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 six-game main slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET.
MLB DFS Pitcher Picks
MLB DFS Stud Pick
Zac Gallen is an absolute monster. He may not throw 100 miles per hour like some of the other top starters in baseball, but that hasn’t stopped him from becoming one of the most dominant pitchers in the league. He pitched to a 2.54 ERA last season thanks to 44.1 consecutive scoreless innings, the seventh-longest streak in baseball history.
As good as Gallen was last year, he’s been even better to start the new year. He’s pitched to a 2.36 ERA and a 1.66 FIP, and he leads all pitchers with 2.4 FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement.
The biggest development is that he’s inducing more strikeouts, averaging 11.60 per nine innings. His K Rate ranks in the 92nd percentile, and his whiff rate is up on every pitch across the board. The increased strikeout rate has allowed Gallen to take his fantasy game to the next level, and he’s posted an average Plus/Minus of +14.67 over his past five starts on DraftKings.
Gallen stands out as the clear top arm on Saturday’s slate in his matchup vs. the Giants. He leads all pitchers with an opponent implied team total of 3.4 runs, while his -175 moneyline odds are tied for first. Historically, pitchers with comparable Vegas data have averaged a Plus/Minus of +2.04, and adding in a comparable K Prediction increases that figure to +4.30 (per the Trends tool).
The Giants’ offense does have some power – they rank third in ISO vs. right-handed pitchers – but they also strike out at a high clip. They boast the sixth-highest strikeout rate vs. right-handed pitchers, so Gallen has plenty of upside in this spot.
MLB DFS Value Pick
There really isn’t a great cheap option to target at SP2 this slate. Only two pitchers have a projected Plus/Minus of better than +0.83 in THE BAT, and one of them is Zack Greinke. Greinke has struggled to a 5.18 ERA and has averaged less than six strikeouts per nine innings this season, so I can’t in good conscience recommend him.
That leaves Tyler Wells as the default option. He’s not cheap at $8,100, but he leads all pitchers in projected Plus/Minus. Wells isn’t someone that would typically stand out at that price tag. He’s pitched to a respectable 3.15 ERA this season, but he’s clearly benefited from some outstanding batted-ball luck. Opposing batters have managed just a .155 batting average on balls in play, which is easily the best mark in the league among qualified pitchers. Domingo German ranks second in that department, and he’s miles behind Wells at .194.
Where Wells really stands out is with his matchup. After cruising to a 20-9 record to start the year, the Pirates have come crashing back to reality in May. They’ve won just one of their past 10 games, averaging just 1.6 runs per game in the process. They haven’t scored more than three runs in a game since April 29th, so their offense has been easily the worst in baseball over that time frame.
With that in mind, it’s not surprising that Wells’ Vegas data is solid. His 3.8-run opponent implied team total trails only Gallen, and he’s a -175 favorite. That makes him a pretty safe choice for cash games.
MLB DFS GPP Picks
Dylan Cease is the only pitcher on this slate that can match Gallen from a strikeout perspective. Cease has averaged 10.93 strikeouts per nine innings to start the year, and he’s been at 11.1 or better in each of the previous two seasons. The rest of Cease’s numbers are down this season – particularly his 5.58 ERA – but his track record suggests he’s a progression candidate moving forward. He’s matchup vs. the Astros isn’t great, but he ranks second in ceiling projection in THE BAT and is projected for significantly less ownership than Gallen.
Cease also grades out well from a strikeout perspective using our PrizePicks and Underdog Fantasy simulations table:
Julio Urias also enters the stud conversation on FanDuel, where he leads all pitchers with an 81% Bargain Rating. His K Prediction isn’t quite as good as Gallen and Cease, but he’s settled in after a subpar start to the year. He’s pitched to a 2.13 ERA and 2.74 FIP over his past two outings, one of which was against the Padres. He’ll face the same Padres squad on Saturday, and while their offense is strong vs. southpaws, Urias has the potential to prevail.
Greinke may not be good enough to make the “value” section anymore, but I’m still throwing him in as a GPP target. He’s dirt cheap at $5,500 on DraftKings, and he has a bit more upside than usual vs. the Brewers. Their projected lineup has the second-highest splits-adjusted strikeout rate on the slate, and Greinke can still get the job done occasionally. He racked up 19.45 DraftKings points two starts ago, which was good for a +10.96 Plus/Minus. At around 5% projected ownership, he’s an option for those looking to load up on Coors Field.
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 Philadelphia Phillies:
Coors Field was a bit quiet on Friday, at least by Coors Field standards. The Phillies did manage six runs and two homers, but that’s not quite what we’re looking for at these price tags. The top Phillies’ stack will cost you more than $5,000 per player, so it’s not going to leave you a ton of flexibility.
Still, the Phillies once again top the stack leaderboard on Saturday. They’re implied for an even greater total on this slate, checking in at 6.5 runs, and the gap between the Phillies and the rest of the field is massive. The Rockies rank second at 5.3 runs, and only five teams are within even two runs of the Phillies.
While Friday’s matchup was against a southpaw, Saturday’s matchup will come vs. a traditional pitcher. That’s a good thing for their top hitters. Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper will both be on the positive side of their splits, and the Phillies have unsurprisingly fared better vs. right-handers this season. They rank 10th in wRC+ in that split compared to 23rd vs. left-handers.
Opposing starter Ryan Feltner is also a pretty mediocre right-hander. He’s pitched to a 5.08 ERA this season, and he had a 5.83 ERA in 97.1 innings last year. Left-handed batters have also teed off on Feltner at Coors, posting a .385 wOBA.
Other MLB DFS Hitter Picks
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.
Ezequiel Tovar SS ($2,900 DraftKings; $3,000 FanDuel) Colorado Rockies vs. Philadelphia Phillies (Ranger Suarez)
We’re going to need to find some value on this slate, and Tovar stands out as an elite value option on DraftKings. His $2,900 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 92%, and he’s expected to bat second for the Rockies. Tovar is also a much better hitter than his salary suggests, particularly against left-handed pitchers. He’s posted a .350 wOBA and a .222 ISO in that split over the past 12 months, and he’s averaged a Plus/Minus of +4.17 over his past 10 games.
Jesse Winker OF ($2,800 DraftKings; $2,500 FanDuel) Milwaukee Brewers vs. Kansas City Royals (Zack Greinke)
If you need a value outfielder, Winker makes sense at a sub-$3k price tag across the industry. Winker hasn’t gotten off to a great start in his first year with the Brewers, posting just an 84 wRC+. He’s also yet to hit a homer, and he boasts just a .041 ISO. That’s the type of number you expect for a slap-hitting middle infielder, not a former All-Star outfielder. However, Winker has historically feasted on right-handed pitchers, and Greinke is a very exploitable right-hander. He’s surrendered a .361 wOBA to left-handed batters this season, so perhaps this is the spot where Winker gets on the board.
Fernando Tatis Jr. SS/OF ($6,000 DraftKings; $3,800 FanDuel) San Diego Padres at Los Angeles Dodgers (Julio Urias)
Paying up for any non-Coors option on Saturday should be pretty contrarian. That might not be the case with Tatis on FanDuel, where he remains ridiculously underpriced, but it’s definitely true on DraftKings. He’s gone yard five times in his first 19 games, and he remains a threat on the bases as well. Tatis has done his best work vs. southpaws, posting an unreal 209 wRC+. He’s posted a 167 wRC+ in that split for his career, so he has the ability to succeed in this matchup.