MLB DFS Picks, Spotlight Pitchers & Top Stacks: SP1 Sonny Gray + Cardinals Bats (May 3)

Friday brings every team back in action, with the fun focused on a nine-game featured slate locking at 7:05 p.m. ET 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 Sonny Gray as a key arm, with the Cardinals and Royals being top stacks.

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MLB DFS Picks: Spotlight Pitchers and Top Stacks | May 3

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MLB DFS Picks: Spotlight Pitchers

Main Slate Primary Pitching Target: RHP Sonny Gray vs. Chicago White Sox — 3.0 implied runs

First Pitch: 8:15 p.m. ET

  • DFS Salary: DraftKings $10,100 | FanDuel $11,500 | Yahoo $53

To say we are going to pay top dollar for RHP Sonny Gray is an understatement. The Stokastic Top Pitchers Tool currently has the 34-year-old with the highest probability to be the leading fantasy point producer at the position. The venerable veteran also ranks as a bottom-5 option among the 18 hurlers on the slate from a value perspective. In another semi-ironic twist, he is also projecting to be overrepresented in tournaments based on his probability of being a top pitcher. It is important to note that Gray is projecting to be in around 25% to 30% of DraftKings and Yahoo tournament lineups while checking in at 15% on FanDuel. This is a good reminder that chalky plays in MLB DFS as compared to NBA Playoff DFS are wildly different.

Gray is off to the best start of his 14-year career, with a 1.16 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and lofty 12.3 strikeouts per nine innings. The only figure that is remotely sustainable is the WHIP as the baseball vagabond has a solid 1.2 baserunners allowed per inning for his career. He does have 21 combined strikeouts in his last two appearances, against the Brewers and in New York against the Mets. Tonight he has the cherry matchup with the Chicago White Sox, who are battling with three other teams to be the doormat of the league.

After winning three games last weekend against the Tampa Bay Rays, the ChiSox dropped three against the Minnesota Twins. Though, they did average four runs per game, which is something considering they are averaging a league-worst 2.87 per game.

Main Slate Secondary Pitching Target: LHP JP Sears vs. Miami Marlins — 3.5 implied runs

First Pitch: 9:40 p.m. ET

  • DFS Salary: DraftKings $6,100 | FanDuel $7,900 | Yahoo $36

Tonight LHP JP Sears is best left as a late-slate option on FanDuel and a wild card play on Yahoo. However, there is merit for him to being the SP2 on DraftKings, even in cash games (i.e. H2Hs, 50/50s, 3-mans, etc.) with his miniscule salary. Sears had four strong starts in April, but the fifth and final one was a disaster. The Orioles hit a trio of taters against him in Baltimore, sending him from the game with seven earned runs. To his credit, Sears did last 6.1 innings and tally eight whiffs, issuing just one walk, but it was a good reminder that he had seen results well outside his standard catalog.

Leadoff man Luis Arraez and cleanup hitter Jazz Chisholm are barely adequate against same-handed hurlers. Switch-hitter Josh Bell, backup Nick Fortes and fifth outfielder Dane Myers are the only above-average bats against southpaws that will be in the Miami lineup.

MLB DFS Picks: Top Stacks

Main Slate Primary Target: Kansas City Royals vs. RHP Michael Lorenzen — 4.7 implied runs

First Pitch: 7:40 p.m. ET

The Stokastic Top Stacks Tool has identified the Kansas City offense as one that will be underrepresented in tournaments tonight. Now, that is partly driven by DFS gamers becoming more and more sophisticated each season and looking to maximize every little edge with all of the available tools and information. One of those micro edges is stacking against the pitchers who have moderate popularity since, if they fail, the offense is likely doing well and any tournament lineups with the impacted pitcher is going backwards.

Of course, there are varying degrees of this strategy, such as stacking against a popular ace like Tyler Glasnow with a mediocre offense like San Francisco or, like tonight, stacking against someone like RHP Michael Lorenzen, who is in a tough matchup but is hardly being rostered in tournaments.

Now, there is a reason Lorenzen is not going to be rostered in tournaments, and that is exactly why gamers will be going with Kansas City stacks. Lorenzen has never been much of a strikeout pitcher, with 7.5 per nine innings across his career. This is no slight against Lorenzen; prior to Shohei Ohtani entering the league, Lorenzen was the best two-way player, getting into the outfield for nearly three dozen games across four seasons in Cincinnati, including one game in 2019 where he was the winning pitcher, hit a home run and played in the outfield. That made him the first player at that time since Babe Ruth (1921) to accomplish the feat. While that is a fun note, it does not impact tonight, nor does the fact that Lorenzen has played with five different franchises over the last four seasons.

Lorenzen allows a lot of hard contact (45% to hitters from each side of the plate over the last season and change) and lives on the edge with an elevated fly ball rate. Kansas City has plenty of power in the projected lineup, with a .190 ISO against right-handed pitching since the start of last year. Bobby Witt Jr. is, of course, the mainstay of all stacks, with youngsters Vinnie Pasquantino and Nelson Velazquez combining with veteran catcher Salvador Perez for a fearsome foursome. MJ Melendez, Hunter Renfroe and Michael Massey are fine for differentiation or as a contrarian sub-stack.

Main Slate Secondary Target: St. Louis Cardinals vs. RHP Brad Keller — 4.8 implied runs

First Pitch: 8:15 p.m. ET

Tonight will be the first start of the season for veteran RHP Brad Keller. He signed a minor league deal in early March and had three starts for Triple-A Charlotte before getting called up to the White Sox. He threw 31 pitches on Monday, holding the Twins scoreless across five outs, issuing two walks and striking out one. In the minors, he worked his pitch count up from 73 to 83 and then 95 in his final appearance for the Knights.

Expect Keller to be asked to eat some innings as long as he is in the rotation, starting tonight. Though Chicago was off on Thursday, the bullpen logged 89 pitches on Tuesday and another 91 on Wednesday, giving it 119.0 innings on the season, which is among the top 10 around the league. The ChiSox relievers have the highest walk rate (5.07) and fourth-highest home run rate (1.21) per nine innings this season. So they are hoping that Keller, the guy who washed out with the Kansas City Royals, can absorb some punishment.

The hallmark for Keller in his time with the Royals was that he did a good job of limiting home runs. However, he never had much in the way of strikeouts, with just 6.7 per nine innings for his career, and while he was elite with ground balls, the league finally caught on about being selective and waiting for their pitch, and Keller was exposed last year with 8.93 walks per nine innings. Yes, he threw just 45.1 frames, but he allowed 45 walks and hit three batters.

Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Lars Nootbar, catcher Willson Contreras and likely leadoff man Brendon Donovan, provide options at several positions and are the appealing quintet to build around for full stacks. Depending on where slumping Nolan Gorman lands in the batting order, he may be in play as well.

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Late Slate Target: Atlanta Braves at RHP Gavin Stone — 4.8 implied runs

First Pitch: 10:10 p.m. ET

Though RHP Gavin Stone has ceded one home run, he has a pitiful 16.5% strikeout rate this season while allowing a walk every other inning. It is only a matter of time before a team tees off on the 25-year-old, so why not the All-Star-laden Atlanta lineup?

Look to the usual suspects, with Matt Olson, Ozzie Albies Ronald Acuna Jr. and Austin Riley as the core four. Marcell Ozuna and Michael Harris II make up the second wave of options, along with “backup” catcher Travis d’Arnaud. Former Mariner Jarred Kelenic has not done much in the way of power, but at least he is making contact after having several slump-filled seasons in Seattle.

Other DFS and Sports Wagering Opportunities

Today we can look to Tanner Bibee and his under 6.5 strikeouts prop, which is currently available on PointsBet at -115.

OddsShopper shows this bet has -133 “true odds,” and the -115 line provides a solid 6.6% expected ROI. We can also see how crucial it is to shop the lines, as sportsbooks tend to vary wildly with odds. This can be seen with BetRivers and Unibet all the way down at -159, which is just ridiculous by comparison.

Bibee does project for 5.9 strikeouts today, so there is a little wiggle room below the 6.5 threshold, though that median projection does not account for variable outcomes. The 57% probability of Bibee falling short of the seven-strikeout milestone is more indicative of the overall likelihood of success.

Bibee does have 17 strikeouts across his last two starts, though he has four or fewer in three of his six appearances. In 25 starts during his rookie campaign, Bibee had eight outings (32%) with seven or more strikeouts. For his career, he is averaging 9.1 per nine innings, but getting to seven is still a tall task.

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Final Thoughts for Friday, May 3 — MLB DFS Picks

Pittsburgh looks like it could see some precipitation. This is worth monitoring, as LHP Martin Perez is a strong SP2 candidate on DraftKings and Yahoo where this 6:40 p.m. ET game is included. There is also a little weather in Cincinnati, though with this matchup starting at 6:10 p.m. ET, it is on very few slates and there should be plenty of time for the storms to clear out. That leaves Cleveland on the featured slates as one last venue to mention, so be sure to check your favorite DFS meteorological resources closer to first pitch to see if there are any updates.

Before you finalize your MLB DFS picks, check out today’s Stokastic MLB Live Before Lock Show at 5:00 p.m. ET, brought to you by Sleeper – new users, use this link to receive a $500 first deposit match! Full details here.

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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