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MLB DFS Picks Breakdown (Thursday, May 26): Byron Buxton Breakout Day?

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

Thursday features a nine-game main slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET.

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MLB DFS Pitching Picks

MLB DFS Stud Picks

Shohei Ohtani ($8,700) Los Angeles Angels (-165) vs. Toronto Blue Jays

Ohtani is having the best pitching season of his career in 2022. His SIERA is at a career-low level of 2.45 through seven starts. He’s striking out a ridiculous 34% of opposing hitters while drawing swinging strikes on 16.3% of his pitches. He’s even lasting reasonably deep into games, with roughly five and a half innings per start.

Despite all that, he’s still reasonably priced at just $8,700. It’s not a particularly threatening matchup, as he takes on a Blue Jays team that ranks at or below average in most offensive categories on the season. Vegas has Toronto implied for a slate-low 3.4 runs today, with the Angles as solid favorites.

Conditions are also favorable for pitchers in this one. The game has a Park Factor score of 87, the highest on the slate. With favorable pitching weather as well, everything is lining up nicely for Ohtani. He ranks second in median projection in FantasyLabs and THE BAT’s projection systems.

Frankie Montas ($9,000) Oakland A’s (-125) vs. Texas Rangers

Oakland is a slight favorite in this game, despite their offense hitting an MLB-low .212 for the year. That speaks to how good of a pitcher Montas has been. Like Ohtani, Montas is having the best year of his career, posting his lowest mark in SIERA, highest ground ball rate, and highest strikeout rate as a starting pitcher.

He also has favorable conditions today, with a Park Factor score that trails only the Angels game and the best pitching weather on the slate. The Rangers’ offense isn’t much better than Oakland’s, ranking bottom-five in the majors in batting average, and their implied team total of 3.5 runs is the second-lowest mark on the slate.

All in all, Montas has numbers reasonably close to Ohtani’s while benefiting from a far better matchup. Both should be pretty popular today — though the slight savings on Ohtani should make him the chalkier of the two. Montas ranks first in THE BAT’s median projections and third in the FantasyLabs set.


MLB DFS Value Pick

Konnor Pilkington ($4,000) Cleveland Guardians (+120) at Detroit Tigers

Pilkington has just one big-league start under his belt, a 3.2-inning outing against the Blue Jays where he struck out six but allowed two runs. Today he takes on Detroit, who has the league’s worst offense by wOBA and wRC+. He also has a minimum salary of $4,000, making him a great salary saver.

If there’s a hole to poke in Pilkington, it’s his inability to last deeper into games. He averaged less than four innings per start at the Triple-A level this season and could be used as more of an “opener” type option today. While that’s fine from a points per dollar standpoint given his price, if one of the other pitchers on the slate has a massive day, it’s not great for your lineups.

That makes him a better option for cash games, though he could be a GPP-winner if he manages to last four or five innings. That said, keep an eye on the weather, as rain is expected on and off in Detroit. That’s less of an issue with a pitcher we aren’t expecting many innings from, but it’s still worth noting. He leads FantasyLabs and THE BAT’s projections for Pts/Sal by a fairly wide margin.


MLB DFS GPP Picks

Tarik Skubal ($9,700) Detroit Tigers (-142) vs. Cleveland Guardians

The 25-year-old Skubal has turned a significant corner this year for the Tigers. While he was the least regarded of the Tigers’ young pitching prospects (Casey Mize, Matt Manning), he looks like a future ace in 2022. He has a sub-three SIERA while striking out over 28% of his opponents.

His recent game logs are even more encouraging. Over his last three starts, he’s pitched 18 innings, struck out 21, and not allowed a single run. The most recent start was against these Guardians, whom he dominated but was forced to leave early following a ball to the shin.

Of course, similar weather concerns exist for Skubal as for Pilkington. That should keep his ownership low, so keep an eye on the forecast as we approach lock. His $9,700 salary is also a tough pill to swallow, making him a “pay up to be contrarian” option.

Aaron Nola ($9,200) Philadelphia Phillies (-106) at Atlanta Braves

Nola has similar numbers to Ohtani and Montas, and a very reasonable case could be made for him being the best pitcher on the slate. Unfortunately, he has the toughest matchup of the top options against a solid Braves lineup.

This game is essentially a pick ’em, with Atlanta implied for a healthy 4.1 runs. Of course, even if Atlanta scores four or so, that doesn’t mean they come off of Nola. This is a “good pitching vs. good hitting” matchup, and those tend to favor good pitching.

Nola has a SIERA nearly 1.5 runs lower than his ERA on the season, with the latter being high enough to suppress his likely ownership. He’s been better than his box scores indicate, and those are always the pitchers I like to target. He leads the FantasyLabs projection system in median and ceiling while ranking third in THE BAT’s. I also suspect he’ll be the lowest owned of the top projected options (Ohtani, Montas, and Nola).

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 Los Angeles Dodgers:

  • Mookie Betts (1) ($6,200)
  • Freddie Freeman (2) ($5,900)
  • Trea Turner (3) ($6,100)
  • Max Muncy (5) ($5,600)
  • Justin Turner (6) ($4,800)

With this stack costing an average of over $5,700 per player, the Dodgers are fairly tough to fit today. That said, the presence of Pilkington helps. Still, it’s easy to see why Los Angeles is a top option on today’s slate.

They have the highest implied total on the board at 5.7 runs. They’re also the visiting team, guaranteeing them a ninth trip to the plate. They’re traveling to Arizona, with easily the best hitting weather on the slate.

The matchup with Arizona’s Humberto Castellanos ($7,200) is also a good one. Castellanos has a career ERA and SIERA just below five. There are really no holes to pick in the Dodgers today, outside of salary and possible ownership. If using them for large-field tournaments, I’d consider less popular permutations of this stack. That helps both the salary and ownership factor.


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 (outside of the Dodgers), when generated by Projected Points belongs to the Boston Red Sox:

This Red Sox stack is intriguing. They have an enticing matchup against Dallas Keuchel ($5,200), whose SIERA is a career worst 5.48 in 2022. This is the sixth consecutive season that Keuchel has had the worst SIERA of his career, so it seems to be trending strongly downward for him. Boston is also the road team with the highest total besides the Dodgers, at a very solid 4.6.

They’re well-positioned to take advantage of the matchup with the left-handed Keuchel. Martinez, Bogaerts, and Story have all hit southpaws at .300 or better in their careers, with Martinez and Story having OPS numbers of .950 or above. Hernandez has a career OPS .150 points higher against lefties as well. Devers has passable numbers even when on the wrong side of the platoon matchup, batting .274. He’s a bit pricey on the wrong side of his splits, but he could see many of his ABs against righties if Keuchel is chased early.

While the Red Sox stack is pricey, it — or other variations — can be had for a good bit less than the Dodgers. So long as their ownership doesn’t project to be much higher, they’re my preferred GPP option today.

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Other MLB DFS Hitter Picks

Yonathan Daza OF ($3,500 DraftKings; $2,300 FanDuel) Colorado Rockies at Washington Nationals (Patrick Corbin)

Corbin has been extremely inconsistent this year, starting the season with a few terrible starts, getting it together briefly, and then allowing ten runs over his last two. I’m banking on “bad Corbin” being the more likely option here, as he’s been getting steadily worse over the past few seasons.

That makes Rockies hitters appealing, particularly those that hit well against left-handed pitching. Daza fits the bill, with a .300 career average against southpaws through 170 at bats. He’s reasonably cheap — which is a priority today given the cost of Dodgers and Red Sox hitters — and expected to bat second. That’s enough for me to find a spot in my lineup for him.

Jeimer Candelario 3B ($2,500 DraftKings; $2,200 FanDuel) Detroit Tigers vs. Cleveland Guardians (Konnor Pilkington)

Candelario is another cheap option worth considering. He’s a middle-of-the-order hitter for Detroit, with a reasonable 4.1-run implied total against the Guardians. Candelario has been dreadful this year, hitting just .192. However, he was a .270 or better hitter in each of the past two seasons. He’s also been unlucky, with a BABIP .70 points lower than his career mark. He “should” be hitting closer to .240 based on his career BABIP and strikeout rate. His barrel and hard-hit rates are also similar to his marks from last season.

He’s also been noticeably better against left-handed pitching in his career. It’s unclear how many times he’ll get to face the left-handed Pilkington, but he has the edge when he does.

Byron Buxton OF ($5,800 DraftKings; $3,900 FanDuel) Minnesota Twins vs. Kansas City Royals (Daniel Lynch)

Buxton has been exceedingly unlucky over the last week or so, going hitless in two consecutive series despite hitting a number of balls hard. That’s been the case all year, with Buxton sporting a .174 BABIP that’s laughably low for a player with his elite speed. Those numbers are bound to regress in a big way soon.

Today might be the day, as he’s taking on lefty Daniel Lynch of the Royals. Lynch has a 4.47 SIERA this season while allowing a .362 wOBA to righties. Buxton also has the platoon advantage against southpaws, though his splits are fairly minor. Still, he’s due for a breakout soon, and I’d rather be early than late on him.

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

Thursday features a nine-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

Shohei Ohtani ($8,700) Los Angeles Angels (-165) vs. Toronto Blue Jays

Ohtani is having the best pitching season of his career in 2022. His SIERA is at a career-low level of 2.45 through seven starts. He’s striking out a ridiculous 34% of opposing hitters while drawing swinging strikes on 16.3% of his pitches. He’s even lasting reasonably deep into games, with roughly five and a half innings per start.

Despite all that, he’s still reasonably priced at just $8,700. It’s not a particularly threatening matchup, as he takes on a Blue Jays team that ranks at or below average in most offensive categories on the season. Vegas has Toronto implied for a slate-low 3.4 runs today, with the Angles as solid favorites.

Conditions are also favorable for pitchers in this one. The game has a Park Factor score of 87, the highest on the slate. With favorable pitching weather as well, everything is lining up nicely for Ohtani. He ranks second in median projection in FantasyLabs and THE BAT’s projection systems.

Frankie Montas ($9,000) Oakland A’s (-125) vs. Texas Rangers

Oakland is a slight favorite in this game, despite their offense hitting an MLB-low .212 for the year. That speaks to how good of a pitcher Montas has been. Like Ohtani, Montas is having the best year of his career, posting his lowest mark in SIERA, highest ground ball rate, and highest strikeout rate as a starting pitcher.

He also has favorable conditions today, with a Park Factor score that trails only the Angels game and the best pitching weather on the slate. The Rangers’ offense isn’t much better than Oakland’s, ranking bottom-five in the majors in batting average, and their implied team total of 3.5 runs is the second-lowest mark on the slate.

All in all, Montas has numbers reasonably close to Ohtani’s while benefiting from a far better matchup. Both should be pretty popular today — though the slight savings on Ohtani should make him the chalkier of the two. Montas ranks first in THE BAT’s median projections and third in the FantasyLabs set.


MLB DFS Value Pick

Konnor Pilkington ($4,000) Cleveland Guardians (+120) at Detroit Tigers

Pilkington has just one big-league start under his belt, a 3.2-inning outing against the Blue Jays where he struck out six but allowed two runs. Today he takes on Detroit, who has the league’s worst offense by wOBA and wRC+. He also has a minimum salary of $4,000, making him a great salary saver.

If there’s a hole to poke in Pilkington, it’s his inability to last deeper into games. He averaged less than four innings per start at the Triple-A level this season and could be used as more of an “opener” type option today. While that’s fine from a points per dollar standpoint given his price, if one of the other pitchers on the slate has a massive day, it’s not great for your lineups.

That makes him a better option for cash games, though he could be a GPP-winner if he manages to last four or five innings. That said, keep an eye on the weather, as rain is expected on and off in Detroit. That’s less of an issue with a pitcher we aren’t expecting many innings from, but it’s still worth noting. He leads FantasyLabs and THE BAT’s projections for Pts/Sal by a fairly wide margin.


MLB DFS GPP Picks

Tarik Skubal ($9,700) Detroit Tigers (-142) vs. Cleveland Guardians

The 25-year-old Skubal has turned a significant corner this year for the Tigers. While he was the least regarded of the Tigers’ young pitching prospects (Casey Mize, Matt Manning), he looks like a future ace in 2022. He has a sub-three SIERA while striking out over 28% of his opponents.

His recent game logs are even more encouraging. Over his last three starts, he’s pitched 18 innings, struck out 21, and not allowed a single run. The most recent start was against these Guardians, whom he dominated but was forced to leave early following a ball to the shin.

Of course, similar weather concerns exist for Skubal as for Pilkington. That should keep his ownership low, so keep an eye on the forecast as we approach lock. His $9,700 salary is also a tough pill to swallow, making him a “pay up to be contrarian” option.

Aaron Nola ($9,200) Philadelphia Phillies (-106) at Atlanta Braves

Nola has similar numbers to Ohtani and Montas, and a very reasonable case could be made for him being the best pitcher on the slate. Unfortunately, he has the toughest matchup of the top options against a solid Braves lineup.

This game is essentially a pick ’em, with Atlanta implied for a healthy 4.1 runs. Of course, even if Atlanta scores four or so, that doesn’t mean they come off of Nola. This is a “good pitching vs. good hitting” matchup, and those tend to favor good pitching.

Nola has a SIERA nearly 1.5 runs lower than his ERA on the season, with the latter being high enough to suppress his likely ownership. He’s been better than his box scores indicate, and those are always the pitchers I like to target. He leads the FantasyLabs projection system in median and ceiling while ranking third in THE BAT’s. I also suspect he’ll be the lowest owned of the top projected options (Ohtani, Montas, and Nola).

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 Los Angeles Dodgers:

  • Mookie Betts (1) ($6,200)
  • Freddie Freeman (2) ($5,900)
  • Trea Turner (3) ($6,100)
  • Max Muncy (5) ($5,600)
  • Justin Turner (6) ($4,800)

With this stack costing an average of over $5,700 per player, the Dodgers are fairly tough to fit today. That said, the presence of Pilkington helps. Still, it’s easy to see why Los Angeles is a top option on today’s slate.

They have the highest implied total on the board at 5.7 runs. They’re also the visiting team, guaranteeing them a ninth trip to the plate. They’re traveling to Arizona, with easily the best hitting weather on the slate.

The matchup with Arizona’s Humberto Castellanos ($7,200) is also a good one. Castellanos has a career ERA and SIERA just below five. There are really no holes to pick in the Dodgers today, outside of salary and possible ownership. If using them for large-field tournaments, I’d consider less popular permutations of this stack. That helps both the salary and ownership factor.


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 (outside of the Dodgers), when generated by Projected Points belongs to the Boston Red Sox:

This Red Sox stack is intriguing. They have an enticing matchup against Dallas Keuchel ($5,200), whose SIERA is a career worst 5.48 in 2022. This is the sixth consecutive season that Keuchel has had the worst SIERA of his career, so it seems to be trending strongly downward for him. Boston is also the road team with the highest total besides the Dodgers, at a very solid 4.6.

They’re well-positioned to take advantage of the matchup with the left-handed Keuchel. Martinez, Bogaerts, and Story have all hit southpaws at .300 or better in their careers, with Martinez and Story having OPS numbers of .950 or above. Hernandez has a career OPS .150 points higher against lefties as well. Devers has passable numbers even when on the wrong side of the platoon matchup, batting .274. He’s a bit pricey on the wrong side of his splits, but he could see many of his ABs against righties if Keuchel is chased early.

While the Red Sox stack is pricey, it — or other variations — can be had for a good bit less than the Dodgers. So long as their ownership doesn’t project to be much higher, they’re my preferred GPP option today.

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Your deposit will be fully matched

New users only

Other MLB DFS Hitter Picks

Yonathan Daza OF ($3,500 DraftKings; $2,300 FanDuel) Colorado Rockies at Washington Nationals (Patrick Corbin)

Corbin has been extremely inconsistent this year, starting the season with a few terrible starts, getting it together briefly, and then allowing ten runs over his last two. I’m banking on “bad Corbin” being the more likely option here, as he’s been getting steadily worse over the past few seasons.

That makes Rockies hitters appealing, particularly those that hit well against left-handed pitching. Daza fits the bill, with a .300 career average against southpaws through 170 at bats. He’s reasonably cheap — which is a priority today given the cost of Dodgers and Red Sox hitters — and expected to bat second. That’s enough for me to find a spot in my lineup for him.

Jeimer Candelario 3B ($2,500 DraftKings; $2,200 FanDuel) Detroit Tigers vs. Cleveland Guardians (Konnor Pilkington)

Candelario is another cheap option worth considering. He’s a middle-of-the-order hitter for Detroit, with a reasonable 4.1-run implied total against the Guardians. Candelario has been dreadful this year, hitting just .192. However, he was a .270 or better hitter in each of the past two seasons. He’s also been unlucky, with a BABIP .70 points lower than his career mark. He “should” be hitting closer to .240 based on his career BABIP and strikeout rate. His barrel and hard-hit rates are also similar to his marks from last season.

He’s also been noticeably better against left-handed pitching in his career. It’s unclear how many times he’ll get to face the left-handed Pilkington, but he has the edge when he does.

Byron Buxton OF ($5,800 DraftKings; $3,900 FanDuel) Minnesota Twins vs. Kansas City Royals (Daniel Lynch)

Buxton has been exceedingly unlucky over the last week or so, going hitless in two consecutive series despite hitting a number of balls hard. That’s been the case all year, with Buxton sporting a .174 BABIP that’s laughably low for a player with his elite speed. Those numbers are bound to regress in a big way soon.

Today might be the day, as he’s taking on lefty Daniel Lynch of the Royals. Lynch has a 4.47 SIERA this season while allowing a .362 wOBA to righties. Buxton also has the platoon advantage against southpaws, though his splits are fairly minor. Still, he’s due for a breakout soon, and I’d rather be early than late on him.