances this season. If he is in an MLB DFS lineup, it is simply with the hope that he is on base when the actual lineup turns over and the power bats come around. He is not highly correlated or likely to be critical to daily fantasy baseball success.

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 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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