MLB DFS: DraftKings & FanDuel Main Slate Strategy Summary – Wednesday 5/17/23

Sometimes an MLB DFS lineup can seem like everyone is on your side, at others it can seem like everyone on the slate is a microscopic bug waiting for the fall of night to emerge and have sex on your face. Let’s hope for the former in tonight’s seven-game main slates on DraftKings and Fanduel. The board is loaded with good pitching options, which is having a bit of a limiting impact on Vegas run totals tonight. The lack of a Coors Field game and a bit of a dip in the total in Boston has us without a 10-run game on the board, though the 9.5 runs in Boston are still a run higher than the average game on this slate. There should be several interesting sources of power, primarily against the more obvious pitching targets, if those do not connect it could be a wild night that is decided by pitching and landing on the correct under-owned oddball stack that goes off against a good starter or a bullpen. Spreading pitching shares and making sure to get several combinations of each premium starter you want with a mix of the top-end stacks is a good approach to creating a strong portfolio of lineups in a contest of this nature.

Note: All analysis is written utilizing available projected lineups as of the early morning, pay close attention to confirmed lineups and adjust accordingly. This article is posted and updated as it is written, so if a game has not been filled in, check back in a few minutes. Update notes are provided as lineups are confirmed to the best of our ability. Still, lineup changes are not typically updated as lock approaches, so stay tuned to official news for any late changes.

MLB DFS: Game by Game Main Slate Strategy Summary – 5/17/23

New York Yankees (-111/4.12) @ Toronto Blue Jays (+102/3.98)

The Yankees and Blue Jays continue a fun series in Toronto with a good pitching matchup tonight. Chris Bassitt is on the mound for the Blue Jays, the veteran righty is at an interesting price discrepancy at $7,400/$9,500 on tonight’s slate. Bassitt has made eight starts and thrown 49 innings this year, he is one of the more reliable starters for depth and the chance to chase a win and a quality start, and he has a 3.49 ERA with a bumpier 4.92 xFIP under the surface. The righty has struck out 20.6% and walked a concerning 11.1% so far this season but he has just a 1.08 WHIP and has not allowed much power. Bassitt has kept hard hits to 29% with 86.4 mph of average exit velocity and a 3.02% home run rate to this point in the season, but the dip in strikeouts, as well as swinging strikes and CSW%, and the increased walks are points of concern that could impact him in this start. The righty is a better buy on the DraftKings slate at his SP2 price, there are plenty of strikeouts to be had in the still-not-whole Yankees lineup, but there are several premium hitters as well. The FanDuel price will probably keep the public mostly at bay, which would make Bassitt an interesting option for large-field tournaments. The Yankees are carrying just a 4.05-run implied team total in a game that Vegas has very close, the team’s upside could be somewhat capped even if Bassitt has just an OK performance. Gleyber Torres leads off in the projected New York lineup, he is slashing .257/.348/.441 with a 119 WRC+ and has been regularly involved for the Yankees offensively. Aaron Judge costs $6,000/$4,200 and, naturally, leads the team with a 10.18 in our home run model. Judge hit another one out of the yard last night and now has 11 on the season in just 146 plate appearances. The superstar outfielder has a .320 ISO with a 156 WRC+ and is the Yankees offense. Anthony Rizzo has nine homers and is slashing .309/.390/.522 with a .214 ISO and 154 WRC+ over 182 plate appearances, the first baseman has been terrific all season and is one of two left-handed hitters in the Yankees lineup. Rizzo has a 7.07 in our home run model and he is rarely popular enough despite cheap prices at $4,600/$3,200. DJ LeMahieu has a 53.1% hard-hit rate but his strikeout rate has doubled this season, going from 13.1% to 26.6% in his 154 plate appearances. LeMahieu has seemingly focused more on driving the ball, his ISO is at .181 with five home runs for the season, for all of last year he had just 12 home runs and a .116 ISO. Jake Bauers is the other natural lefty in the projected lineup, he has a pair of home runs in 37 plate appearances this season with a 23.6% barrel rate and 58.8% hard hits in the tiny sample. Bauers is a good buy in the heart of the Yankees lineup as a minimum-priced outfielder on DraftKings, his $2,400 price at first base on the blue site is fine but he has more value across town. Harrison Bader checks in with three home runs in his 49 plate appearances after missing the first six weeks of the season. Bader has a 7.3% barrel rate and 26.8% hard-hit rate but a .283 ISO and 154 WRC+ in the small sample, he has mid-range power and good speed. Anthony Volpe is another player with a fair amount of power and definite stolen base upside, the rookie has six home runs and 13 stolen bases in his 174 plate appearances despite an ugly .213/.299/.381 triple-slash. Jose Trevino has a 72 WRC+, Oswaldo Cabrera closes out the lineup with a 59 WRC+ in 137 plate appearances, either player can get involved on any given slate, but neither is a great option at the dish. Kyle Higashioka is always our preferred Yankees catcher for MLB DFS upside.

Between the excellent star bats who always push home run model projections and Gerrit Cole’s track record of allowing a bit of home run and premium contact upside despite his excellence, the Blue Jays are showing a deceptive amount of upside in our Power Index today. Toronto is a very good lineup and Cole has not been completely on-form so far this season, but the misleading power ratings are not a great indicator of full-stack quality, the Blue Jays are likely to be without Vladimir Guerrero Jr. who hurt his knee last night, and Cole is still very good on the mound, even if a dip is beginning to show. The righty’s big concern is not the infrequent power – he had actually not allowed a home run over six starts before giving up a few and sitting at a 1.77% home run rate coming into tonight, but last year he was at 4.16%, and the year before was 3.31% – but more his dip in swinging strikes and CSW%. The right-handed ace threw 200.2 innings in 33 starts last year, striking out 32.4% of opposing hitters with a 14.3% swinging-strike rate and 31.9% CSW%, which were similar marks in 2021. This season, Cole has dipped to just a 27.4% strikeout rate with an 11.4% swinging-strike rate and 28% CSW%, well down across the board. Cole has made nine starts and thrown 56.2 innings, he has a 2.22 ERA and 3.56 xFIP which is more telling of where the quality has been. Ultimately, the ace will probably be fine, but he remains expensive at $11,500/$11,000 and this is not exactly an easy matchup or good ballpark in which to get right. Cole is a challenging click at that price, particularly with Spencer Strider on the board, but his ownership is likely to be too low for who he is, which gives him some appeal in tournaments. The Blue Jays are fairly inexpensive for their general quality, but they have a difficult matchup going back the other way against Cole. Leadoff man George Springer is far too cheap at $4,400/$2,800, regardless of a .226/.289/.327 start to the season with five home runs and a .101 ISO in 173 plate appearances. Springer has shown a few signs of the turnaround getting started, he still has a 9.2% barrel rate and puts everything in play with just a 16.8% strikeout rate for the season, he is a cheap star ahead of fantastic teammates. Bo Bichette is slashing .322/.368/.514 with eight home runs and a 48.6% hard-hit rate for just $5,500/$3,700 at shortstop. Daulton Varsho costs $4,300/$3,000 in the outfield, the lefty power hitter has been scuffling somewhat, he has six home runs and six stolen bases but just an 87 WRC+ with a .170 ISO. Matt Chapman lands in the cleanup spot in the reconfigured projected lineup that assumes the absence of Guerrero. Chapman has five home runs with a .217 ISO and 163 WRC+ this season and has barreled the ball in 25.2% of his batted-ball events. Whit Merrifield is a productive player who has moderate power and has already stolen 12 bases this season in just 142 plate appearances. He offers eligibility at second base and in the outfield on both sites for just $3,900/$3,100. Brandon Belt is our home run pick from the Blue Jays tonight, he has a 8.38 in our home run model, but has hit just two in 102 plate appearances this year. Belt has a 12% barrel rate and 42% hard-hit rate on the left side of the plate against Cole, the veteran first baseman hit 29 long balls in just 381 plate appearances in 2021. Cavan Biggio and Kevin Kiermaier round out the projected lineup, Kiermaier did a great job of showing why the “mostly defense” guys in the ninth spot can occasionally deliver MLB DFS upside with a home run and solid MLB DFS score just last night.

Play: Gerrit Cole, Yankees bats/stacks, Chris Bassit particularly at his SP2 DraftKings price, minor shares of Blue Jays

Update Notes: the Yankees lineup is confirmed as expected from 1-6 with Willie Calhoun slotting in seventh ahead of Trevino and Cabrera and Anthony Volpe taking a seat. Calhoun costs $2,200/$2,400, he has three home runs and an 87 WRC+ in 73 plate appearances, the former top prospect is a low-end option but could produce in a good spot in the Yankees lineup. The confirmed Blue Jays lineup runs as expected but Belt is hitting fifth with Merrifield sixth, and Santiago Espinal is a bit of an upgrade over Biggio at the bottom of the lineup. An updated Blue Jays lineup replaces Kiermaier with Danny Jansen in the eighth spot in the lineup.

Seattle Mariners (+116/4.56) @ Boston Red Sox (-126/5.05)

The series in Boston has seen some fireworks this week with two games that came in with high totals and provided a significant number of runs on Monday and Tuesday. The total drops to 9.5 runs on the board in Vegas, with the Mariners checking in as underdogs against Brayan Bello, whose past success at checking home run upside in a small sample is toying with Seattle projections in our model somewhat. Bello threw 57.1 innings in 11 starts last season, striking out 20.5% and walking 10.1% with a 4.71 ERA and 3.80 xFIP but he allowed just a 0.37% home run rate on a 5.3-degree average launch angle against and 88 mph of average exit velocity. So far this year, Bello has made five starts and thrown 23.1 innings, he has a 22.9% strikeout rate with a 5.01 ERA but a 3.42 xFIP, but he has been a different pitcher when it comes to allowing premium contact. Bello has yielded a 91.1 mph average exit velocity and 52.1% hard hits so far this year, with a 4.76% home run rate despite a 0.8-degree average launch angle, which means that when he makes a mistake and the ball gets elevated it gets hit out of the ballpark with regularity. Bello’s home run to flyball ratio sits at 29.4% this season. For a borderline inexplicable $5,700 on DraftKings, Bello is absolutely in play tonight, the $8,500 FanDuel price is certainly different, but it is hardly daunting, Bello is playable on the blue site as well as a lower-end option. The Mariners lineup opens with JP Crawford who has a home run and a stolen base in 156 plate appearances but has created runs nine percent better than average mostly from the bottom of the batting order while getting on base at a good clip. Crawford is a good correlated scoring option for $3,200/$2,800 if he is in the leadoff spot again today. Ty France has just a five percent barrel rate and 34.5% hard-hit rate for the season, with two home runs but a 116 WRC+, he costs $3,800/$3,000 and was a better player for most of last year. Julio Rodriguez has seven home runs and seven stolen bases but he is slashing just .217/.286/.398 in his sophomore season. Rodriguez still has a 10.6% barrel rate and 46% hard-hit rate that are appealing at $5,300/$3,500 and he is much more the player from last year than the version we have seen to this point in 2023. Jarred Kelenic has eight home runs with a .255 ISO and 140 WRC+ over 157 plate appearances, he is a good option in the cleanup spot if he can get the ball elevated against Bello tonight. Eugenio Suarez has four home runs on the season, he hit 31 each of the last two years and could be coming out of his early season blackout. Cal Raleigh has immense power as a catcher, he hit seven home runs in 142 plate appearances so far this year, following up last year’s 27 in 415 opportunities. Teoscar Hernandez costs just $3,700/$2,800, which is too cheap for this player on both sites. Hernandez is slashing .242/.282/.430 over 177 plate appearances with eight home runs and a .188 ISO with a 98 WRC+ but he has a 13.9% barrel rate and 47.2% hard hit that are down from last year’s 15% and 52.7% but are still very good. Taylor Trammell has three home runs in 30 plate appearances, the young outfielder is a good option for sneaky production late in the lineup at just $2,500/$2,800. Kolten Wong has not hit a home run or stolen a base in 108 plate appearances this season. Last year the veteran hit 15 and stole 17, the year before he hit 14 and stole 12, but the production has been gone and the second baseman is also yet to barrel a ball this season. Wong costs $2,600/$2,300 at the bottom of the projected lineup.

The Red Sox will be facing Marco Gonzales, a limited lefty who does not strike many out and can cough up runs via sequencing if not power. Gonzales has a 16.1% strikeout rate with a 7.7% walk rate, a 4.42 ERA, and a 4.68 xFIP so far this season. He was at a 13.2% strikeout rate with a 4.13 ERA and 4.88 xFIP over 183 innings in 32 starts last season, this season’s early uptick falls short of the 18.5% that the southpaw struck out in 2021, but he has rarely been a significant producer of MLB DFS points and does not look to be in a good spot tonight for $7,100/$7,300. The Red Sox lineup connected at low ownership last night and tonight’s 5.02-run implied total is the highest on the slate by nearly a quarter of a run, Boston bats seem likely to be popular given that combination of factors and the pitching matchup. Alex Verdugo is in the projected leadoff role, the lefty is slashing .303/.378/.491 with a .188 ISO and 135 WRC+ with five home runs and three steals in 185 plate appearances this season. In 62 plate appearances against same-handed pitching this season, Verdugo is slashing .264/.371/.340 with a .075 ISO, a 101 WRC+, and zero home runs. Gonzales is not exactly an intimidating presence on the mound, but Verdugo is a player who definitely loses quality in the split against fellow lefties, his career ISO is .092 with an 85 WRC+ in the split. Justin Turner hits from the right side, he got on the board with his fourth home run and is now slashing .269/.360/.400 with a .131 ISO and 109 WRC+ over 186 opportunities. Rob Refsnyder has hit third or led off against lefties this year, he is better for the leadoff spot, but he is not a great player overall, the career journeyman is slashing .258/.370..355 with a .097 ISO and 104 WRC+ in 73 plate appearances, with one home run and one stolen base. 51 of those plate appearances have been against lefties, Refsnyder is slashing .318/.412/.432 in the split with a 136 WRC+ but his ISO is .114, the on-base and correlated scoring ability are why he is better suited to the leadoff role if the Red Sox insist on using the low-end player in a platoon role. Rafael Devers has 11 home runs with a .267 ISO and a 14.6% barrel rate with 52.3% hard hits so far this year, he is a devastating hitter against any starter, three of his homers this year have come against same-handed pitching and he has a .263 ISO in the split for the season. Masataka Yoshida is another lefty in the heart of the lineup, Yoshida is slashing a robust .301/.381/.507 with a .206 ISO and 140 WRC+ with six homers in his career stat line. Against left-handers, he is slashing .270/.426/.378 with a .108 ISO but a 131 WRC+ in 47 plate appearances. Yoshida is not someone who should be skipped if stacking Red Sox, but he may be more of a correlation piece than an individual scorer on the slate, though again Gonzales is not exactly a blow-away lefty. Enrique Hernandez has three home runs and a 72 WRC+ in 154 plate appearances this year, Jarren Duran has been raking over 106 plate appearances, he hit another home run last night and now has three with a .234 ISO and 164 WRC+ for the season and he has done well against same-handed pitching in the small sample. Connor Wong has a good 10.2% barrel rate and 42.4% hard-hit rate in 94 plate appearances over which he has hit four home runs with a .207 ISO, he is a sneaky-good option for a bit of power late in the Red Sox lineup and costs just $2,700 where the position is mandatory. Pablo Reyes closes the projected lineup at $2,200/$2,000 as a shortstop on DraftKings and in the outfield on FanDuel.

Play: Red Sox bats/stacks, Brayan Bello, particularly at the “good hitter” price DraftKings is listing him for as an SP2, smaller doses of Mariners bats/stacks

Update Notes: the Mariners lineup runs as expected until Jose Caballero slots into the ninth spot instead of Kolten Wong. Caballero is a cheap multi-position option on both sites, he has three stolen bases and a .365 on-base percentage in 52 chances this year and could be a functional wraparound play. The Red Sox lineup is as expected up top, with Refsnyder miscast as a three hitter once again. Devers-Yoshida-Hernandez leads into Reyes-Duran-Wong on the bottom end.

Tampa Bay Rays (+113/4.11) @ New York Mets (-123/4.49)

Well, that did not work out as planned. The surging ridiculous Rays got to Mets ace Justin Verlander last night when we were aligned on the pitcher’s side against the AL East leaders. Tampa Bay’s dynamic flexible lineup has been nearly impossible to overcome this season, the team just finds ways to win and produce MLB DFS scoring from every spot in the lineup in more inconceivable ways as the calendar keeps moving toward mid-Summer. Tonight, the Rays draw Kodai Senga, who has been a roller coaster this season. The righty has an appealing 26.4% strikeout rate in his 37 innings over seven outings, his ERA sits at 4.14 and his xFIP is 4.08, which is all just fine for the $9,700/$9,200 asking price. The issues crop up around the pitcher’s ridiculous 14.1% walk rate and 1.51 WHIP, as well as his 8.2% barrel rate and 39.2% hard-hit rate that amounted to a 3.68% home run rate this season. Senga has been good at inducing swinging strikes with an 11.2% mark and he has a 29.9% CSW%, so he can get strikes, but the aggressively bad walk rate has hampered him significantly. Senga has the talent to pitch his way through this lineup and he can find strikeouts along the way, he will be in our pitching pool, but it is difficult to recommend him with any faith given those free passes and the Rays’ ability to exploit that type of weakness. Harold Ramirez is projected to lead off with Yandy Diaz out of the lineup. Ramirez has hit for unexpected power early in the season, he has six home runs and a .225 ISO over 120 plate appearances, equalling his output for home runs in 435 plate appearances last year and sitting one shy of the seven he hit in 361 tries in 2021. Ramirez has always had a good bat and has always driven the ball well, now he is hitting it over the wall and creating runs 60% better than average to this point in the season, he is a great option atop this lineup for just $4,000/$3,100. Wander Franco costs $5,800/$4,100 at shortstop and is worth it, he has seven home runs and 12 stolen bases in his 183 plate appearances and has created runs 39% better than average. Brandon Lowe has a 12.68 to lead the team in our home run model. The lefty slugger is slashing just .197/.2995/.409 but he has a .213 ISO and a 15.3% barrel rate with a 47.1% hard-hit rate this year. Randy Arozarena has created runs 65% better than average and has 10 home runs and three stolen bases on the board in 180 plate appearances. The outfielder is another star in this lineup for $5,800/$4,100, he has an 18.8% barrel rate and 53% hard-hit rate this season, both marks are way up from the 7.9% and 40.7% that supported a 20 home run season for Arozarena last year, he could have monster numbers by season’s end. Josh Lowe has a 14% barrel rate and 41.9% hard-hit rate this year, which he has translated into nine home runs and a massive .313 ISO while creating runs 67% better than average. Taylor Walls has been an excellent option when he plays, over 110 plate appearances he has seven home runs and seven stolen bases and has created turn 51% better than average with a .302 ISO. Walls has eligibility at second and third base on DraftKings for $3,800 and adds shortstop eligibility for $3,400 on FanDuel. Luke Raley has an 8.15 as a decent home run option late in the lineup, he has hit eight home runs in just 103 plate appearances this season with a 21.7% barrel rate and 56.7% hard-hit rate. Jose Siri is a good option for mid-range power and speed, he has five home runs and four stolen bases in 76 chances this season, and Francisco Mejia is slated to do the catching at a cheap $3,000/$2,400 tonight.

The hometown Mets will be facing lefty Josh Fleming for three to four innings before he hands off to the bullpen. This start was up for debate between a few Rays prospects, including Taj Bradley and Cooper Criswell, but neither appears to have been recalled to work in bulk relief, so this may be a straight bullpen game behind Fleming. The southpaw has a 12.7% strikeout rate with a 10.4% walk rate and a 4.26 ERA with a 4.50 xFIP over 31.2 innings that include one performance as a starter-opener. Fleming is not a high-strikeout starter but he is excellent at inducing ground balls and avoiding home run trouble, which could limit the already underwhelming Mets lineup. Brandon Nimmo is a good leadoff hitter who is slashing .308/.396/.434 with a 137 WRC+, he is a good correlated scoring player in Mets stacks. Francisco Lindor has a 104 WRC+ over 186 plate appearances but he is paid to do more. The shortstop has hit six home runs and stolen four bases, but he is scuffling at the plate with just a .224/.306/.418 triple-slash and a .194 ISO. Jeff McNeil is a slap-hitting correlated scoring player who has struggled with his batting average on balls in play this year. When hits are not dropping in for him, McNeil loses significant value, he is miscast if he hits third tonight, but he would be a playable piece of Mets stacks overall. McNeil is slashing just .276/.360/.365 this season with two home runs and two stolen bases, he has created runs 11% better than average despite the bumps thanks to his ability to get on base. Pete Alonso is a deadly power hitter who has 14 home runs with a .283 ISO this season, he is always in play and he is cheap at $5,400/$3,700, but Fleming has a -1.7-degree average launch angle in this year’s small sample and he had a -3.7-degree mark in 35 innings in 2022 and 2.9-degrees in 104.1 innings in 2021. Tommy Pham costs $2,300/$2,400 and is projected to hit fifth, he has a 76 WRC+ and is below the Mendoza line over 81 plate appearances. Starling Marte is another struggling outfielder for this team, he is slashing just .236/.296/.286 with a 70 WRC+ though he has at least managed to steal 11 bases. Mark Vientos is in the projected lineup tonight, the call-up has eligibility at first and third base for the minimum price on DraftKings and is a player of note in this lineup. Vientos replaces Luis Guillorme in the lineup, he is a much better bat. In 166 plate appearances in AAA this season, Vientos has 13 home runs and a .355 ISO while creating runs 69% better than average. Last season he made 427 AAA plate appearances and hit 24 home runs with a .238 ISO, he had 22 home runs in AA in 2021. Vientos is an excellent option for power upside at the minimum. Mark Canha is slashing .231/.299/.377 with a 90 WRC+ in 147 plate appearances but has been more productive than that in his career, Francisco Alvarez has three home runs in 80 plate appearances as a cheap catcher tonight.

Play: Rays bats/stacks, Kodai Senga, Mets bats in small doses

Update Notes: the total is down by a half-run on the board in Vegas since mid-afternoon. The confirmed Mets lineup includes Eduardo Escobar in an unexpected appearance in the second spot in the lineup between Nimmo and Lindor-Alonso-Pham-Marte-Canha-Vientoz-Alvarez. Escobar is slashing just .211/.250/.437 but he has four home runs and a .225 ISO and hits from both sides for $2,700/$2,400. The confirmed Rays lineup includes most of the expected hitters in a different order, running Josh Lowe-Franco-Arozarena-Brandon Lowe-Isaac Paredes-Walls-Raley-Mejia-Siri, with Harold Ramirez out of the lineup. Paredes is a sturdy power bat in the heart of the lineup.

Milwaukee Brewers (-101/3.76) @ St. Louis Cardinals (-108/3.83)

How many times can one gamer go to Corbin Burnes on the wrong night? The righty has been all over the map this season and sits at just a 21% strikeout rate over 45.2 innings in eight starts coming into tonight. Burnes has induced a 12.1% swinging-strike rate with a 30.1% CSW% but those numbers are both down significantly from last year’s elite 15.1% and 32.1% which were both higher in the 2021 season as well. Burnes has allowed just a 4.8% barrel rate and 37.3 hard hits with 88 mph of average exit velocity and just a 2.15% home run rate, but his walks have spiked to 9.7% after sitting at 6.4% and 5.2% the past two seasons, and he has pitched to just a 3.35 ERA and, even worse, a 4.42 xFIP. The righty is priced way down at just $8,600 on DraftKings, he is definitely a viable option and the struggles and current form are accounted for at that cost. At $10,000 on FanDuel, Burnes is a much more difficult question. The righty is facing a Cardinals team whose active roster has quietly been the second-best in baseball with a 121 WRC+ against right-handed pitching this season, a split in which they formerly suffered. The team’s ISO is .188 in the split, tying them for fifth in the league with the Twins. St. Louis is not an easy matchup for Burnes tonight, which further damages the outlook for the pitcher at his price on the blue site. The Cardinals projected lineup takes its usual shape, with Lars Nootbaar in the leadoff role followed by Paul GoldschmidtNolan Gorman, and Nolan Arenado. The introduction of the two young left-handed power bats is a big part of why this team has roared to life against righties this season, they are able to stagger the lineup in a much better form with this year’s set of options. Nootbaar has made 129 plate appearances, he is slashing .298/.434/.433 with a 147 WRC+, three home runs, and five stolen bases. Goldschmidt has a 159 WRC+ and has been the team’s best overall hitter at .311/.398/.533 with a .222 ISO and seven home runs. The first base star is the only pricey player on this team on DraftKings at $5,900/$4,000 tonight. Gorman has mashed 10 home runs already in just 144 plate appearances, he is a premium left-handed power hitter at second base. Gorman has a .309 ISO and 164 WRC+ with a 14.4% barrel rate and 50% hard-hit rate this year, he has also notably cut strikeouts from last season’s 32.9% to 23.6% while bumping his walk rate way up from 8.9% to 13.2% year-over-year. Gorman is very good but he costs just $4,100/$3,500, he also now has eligibility at second and third base on DraftKings, further extending his upside. Arenado has been absolutely on fire since last week, he has homered in five straight games and now has eight on the season. While we were anticipating a turnaround, no one could have expected his numbers to correct so completely in just seven days. Arenado is now slashing .263/.309/.449 with a .180 ISO and a 104 WRC+ with eight home runs. All of those numbers will continue to climb, there was a long way to go, but the third baseman has officially finally arrived in the 2023 season. Willson Contreras is a quality catcher for just $3,800/$2,900, he has three home runs and a 109 WRC+ in 169 plate appearances. Brendan Donovan and Paul DeJong are good bats on either side late in the projected lineup. Donovan hits lefty and has three home runs with a 94 WRC+ for $3,300/$2,600 at second base with outfield eligibility on DraftKings, and DeJong is a cheap right-handed veteran shortstop who has ripped four home runs in just 70 plate appearances since returning to the lineup. He is not all that far removed from a 19-home run campaign in 402 plate appearances in 2021, it would not be crazy to see 15 or so on the board by year’s end for the shortstop. Alec Burleson and Tommy Edman round out the projected lineup with quality, though Burleson is 21% below average in 108 plate appearances. Edman has been very good all year, he has a 121 WRC+ with six home runs and five steals for just $4,200/$3,100. Edman has been relegated to only shortstop on FanDuel, but he retains second base eligibility on DraftKings.

The Cardinals are starting rookie lefty Matthew Liberatore, who threw 34.2 innings in seven starts last season. The lefty had a 30.3% strikeout rate in 46 innings at AAA this season but he was at just 17.4% in the 34.2 MLB innings last year and he is not a flamethrower with just a 93 mph fastball. The rookie is facing a decent Brewers lineup that can stack right-handed hitters as we saw last night. The team gave Christian Yelich a night off but he is back in the confirmed lineup in the cleanup role tonight. The projected lineup opens with Owen Miller, who is slashing .329/.350/.461 with a 120 WRC+ in 80 plate appearances and makes for more of a correlation play than anything else. William Contreras is a good right-handed catcher who has three home runs but just a .137 ISO in 135 plate appearances this season, he hit 20 home runs with a .228 ISO over 376 chances last year in a more robust display of power. Willy Adames has seven home runs but just a .170 ISO this season, he hit 31 with a .220 ISO last year. Yelich got his season in gear in style with a home run display last week, he now has seven on the year and is creating runs 10% better than average with a 9.1% barrel rate and his always-great 58.2% hard-hit rate. Mike Brosseau and Darin Ruf are a pair of platoon-focused righties who land in the heart of the lineup against a southpaw. Brosseau has four home runs and a .241 ISO in 62 plate appearances, Ruf has yet to hit one out this season but he hit 11 homers in 388 plate appearances last year. Brian Anderson slots in with six home runs and a .180 ISO on the year in 159 plate appearances, the third base and outfield option is cheap, he has a 10.2% barrel rate but just a 29.6% hard-hit rate for the season after a hot start. Tyrone Taylor has just one home run and is slashing .163/.178/.233 in 45 plate appearances this year, he hit 17 home runs in 405 plate appearances last season and can mash a soft-tossing lefty as a sneaky $2,100/$2,500 outfield power bat. Joey Weimer has four home runs in 138 plate appearances while slashing .208/.275/.360 with a 73 WRC+ so far this season.

Play: Cardinals stacks/bats, Corbin Burnes SP2 shares on DraftKings, more limited expensive Burnes shares on FanDuel, Brewers bats/stacks

Update Notes: the run total in Vegas is down a half-run to just 7.5 since earlier this afternoon. Yelich is out of the lineup again for the Brewers. The confirmed lineup runs Miller-Contreras-Adames-Ruf-Anderson-Taylor-Victor Caratini-Weimer-Brice Turang. Caratini has two home runs in 52 plate appearances and is a fair play for a cheap price at catcher, Turang has six stolen bases and three home runs in 123 plate appearances. The Cardinals lineup runs as expected but Burleson and DeJong flip places at seven and eight.

Atlanta Braves (-142/4.11) @ Texas Rangers (+131/3.47)

There is a pitching duel brewing in Texas tonight, with Nathan Eovaldi on the hill for the home team. Eovaldi has been sharp over 53.1 innings and eight starts in 2023, he has a 27.2% strikeout rate with a 2.70 ERA and 2.95 xFIP. The righty has walked just 3.9%, and he is typically excellent at limiting free passes, last season he had a 4.3% walk rate in 109.1 innings and he posted a 4.6% rate in 182.1 innings in 32 starts in 2021. This season’s strikeout rate is a nice bump above last season’s 22.4% and the 25.5% he put up in 2021, and his ERA and xFIP are both a full run lower. Part of the pitcher’s success this season has come from his 30.7% CSW% which is up from 28.4% last year and 29.9% the year before, his 12.8% swinging-strike rate is roughly in line with the past two seasons, so he is getting a few more called strikes this year to good results. He has also limited premium contact with just 4.3% barrels and a 0.49% home run rate allowed so far this year. Eovaldi is in play at $10,100/$10,800 against a very talented Braves lineup that he has in check at just a 4.13-run implied team total. Key Atlanta hitters are familiar names to anyone who plays MLB DFS, Ronald Acuna Jr. is probably the game’s best overall player, which is why he costs $6,200/$4,600 tonight. Acuna has 10 home runs and 17 stolen bases with a .256 ISO and he has created runs 79% better than average in 192 chances this year. Matt Olson costs $5,300/$4,100, he has a 16.7% barrel rate and 54.2% hard-hit rate so far this year with 11 home runs on the board with a .268 ISO. Sean Murphy is projected to hit third, he has 10 home runs and a .307 ISO in 155 plate appearances with a massive 20.4% barrel rate this s year. Third baseman Austin Riley has slumped badly but he still has seven home runs with a .160 ISO over 186 opportunities and should be expected to turn things around in the long term. Left-handed outfielder Eddie Rosario costs just $2,700/$2,500 tonight, he has a nine percent barrel rate with three home runs this season. Ozzie Albies has hit 10 home runs and he has a .247 ISO with a 10.9% barrel rate, the star second baseman is cheap at $4,800/$3,200 but the matchup against Eovaldi has not been a good one so far this year. Travis d’Arnaud is in the projected lineup, if he and Murphy both play they are both good options, d’Arnaud is underrated, he hit 18 home runs in 426 plate appearances with a .205 ISO and 120 WRC+ last year. Michael Harris II has just one home run and four stolen bases after missing the early part of the season but he should round into form for both power and speed. Orlando Arcia has made 80 plate appearances and he is slashing .342/.400/.562 with a .219 ISO, three home runs, and a 161 WRC+ this season, the typically low-owned shortstop costs just $3,600 tonight on DraftKings, he is a $3,000 option at shortstop, third base, or second base on the blue site tonight.

The Rangers are even lower-projected by Vegas, with just a 3.46-run implied team total that is approaching half of what the team typically puts up game-by-game. The reason for this, of course, is the presence of Spencer Strider on the mound for Atlanta tonight. The outrageous righty has a 42.9% strikeout rate over 46.2 innings in eight starts this season and he has pitched to a 2.51 ERA and 2.46 xFIP this season. Strider has induced a 20.3% swinging-strike rate and has a 37.1% CSW% this season, both marks lead the league by a very wide margin. Strider costs $12,000/$11,500 and is worth the investment, even against this Rangers lineup tonight. Texas’ lineup opens with Marcus Semien who is slashing .296/.379/.473 with a 136 WRC+ and seven home runs this season, adding seven stolen bases to his excellent production. Semien is followed by, hopefully for real this time, the return of Corey Seager, who left action slashing .359/.469/.538 with a home run and a 181 WRC+ in his first 49 plate appearances. Nathaniel Lowe has five home runs and a .181 ISO with a 119 WRC+ over 188 plate appearances and costs just $4,300/$3,200. Adolis Garcia costs $5,200/$4,000 in the bad matchup, the righty has 11 home runs and a .252 ISO with a 120 WRC+, but he strikes out at a 24.3% clip and is facing Strider who, when he does not punch hitters out has allowed just a 1.09% home run rate, though he does yield premium contact with an eight percent barrel rate and 89.9 mph of average exit velocity on 41.4% hard hits. Josh Jung seems like a multiple-strikeout victim tonight, the young infielder is striking out at a 31% pace this season and was at an ugly 38.2% over 102 plate appearances last year. Jonah Heim costs $3,900/$3,800 at catcher, he has six home runs and is slashing .313/.368/.519 with a .206 ISO this year. Robbie GrossmanJosh H. Smith, and Leody Taveras make good targets for Strider tonight, they have current-year strikeout rates of 27.6%, 29.1%, and 22.1% at the bottom of the lineup.

Play:  Spencer Strider, Nathan Eovaldi, both lineups are very good in a vacuum and can be played if choosing hyper-contrarian approaches, the Braves against Eovaldi would be our greatly preferred option, but the Rangers would be similarly playable in that approach

Update Notes: the confirmed Braves lineup sees Albies hitting third with Murphy getting the day off. Riley-Rosario-d’Arnaud-Marcell Ozuna-Arcia-Harris closes the lineup. Ozuna has eight home runs and a .263 ISO but just an 87 WRC+ and .172/.274/.434 in 113 plate appearances. Corey Seager officially makes his return in a bad spot against Strider tonight. The Rangers lineup is as expected from 1-5 with Jung taking a seat and Ezequiel Duran slotting in seventh behind Grossman who will hit sixth. Smith and Taveras close out the lineup.

Chicago Cubs (+148/3.789) @ Houston Astros (-161/4.81)

Rookie JP France has an 18.2% strikeout rate but just a 4.5% walk rate over 11.2 innings and two starts so far in his MLB career. He has a 0.77 ERA so far this season but his 4.32 xFIP is the more telling number in the microscopic sample. France is not specifically regarded as a premium prospect, but he did well with strikeouts throughout the minors but had a problem with walks. If he continues to keep the free passes in check he could find success at this level but the Cubs are not a great matchup for the starter, at $9,300 he does not seem like a great option on the FanDuel slate but he is in play at $7,900 on DraftKings. The projected Cubs lineup opens with Nick Madrigal who costs just $2,200 on both sites at second base or third base. Madrigal is slashing .241/.275/.299 with a 58 WRC+ and .057 ISO and zero home runs, he is a part-time player with the idea of speed and a decent hit tool. Dansby Swanson has three home runs with four stolen bases and a 10.2% barrel rate with 40.7% hard hits in his 187 plate appearances this year. He has been a star-caliber shortstop with power and speed over multiple seasons and is too cheap at $4,400/$3,200 and is carrying a strong 9.60 in our home run model tonight. Christopher Morel slots in third at second base or in the outfield for $4,100 on DraftKings, he is a $4,000 outfielder or third baseman on FanDuel. Morel has been great in his return, he has four early home runs in 30 plate appearances. Last year Morel hit 16 home runs and stole 10 bases while creating runs eight percent better than average, he is a stick of dynamite to add to the already productive Cubs lineup. Ian Happ slots into the cleanup role with Cody Bellinger not projected to play again tonight. Happ is an underrated hitter who costs just $4,200/$3,300, he has four home runs and four stolen bases with a 143 WRC+ over 182 plate appearances this year. Seiya Suzuki has a 10.83 in our home run model this year but he has hit just three in 124 plate appearances. Matt Mervis costs $2,300/$2,700 at first base, he hit his first home run but is 22% below average by WRC+. Veteran Eric Hosmer is slashing .234/.280/.330 with a .096 ISO and 68 WRC+ in exactly 100 plate appearances. Yan Gomes is a good inexpensive power option at catcher, he costs $2,800/$3,200 with six home runs in 86 plate appearances already this year and he hit 14 home runs in 375 chances in 2021. Miles Mastrobuoni slots in ninth in the projected lineup, he has not done much in his limited time in MLB.

The Astros appear to be in a good position today in a matchup against veteran lefty Drew Smyly while also reflecting the state of tonight’s Power Index quite well. Smyly has not been great over his eight starts, but he has also not been terrible, and he has not allowed a tremendous amount of power so far this year. The lefty has a 3.05 ERA but a 4.46 xFIP under the covers and he is striking out a roughly average 21.6% of opposing hitters with a 0.97 WHIP while allowing just a 2.27% home run rate on 85.1 mph of average exit velocity. Smyly has limited premium contact to just 6.3% barrels and a 28.6% hard-hit rate for the year. Last season, Smyly posted a 3.47 ERA and 4.18 xFIP while allowing a 3.58% home run rate on 86.7 mph of average exit velocity on an 8.6% barrel rate and 34.5% hard-hit. The lefty can be gotten to by good opposing hitting, but he is not a complete gas can on the mound. The Astros’ home run ratings are being lifted by the presence of Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker, the team’s left-handed star hitters, who check in at 13.96 and 12.29 in our home run model tonight. The rest of the team is below our magic number for power, but there are several interesting bats tonight, and they could be a good option for stacking with the idea of some run scoring if not power against this pitcher. The projected lineup begins with Mauricio Dubon, who has zero home runs this year with a 99 WRC+ in 155 plate appearances, Dubon is primarily a correlated scoring piece, a Jose Altuve he is not. Alex Bregman has five home runs on the year but just a .134 ISO with a five percent barrel rate and 33% hard-hit rate while slashing .210/.328/.344. The former star third baseman comes cheap at $4,200/$2,800 but has not been his old self at the plate all season. Alvarez has nine home runs with a .275 ISO, a 15.6% barrel rate, and a 53.1% hard-hit rate this year, Tucker has slumped to just a .169 ISO with six home runs, an 8.6% barrel rate, and a 45.3% hard-hit rate this year but can be relied upon for a turnaround. Jose Abreu has been powerless since late last summer, but the total disappearance of all of his other skills at the plate is the primary concern. Abreu hit just 15 home runs last year and zero after mid-August, but still finished his last season in Chicago at .304/.378/.446 with a 137 WRC+ in 679 plate appearances. Over his first 171 plate appearances in an Astros uniform, Abreu is slashing just .219/.269/.263 with a .044 ISO and 47 WRC+. Jeremy Pena his 22 home runs last year with a .173 ISO, he has six with a .168 ISO in 174 plate appearances so far in 2023 and makes a solid shortstop option in the heart of the Houston lineup. Corey Julks has a 6.38 in our home run model, he has hit two over 111 plate appearances but has a .103 ISO with a 2.6% barrel rate and 36.8% hard-hit rate for the season. Chas McCormick has a 2.3% barrel rate and 30.2% hard-hit for the season, well off of his typically sturdy contact, but he has made just 64 plate appearances after dealing with an injury. McCormick has two home runs and four stolen bases and is cheap from late in the lineup on DraftKings at $3,400, for some reason he is priced at $3,700 on FanDuel, making him the team’s second-most expensive player behind Alvarez and $600 more expensive than Tucker, which is just bananas. Martin Maldonado has a pair of home runs in 110 plate appearances this season, he hit 15 last year in 379 and 12 the season before in 426, he has intermittent slate-bending power and is never popular.

Play: Astros bats/stacks, Cubs bats/stacks

Update Notes: Pena leads off the confirmed Astros lineup ahead of Bregman-Alvarez-Tucker-Abreu-McCormick, which is a bump to McCormick for gaining a couple of lineup spots. Yainer Diaz slots in as a cheap catcher, he has one home run in 52 plate appearances. Jake Meyers and David Hensley slot into the eighth and ninth spots in the lineup, they have an 85 and 21 WRC+ in 117 and 83 plate appearances. the confirmed Cubs lineup has Morel leading off in a great spot followed by Swanson-Happ-Suzuki-Patrick Wisdom-Mervis-Trey Mancini-Gomes-Mastrobuoni. Wisdom is an excellent power hitter to have back in the lineup, he has 12 home runs and a .344 ISO in 145 plate appearances. Mancini has three home runs with a .104 ISO and 89 WRC+ in 141 opportunities.

Cleveland Guardians (+122/4.02) @ Chicago White Sox (4.58)

The Guardians’ lineup has not been good at all this season, they were shut down once again last night by Lance Lynn and they face Mike Clevinger tonight. Clevinger has also not been good this season, but baseball is not a “something has to give” type of sport, both sides of this equation could easily fail. The righty has a 4.79 ERA and a 5.62 xFIP over 41.1 innings and eight starts this season. He has pitched to a 19.1% strikeout rate and a 9.8% walk rate with a 1.43 WHIP while allowing a 9.4% barrel rate and 3.83% home run rate so far this year, most of which is in line with the numbers he posted in 22 starts and 114.1 innings in his return to action last year. The Guardians are not a great stack to play against Clevinger however, they are without Jose Ramirez all week as the star attends to family business, and everyone in the projected lineup has a below-average WRC+ for the season. Steven Kwan leads off for Cleveland, he has made 186 plate appearances and has a 99 WRC+. Kwan’s biggest asset is his hit tool and his ability to avoid strikeouts with just a 10.2% strikeout rate and an 11.8% walk rate this year. Amed Rosario has been a disappointment at .262/.297/.372 with a .110 ISO and 82 WRC+, he costs $3,700/$2,800 tonight. Andres Gimenez is similarly underperforming in the infield, he is slashing .234/.303/.362 with a .128 ISO and 84 WRC+. First baseman Josh Bell costs $2,800 on both sites, the switch-hitter has just three home runs in 169 plate appearances this season but he leads the team with an 8.86 in our home run model tonight. Bell has a .126 ISO and 94 WRC+ this year, he hit 17 home runs with a .156 ISO and 123 WRC+ in 647 chances last year and managed 27 home runs with a .215 ISO in 2021. Gabriel Arias slots in at shortstop and outfield on DraftKings for $2,200 and he comes in at second base, third base, and shortstop for $2,000 on the FanDuel slate. Arias has made 65 plate appearances and he is slashing .169/.246/.254 with a .085 ISO and 40 WRC+ so far this season. Will Brennan has a 46 WRC+ with a .080 ISO and one home run in 93 plate appearances, he costs $2,100/$2,400 for the bold and foolish. Mike Zunino has not produced his typical power or premium contact over 96 plate appearances, he has two home runs and a 7.7% barrel rate with a 35.9% hard-hit rate. Against Clevinger there is surely individual upside in Zunino for $3,500/$2,300 but it has not been a factor at all this season. Brayan Rocchio and Myles Straw close out the projected lineup for the low-end Guardians this evening.

The White Sox are at home to face the division-rival Guardians and Peyton Battenfield tonight. The righty has made five starts in his young career, throwing 30.1 innings and pitching to a 4.45 ERA and 4.56 xFIP with a 20.2% strikeout rate and an 8.9% walk rate. Battenfield has induced a good 12.6% swinging-strike rate with a 27.5% CSW% but he has allowed far too much premium contact to this point, with a 13.6% barrel rate, 50% hard hits, and a whopping 93.9 mph of average exit velocity. That has amounted to a 3.23% home run rate against the starter this year that feels like it should be somewhat higher, Battenfield has allowed a 12.4-degree average launch angle that is keeping him afloat to a degree, but the rookie is targetable for power upside and run creation. The White Sox underperforming lineup has Tim Anderson in the projected leadoff spot as usual. The star shortstop is slashing just .257/.299/.307 with a .050 ISO and zero home runs with five stolen bases in 107 plate appearances after missing time. Andrew Benintendi has also been entirely devoid of power upside so far this season. The outfielder was never a major power hitter, but he managed to knock 17 over the fence in 538 plate appearances two years ago before plummeting to just five in 521 last year. This season, Benintendi has a .066 ISO, zero home runs, a 3.2% barrel rate, and a 27.2% hard-hit rate in 165 plate appearances. Luis Robert Jr. has provided all of the power for this team so far this season, the outfielder is having a major breakout with 12 home runs and a .299 ISO with a 142 WRC+ in his 173 plate appearances. Robert has not stolen as many bases as we were expecting in preseason projections, but it hardly matters if he is going to rake like this all year. He is still cheap on the DraftKings slate at $3,800/$3,600 and he leads the team with a 10.38 in our home run model tonight. The other player over the magic number is Andrew Vaughn, who lands at 10.08 in the model. Vaughn is projected to hit fifth after Yoan Moncada, who lands at 7.84 in the cleanup spot. Moncada has two home runs and a .241 ISO with a 43.6% hard-hit rate in his 57 plate appearances this season, he hit 12 home runs but had just a .141 ISO and 76 WRC+ in 433 opportunities last year. The third baseman is still only about to turn 28, it is not out of the question that his best days for MLB production are arriving. Vaughn has four home runs this year but just a .168 ISO, he has created runs six percent better than average but has not had the big breakout Chicago wanted. He does have a sturdy 8.7% barrel rate and 46.8% hard-hit rate this year and he puts the ball in play frequently, with a .287 batting average on balls in play. Vaugh is followed in the projected lineup by Gavin Sheets, who has hit five home runs in 103 plate appearances this year. Sheets has a 9.71 in the home run model, the third-best mark on the team tonight. The lefty is an outfielder on DraftKings for $2,500 and adds eligibility at first base for the same price on the blue site which gives him nice flexibility. He hit 15 home runs in 410 plate appearances last year and 11 in just 179 in 2021, so the early power display is not out of order. Yasmani Grandal has a .286/.361/.437 triple-slash with three home runs and a 123 WRC+ over 133 plate appearances, the cheap catcher can be played on both sites when stacking White Sox. Jake Burger has an 8.22 in our home run model tonight and he slots in at third base for just $2,800/$3,000. Burger has hit nine home runs and has a .427 ISO in his 85 plate appearances this season, with a ridiculous 22.4% barrel rate but somehow only 49% (still very good) hard hits. Burger hit eight home runs in 183 plate appearances last year, he and Sheets are both post-hype power prospects who never truly arrived and are now playing well in their age 27-28 seasons, they could form a club with Brent Rooker. The projected lineup closes out with Hanser Alberto who has three oddball home runs this year and a .206 ISO in 69 plate appearances after hitting just two home runs in each of the last two seasons in a combined 414 plate appearances. Alberto has a telling 2.86 in our home run model.

Play: White Sox bats/stacks

Update Notes: the Guardians lineup runs Kwan-Rosario-Gimenez-Bell-Brennan-Tyler Freeman-Rocchio-Zunino-Straw. the confirmed White Sox lineup is as expected.

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