Our Blog


MLB DFS Picks Breakdown (Friday, May 20): Big Slate, Mediocre Pitching Options

The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.

Tuesday features a 12-game main slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET.

Start Your PRO Trial Today

Lineup builder and optimizer

Real-time DFS models

Data-driven analysis & tutorials

MLB DFS Pitching Picks

MLB DFS Stud Picks

Sean Manaea ($10,200) San Diego Padres (-105) at San Francisco Giants

While there are three pitchers priced over $10,000 on DraftKings today, none of them feel like true stud plays. Between difficult matchups, secondary metrics suggesting regression, or a lack of upside, each of them have notable question marks. However, Manaea feels like the best play of the group.

He’s taking on a strong Giants team and is actually a slight underdog. Vegas has the Giants implied for a reasonable 3.9 runs, though as always, some of that is expected to come against the bullpen and not Manaea. Where Manaea really stands out among the high-priced pitchers, though, is his underlying metrics.

He’s the only one of the group whose SIERA is lower than his ERA, with the other two showing signs that they’ve been getting lucky. He also has the highest swinging strike rate of the group, at 13% since the start of 2021. While his strikeout numbers are lower than Nestor Cortes ($10,600), the superior swinging strike should mean Manaea eventually ends up with the higher strikeout rate.

He has the highest K Prediction in our models, as well as a slight lead in median projection. Of course, there’s no rule that we have to pay up for one of the top options. None of the group is projecting as a strong value in Pts/Sal, and saving salary might be appealing today.

There’s a game at Coors Field (though early weather reports indicate it’s not likely to play) and three other offenses implied for five or more runs. Still, Manaea would be my choice if I’m looking at the higher end of pitching options.

His ownership should end up very reasonable, given the salary pressures on the slate.


MLB DFS Value Pick

Aaron Civale ($5,800) Cleveland Guardians (-101) vs. Detroit Tigers

Civale is popping as a value in the projections, mainly an excellent matchup with the Tigers. While Detroit’s offense has shown some minor signs of life as of late, they’re still one of the league’s worst units. They strike out at a top-10 rate in the league while ranking dead last in the majors with an offensive war of -1.2. A WAR of 0 is theoretically what a time full of AAA hitters would produce, which speaks to how bad Detroit has been.

The case for Civale isn’t all matchup-based, though. The 26-year-old Civale has shown steady improvement this year, with the best SIERA and strikeout rates of his career. While his ERA is a ridiculous 9.85, all of the predictive measures of ERA point to that being mostly due to a run of bad luck.

Detroit’s 4.5-run implied total is a bit concerning, as is the 18 Weather Rating in this one. Still, at Civale’s salary, he only would need a dozen or so points to be a good play today. THE BAT has him projected for just over 15, making him a strong value. His box scores should keep ownership down as well, so he’s a strong play for both cash games and GPP — if a slightly scary one.


MLB DFS GPP Picks

Tarik Skubal ($9,500) Detroit Tigers (-118) at Cleveland Guardians

At first glance, Skubal is a bit overpriced for a pitcher with 4.3 runs implied against him. However, there’s a lot to like about the young lefty on today’s slate. He’s made giant leaps in his second full season in the majors, posting a SIERA below three through seven games and a 28% strikeout rate. He’s managed to last at least six innings in three of his last four starts as well, which had been a problem for Skubal.

The matchup is also sneakily good. While Cleveland’s offense is strong overall, they’re one of the league’s worst teams against left-handed pitching. They rank second-to-last in OPS and bottom five in wRC+ against southpaws. Skubal and the Tigers are favored for a reason in this one, and the Guardians’ splits against lefties are a big part of it.

Skubal won’t be a popular selection due to costing way too much for his expected production on today’s slate. However, this is an ideal “pay up to be contrarian” spot, with Skubal emerging as the Tiger’s ace of the future. That and the strong splits-considered matchup make him a very interesting play.

Robbie Ray ($8,000) Seattle Mariners (-106) at Boston Red Sox

Ray is another pitcher with a bad on-paper matchup that looks much better when considering the platoon splits. Ray is taking on the Red Sox — who are implied to score 4.4 runs. However, Boston has been dreadful against southpaws this season, with a .280 wOBA and the third-lowest wRC+ in the majors.

Ray also comes into this one with the best strikeout and swinging strike rates on the slate, at 31% and 15%, respectively. That’s why he has the highest K Prediction on the slate at 7.49. His SIERA is also strong at 3.31, the best of any pitcher outside of Rays opener Jalen Beeks ($5,400).

While his ERA is a bit elevated on the season at 4.62, Ray has been solid as a fantasy option. His secondary metrics — and the matchup with Boston — could help fix the run-prevention issues on Friday. He’s worth considering in all contest types but with particular appeal in GPPs.

Chase Silseth ($7,800) Los Angeles Angels (-180) vs. Oakland A’s

Silseth will be making the second start of his big-league career as the Angels host the Oakland A’s. It’s a perfect spot for Sisleth to show what he can do. They were his opponent for the first star of his career, and he threw six scoreless innings while striking out four.

It’s also a great situation for pitching, with this game having an 82 Park Factor for arms and one of the few positive Weather ratings on the slate. That plus the A’s futility explains their 3.5 run total, one of the slate’s lowest.

Silseth is obviously a bit of an unknown, with only one major-league start under his belt. He isn’t/wasn’t a top prospect and was an 11th-round draft pick. The matchup and situation are strong enough to make him worth considering, though, and he’s popping as a strong value at only $7,800 on DraftKings.

MLB DFS Hitters

Notable Stack

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 150 lineups.

The top DraftKings stack in the FantasyLabs MLB Tournament Model when generated by rating belongs to the Milwaukee Brewers:

Note: I manually removed the Mets/Rockies games from my stack builder on account of the weather report. If that game plays, the Mets would be the top stack on the slate.

  • Kolten Wong (1) ($5,200)
  • Luis Urias (2) ($4,800)
  • Christian Yelich (3) ($4,300)
  • Andrew McCutchen (4) ($3,900)
  • Rowdy Tellez (5) ($3,700)

The Brew Crew are implied for just shy of five runs for their home game against the Nationals and pitcher Erick Fedde ($6,500). Fedde has an ERA over five dating back to last season, with a 4.33 SIERA. He’s fared particularly poorly against left-handed hitting, with a wOBA over .350.

That’s a boost for Wong, Yelich, and Tellez, as well as opening up the possibility of mixing in catcher Omar Navarez ($4,100) or 1B/3B Jace Peterson ($4,100). Both are a bit pricey for back-of-the-lineup bats — evident by their negative projected Plus/Minus scores — but would be a unique way to build around Milwaukee.

It’s also a tremendous hitting environment for left-handed hitters, with a 65 Park Factor for lefties that are ranked third on the slate. (The top park being Coors Field, where it’s expected to be 30 degrees and snowing at game time.) With solid hitting weather, this is an above-average situation for Milwaukee hitters.

As an additional note, McCutchen has been on the COVID list for the past two weeks but is eligible to return tonight. Keep an eye on our Lineups Page as we approach to game time to see if he does.


Top Stacking Pick from THE BAT X

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 from Derek Carty of RotoGrinders. With this purchase, you can use his projections alone or create aggregate projections in our Player Models.

The top DraftKings stack from THE BAT, when generated by ceiling belongs to the Los Angeles Dodgers:

While THE BAT seemingly always overvalues the Dodgers, it’s hard to argue with the projections today. Los Angeles is on the road in Philadelphia tonight. Besides the additional guaranteed half-inning, that’s also a much more hitter-friendly park than when the Dodgers are at home (Or on the road within the division, Coors Field excepted.)

They’re taking on Ranger Suarez of the Phillies, who got the better of them in his last start (three runs on five hits over seven innings). However, he has SIERA and xERA numbers well above his 3.72 ERA. It seems highly unlikely he’s able to shut down the Dodgers again today.

Suarez is left-handed, making platoon splits an important factor with Dodgers stacks. Freeman certainly isn’t a bad play even against left-handed pitching (for however long it lasts), but there are other options to pivot to if you’d prefer. My favorite being Haner Alberto ($2,800). He’s the cheapest Dodger hitter by a mile, with nobody else under $4,200. He’s also been quietly excellent throughout his career against lefties, with a .329 batting average over 477 at-bats.

Get Your First Deposit Matched Up to $100!

Sign up and deposit up to $100

Your deposit will be fully matched

New users only

Other MLB DFS Hitter Picks

DJ LeMahieu 2B/3B ($4,500 DraftKings; $3,300 FanDuel) New York Yankees vs. Chicago White Sox (Dallas Keuchel)

While the heading of this section is about LeMahieu, it’s a great time for Yankees hitters in general. They’re taking on Dallas Keuchel ($6,000), a lefty whose best days are clearly behind him. Keuchel has a SIERA over five in each of the last two seasons. LeMahieu is one of a few Yankees with excellent splits against lefties, with a career .319 batting average against them.

Besides DJ, Giancarlo Stanton ($5,700 DraftKings; $3,700 FanDuel) stands out as an excellent choice from New York. The noted lefty-masher has a career OPS of .999 against southpaws.

Harold Castro 1B/3B ($2,400 DraftKings; $2,000 FanDuel) Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Guardians (Aaron Civale)

“Hittin Harold” is exceedingly cheap for a .292 hitter on the season, with his salary staying low thanks to minuscule ownership. He’s arguably been Detroit’s best hitter so far this season, and the Tigers are implied for 4.5 runs in Cleveland tonight. He’s not the most exciting pick, with limited power. However, we need cheap options on tonight’s slate, with Castro being a solid one. His BABIP is the lowest of his career this season as well, so if anything, he’s due for some positive regression moving forward.

Wander Franco SS ($5,200 DraftKings; $3,300 FanDuel) Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles (Tyler Wells)

Franco leads all non-Coors shortstops in the FantasyLabs projection set for median projection as his Rays travel to Camden Yards to take on the Orioles. Baltimore is extremely friendly to left-handed hitters, with a 78 Park Factor. (Franco is a switch hitter, but will be batting from the left side against right-handed Wells.)

Franco has a great mix of power and speed, with four homers and four stolen bases on the season. His .277 BABIP also hints at an incoming breakout. That’s a very low number for a player with his speed.

The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.

Tuesday features a 12-game main slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET.

Start Your PRO Trial Today

Lineup builder and optimizer

Real-time DFS models

Data-driven analysis & tutorials

MLB DFS Pitching Picks

MLB DFS Stud Picks

Sean Manaea ($10,200) San Diego Padres (-105) at San Francisco Giants

While there are three pitchers priced over $10,000 on DraftKings today, none of them feel like true stud plays. Between difficult matchups, secondary metrics suggesting regression, or a lack of upside, each of them have notable question marks. However, Manaea feels like the best play of the group.

He’s taking on a strong Giants team and is actually a slight underdog. Vegas has the Giants implied for a reasonable 3.9 runs, though as always, some of that is expected to come against the bullpen and not Manaea. Where Manaea really stands out among the high-priced pitchers, though, is his underlying metrics.

He’s the only one of the group whose SIERA is lower than his ERA, with the other two showing signs that they’ve been getting lucky. He also has the highest swinging strike rate of the group, at 13% since the start of 2021. While his strikeout numbers are lower than Nestor Cortes ($10,600), the superior swinging strike should mean Manaea eventually ends up with the higher strikeout rate.

He has the highest K Prediction in our models, as well as a slight lead in median projection. Of course, there’s no rule that we have to pay up for one of the top options. None of the group is projecting as a strong value in Pts/Sal, and saving salary might be appealing today.

There’s a game at Coors Field (though early weather reports indicate it’s not likely to play) and three other offenses implied for five or more runs. Still, Manaea would be my choice if I’m looking at the higher end of pitching options.

His ownership should end up very reasonable, given the salary pressures on the slate.


MLB DFS Value Pick

Aaron Civale ($5,800) Cleveland Guardians (-101) vs. Detroit Tigers

Civale is popping as a value in the projections, mainly an excellent matchup with the Tigers. While Detroit’s offense has shown some minor signs of life as of late, they’re still one of the league’s worst units. They strike out at a top-10 rate in the league while ranking dead last in the majors with an offensive war of -1.2. A WAR of 0 is theoretically what a time full of AAA hitters would produce, which speaks to how bad Detroit has been.

The case for Civale isn’t all matchup-based, though. The 26-year-old Civale has shown steady improvement this year, with the best SIERA and strikeout rates of his career. While his ERA is a ridiculous 9.85, all of the predictive measures of ERA point to that being mostly due to a run of bad luck.

Detroit’s 4.5-run implied total is a bit concerning, as is the 18 Weather Rating in this one. Still, at Civale’s salary, he only would need a dozen or so points to be a good play today. THE BAT has him projected for just over 15, making him a strong value. His box scores should keep ownership down as well, so he’s a strong play for both cash games and GPP — if a slightly scary one.


MLB DFS GPP Picks

Tarik Skubal ($9,500) Detroit Tigers (-118) at Cleveland Guardians

At first glance, Skubal is a bit overpriced for a pitcher with 4.3 runs implied against him. However, there’s a lot to like about the young lefty on today’s slate. He’s made giant leaps in his second full season in the majors, posting a SIERA below three through seven games and a 28% strikeout rate. He’s managed to last at least six innings in three of his last four starts as well, which had been a problem for Skubal.

The matchup is also sneakily good. While Cleveland’s offense is strong overall, they’re one of the league’s worst teams against left-handed pitching. They rank second-to-last in OPS and bottom five in wRC+ against southpaws. Skubal and the Tigers are favored for a reason in this one, and the Guardians’ splits against lefties are a big part of it.

Skubal won’t be a popular selection due to costing way too much for his expected production on today’s slate. However, this is an ideal “pay up to be contrarian” spot, with Skubal emerging as the Tiger’s ace of the future. That and the strong splits-considered matchup make him a very interesting play.

Robbie Ray ($8,000) Seattle Mariners (-106) at Boston Red Sox

Ray is another pitcher with a bad on-paper matchup that looks much better when considering the platoon splits. Ray is taking on the Red Sox — who are implied to score 4.4 runs. However, Boston has been dreadful against southpaws this season, with a .280 wOBA and the third-lowest wRC+ in the majors.

Ray also comes into this one with the best strikeout and swinging strike rates on the slate, at 31% and 15%, respectively. That’s why he has the highest K Prediction on the slate at 7.49. His SIERA is also strong at 3.31, the best of any pitcher outside of Rays opener Jalen Beeks ($5,400).

While his ERA is a bit elevated on the season at 4.62, Ray has been solid as a fantasy option. His secondary metrics — and the matchup with Boston — could help fix the run-prevention issues on Friday. He’s worth considering in all contest types but with particular appeal in GPPs.

Chase Silseth ($7,800) Los Angeles Angels (-180) vs. Oakland A’s

Silseth will be making the second start of his big-league career as the Angels host the Oakland A’s. It’s a perfect spot for Sisleth to show what he can do. They were his opponent for the first star of his career, and he threw six scoreless innings while striking out four.

It’s also a great situation for pitching, with this game having an 82 Park Factor for arms and one of the few positive Weather ratings on the slate. That plus the A’s futility explains their 3.5 run total, one of the slate’s lowest.

Silseth is obviously a bit of an unknown, with only one major-league start under his belt. He isn’t/wasn’t a top prospect and was an 11th-round draft pick. The matchup and situation are strong enough to make him worth considering, though, and he’s popping as a strong value at only $7,800 on DraftKings.

MLB DFS Hitters

Notable Stack

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 150 lineups.

The top DraftKings stack in the FantasyLabs MLB Tournament Model when generated by rating belongs to the Milwaukee Brewers:

Note: I manually removed the Mets/Rockies games from my stack builder on account of the weather report. If that game plays, the Mets would be the top stack on the slate.

  • Kolten Wong (1) ($5,200)
  • Luis Urias (2) ($4,800)
  • Christian Yelich (3) ($4,300)
  • Andrew McCutchen (4) ($3,900)
  • Rowdy Tellez (5) ($3,700)

The Brew Crew are implied for just shy of five runs for their home game against the Nationals and pitcher Erick Fedde ($6,500). Fedde has an ERA over five dating back to last season, with a 4.33 SIERA. He’s fared particularly poorly against left-handed hitting, with a wOBA over .350.

That’s a boost for Wong, Yelich, and Tellez, as well as opening up the possibility of mixing in catcher Omar Navarez ($4,100) or 1B/3B Jace Peterson ($4,100). Both are a bit pricey for back-of-the-lineup bats — evident by their negative projected Plus/Minus scores — but would be a unique way to build around Milwaukee.

It’s also a tremendous hitting environment for left-handed hitters, with a 65 Park Factor for lefties that are ranked third on the slate. (The top park being Coors Field, where it’s expected to be 30 degrees and snowing at game time.) With solid hitting weather, this is an above-average situation for Milwaukee hitters.

As an additional note, McCutchen has been on the COVID list for the past two weeks but is eligible to return tonight. Keep an eye on our Lineups Page as we approach to game time to see if he does.


Top Stacking Pick from THE BAT X

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 from Derek Carty of RotoGrinders. With this purchase, you can use his projections alone or create aggregate projections in our Player Models.

The top DraftKings stack from THE BAT, when generated by ceiling belongs to the Los Angeles Dodgers:

While THE BAT seemingly always overvalues the Dodgers, it’s hard to argue with the projections today. Los Angeles is on the road in Philadelphia tonight. Besides the additional guaranteed half-inning, that’s also a much more hitter-friendly park than when the Dodgers are at home (Or on the road within the division, Coors Field excepted.)

They’re taking on Ranger Suarez of the Phillies, who got the better of them in his last start (three runs on five hits over seven innings). However, he has SIERA and xERA numbers well above his 3.72 ERA. It seems highly unlikely he’s able to shut down the Dodgers again today.

Suarez is left-handed, making platoon splits an important factor with Dodgers stacks. Freeman certainly isn’t a bad play even against left-handed pitching (for however long it lasts), but there are other options to pivot to if you’d prefer. My favorite being Haner Alberto ($2,800). He’s the cheapest Dodger hitter by a mile, with nobody else under $4,200. He’s also been quietly excellent throughout his career against lefties, with a .329 batting average over 477 at-bats.

Get Your First Deposit Matched Up to $100!

Sign up and deposit up to $100

Your deposit will be fully matched

New users only

Other MLB DFS Hitter Picks

DJ LeMahieu 2B/3B ($4,500 DraftKings; $3,300 FanDuel) New York Yankees vs. Chicago White Sox (Dallas Keuchel)

While the heading of this section is about LeMahieu, it’s a great time for Yankees hitters in general. They’re taking on Dallas Keuchel ($6,000), a lefty whose best days are clearly behind him. Keuchel has a SIERA over five in each of the last two seasons. LeMahieu is one of a few Yankees with excellent splits against lefties, with a career .319 batting average against them.

Besides DJ, Giancarlo Stanton ($5,700 DraftKings; $3,700 FanDuel) stands out as an excellent choice from New York. The noted lefty-masher has a career OPS of .999 against southpaws.

Harold Castro 1B/3B ($2,400 DraftKings; $2,000 FanDuel) Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Guardians (Aaron Civale)

“Hittin Harold” is exceedingly cheap for a .292 hitter on the season, with his salary staying low thanks to minuscule ownership. He’s arguably been Detroit’s best hitter so far this season, and the Tigers are implied for 4.5 runs in Cleveland tonight. He’s not the most exciting pick, with limited power. However, we need cheap options on tonight’s slate, with Castro being a solid one. His BABIP is the lowest of his career this season as well, so if anything, he’s due for some positive regression moving forward.

Wander Franco SS ($5,200 DraftKings; $3,300 FanDuel) Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles (Tyler Wells)

Franco leads all non-Coors shortstops in the FantasyLabs projection set for median projection as his Rays travel to Camden Yards to take on the Orioles. Baltimore is extremely friendly to left-handed hitters, with a 78 Park Factor. (Franco is a switch hitter, but will be batting from the left side against right-handed Wells.)

Franco has a great mix of power and speed, with four homers and four stolen bases on the season. His .277 BABIP also hints at an incoming breakout. That’s a very low number for a player with his speed.