The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.
Saturday features a nine-game main slate starting at 4:05 p.m. ET.
MLB DFS Pitching Picks
MLB DFS Stud Pick
Dylan Cease ($9,900), Chicago White Sox at Tampa Bay Rays (+102)
There are plenty of strong pitching options to choose from on Saturday. Five starters own a price tag of at least $9,000 on DraftKings, and six starters are priced at $9,000 or higher on FanDuel.
Of that group, Cease stands out as the preferred option in our MLB Models. His Vegas data doesn’t jump off the page — he’s actually a slight underdog against the Rays — but he makes up for it with oodles of projected strikeouts.
Cease emerged as an elite strikeout pitcher last season, racking up 12.28 strikeouts per nine innings, and he’s been even better to start 2022. He’s increased that figure to 12.75, giving him an elite xERA of 2.62. If not for some subpar batted-ball luck, Cease would likely be considered one of the best pitchers in the American League.
The Rays also represent a favorable matchup from a strikeout perspective. They own the fifth-highest strikeout rate against right-handed pitchers, and they rank sixth in Whiff Rate. Unsurprising, Cease leads all pitchers on Saturday’s slate in K Prediction, giving him the highest median and ceiling projections in our MLB Models.
The only real downside with Cease is his projected ownership, which is above 40% on DraftKings.
MLB DFS Value Picks
Logan Webb ($8,500), San Francisco Giants at Miami Marlins (-106)
The Giants and Marlins will square off in an expected pitcher’s duel on Saturday. Pablo Lopez will get the ball for the Marlins, and he’s been outstanding to start the year. However, he’s the most expensive pitcher on the slate.
Webb will get the ball for the Giants, and his price tag is a bit more reasonable. The Giants and Marlins have nearly identical Vegas data on this slate, with both teams currently implied for 3.3 runs. Considering the price difference, that makes Webb the more appealing fantasy option.
Webb has had a bit of a disappointing season, regressing in most major categories after an excellent 2021. His strikeout numbers have been particularly disappointing, and he ranks in just the 38th percentile for qualified pitchers in K rate.
Webb doesn’t figure to see much improvement in that department vs. the Marlins, but he’s a safe investment for his price tag. He owns a Bargain Rating of 87% on DraftKings, and pitchers with comparable salaries and opponent implied team totals have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +1.55 (per the Trends tool).
Aaron Ashby ($7,700) Milwaukee Brewer vs. San Diego Padres
Ashby is coming off of a dominant performance in his last outing, racking up 12 strikeouts over six innings vs. the Cubs. He’ll face a stiff step up in competition Saturday against the Padres, but he appears to be up for the task.
Ashby has pitched 40 innings between the rotation and bullpen for the Brewers this season, and his metrics are elite. He ranks in at least the 81st percentile in most expected pitching metrics, including xwOBA, xERA and xSLG. Ashby has been outstanding at generating swings and misses and limiting hard contact, which is a great formula for pitching success.
Even in a tough matchup, Ashby is simply too talented for his current price tag.
MLB DFS GPP Picks
Triston McKenzie ($8,300) Cleveland Guardians at Baltimore Orioles (-121)
McKenzie is another young arm who has found success this season, pitching to a 2.65 ERA through his first 51 innings. However, he’s a prime regression candidate moving forward.
His Statcast numbers aren’t nearly as impressive as Ashby’s, and he’s benefitted from an unusually low .198 batting average on balls in play. Overall, his 3.94 xERA is significantly higher than his actual ERA.
While I wouldn’t be rushing to roster McKenzie in most situations, the Orioles are a potential exception. They’re merely 20th in wRC+ against right-handed pitchers, and they’re implied for just 4.0 runs.
McKenzie has also been pitching deep into games recently, racking up at least seven innings in three consecutive starts. That kind of length gives him more upside than his mediocre strikeout numbers would suggest, and he’s finished with at least 21.35 DraftKings points in back-to-back games.
Roansy Contreras ($6,800) Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (-136)
Contreras has made just two starts for the Pirates this season, but he has outstanding stuff. He entered the year as the Pirates’ No. 3 prospect per Fangraphs No. 42 in all of baseball.
He’s managed a strong 9.17 strikeouts per nine innings in his first real taste of major-league action, and he has the potential to be even better in that department moving forward. He ranks in the 78th percentile in whiff rate and the 93rd percentile for chase rate, so he excels at generating swings and misses.
Contreras draws an outstanding matchup Saturday against the Diamondbacks. They rank fourth in strikeout rate against right-handed pitchers, so this is the perfect opportunity for him to put his elite stuff on display.
He has upside at just $6,800 vs. the Diamondbacks, and he’s currently projected for less than 5% ownership.
MLB DFS Hitters
The top DraftKings stack using the FantasyLabs ceiling projections belongs to the Nationals:
- Cesar Hernandez (1) ($4,300)
- Keibert Ruiz (2) ($3,900)
- Juan Soto (3) ($4,600)
- Nelson Cruz (4) ($4,200)
- Josh Bell (5) ($4,900)
Saturday’s matchup between the Reds and Nationals features the top total of the day at 9.5 runs.
Both sides have plenty of merit, but the Nationals get the edge in our ceiling projections. Their implied team total is lower than the Reds — who are -132 favorites — but they’re still implied for a healthy 4.6 runs.
The Nats are led by Soto, who is having a bit of a down year. However, a down year from Soto is still very good by traditional standards. He’s posted a 128 wRC+ with 10 homers through his first 54 games, and he’s unsurprisingly been at his best against right-handed pitchers.
He’ll be facing a right-hander on Saturday in Tyler Mahle, who has pitched to a 5.53 ERA this season. His advanced metrics are significantly better, but Soto is capable of getting to anyone.
The rest of the Nats lineup has also fared well against right-handers of late, ranking 11th in ISO over the past seven days. This still will cost you approximately $4,200 per player, which is very reasonable given their matchup and Vegas data.
Top Stacking Pick from THE BAT X
Sticking with that contest, the Reds own the top five-man stack, per THE BAT, in terms of median projection:
The Reds will likely be a bit more popular than the Nationals given their superior implied team total, particularly leadoff hitter Nick Senzel. A $2,400 leadoff hitter is tough to pass up, particularly for a team with a 5.1 implied team total.
However, including Mike Moustakas in your Reds stacks should help differentiate your lineup. He has struggled mightily this season, particularly from a power perspective. His .112 ISO puts him on pace for the worst full-season mark of his career.
His Statcast data doesn’t paint a rosy picture, but Moustakas has a long track record of success. It’s possible he’s not the same hitter at this point, but I’m willing to roll the dice on him on the positive side of his splits. He owns a career .198 ISO against right-handers, and Erick Fedde allows plenty of longballs.
Other MLB DFS Hitter Picks
Yordan Alvarez ($5,200 DraftKings; $4,100 FanDuel), Houston Astros at Kansas City Royals (Kris Bubic)
The Astros own the top implied team total on the slate at 5.3 runs, making them an obvious target on Saturday. However, they are facing a left-hander in Bubic, which could keep the ownership on Alvarez reasonable. Most DFS players don’t like to target left-handed batters in same-side matchups.
That said, Alvarez is still capable of doing damage against southpaws. He owns a 121 wRC+ in that split, and he’s launched two homers against left-handed pitchers.
The Royals are also eventually going to go to their bullpen, so Alvarez could face a right-hander later in the game. They own the second-worst bullpen ERA in the majors, so that’s an appealing proposition. Overall, Alvarez trails only Soto in ceiling projection, per THE BAT.
Manny Machado ($5,500 DraftKings; $4,000 FanDuel), San Diego Padres at Milwaukee Brewers (Ashby)
Ashby figures to be a popular value pitcher on this slate, so Machado is an interesting way to gain some leverage in tournaments. The NL MVP favorite should garner minimal ownership in this spot, but he has been a demon against left-handed pitchers this season.
He’s posted a ridiculous 234 wRC+ and a .413 ISO in that split, so I’m always interested in grabbing a contrarian Machado against a southpaw.
Marcus Semien ($5,000 DraftKings; $3,000 FanDuel), Texas Rangers vs. Seattle Mariners (Marco Gonzales)
Gonzales is one of the weaker pitchers on Saturday’s slate. His 3.55 ERA doesn’t jump off the page, but he owns a 5.14 xERA. He’s managed just 5.15 strikeouts per nine innings, so he’s a major regression candidate moving forward.
Semien stands out as one of the best values of the day at just $3,000 on FanDuel. It results in a Bargain Rating of 94%, and while he’s had a terrible start to his Rangers’ tenure, he’s started to turn things around of late. He’s been an above-average hitter over the past 14 days, posting a 124 wRC+ against southpaws. He can find success in this matchup.
Quinn Harris/Getty Images.
Pictured: Dylan Cease.