MLB DFS Picks, Spotlight Pitchers & Top Stacks: Dodgers, Astros Arms & Bats (May 20)

Monday brings a 6:40 p.m. ET first pitch for an eight-game featured slate on DraftKings and FanDuel. Yahoo deviates with a five-game main slate, locking at 7:05 p.m. ET. Before we get to our MLB DFS picks, as always, we will use Stokastic’s tools to help identify today’s MLB DFS stacks, key pitchers and daily fantasy baseball lineups. Look to Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Framber Valdez as the key arms to build around. For stacks, the Dodgers and Astros are the teams to target.

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MLB DFS Picks: Spotlight Pitchers and Top Stacks | May 20

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MLB DFS Picks: Spotlight Pitchers

Main Slate Primary Pitching Target: LHP Framber Valdez (HOU vs. LAA)

Astros vs. Angels – 3.4 implied runs
First Pitch: 8:10 p.m. ET
$8,800 at DraftKings
$9,500 at FanDuel
$46 at Yahoo

The Stokastic Top Pitchers Tool is happy that LHP Framber Valdez looks to have returned to his elite ground ball ways. In his last start he had 13 ground ball outs, one flyout and eight strikeouts. Last year Valdez had a 54.2% ground ball rate, which is still outstanding but below the 65% level DFS gamers had come to expect.

Through his six starts this season, the 30-year-old southpaw is back to a 66% rate, though his strikeouts are 7.61 per nine, which is below his 8.75 career rate. The projected Los Angeles lineup has five hitters who have struck out at a 23% rate or higher against lefties since the start of last year. The team does have above-average power, even without Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon and Shohei Ohtani, but that is typically not an issue for Valdez.

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Main Slate Secondary Pitching Target: RHP Yoshinobu Yamamoto (LAD vs. ARI)

Dodgers vs. Diamondbacks – 3.2 implied runs
First Pitch: 10:10 p.m. ET
$9,900 at DraftKings
$9,800 at FanDuel
$50 at Yahoo

RHP Yoshinobu Yamamoto has allowed three home runs over his last two games, and all six of his round-trippers have come in the last six games. His strikeouts have been down a little bit in this span, but he also has averaged 6.1 innings per appearance in the last five starts while averaging nearly 95 pitches per appearance.

The Diamondbacks have been slumping as a team against right-handed pitching, which is a surprise considering they have National League Rookie of the Year Corbin Carroll, switch-hitting maestro Ketel Marte, veteran sluggers Joc Pederson and Christian Walker, and speedster Jake McCarthy. Plus, this doesn’t include offseason acquisition Eugenio Suarez and last year’s addition Lourdes Gurriel. Among these batsmen, only Walker and Pederson are anywhere close to above average, with the rest of the lineup slumping below career norms.

There may not be a lot of strikeouts from the Diamondbacks, but there also is not much threat of power outside of Pederson and Walker. It is going to be a cool evening in Los Angeles with temperatures in the mid-60s and a light breeze out to right field.


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MLB DFS Picks: Top Stacks

Main Slate Primary Target: Los Angeles Dodgers

Dodgers vs. Diamondbacks – 5.0 implied runs
First Pitch: 10:10 p.m. ET
Opposing Starter: RHP Slade Cecconi
Top Stack%: 10.4%

The Stokastic Top Stacks Tool is taking into account that the Diamondbacks are likely going with LHP Joe Mantiply, who is expected to be followed by RHP Slade Cecconi. The main goal is for Mantiply to take on the trio of former MVPs at the top of the order, allowing Cecconi to get a running start in the second inning. That is no small ask of Mantiply, who is far from a lockdown option.

Cecconi has allowed six earned runs in two of his last three starts, ceding four longballs, against just nine strikeouts in these 15.1 innings. This has resulted in a 7.63 ERA, a 6.74 FIP and a .259/.333/.517 triple-slash line. Cecconi is a top-5 prospect for Arizona who has a good fastball and slider. The 24-year-old had 116.1 innings in Triple-A last year and 19.2 this season, so now he just needs to harness his talents against big league bats. That, of course, is a steep learning curve when going against a team like the Dodgers.

Max Muncy is on the injured list, but the top of the order still has Mookie Betts, Shohei Ohtani and Freddie Freeman, along with otherworldly catcher Will Smith. That is a tough core four to crack for any pitcher, plus there is little relief when Teoscar Hernandez and Jason Heyward are leading the back half of the lineup.

The fun thing with the Dodgers is that they are expensive, as are several pitchers, so there will be some fun decision points tonight.

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Main Slate Secondary Target: Houston Astros

Astros vs. Reid Detmers – 4.8 implied runs
First Pitch: 8:10 p.m. ET
Opposing Starter: LHP Reid Detmers
Top Stack%: 8.0%

The last five starts for LHP Reid Detmers have been dreadful. In his 27.2 innings, he has allowed 27 runs, with one being unearned. While his 8.46 ERA compared to his 5.75 FIP does show that he has been unlucky, he also has just not been good. The 26 strikeouts are encouraging, but the seven home runs in this timeframe are terrifying.

The Houston offense has been pretty average this season from a runs scored perspective, but the team has the third-most extra-base hits and the sixth-most home runs. Jose Altuve has not displayed any power against southpaws this season, but he is at least making good contact. Alex Bregman has been lost at the plate, not getting his first home run until the season was five weeks old, though he has been better with his next three home runs occurring over the last eight days.

Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez have continued to be among the best in the league in same-handed matchups, and Jeremy Pena has picked up the slack where Altuve has faltered from a power perspective. Jake Meyers is always a cheap source of home runs, and he should be in the lineup with a lefty on the mound.

Picking on Omar Narvaez for stolen bases is a savvy strategy, as he is one of the worst in the league at preventing steals. Jose Ramirez has +320 odds on FanDuel for the over 0.5 on his stolen base prop.

OddsShopper shows this bet has +290 “true odds,” so the +320 line brings a strong 7.8% expected ROI. We can also see how crucial it is to shop the odds, as sportsbooks tend to vary wildly with their offerings. This can be seen with Hardrock and Fliff offering +220 and +215 by way of comparison.


Final MLB DFS Picks & Thoughts for Monday, May 20

Weather looks good from a precipitation perspective, but be sure to check in with your favorite MLB Weather Report page closer to first pitch for updates.

Before you finalize your MLB DFS picks, check out today’s Stokastic MLB Live Before Lock Show, at 5:45 p.m. ET brought to you by Sleeper – new users, use this link to receive a $500 first deposit match! Full details here.

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Eric "EMac" MacPherson won the 2007 Fantasy Baseball grand prize (trip for two to the MLB All-Star game) in the Roto format on ESPN. He won again in 2008, this time in the H2H format. As one of the early adopters of daily fantasy sports, EMac has been providing content for baseball and basketball as well as both professional and college football since 2012 for a variety of websites including DraftKings Playbook, FanVice, RotoWorld, Daily Fantasy Bootcamp, and RotoGrinders. He is well into his third decade of fantasy sports and has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Follow him on Twitter @EMacDFS or contact EMac by emailing [email protected].

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