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MLB DFS Picks Breakdown (Monday, May 23): Gerrit Cole Tops Pitching Options

mlb-dfs-breakdown-gerrit cole-september 19-2021

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

Monday features a 10-game main slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET.

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MLB DFS Pitching Picks

MLB DFS Stud Picks

Gerrit Cole ($10,500) New York Yankees (-335) vs. Baltimore Orioles

In MLB DFS, we’re often stuck with two choices: A star pitcher in a great matchup or a lesser arm in a favorable situation. Monday’s slate is not one of those times. It would be hard to argue against Cole’s case as the best pitcher on the slate. This season, he has a 28.5% strikeout rate and a SIERA below three.

He also has an excellent matchup. Baltimore is one of the league’s worst lineups, ranking bottom ten in the MLB in both wOBA and wRC+. Their 2.7-run implied total is about as low as you’ll see in an MLB game, and Cole’s -335 moneyline odds are equally outstanding.

Naturally, Cole is running away with the projections, leading both FantasyLabs and THE BAT’s set for median and ceiling by a comfortable margin. This isn’t a pick that should require a ton of explanation, and Cole is an excellent option for all formats. His ownership will certainly reflect that, but we can get contrarian elsewhere in our lineups.

Zack Wheeler ($9,900) Philadelphia Phillies (-134) at Atlanta Braves

If one wanted to argue against Cole being the slate’s best pitcher, Wheeler would be part of that case. His SIERA and strikeout numbers this season are just slightly lower than Cole’s. He’s slightly outscored Cole from a fantasy perspective over the last calendar year, though Cole has been better this season.

Unfortunately for Wheeler — and fantasy players who want to fade the chalk — his situation is considerably more difficult. He’s taking on a solid Atlanta offense that’s been roughly league average on the season. However, those numbers are based on a lineup that was without Ronald Acuna Jr. ($6,100) for about two-thirds of the season.

The Acuna-led Braves are implied for 3.8 runs against Wheeler, considerably more than the total facing Cole. Wheeler’s moneyline odds are also significantly worse, as is his K Prediction. It would be one thing to take on the risk if his salary was considerably cheaper than Cole’s, but the $600 in savings isn’t that impactful.

On the bull case for Wheeler, his ownership should be considerably lower than Cole’s. With as high variance as baseball is, Wheeler’s chances of outperforming Cole are likely far higher than their relative ownership levels would indicate. Cole and Wheeler lineups — given their salary — should also be fairly uncommon and could be a significant edge if one can find enough production from cheaper hitters. Wheeler trails only Cole in median and ceiling projections.


MLB DFS Value Pick

Marco Gonzales ($5,300) Seattle Mariners (-169) vs. Oakland A’s

We’ve covered a good pitcher in a good matchup with Cole. We’ve covered a good pitcher in a mediocre matchup with Wheeler. With Gonzales, we have a relatively bad pitcher in a great matchup. Gonzales has a SIERA of nearly five on the season while striking out only 14% of the hitters he’s faced.

He’s also taking on the Oakland A’s, who have the lowest wOBA in the league, and their 24% strikeout rate is one of the highest marks as well. Even Gonzales should be able to get it done in a matchup like that. Vegas is on his side, with the Mariners as moderate favorites and the A’s implied for only 3.1 runs.

That makes Gonzales a reasonably safe choice, though his lack of strikeout upside is a legitimate concern. However, at just $5,300, he doesn’t need a ton of strikeouts to pay off his salary. That makes him a great cash game selection. He’s solid for GPPs as well, but not the type of pitcher I’m willing to play as chalk. Keep an eye on projections as they come out closer to lock, but have a backup plan if he looks to be one of the more popular options.


MLB DFS GPP Picks

L.H. Garcia ($8,700) Houston Astros (-200) vs. Cleveland Guardians

Garcia has shown marked improvements in his third year as a starter, with a career-low SIERA and a career-high strikeout rate. Both numbers are quickly approaching elite levels, and he also has a reasonable matchup against the Guardians.

The real appeal with Garcia is his considerably lower ownership projections. With most people expected to pay up for Cole and match him with a cheaper option, the upper-middle tier of pitchers like Garcia will probably be overlooked. However, he still has a plausible case for ending up with the highest pitching score on the slate.

His Vegas data is also strong, checking in as one of only three pitchers with -200 or better moneyline odds. The Guardians implied team total of 3.6 runs is also the fifth-lowest mark on the slate. He feels a bit risky given the perceived strength of some of the other arms today, but that’s why he’s a good GPP option.

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 Houston Astros:

  • Jose Altuve (1) ($5,500)
  • Michael Brantley (2) ($4,000)
  • Alex Bregman (3) ($5,000)
  • Yordan Alvarez (4) ($5,600)
  • Yuli Gurriel (5) ($4,000)

The Astros are one of three offenses implied for at least five runs on today’s slate. It’s not entirely due to the pitching matchup, as opposing starter Triston McKenzie has performed reasonably well. He has a 3.83 SIERA this season and reasonable metrics across the board.

It speaks to the strengths of the Astros offense that they’re still implied for such a high total. They lead the league in offensive WAR while ranking top five in slugging. Crucially, they also rank third from last in BABIP. They aren’t an especially slow team, and they tend to hit the ball hard. That means they’ve been getting somewhat unlucky offensively on the year, even though they’ve had success.

Anytime we can get a team that fits those criteria at reasonably low ownership, it’s worth considering in GPPs. Outside of Altuve, none of the Astros in this stack rank among the top two at their position in ownership projections.


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:

The Dodgers are yet again popping in THE BAT’s ceiling projections. They’re on the road in Washington to face off with starter Joan Adon ($6,800). While the Dodgers bats are always in play thanks to their star-studded lineup, today is an exceptional situation.

The Dodgers being on the road is one reason why, as in addition to the guaranteed ninth inning, they also move to a more friendly park for bats in Washington. While it’s not one of the top hitter’s parks in the league, the Park Factor of 44 for righties is somewhat better than the 28 in Los Angeles.

They also have one of the slate’s best pitching matchups, with Adon sporting a 5.02 SIERA and an ERA of 6.38. That came primarily against far worse offenses than the Dodgers. Adon has lasted less than five innings on average this season, which also helps Los Angeles. The Nationals bullpen ranks bottom-ten in ERA.

All things considered, it’s hard to go wrong with the Dodgers tonight. Full stacks are certainly in play, and one could mix and match options around another team. With ten games on the slate, ownership also isn’t a major concern.

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Other MLB DFS Hitter Picks

Byron Buxton OF ($5,800 DraftKings; $4,000 FanDuel) Minnesota Twins vs. Detroit Tigers (Beau Brieske)

The Twins are the third team with a five-run or better implied team total on Monday. They’re hosting the Tigers, who are projected to start rookie Beau Brieske. Brieske has had a rough start to his big league career, with both a SIERA and ERA over five coming into the game.

That makes the Twins appealing, with MVP candidate Buxton the best option among them. While he’s hitting just .228 on the season, his eleven home runs rank top five in the majors despite missing roughly a week due to injury. The speedy Buxton also has a ridiculously low BABIP of .200 on the year, well below his career mark of .310. A BABIP of .300 would result in Buxton hitting above .300 based on his current strikeout numbers.

That means his 9.6 PPG average over the last month is actually lower than it should be. There’s no better time for positive regression than against a 4A pitcher like Brieske, making Buxton a top option. He trails only Aaron Judge in THE BAT’s median proejctions while coming in $400 cheaper on both sites.

Whit Merrifield 2B/OF ($4,600 DraftKings; $3,200 FanDuel) Kansas City Royals at Arizona Diamondbacks (Zach Davies)

Merrifield is expected to leadoff for the Royals as they travel to Arizona to face off against starter Zach Davies. While there are plenty of juicy pitching matchups on the slate, Davies stands out as one of the better ones. His SIERA and ERA dating back to last season are both on the wrong side of five.

This game also has the best Weather Rating for hitters on the slate, with the usual 90-degree temperatures in Arizona. It. also features a slightly positive Park Factor, making it a sneaky game to target. Merrifield is my favorite selection, primarily due to his spot in the lineup for the visiting team and his multi-position eligibility. The rest of the Royals and Diamondbacks are also in play. The Royals Zack Greinke has also been very exploitable this season.

Alec Bohm 3B ($3,900 DraftKings; $2,800 FanDuel) Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves (Tucker Davidson)

Davidson is yet another exploitable pitching matchup on this slate, with SIERA and ERA numbers approaching six. The Phillies are implied for 4.6 runs against the lefty. I’m expecting some of that production to come from Bohm, who has strong platoon splits against southpaws. His OPS of .796 against left-handed pitching is more than 100 points higher than his mark against righties. He’s reasonably priced and expected to bat second, both of which work in his favor.

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

Monday features a 10-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

Gerrit Cole ($10,500) New York Yankees (-335) vs. Baltimore Orioles

In MLB DFS, we’re often stuck with two choices: A star pitcher in a great matchup or a lesser arm in a favorable situation. Monday’s slate is not one of those times. It would be hard to argue against Cole’s case as the best pitcher on the slate. This season, he has a 28.5% strikeout rate and a SIERA below three.

He also has an excellent matchup. Baltimore is one of the league’s worst lineups, ranking bottom ten in the MLB in both wOBA and wRC+. Their 2.7-run implied total is about as low as you’ll see in an MLB game, and Cole’s -335 moneyline odds are equally outstanding.

Naturally, Cole is running away with the projections, leading both FantasyLabs and THE BAT’s set for median and ceiling by a comfortable margin. This isn’t a pick that should require a ton of explanation, and Cole is an excellent option for all formats. His ownership will certainly reflect that, but we can get contrarian elsewhere in our lineups.

Zack Wheeler ($9,900) Philadelphia Phillies (-134) at Atlanta Braves

If one wanted to argue against Cole being the slate’s best pitcher, Wheeler would be part of that case. His SIERA and strikeout numbers this season are just slightly lower than Cole’s. He’s slightly outscored Cole from a fantasy perspective over the last calendar year, though Cole has been better this season.

Unfortunately for Wheeler — and fantasy players who want to fade the chalk — his situation is considerably more difficult. He’s taking on a solid Atlanta offense that’s been roughly league average on the season. However, those numbers are based on a lineup that was without Ronald Acuna Jr. ($6,100) for about two-thirds of the season.

The Acuna-led Braves are implied for 3.8 runs against Wheeler, considerably more than the total facing Cole. Wheeler’s moneyline odds are also significantly worse, as is his K Prediction. It would be one thing to take on the risk if his salary was considerably cheaper than Cole’s, but the $600 in savings isn’t that impactful.

On the bull case for Wheeler, his ownership should be considerably lower than Cole’s. With as high variance as baseball is, Wheeler’s chances of outperforming Cole are likely far higher than their relative ownership levels would indicate. Cole and Wheeler lineups — given their salary — should also be fairly uncommon and could be a significant edge if one can find enough production from cheaper hitters. Wheeler trails only Cole in median and ceiling projections.


MLB DFS Value Pick

Marco Gonzales ($5,300) Seattle Mariners (-169) vs. Oakland A’s

We’ve covered a good pitcher in a good matchup with Cole. We’ve covered a good pitcher in a mediocre matchup with Wheeler. With Gonzales, we have a relatively bad pitcher in a great matchup. Gonzales has a SIERA of nearly five on the season while striking out only 14% of the hitters he’s faced.

He’s also taking on the Oakland A’s, who have the lowest wOBA in the league, and their 24% strikeout rate is one of the highest marks as well. Even Gonzales should be able to get it done in a matchup like that. Vegas is on his side, with the Mariners as moderate favorites and the A’s implied for only 3.1 runs.

That makes Gonzales a reasonably safe choice, though his lack of strikeout upside is a legitimate concern. However, at just $5,300, he doesn’t need a ton of strikeouts to pay off his salary. That makes him a great cash game selection. He’s solid for GPPs as well, but not the type of pitcher I’m willing to play as chalk. Keep an eye on projections as they come out closer to lock, but have a backup plan if he looks to be one of the more popular options.


MLB DFS GPP Picks

L.H. Garcia ($8,700) Houston Astros (-200) vs. Cleveland Guardians

Garcia has shown marked improvements in his third year as a starter, with a career-low SIERA and a career-high strikeout rate. Both numbers are quickly approaching elite levels, and he also has a reasonable matchup against the Guardians.

The real appeal with Garcia is his considerably lower ownership projections. With most people expected to pay up for Cole and match him with a cheaper option, the upper-middle tier of pitchers like Garcia will probably be overlooked. However, he still has a plausible case for ending up with the highest pitching score on the slate.

His Vegas data is also strong, checking in as one of only three pitchers with -200 or better moneyline odds. The Guardians implied team total of 3.6 runs is also the fifth-lowest mark on the slate. He feels a bit risky given the perceived strength of some of the other arms today, but that’s why he’s a good GPP option.

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 Houston Astros:

  • Jose Altuve (1) ($5,500)
  • Michael Brantley (2) ($4,000)
  • Alex Bregman (3) ($5,000)
  • Yordan Alvarez (4) ($5,600)
  • Yuli Gurriel (5) ($4,000)

The Astros are one of three offenses implied for at least five runs on today’s slate. It’s not entirely due to the pitching matchup, as opposing starter Triston McKenzie has performed reasonably well. He has a 3.83 SIERA this season and reasonable metrics across the board.

It speaks to the strengths of the Astros offense that they’re still implied for such a high total. They lead the league in offensive WAR while ranking top five in slugging. Crucially, they also rank third from last in BABIP. They aren’t an especially slow team, and they tend to hit the ball hard. That means they’ve been getting somewhat unlucky offensively on the year, even though they’ve had success.

Anytime we can get a team that fits those criteria at reasonably low ownership, it’s worth considering in GPPs. Outside of Altuve, none of the Astros in this stack rank among the top two at their position in ownership projections.


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:

The Dodgers are yet again popping in THE BAT’s ceiling projections. They’re on the road in Washington to face off with starter Joan Adon ($6,800). While the Dodgers bats are always in play thanks to their star-studded lineup, today is an exceptional situation.

The Dodgers being on the road is one reason why, as in addition to the guaranteed ninth inning, they also move to a more friendly park for bats in Washington. While it’s not one of the top hitter’s parks in the league, the Park Factor of 44 for righties is somewhat better than the 28 in Los Angeles.

They also have one of the slate’s best pitching matchups, with Adon sporting a 5.02 SIERA and an ERA of 6.38. That came primarily against far worse offenses than the Dodgers. Adon has lasted less than five innings on average this season, which also helps Los Angeles. The Nationals bullpen ranks bottom-ten in ERA.

All things considered, it’s hard to go wrong with the Dodgers tonight. Full stacks are certainly in play, and one could mix and match options around another team. With ten games on the slate, ownership also isn’t a major concern.

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

Byron Buxton OF ($5,800 DraftKings; $4,000 FanDuel) Minnesota Twins vs. Detroit Tigers (Beau Brieske)

The Twins are the third team with a five-run or better implied team total on Monday. They’re hosting the Tigers, who are projected to start rookie Beau Brieske. Brieske has had a rough start to his big league career, with both a SIERA and ERA over five coming into the game.

That makes the Twins appealing, with MVP candidate Buxton the best option among them. While he’s hitting just .228 on the season, his eleven home runs rank top five in the majors despite missing roughly a week due to injury. The speedy Buxton also has a ridiculously low BABIP of .200 on the year, well below his career mark of .310. A BABIP of .300 would result in Buxton hitting above .300 based on his current strikeout numbers.

That means his 9.6 PPG average over the last month is actually lower than it should be. There’s no better time for positive regression than against a 4A pitcher like Brieske, making Buxton a top option. He trails only Aaron Judge in THE BAT’s median proejctions while coming in $400 cheaper on both sites.

Whit Merrifield 2B/OF ($4,600 DraftKings; $3,200 FanDuel) Kansas City Royals at Arizona Diamondbacks (Zach Davies)

Merrifield is expected to leadoff for the Royals as they travel to Arizona to face off against starter Zach Davies. While there are plenty of juicy pitching matchups on the slate, Davies stands out as one of the better ones. His SIERA and ERA dating back to last season are both on the wrong side of five.

This game also has the best Weather Rating for hitters on the slate, with the usual 90-degree temperatures in Arizona. It. also features a slightly positive Park Factor, making it a sneaky game to target. Merrifield is my favorite selection, primarily due to his spot in the lineup for the visiting team and his multi-position eligibility. The rest of the Royals and Diamondbacks are also in play. The Royals Zack Greinke has also been very exploitable this season.

Alec Bohm 3B ($3,900 DraftKings; $2,800 FanDuel) Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves (Tucker Davidson)

Davidson is yet another exploitable pitching matchup on this slate, with SIERA and ERA numbers approaching six. The Phillies are implied for 4.6 runs against the lefty. I’m expecting some of that production to come from Bohm, who has strong platoon splits against southpaws. His OPS of .796 against left-handed pitching is more than 100 points higher than his mark against righties. He’s reasonably priced and expected to bat second, both of which work in his favor.