The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players within our MLB Player Models.
Saturday features a seven-game main slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET.
MLB DFS Pitcher Picks
MLB DFS Stud Pick
The high-end pitching options are slim on Saturday’s main slate. Just two pitchers are priced above $8,800 on DraftKings. Framber Valdez is one of them, and he has one of the toughest possible matchups vs. the Braves. They’re currently implied for 4.3 runs, which makes Valdez very tough to roster at his current price tag.
That leaves Luis Castillo as the top option by default. His matchup vs. the Cardinals isn’t a walk in the park, but they’re much more exploitable than the Braves. They rank 12th in wRC+ vs. right-handers to start the year, and most of their top hitters prefer facing left-handers. Ultimately, their implied team total of 3.4 runs is the lowest mark on the slate, and Castillo is a solid -164 favorite.
Castillo has also been phenomenal in his first full season with the Mariners. He’s pitched to a 0.73 ERA across his first four outings, and while that’s clearly unsustainable, his 1.72 FIP and 2.32 xERA are still phenomenal. He’s also racked up 9.49 strikeouts per nine innings, and he has at least six punchouts in three of four starts. His K Prediction of 6.06 vs. the Cardinals is the third-highest mark on the slate, so he brings a bit of upside to the table in this matchup.
Castillo stands out as the safest pitching option on a relatively weak slate, particularly on DraftKings given his 70% Bargain Rating.
MLB DFS Value Pick
Andrew Heaney isn’t that much cheaper than Castillo on DraftKings, but he’s -$2,100 less expensive on FanDuel. That’s a nice chunk of change, making Heaney the preferred target. He leads all pitchers in projected Plus/Minus per THE BAT across the industry, but the gap between Heaney and the rest of the field is particularly wide on FanDuel.
Heaney benefits from one of the best possible matchups vs. the A’s. Oakland hasn’t been dreadful to start the year vs. southpaws, but it’s over a relatively small sample size. They were merely 25th in wRC+ in that split last season, and they don’t figure to be much improved in 2023.
Heaney’s Vegas data is arguably the strongest on the slate. His 3.7 opponent implied run total is slightly higher than Castillo’s, but he makes up for it with massive win upside. He’s a -240 moneyline favorite, and pitchers with comparable Vegas data have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +3.48 on FanDuel (per the Trends tool).
Heaney also provides elite strikeout upside. He averaged an outstanding 13.62 strikeouts per nine innings across 72.2 innings in 2022, and he’s followed that up with an 11.37 K/9 through his first three starts this season. Heaney also ranks in the 79th percentile in average exit velocity, which suggests he’s been far better than his 4.97 ERA suggests.
Walks have been the biggest issue for Heaney this season, with his 4.97 BB/9 nearly double his career average of 2.56. If he can improve in that department, he has the potential to be one of the most undervalued starters in fantasy.
MLB DFS GPP Picks
Picking on the Tigers’ offense has paid dividends for most of the past two seasons, and Tyler Wells held them scoreless over seven innings on Friday. If Wells can do it, Kyle Gibson can do it too. Gibson is far from a frontline starter, but he’s posted respectable numbers for most of his career. He’s a -180 favorite vs. Detroit, and their implied run total of 3.5 is the second-lowest mark on the slate.
Kyle Wright won a league-high 21 starts last season, which goes to show just how silly wins are when evaluating a pitcher. His 3.19 ERA and 3.89 xERA weren’t bad, but they’re not what you expect from a pitcher with the most wins in baseball. Wright has regressed to start the new season, and he’s allowed 7.27 free passes per nine innings. Still, his xERA and FIP aren’t that much worse than his marks from last season, and he’s striking out more than a batter per inning. If he can get his walks under control – something that has been an issue for him in the past – he’s an improvement candidate moving forward. He’s an interesting GPP target vs. the Astros at just $6,800 on DraftKings.
Valdez is much more viable on FanDuel than DraftKings. He’s significantly cheaper than Castillo, and his $10,000 price tag comes with a slate-high Bargain Rating of 89%. He still has to navigate a brutal matchup vs. the Braves, but Valdez brings more strikeout upside to the table than any other starter. He’s managed 25 strikeouts in his 25 innings this season, and the Braves’ projected lineup has whiffed in 26.9% of at bats vs. southpaws over the past 12 months. That’s the second-highest splits-adjusted mark on the slate, trailing only the lowly Tigers.
MLB DFS Hitter Picks
With the Lineup Builder, it’s easy to incorporate stacks into DFS rosters.
Also, don’t forget that for large-field tournaments, you can utilize our Lineup Optimizer to effortlessly create up to 300 lineups.
The top DraftKings stack in our MLB Models when generated by projected points using THE BAT belongs to the Los Angeles Angels:
The Angels’ stack is not short on star power, with Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout standing out as two of the top hitters in baseball. Hunter Renfroe, Taylor Ward, and Anthony Rendon aren’t cheap either, so the full five-man combo will set you back $26,100. That’s going to make them a tough team to fit alongside a stud pitcher.
Still, they could be worth it against Zach Greinke. Greinke was once one of the most feared pitchers in baseball, but that feels like ages ago. He’s now 39 years old and virtually incapable of missing bats, averaging 4.8 and 6.32 strikeouts per nine innings over the past two years. It’s hard to be a successful pitcher when you allow that much contact. His 4.03 ERA through his first four starts isn’t dreadful, but his 4.93 xERA is the worst mark of his career. The Angels are ultimately implied for 5.2 runs in this matchup, which is the third-highest mark on the slate.
Of the group, Ohtani stands out as the strongest option. He’s the only left-handed batter in the stack, and Greinke’s struggles have come predominantly in those matchups this season. Opposing LHBs have managed a .406 wOBA against him, and all three of his homers have come against lefties. If you’re looking to make this stack a bit cheaper, you could consider replacing someone like Renfroe with a cheap lefty like Jake Lamb or Matt Thaiss. Those combinations should also result in a bit less cumulative ownership.
Other MLB DFS Hitters
One of the great features of being a FantasyLabs Pro member is the option to purchase additional items in the FantasyLabs Marketplace.
A new addition to our MLB projections is THE BAT X from Derek Carty of RotoGrinders. With this purchase, you can use his projections alone or create aggregate projections within our Player Models.
For this example, we created a 50/50 blend with THE BAT X and the FantasyLabs projections to pinpoint some hitters that stand out.
Fernando Tatis Jr. SS/OF ($5,200 DraftKings; $4,400 FanDuel) San Diego Padres at Arizona Diamondbacks (Merrill Kelly)
Tatis is back from his suspension, but he’s yet to really make an impact in his first two games. He’s gone just 1-9 at the dish, with his lone hit just a single in Friday’s contest. That said, Tatis was absurdly good during his minor league stint to start the year, launching seven homers with a 1.802 OPS across eight games. There’s obviously a big difference between Triple-A and MLB pitching, but Tatis has a proven track record of success at the highest level. It’s only a matter of time before he breaks out, and once he does, his price tag is only going up. He leads all hitters on DraftKings in projected Plus/Minus using the aggregate projections.
Travis Jankowski OF ($3,200 DraftKings; $2,800 FanDuel) Texas Rangers vs. Oakland Athletics (Shintaro Fujinami)
The Rangers are one of the strongest offenses to target on Saturday. Fujinami has struggled mightily in his transition to the MLB, pitching to an 11.37 ERA through his first three starts. He’s walked nearly as many batters as he’s struck out, and opposing batters have done significant damage when they’ve put the ball in play. Fujinami ranks in the 20th percentile in average exit velocity and 35th percentile in hard-hit rate, so even if he gets his control issues sorted out, he may not be looking at a ton of improvement. The Rangers are currently implied for a slate-high 5.6 runs, and Jankowski is expected to bat second in their lineup. He’ll also be on the positive side of his splits, making him an elite cash game option at his cheap price tag across the industry.
Salvador Perez C ($4,700 DraftKings; $2,800 FanDuel) Kansas City Royals at Los Angeles Angels (Tyler Anderson)
Perez is priced at a massive discount on FanDuel, where his $2,800 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 93%. Of course, you don’t need to roster a catcher on FanDuel, but Perez is worth consideration regardless of his position. He’s off to a slow start at the dish this season, but Perez has always been a dangerous hitter against left-handed pitchers. He posted a 132 wRC+ in that split last season, and he launched 15 extra-base hits in just 108 at-bats. Anderson has struggled to a 6.75 ERA and 8.25 FIP in his first three starts with the Angels, with opposing RHBs posting a .501 wOBA.