MLB DFS Picks, Spotlight Pitchers & Top Stacks: SP1 Paul Skenes + Pirates Bats (May 23)

On Thursday, the action is frontloaded with a 12:35 p.m. ET first pitch on DraftKings, FanDuel and Yahoo. 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 Paul Skenes and Luis Gil as the key arms to build around. For stacks, the Pirates and Padres are the teams to target.

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MLB DFS Picks: Spotlight Pitchers and Top Stacks | May 23

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MLB DFS Picks: Spotlight Pitchers

Main Slate Primary Pitching Target: RHP Paul Skenes (PIT at SFG)

Pirates vs. Giants – 3.9 implied runs
First Pitch: 12:35 p.m. ET
$9,500 at DraftKings
$9,500 at FanDuel
$55 at Yahoo

The Stokastic Top Pitchers Tool is curious to see what rookie RHP Paul Skenes looks like when facing a team other than the Chicago Cubs. After he notched a ridiculous 18 strikeouts in 10 innings across a pair of performances, the DFS world has taken note.

Clearly the 16.2 strikeouts per nine innings are going to fall back to simply awesome, which would be around 11 per nine and among the top 3 artists in the league. That is good since most of the mainstays of that category are on the shelf, with Spencer Strider, Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw and even Jacob deGrom out of the picture.

The projected lineup for San Francisco does have a solid collection of power bats in Thairo Estrada, Jorge Soler, Matt Chapman and Mike Yastrzemski, but the crew also has a 25.1% strikeout rate against righties since last season.

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Main Slate Secondary Pitching Target: RHP Luis Gil (NYY vs. SEA)

Yankees vs. Mariners – 3.8 implied runs
First Pitch: 12:35 p.m. ET
$10,000 at DraftKings
$10,200 at FanDuel
$52 at Yahoo

It looks like the weather will not be an issue in New York today, so that bodes well for the backers of RHP Luis Gil, and less so for the Mariners. Gil toiled in the minors for some time, but after two seasons as a reliever with time in the Bronx, he may actually hold down a spot the rotation.

Gil is 5-1 in nine starts this season, though it is hard to project the win for a team in any given matchup, let alone for a pitcher. He does have 11.39 strikeouts per nine innings this season, which is right around what he produced as a reliever. Impressively enough, most of the mainstay projection systems (ZiPS, Seamer, The Bat) have him for around 11 strikeouts per nine innings, which would be in contention to lead the league if he is able to sustain this ratio.

Seattle is one of the most strikeout-friendly lineups, with today’s motley crew of batsmen sporting a 27.8% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching since the start of last year. If Gil is able to mitigate his walk issues and avoid extra-base hits from the middle of the order, he should be just fine for his DFS supporters.

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MLB DFS Picks: Top Stacks

Main Slate Primary Target: Pittsburgh Pirates

Pirates vs. Giants – 4.7 implied runs
First Pitch: 12:35 p.m. ET
Opposing Starter: RHP Mason Black
Top Stack%: 4.3%

The Stokastic Top Stacks Tool has eight other teams ranked above the Pirates this afternoon as they take on LHP Erik Miller and expected “bulk” pitcher RHP Mason Black. Pittsburgh is also the fifth-most popular stack, though much of that is being driven by a discounted Ji Hwan Bae (19.3%) on DraftKings and Oneil Cruz (22.7%).

Black has made six stellar starts for the Sacramento River Cats, and it looks like he is ready to try his hand at sticking in the San Francisco rotation. This will be his fourth appearance since his promotion, but things have been a little bit rocky with per-nine rates of 6.2 strikeouts, 3.9 walks and 2.3 home runs.

In a good news for Pittsburgh, bad news for San Francisco data read, Black has allowed a .308 ISO to lefties and a .280 ISO to righties while facing 29 of each. Black was not expected to be in The Show until next year, but his impressive performance and injuries to San Francisco pitchers moved that timeline up. He should get a couple more starts before a potential decision is made but probably could use some more seasoning.

Bryan Reynolds and Connor Joe are the key pairing, with Cruz standing out as well, of course. If Bae is at the bottom of the order, his popularity will fall off on DraftKings; in the meantime, leaving him off stacks easily creates differentiation from other Bucs backers.

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Main Slate Secondary Target: San Diego Padres

Padres at Reds – 5.4 implied runs
First Pitch: 1:10 p.m. ET
Opposing Starter: RHP Frankie Montas
Top Stack%: 7.7%

This has been a rough season for RHP Frankie Montas after a couple of disappointing years with the Yankees, who sent several assets to Oakland to acquire his services. injuries were the main culprit for the New York disaster, and this year it has been a string of tough road matchups while also calling the Great American Ballpark homer haven his base of operations.

In three of his last five outings, Montas has failed to close out the fifth inning, and he has allowed five home runs in this stretch, including two multi-home run games. The most damming is lost control, having outings of three and five walks in this timeframe, with 12 strikeouts in 18.1 innings.

Fly balls will be an issue, particularly in Cincinnati, so look to Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado and Jake Cronenworth as the trio to target. Leadoff man Luis Arraez is always in play, though swapping him out for switch-hitter Jurickson Profar could help create differentiation from other Friars stacks.

Today we have the opportunity to look to Jack Flaherty in the sports wagering world for the under on his 5.5 strikeouts prop. This is currently available at +129 on Caesars.

OddsShopper shows this bet has +116 “true odds,” so the +129 line brings a solid 5.8% 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 Fliff down at -110.

Flaherty does project for around 5.8 strikeouts today, which is above the 5.5 threshold, but there are no fractional strikeouts, so it is still below the six he would need for this under to lose.

Clearly the plus money indicates the books think he will clear this milestone often enough that they are offsetting it with a favorable line for wagerers. The projected lineup for Toronto has a 19.7% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching since the start of last season, which is below league average. Flaherty is fully stretched out and capable of a 100-pitch workload, and he typically works six innings per appearance. This wager will likely go down to the wire, but there is value to be had.

Final MLB DFS Picks & Thoughts for Thursday, May 23

Keep tabs on Cincinnati, and while the rest of the forecast appears mostly risk free, 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 11:30 a.m. ET brought to you by Sleeper – new users, use this link to receive a $100 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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