MLB DFS Tournament Picks & Home Runs 5/23/22

MLB DFS Tournament Picks & Home Runs 5/23/22

Monday’s main slate starts off the week in style with an excellent 10-game contest on both sites. The board in Las Vegas shapes up with most of the higher run totals coming from early games. The Dodgers vs Nationals game is one of the first to get started and it features the slate’s highest total at nine, with the Dodgers implied total also leading the slate at a whopping 5.4. The second-highest implied team total on deck is the 4.9 shared by the Twins and Astros, followed by the Yankees at 4.8, so there is a stark difference in expectation between Dodgers bats and everyone else. Still, there are several excellent spots for hitting on this slate, with several teams coming in both under-owned and under-priced. Targeting premium pitching is easy with the available stack combinations, but pivoting shares around the massive ownership totals on a few of the key starters on the slate is always an advisable approach, provided that those shares are distributed to high-end probability options who also carry positive leverage. The MLB DFS slate for both DraftKings and FanDuel should yield a significant amount of scoring from the bats, finding the correct arms to roster on this slate is more of a challenge.

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Top Home Run Ratings & Predictions

Using a model based on a blend of several predictive statistics for the batter-pitcher matchup we will give each team one of the top choices from their projected lineup. However, the pick included below will not always be the actual top-rated player, particularly when there is an obvious star who rates atop his team’s lineup each day. Check out all of Awesemo’s top-notch baseball content and free MLB DFS picks.

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Scale: 5-10 Average; 10-20 Good; 20-25 Very Good; 25+ Great

Arizona Diamondbacks: Daulton Varsho — 8.59

Atlanta Braves: Ronald Acuna Jr. — 5.99

Baltimore Orioles: Ryan Mountcastle — 9.11

Cleveland Guardians: Jose Ramirez — 9.00

Detroit Tigers: Javier Baez — 8.99

Houston Astros: Kyle Tucker — 10.71

Kansas City Royals: Bobby Witt Jr. — 8.32

Los Angeles Dodgers: Cody Bellinger — 10.74

Milwaukee Brewers: Rowdy Tellez — 15.68

Minnesota Twins: Max Kepler — 18.60

New York Mets: Peter Alonso — 7.09

New York Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton — 16.50

Oakland Athletics: Kevin Smith — 9.28

Philadelphia Phillies: Rhys Hoskins — 11.62

San Diego Padres: Manny Machado — 6.17

San Francisco Giants: Wilmer Flores — 5.72

Seattle Mariners: Eugenio Suarez — 10.24

St. Louis Cardinals: Nolan Gorman — 6.04

Toronto Blue Jays: Teoscar Hernandez — 6.12

Washington Nationals: Josh Bell — 8.52

Power Index

This is intended to capture the full range of home run 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 and the second is for the top six hitters in the projected lineup.

MLB DFS Weather Update: Postponements & Risk Assessment

The Monday weather forecast includes what appears to be just a minor threat of rain in the vicinity of the Nationals ballpark, which of course means there is a risk of postponement for the weather-sensitive organization. The most likely scenario is that the game plays completely dry, most forecasts are not expecting rain to arrive until later in the evening, but the situation is at least worth monitoring into the evening.

MLB DFS Picks Today: Pitchers, Best Stacks & Low-Owned Plays

This section will feature a few standout MLB DFS spots and teams to look at for potential plays on DraftKings and FanDuel.

Be sure to check out the Awesemo MLB DFS Ownership Projections for critical updates and monitor the top stacks tool throughout the day for changes.

On the Hill

The Monday main slate features several excellent pitching options at the top of the list, followed by a broad plateau of similarity, there are quite a few mix-and-match options that can be played for leverage on this slate. The top of the board on both sites is Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, who stands well ahead of the field when ranking options by their probability of being a top starter. Cole is drawing significant popularity across the industry, he is the second-most negatively leveraged option on the entire slate. The worst leverage situation belongs to Mariners lefty Marco Gonzales on DraftKings, where his low price is drawing attention away from his lack of talent in a good matchup against the equally lousy Athletics. Both Zack Wheeler and Luis Garcia are facing challenging opponents but in different ways. Wheeler has an elite strikeout matchup against the Braves, but he will be threatened by their power. The righty is typically excellent at keeping the ball in the yard, so he stands a strong chance of putting up a good number and finding bonus strikeout points. Garcia will be taking on a Guardians club that is somewhat lacking in power but does not strike out at a significant rate, giving him a bit of additional work to do in a start that sees him at low ownership and a fair price on both sites. Alex Cobb has been pitching well so far this season, he will end the night against the Mets in a home start that may see him succeed at low prices and popularity. Dodgers lefty Tyler Anderson is taking on a scuffling Nationals lineup at positive leverage, an ownership situation in which we can also find limited starters Miles Mikolas and Nick Martinez in their respective matchups against the Blue Jays and Brewers. In both of the latter situations, the opposing bats look like the more likely scenario for scoring, but the leverage scores are worth playing. Anderson is in the best matchup of the three top positive leverage pitchers. Potentially the most uncomfortable situation on the board is low-end veteran righty Zack Grienke, who will be facing the Diamondbacks at a $4,800 DraftKings price. Grienke is not good, and the Arizona lineup has been good for power and run creation in the split, but they strike out at an aggressive rate and the price-to-popularity situation is far better than that of Gonzales from a lower starting point. The balance of the slate is made up of similarly middling options like Jordan Lyles and Adrian Houser, none of them are overly likely to post giant fantasy scores, but they all come at positive leverage on a day where spreading out thin slices to cover a wide range of outcomes may be the best approach for any lineups that are not ace-oriented.

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With the Orioles in town, Yankees righty Gerrit Cole easily tops the probability list for tonight’s main slate. Cole is facing an active roster that has a .137 ISO and 2.22% home run rate, the 20th and 23rd ranked marks in the league against righties. The team has been somewhat active for run creation, they currently sit 15th with a 104 WRC+ and they have a 21.9% strikeout rate that ranks 14th, and they have some quality bats at the top end of the lineup. Still, Cole is one of baseball’s elite starters, for the most part. The righty is sitting at a 28.5% strikeout rate over his first 43.2 innings of the season, down from the 33.5% rate at which he struck hitters out last year, which itself was a step down from a few of his previous seasons while remaining outstanding. Cole’s swinging-strike rate is actually up from last year, he is sitting at a 15.2% mark with an excellent 32.7% CSW%, last year those numbers were 14.5% and 32.1%, so it seems like mere happenstance that has kept the ace’s strikeout rate somewhat suppressed. Cole has walked 6.7% and he has a 2.86 xFIP with a 1.08 WHIP, he has allowed a 41.7% hard-hit rate but just a seven percent barrel rate this season, yielding a 2.8% home run rate on his occasional mistakes. Cole costs $10,500 on DraftKings, where he is pulling in more than 55% popularity at a significant negative leverage mark. On FanDuel, the $11,000 righty is the leading option with a 10.2% probability of leading the slate, but he is projected to be included in more than 35% of lineups, leaving him in an unfavorable leverage situation. It makes sense to include plenty of Gerrit Cole in a portfolio of lineups, but shares for the positively leveraged pitchers have to be drawn from somewhere, undercutting the bad ownership situation while remaining heavy on the pitcher should be an effective approach.

At half the ownership of Cole, Zack Wheeler makes for a fine option despite technically negative leverage scores on both sites. Wheeler is fairly priced at $10,30o on the blue site and he is cheap at $9,900 on DraftKings, which is pushing his popularity to nearly 30% as the second-most probable starter on the list. Wheeler is facing an Atlanta active roster that has a 28th-ranked 25.6% strikeout rate in the split against righties this season. The team hits for power in the split, their 3.64% home run rate ranks fourth and they have a .172 collective ISO that sits seventh, but they have slipped to two percent below average creating runs, and Wheeler is excellent at suppressing power with just a 1.27% home run rate allowed this season. The righty has struck out 25.9%, which is down several points from his 29.1% over 213.1 innings last season, but his swinging-strike rate is almost exactly the same and his CSW% is up from 28% to 29.1%, additional strikeouts should be coming, possibly as soon as tonight against the free-swinging Braves. Wheeler is sitting at a 3.27 xFIP with a 6.3% walk rate and a 1.14 WHIP and he is typically a reliable option to pitch deep into a game and chase both a win and quality start bonus, which should be in the cards with his team looking like a strong option for run-scoring against the young southpaw the Braves will have on the mound. At a much more playable raw ownership projection and far less tragic of a negative leverage number, even in a more difficult matchup, Wheeler is a good pivot from Cole at the peak of the Top Pitchers Tool, there is not much separating their probability marks on the FanDuel slate in particular.

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Astros righty Luis Garcia has had a strong season so far, he is another pitcher who comes at much more appealing raw ownership and leverage. On DraftKings, the $8,700 option is not seeing a major spike in popularity for the discounted price tag, Garcia will be owned by roughly 15% of the field, which leaves him at a roughly even leverage score, while he stands out for a strong positive leverage score with raw ownership in the low single-digits on the blue site. Garcia costs $10,100 on the FanDuel slate, making him an excellent option whose high salary creates a differentiation point from the field. Garcia is taking on a Guardians active roster that has been excellent against right-handed pitching this season, the young starter will have a long road to a quality start, but the field is far apart from his actual probability of reaching a high total. The Guardians have a .174 ISO and a 2.80% home run rate that rank sixth and 13th respectively in the split against righties, they are better at driving the ball than hitting home runs so far this season, part of which is attributable to the struggles of Franmil Reyes. Cleveland strikes out at just an 18.9% rate against righties and they have created runs 23% ahead of the league average by collective WRC+, the second-most productive team in baseball in the split. Still, Garcia makes for a great option at low ownership. The young righty has a 24.2% strikeout rate with a 2.71 xFIP and a 13.1% swinging-strike rate over his first 37.2 innings this season. In 155.1 innings last year, Garcia had a 26.4% strikeout rate with a similar swinging-strike rate, so he potentially has more to give for MLB DFS scoring. Garcia allows a touch of premium contact, this year’s hard-hit rate is at 41%, up from the 38.7% mark he posted last year, as is the barrel rate, which has climbed from 7.3% to 9.0%. The additional contact has pushed Garcia’s home run rate from 3.0% last year to 3.9% this season, but that does not necessarily make him a target for power bats, the Astros righty is worth additional shares beyond the field on this slate.

It’s time that we talk about your Marco Gonzales problem. The Mariners southpaw is on the mound to face the extremely low-end Athletics lineup, and he comes at a low price but massive popularity on DraftKings. Gonzales is also drawing significant attention despite an $8,200 price on FanDuel, and he projects as one of the most likely pitchers to post a slate-relevant start. The Athletics’ active roster is not good, they have a 1.44% home run rate against lefties that ranks 28th in baseball, and they have compiled just a .130 ISO and a 97 WRC+ in the split. The team strikes out at a 23.6% rate that ranks them 21st in the league against southpaws this season, all of which should technically play in Gonzales’ favor. The issue is that this is a lefty that is demonstrably not a good pitcher. Gonzales has a 14.1% strikeout rate over his first 38 innings this season, pitching to a 4.81 xFIP with a 9.4% walk rate and a 1.50 WHIP. Last season, the lefty delivered 143.1 innings of mediocrity in 25 starts. He had an 18.5% strikeout rate and a 5.16 xFIP with a 1.17 WHIP while inducing a 9.1% swinging-strike rate and yielding a 4.96% home run rate. The contact profile has remained bad as Gonzales’ strikeouts and swinging strikes have declined significantly. So far this season he has yielded a 40.3% hard-hit rate with a 9.3% barrel rate, which opposing hitters have translated into a 4.71% home run rate. Terrible offense on one side, a terrible pitcher on the other side, squishy thing meet soft place. In this situation, with more than 50% of the field utilizing Gonzales’ $5,300 salary on the DraftKings slate, it makes sense to simply avoid the massive weight of popularity on the bad option. Gonzales’ salary buys plenty of hitting power, when rostering him it makes sense to focus on differentiated stacks with positive leverage, and he should probably not be rostered alongside Cole, though that will be by far the night’s most popular construction. On FanDuel, there is an argument to be made for fully fading Gonzales’ popularity at the mid-market price tag. It is a good idea to roster hedge stacks of the better Athletics bats against this pitcher if including him in lineups at anything approaching the rate at which the field is using him.

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New York Yankees

While the weather is not in the 90-degree range that we saw over the weekend, there should still be ideal hitting conditions in Yankee Stadium tonight, with Jordan Lyles on the mound for the Orioles. The righty did just dominate this lineup, chalking up eight strikeouts over seven innings in his most recent start, but he seems unlikely to repeat the task. Lyles has a 20.1% strikeout rate over 46 innings this season, and he has pitched to a 1.39 WHIP and a 3.82 xFIP. He has been reasonably effective at limiting home runs, in spite of a 39.4% hard-hit rate and a 7.0% barrel rate, Lyles has managed to hold hitters to 2.51% home runs, but that could change in a hurry against the powerful Yankees. The lineup kicks off with DJ LeMahieu, who has quietly slipped back into last season’s mediocre form after a strong start. LeMahieu is now slashing just .252/.331/.378 with a .126 ISO, but he is still creating runs 14% better than average with three-position eligibility for a $3,000 price on FanDuel. He is a tougher ask but comes at far lower ownership for $5,300 on DraftKings. No one needs to be sold on Aaron Judge, the superstar is ludicrously popular and may be best avoided in one-off situations. The Yankees lineup offers plenty of options in the forms of Anthony RizzoGiancarlo Stanton, who rivals Judge for power on any given day at a lower price and half the popularity, and suddenly questionable character Josh Donaldson. The third baseman may see some disciplinary action coming from the league before the slate locks, but if he is in the lineup he is always a worthy target in stacks. Gleyber Torres has been streaky but he is a reasonable option for power in this matchup, while the bottom of the lineup may leave something to be desired in the absence of Joey Gallo. The premium bats in the top two-thirds of this lineup are the focus, the Yankees rate out well for power and, outside of Judge, they are not crushingly popular.

Los Angeles Dodgers

With the night’s highest implied team total by more than a half-run, the Dodgers are the leading team by their probability of being the top stack. Los Angeles is facing limited young righty Joan Adon, and they will be extremely popular and negatively leveraged on both sites. Adon is worth targeting, he has an 18.1% strikeout rate over 36.2 innings this season while pitching to a 5.09 xFIP with a 13.5% walk rate, far too much opportunity for this offense. Hitters at the bottom of the Dodgers’ projected lineup are easy to roster at relatively low ownership projections. Those players can help offset both price and popularity concerns from teammates in the upper portion of the lineup without sacrificing much in terms of quality. Justin TurnerCody BellingerChris Taylor, and Gavin Lux could hit in the early part of the lineup for many teams in the league, they are all worthy of inclusion in Dodgers stacks at less than 10% popularity and low prices on both sites. The top-end hitters include Mookie BettsFreddie FreemanTrea TurnerWill Smith, and Max Muncy. The multi-position eligible lefty at the end of that list needs to get his season in gear, Muncy is slashing just .156/.331/.279 with a .123 ISO while creating runs 11% worse than average over 154 plate appearances. He is still priced at $5,000 and drawing mid-teens popularity in the middle of the Dodgers lineup on Draftkings, but he is a 30% owned option on the blue site for $3,000. Focusing on differentiation is important when rostering Dodgers bats, Muncy should likely be skipped as a one-off on FanDuel with so much of the field getting to him, Bellinger has performed better and he comes at a cheaper price and he is far less popular, just as one potential pivot from the same lineup.

Houston Astros

The Astros are the top-ranked team that has positive leverage on both sites. The team is facing Guardians righty Triston McKenzie, who is harnessing his powers on the mound this season in limiting his walks and lowering both his xFIP and WHIP by comparison to last year’s 4.53 and 1.18. So far this season, McKenzie has a 4.21 xFIP and just a 0.96 WHIP, and he has cut walks from 11.7% to 7.8%, improving his predominant flaw. The righty has lost some of his strikeouts along the way however, he has a 24.1% strikeout rate this season, down from the 27.5% that he posted in 120 innings last year. The righty is a reasonably good tournament option on this slate on the mound, he will be owned by roughly no one at $9,900 on FanDuel and he remains untouched even at $7,700 on DraftKings, but for every McKenzie share one rosters they should hedge with Astros in another lineup. The Houston active roster is among baseball’s best at everything, they have just a 19.6% strikeout rate against righties and they create runs 23% better than average in the split. Under-owned Astros targets include Michael BrantleyAlex BregmanYuli Gurriel, Kyle TuckerJeremy Pena, and Chas McCormick. Stars Jose Altuve and Yordan Alvarez are drawing more popularity than their teammates, but they belong in the majority of Astros stacks. McCormick and Pena are interesting late-lineup targets and Tucker is owned in just the middle single-digits on both sites for a reasonable price. Gurriel remains at less than two percent popularity on both sites, it is easy to differentiate Astros stacks.

Minnesota Twins

Immediately after putting lefty Eduardo Rodriguez on the injured list, the Tigers seem to have a “Bizarro ERod” named Elvin Rodriguez, who throws with his right hand, on the mound as an opener according to some sources, while others say it is a straight start for righty Beau Brieske. In the morning numbers, the Twins looked like a fantastic source of power with Rodriguez as the starter, after changing to Brieske the numbers have only gotten more appealing. In either scenario, Minnesota looks like a strong option to target for significant power upside. The stack comes at negative leverage, but the raw ownership totals are easily playable, and much of the weight is going to one extremely popular outfielder. Brieske is worth targeting, the righty has made five starts, throwing 26.1 innings and pitching to a 5.52 xFIP with a 1.33 WHIP. The righty has struck out just 13.2% of opposing hitters while walking 9.6% and his 42% hard-hit rate and 11.4% barrels have amounted to a massive 6.14% home run rate.

Uber-popular Byron Buxton leads the Twins lineup off with major quality. The superstar has a strong 46.5% hard-hit percentage with an outstanding 21.1% barrel rate this season, which he has translated into 11 home runs in only 115 plate appearances. Buxton is slashing .228/.313/.604 and he strikes out 27% of the time, but he has a titanic .376 ISO and he has created runs 64% better than average. The outfielder is extremely expensive but he will be included in a fifth of public lineups on DraftKings and a quarter of the field will add him on FanDuel, he is playable and should be included in stacks but rostering him as a one-off is a more difficult proposition.

Infielder Luis Arraez has a .336/.437/.411 triple-slash with a .075 ISO, which demonstrates his fundamental flaw, he is almost entirely lacking for power. Arraez has just a 27.3% hard-hit rate and a 3.0% barrel rate this season, but he is always putting the ball in play, given just a 6.3% strikeout rate and an excellent hit tool. For $3,600 on DraftKings, Arraez is an immediate differentiation option but he occupies a valuable first base position. He has created runs 57% better than average over his first 126 plate appearances, so he may be a strong option at just 8.2% popularity, lack of power or not. On FanDuel, Arraez is a third baseman or a second baseman, and he costs just $2,800, which is pushing him to 10.8% ownership and somewhat lower appeal,

Shortstop Carlos Correa has a 53.1% hard-hit percentage with a 9.9% barrel rate but just two home runs this season. The power seems like it should be arriving any moment given the quality contact metrics, Correa’s main issue to this point has been a 5.9-degree average launch angle that is roughly half of what his career mark has been. At just $3,400 and 11% popularity, Correa is a worthwhile investment at his position on FanDuel. He costs $5,100 and is pulling in a 13% popularity projection across town, but he is an easily playable part of a Twins stack.

Switch-hitting Jorge Polanco falls in after Correa in the projected lineup. Polanco is slashing just .231/.335/.367 this season, his .136 ISO and four home runs are a bit concerning, but he is a fair bet to turn things around in the long term. Last season Polanco hit 33 home runs in 644 plate appearances while adding 11 stolen bases, he is a solid multi-category contributor whose price has been cut on both sites, even with the downturn early in the season Polanco has created runs 11% better than average.

Powerhouse lefty outfielder Max Kepler is one of the slate-leading candidates for a home run in this matchup. Kepler has a 40.6% hard-hit percentage with a 9.4% barrel rate this season and he has struck out just 15.2% of the time. The outfielder is slashing .260/.364/.425 with a .165 ISO while creating runs 36% better than average, he hit 19 home runs with a .202 ISO in 490 plate appearances last season and he is cheap and fairly low owned for the upside.

Catcher Gary Sanchez has his obvious flaws, he strikes out at a 29.6% clip this year and has been north of 30% at various points in his career, but that comes with massive power when he connects. The backstop is projected for just 5.2% ownership where the position is required and about half that where it is an afterthought. Sanchez is another player carrying an excellent home run mark going into tonight’s slate, his 49.4% hard-hit percentage, and 16.9% barrel rate have a great chance of turning into a long ball at very low popularity and not much salary across the industry tonight.

Infielder Gio Urshela has hit three home runs while slashing .235/.303/.339 and creating runs 10% worse than average; he is more of a defender than a hitter, but he has occasional pop at no popularity. Ryan Jeffers may be in the lineup in the dual-catcher configuration on both sites, Jeffers is another power bat who has a 39.3% hard-hit rate and an excellent 16.4% barrel rate, but he also strikes out more than 29% of the time. The alternate catcher has hit three home runs and created runs five percent below average this season, by comparison, Sanchez has created runs 13% above average. Nick Gordon is an afterthought for MLB DFS value if he rounds out the lineup.

Home Run Prediction Today: Gary Sanchez — Minnesota Twins

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