Welcome to May 21 MLB DFS action. You’ll find Daily Fantasy Baseball Premium Cliff Notes for May 21 MLB DFS along with LIVE Premium Chat. Make sure you’re using the customizable projections tool, you’re actively participating in the live chat, and you’re reviewing the cliff notes to supplement your research and roster construction process. Very best of luck in tonight’s action!
01:08 Starting Pitcher
16:26 Stacks/Tournament Thoughts
- In cash games, we recommend focusing on value plays to build your rosters (far right hand column of Projections page linked above). Value plays are those we feel have the highest probability of out-earning their current price tag. By packing value plays into your roster, you’re creating a team with a higher floor.
- In tournaments, we recommend building a core of the best value plays and then complementing them with players who have a high ceiling. This combination is essentially turning up the variance on a strong foundation and we believe often is the best recipe for tournament success.
MLB DFS Optimizer Tutorial
Our MLB DFS Optimizer is live. Arturo put together an overview with MLB DFS Optimizer Cliffnotes that walk through the various features and frequently asked questions (FAQs) from customers during testing. We have also produced a basic optimizer tutorial video on YouTube (linked below) as well as a power user optimizer tutorial for the most advanced tournament players on how to get the most out of the optimizer. You can join the #MLB channel in slack if you have additional questions.
May 21 MLB DFS CLIFF NOTES
Justin Verlander (HOU) is the top projected starter and by a wide margin for Tuesday’s main slate. Verlander draws a favorable matchup against the White Sox who have the fourth highest K Rate against RHP and rank 17th in wRC+. Verlander is one of the biggest favorites we’ve seen at -332 with a 2.8 implied total against. He’s a building block in cash games and a tremendous option in all formats.
Zack Greinke (ARI), Clayton Kershaw (LAD), and Zack Wheeler (NYM) project as the next tier of options but all three are nearly double digits in points behind Verlander. Greinke and Kershaw have far better matchups while Wheeler comes with the cheapest price tag. Greinke faces a Padres lineup that has the highest K Rate against RHP and ranks 24th in wRC+ while Kershaw faces a Rays’ offense that has a league high 30.9 percent K Rate against LHP.
While Greinke and Kershaw feel like stronger targets, our projections prefer the price discount on Wheeler. This is mildly terrifying given Wheeler’s struggles against the Nationals this season (3 starts – 15 ⅔ IP, 21 H, 17 ER, 15 K, 10 BB). Vegas seems unfazed with Wheeler a -135 favorite and a 3.7 implied total against in large part due to temperatures in the mid 60s and a strong wind in from LF at 14 mph providing a strong pitching environment. Throw in a favorable umpire for SP with Mike Estabrook behind the plate and Wheeler projects as a viable option in all formats. Our instincts is we’d prefer exposure in tournaments as opposed to cash games.
Caleb Smith (MIA) projects a bit behind this second tier of options but comes with a difficult price tag along with a negative league adjustment. He’s only viable in tournaments.
A large group of secondary options starts with a couple German(s). German Marquez (COL), Domingo German (NYY), Chris Archer (PIT), Jose Quintana (CHC), and Eduardo Rodriguez (BOS) form a deep tier of potential SP2s.
The price tags on Marquez and German are elevated which push them more into the tournament conversation. Marquez is on the fringe of cash game consideration pitching outside of Coors Field against a Pirates offense that ranks 20th in wRC+ against RHP. He has the same implied total against (3.7) as Wheeler but projects for half a strikeout less which results in a gap in projection.
Archer and Quintana are the best values of this group with price tags hovering around $8,000 on DraftKings and in the $7,000s on FanDuel. Archer’s price has fallen of late with a rough first start back from the IL in which he allowed six earned runs in 3 ⅔ innings. He faces a Rockies offense that ranks 25th in wRC+ against RHP with the 10th highest K Rate in the league.
Quintana has a more difficult matchup with the Phillies who rank middle of the pack in wRC+ and bottom 10 in K Rate against LHP with a RH heavy lineup. Quintana does get a favorable home plate umpire that boosts the projection a bit, but this is certainly not an ideal spot to target. The price tag is fine but it’s a low upside spot. He’s a viable cash game target and certainly useful in MME, but not a priority for us on this slate.
The value that really stands out on DraftKings as a potential SP2 is Michael Wacha (STL) who gets a Royals’ offense that loses the DH heading into a National League park and thus has just a 3.9 implied total. Wacha is just $6,600 making him by far the cheapest option with a sub-4.0 implied total against. He’s struggled this year (4.93 ERA, 5.56 FIP, 4.96 xFIP) and the underlying peripherals aren’t encouraging. His swinging strike rate is down, his hard hit rate allowed is up, and his velocity is down slightly. The only bright side is Wacha’s faced a slightly more difficult schedule and the Royals average offense loses a hitter and replaces it with a pitcher. The price tag makes him a viable SP2 on DraftKings to allow for heavier investment on the offensive side.
Sonny Gray (CIN) is priced similarly to Wacha and has been far better this season (4.30 ERA, 3.25 FIP, 3.47 xFIP) but draws a more difficult matchup in Milwaukee against the Brewers. He’s a solid pivot in GPPs.
On a huge 14 game slate there are plenty of alternatives to consider in MME pools for GPPs like Spencer Turnbull (DET) and Matt Strahm (SD) that have favorable matchups but secondary price tags.
1) Texas Rangers
2) New York Yankees
3) Seattle Mariners
4) Houston Astros
There are six offenses on the slate with an implied total above five runs. These four offenses represent the highest implied totals and the best hitting environments. In Texas, temperatures in the low 80s at game time along with a pitching matchup of Lance Lynn and Tommy Milone brings the highest total on the slate (11). Both Seattle and Texas represent strong values and should carry ownership. We don’t expect any single offense to get outsized ownership on the large slate and we think Texas could come in with one of the lower ownerships on this slate due to left-on-left concerns. However, Tommy Milone has been more of a splits-neutral pitcher throughout his career (.316 wOBA, .166 ISO allowed). Both Seattle and Texas represent strong targets in all formats.
The Yankees and Astros both face below average RHPs backed up by bad bullpens. The Yankees get the edge of a guaranteed nine innings with a road matchup but both offenses are expensive. We expect ownership will stick but not get out of control because of the price tags.
5) Boston Red Sox
6) Minnesota Twins
7) St. Louis Cardinals
Boston’s offense is still priced down slightly and appears to be heating up with the weather. The Red Sox have scored nine or more runs in six of their last 14 games after scoring at least nine runs in just two of their first 37 games. The price tags are slightly lower than the other studs on this slate so we have Boston projected as one of the higher owned stacks and not a great spot for leverage.
We think the Twins may provide the most leverage from this tier. Trevor Cahill has been vulnerable to power (2.86 HR/9) and speed (-2 rSB) this year and he’s backed up by a weak bullpen as well.
8) Milwaukee Brewers
9) Los Angeles Angels
Ownership should gap down a bit here in Tier Three where the implied total for the Brewers settles into the mid-4s and the Angels lineup is likely down Ohtani and Simmons due to injury, thinning out the options you’d choose alongside Trout.
Anything beyond these first three tiers should come with really reduced ownership as the implied totals just nose-dive into the low 4s and 3s from here on out. In instances like these you can find really low ownership on some cheap teams that help SP heavy roster builds. The Marlins, Giants, and Tigers fit this mold as contrarian cheap stacks to consider pairing with high end SP in MME.
Gary Sanchez (NYY) is projecting for 10.6 DraftKings points tonight. The gap between Sanchez and the next in line option at the position is over 2 full DraftKings points. The reason for this gap is Sanchez’s .358 wOBA and .268 ISO baselines are unmatched at the position, and he’s hitting cleanup against David Hess tonight. We’d like to find a way to pay up for him, but it won’t be easy given the $5,200 price tag.
If you’re not fitting in Sanchez, you’re punting with Jeff Mathis (TEX). Mathis is a terrible hitter, even with the platoon edge, but he’s $2,200 and gives you exposure to a Rangers offense that we’re expecting to draw an IRT close to 6.
Yasmani Grandal (MIL), Robinson Chirinos (HOU) and J.T. Realmuto (PHI) are the other catchers in this slate with ISO baselines above .200. They’re worth a shot in tournaments. Otherwise, you’re using catchers that are a part of your stacks.
Luke Voit (NYY) and Edwin Encarnacion (SEA) are back to represent first base with the top projections. Encarnacion’s teammate, Daniel Vogelbach (SEA), joins this group tonight. Vogelbach is slightly ourprojecting Encarnacion because he’s a LHB and the matchup against Lance Lynn is particularly favorable for lefties. Since 2017, Lynn has allowed a .353 wOBA and a .180 ISO. In general, we love the upside of this group but reaching them will be difficult in cash games.
Logan Forsythe (TEX) is a way of saving some funds off the top group on FanDuel ($3,300), but not on DraftKings ($4,800). We’re projecting Forsythe to hit second and he carries a solid .336 wOBA vs. LHP. We’re mostly interested in him because he gives you access to the Rangers’ high IRT and should do so in a top four lineup spot.
Otherwise, you’re punting with options like Daniel Murphy (COL) and Tyler White (HOU). We’re not fond of either player at the moment. Murphy looks nothing like his old self, posting a disappointing .248 wOBA and .157 ISO this season. White has struck out 34.4% of the time this season and he’s been dreadful as well (76 wRC+). If you believe in a bounce back, these players can be had for pennies on the dollar on FanDuel and that’s what makes them intriguing.
Matt Carpenter (STL) carries first base eligibility on DraftKings and he’s just $4,200. Whether you play him at first or third is up to you, but our optimals suggest you should have plenty of Carpenter tonight given his context and price tag. Once upon a time (last season), Carpenter was priced over $5,000 on DraftKings routinely – this price tag is simply incorrect.
Dee Gordon (SEA) and DJ LeMahieu (NYY) represent the top projected scorers at second base. We’re siding with Gordon in cash games because he’s slightly cheaper on both sites. Gordon’s $2,900 price tag on FanDuel stands out as a great one. Gordon’s upside is typically tied with his legs, and that’s no different tonight, but our expectation is that the Mariners are going to have an IRT over 5 once again and he’ll be the leadoff hitter.
The focus in tournaments should be upside targets or options that are a part of your stacks. Jonathan Schoop (MIN), Rougned Odor (TEX) and Jonathan Villar (BAL) fit the upside bill. Whit Merrifield (KC) and Michael Chavis (BOS) are additional targets with event upside but their price tags are very appropriate relative to their standard projections. In Chavis’ case, we’ve seen him overwhelm his price tag with his power. Even against RHP, Chavis’ ISO baseline is .215. That’s impressive for a rookie.
Alex Bregman (HOU) carries the top projection at third base. We love Bregman’s baselines (.381 wOBA, .243 ISO vs. RHP) and the matchup against Dylan Covey, the owner of a 7.31 xFIP this season, is a great one. The challenge with Bregman is fitting his expensive price tags in cash games. Otherwise, he’s an excellent tournament play.
Matt Carpenter (STL) is priced accurately on FanDuel ($3,700), but not on DraftKings ($4,200). We’ve been down this road plenty of times this season, but we’ll continue to tout Carpenter when he’s priced this way. The main reason being his baselines (.368 wOBA, .236 ISO vs. RHP) and position in the lineup (leading off) makes this price tag look silly. We’re going after him in all formats.
Happy learned how to putt. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (TOR) is coming off a four home run week, and the price tag on FanDuel ($2,700) remains way too low. Guerrero Jr. will have the platoon edge, and as a rookie ball player we’re projecting baselines of .374 wOBA and .207 ISO for him. We realize that Eduardo Rodriguez isn’t a great matchup, but ultimately Guerrero Jr is too talented to be priced this way.
The alternative to Guerrero Jr. on FanDuel is Asdrubal Cabrera (TEX). Cabrera is projecting to hit seventh, as he did last night, but that’s already baked into his projection and he’s slightly outprojecting Guerrero Jr. The main selling point for Cabrera is that he gives you additional exposure to the Rangers’ offense. He’s viable on DraftKings as well.
Gleyber Torres (NYY) is the top projected scorer at shortstop. Like most expensive players in this slate, Torres’ $5,100 price tag on DraftKings a difficult fit for cash games. However, he’s $3,600 on FanDuel, which is a price tag that you can fit in cash games. The Yankees have an IRT of 5.6, and Torres typically hits in a top five lineup spot.
Carlos Correa (HOU) is close in projection to Torres, but he’s priced accurately on both sites. Correa’s 31.8% HHR over the L15 days is one of the top marks at the position, and he also carries some of the best baselines as well. He’s a great tournament target. Jorge Polanco (MIN) deserves to be considered in that format, too.
Jose Iglesias (CIN) and J.P. Crawford (SEA) are sub $2,800 on FanDuel. They’re negative values but the price tags bring them in play. In general, the shortstop position have very little value in the mid-tier tonight, so our recommendation is to play Torres or punt in cash games.
Corey Seager (LAD) is $3,600 on DraftKings, which brings him into play. Seager’s baselines vs. RHP (.351 wOBA, .190 ISO) are strong relative to where he’s priced. His context isn’t exciting, but it’s difficult to find options priced under $4,000 at the position that check all the boxes tonight.
Zack Cozart (LAA) is $2,200 on DraftKings. We’re not expecting him to draw a strong lineup spot, but that price tag allows you to do quite a bit in this slate.
Joey Gallo (TEX) is rating as the top projected scorer in a slate regardless of position for the second night in a row. This time around, Gallo won’t have the platoon edge, but he’s facing a pitcher in Tommy Milone that’s allowed a career .318 wOBA to LHBs and projects to serve up a 1.78 HR/9 mark this season. There’s a reason Milone is a journeyman at this point in his career – he’s just not a good pitcher.
Unfortunately for Gallo, Mike Trout (LAA), George Springer (HOU), Mookie Betts (BOS) and J.D. Martinez (BOS), they’re simply too expensive to roster in cash games this evening. This entire group is worth rostering in tournaments, with Trout being a logical pivot in cash games off Gallo if you have room for an expensive bat.
There’s another outfielder that’s projecting as a high end option, and that’s Aaron Hicks (NYY). Hicks’ baselines vs. RHP (.352 wOBA, .200 ISO) are more muted than the options above, but he’s hitting third against David Hess (5.16 SIERA this season) in Camden Yards. The context brings him close in projection to the group above. We view Hicks as a phenomenal cash game play.
Andrew Benintendi (BOS) isn’t projecting close to Hicks, but his $4,300 price tag on DraftKings brings him in play as a road leadoff hitter. The same goes for Max Kepler (MIN) (.228 ISO baseline vs. RHP) and Shohei Ohtani (LAA) (.256 ISO baseline vs. RHP). These are great cash game plays on that site.
On FanDuel, Jay Bruce (SEA) and Josh Reddick (HOU) are options to consider in cash games that are priced just above $2,900. Yasiel Puig (CIN) and Kyle Schwarber (CHC) are sub $2,800 on that site and stand out as great values. Both will have the platoon edge, and Schwarber in particular carries a massive .249 ISO baseline vs. RHP.