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MLB DFS Picks Breakdown (Thursday, September 1st): Load Up On Braves Bats

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

Thursday features a four-game main slate starting at 6:10 p.m. ET.

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MLB DFS Pitching Picks

MLB DFS Stud Picks

Shane Bieber ($9,600) Cleveland Guardians (-189) vs. Baltimore Orioles

Bieber looks like the Cy Young winner of old over the last month or so, with a string of six excellent starts. He’s allowed two runs or fewer while lasting at least six innings in each of them, with four of the six also coming with eight or more strikeouts. That run included tough matchups against Tampa Bay, Toronto, and Houston, all top-10 offenses against right-handed pitching.

Today he has a somewhat easier ask against the Orioles, who rank just below average with a 99 wRC+ against righties. Vegas has Baltimore implied for just 3.2 runs on Thursday, the second-lowest mark on the slate. The Guardians’ moneyline odds are also the slate’s second-best, so Bieber is in an excellent position from an odds standpoint.

He’s also due for some positive regression in the strikeout department. His strikeout rate on the season is a moderate 25.2%, but his swinging strike rate is 13.9%. Loosely speaking, strikeout rate is generally slightly more than double the swinging-strike rate over a long period. Bieber’s career K% of 29.6% is slightly more than double his 14.2% swinging-strike rate. In 2022, the average swinging-strike rate is 11.1%, and the league average K% is 22.3%.

Regardless, Bieber is an excellent play today in a solid matchup. He leads the FantasyLabs Models in median and ceiling projections while coming in second in THE BAT.

Spencer Strider ($8,800) Atlanta Braves (-402) vs. Colorado Rockies

After two forgettable relief appearances in 2021, Strider has been lights out in his official rookie season. Through 27 appearances — 16 of them starts — he has a 2.87 ERA that’s actually higher than all of his leading indicators. Additionally, he has a ridiculous 36.7% strikeout rate on the year.

Betting markets expect that to continue, with his Braves as massive favorites against the Rockies, who are implied for just 2.7 runs. That makes Strider’s $8,800 price tag an obvious value. He was priced over $9,500 in his last two starts, so this is an excellent buy-low opportunity.

He also has an excellent matchup against the Rockies. Colorado is tied for the second-worst wRC+ against right-handed pitching on the season, ranking ahead of only the Tigers. The Braves are also at home, rewarding Strider with the best Park Factor for pitchers on the slate.

Strider leads THE BAT’s median and Pts/Sal projections on Thursday while ranking slightly lower in the FantasyLabs set.


MLB DFS Value Picks

Merril Kelly ($8,100) Arizona Diamondbacks (+113) vs. Milwaukee Brewers

With the top pitchers on the slate (Strider and Bieber) with affordable salaries, hunting for a cheaper option won’t be a priority on Thursday. That said, Kelly is projecting reasonably well for an $8,100 pitcher.

His Diamondbacks are slight underdogs, with the Brewers implied for a moderate four-run total. Milwaukee is a solid offense with a 104 wRC+, so that speaks to Kelly’s abilities. He has a sub-3.00 ERA on the season and a 3.17 xERA.

The drawback is the lack of strikeout upside from Kelly. His strikeout rate is just 21.4% on the season, and his swinging strike rate is 9.6%. That makes it difficult for him to get to one of the top scores on the slate. Therefore, he’s a better cash game play than GPP option, but I’d only consider him if the savings from Bieber or Strider make a big difference elsewhere in your lineup.


MLB DFS GPP Picks

Brandon Woodruff ($10,000) Milwaukee Brewers (-131) at Arizona Diamondbacks

Woodruff is the only $10,000 pitcher on the slate Thursday, with his brewers favored against Kelly and the Diamondbacks. His metrics don’t really support that price tag — and neither does his Vegas data — but that can be a good thing for tournaments.

His high price tag relative to his projections means ownership on Woodruff should be manageable. He’ll be far less popular than Bieber or Strider, and finding viable low-owned options on a four-game slate is crucial.

Woodruff currently trails only Bieber and Strider in THE BAT’s median projections while checking in ahead of Strider in the FantasyLabs set. He’s a plus-EV GPP option today but a bit thin for cash games.

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 Atlanta Braves:

  • Ronald Acuna Jr. (1) ($6,000)
  • Dansby Swanson (2) ($5,400)
  • Austin Riley (3) ($5,700)
  • Matt Olson (4) ($5,300)
  • Travis d’Arnaud (5) ($3,900)

The Braves have an excellent 5.5-run implied total today as they play host to the Rockies. Their price tags reflect that, but there are not a ton of offenses in great spots, so they could be worth paying up for.

They have a matchup with Chad Kuhl ($5,700) of the Rockies, who has struggled in 2022 even when adjusting for his home ballpark of Coors Field. He has a 5.17 ERA, but his 5.01 SIERA — which adjusts for ballpark — tells a similar story. His ERA also creeps above 6.00 when pitching on the road.

With Colorado also having one of the league’s worst bullpens, this is an ideal spot to target the Braves. They’re a top stack today.


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 non-Braves DraftKings stack from THE BAT when generated by ceiling belongs to the Boston Red Sox:

Boston is the only team besides the Braves implied for more than 4.4 runs, checking in at 5.2 on Thursday. Unfortunately, they’re another home team, but they have an excellent matchup.

They’re hosting Glenn Otto ($6,000) and the Rangers. Otto’s 5.20 SIERA on the season is similar to Kuhl’s. Unlike Kuhl, Otto is also traveling to a more difficult park for pitchers. Fenway has a 47 Park Factor, the worst for pitchers on the slate.

With the Red Sox coming in slightly cheaper than the Braves, they’re my preferred choice for cash games. Of course, mixing in as many members of both teams as possible is certainly viable.

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Other MLB DFS Hitter Picks

Corey Seager SS ($5,200 DraftKings; $4,100 FanDuel) Texas Rangers at Boston Red Sox (Rich Hill)

Seager is an interesting pivot on Thursday, with Dansby Swanson of Atlanta and Xander Bogaerts of Boston likely to carry the bulk of the ownership at shortstop. He’s having a very strong year, with an OPS north of .800 and 29 home runs with a month left to play.

He’s facing fellow lefty Rich Hill ($7,000) of the Red Sox. While still solid, Hill’s best days are behind him, and he has SIERA and ERA numbers in the low fours coming into the game.

While I tend to avoid lefty-lefty matchups, Seager hasn’t shown much of a drop-off when facing southpaws. In 2022, his OPS against lefties is .799, only slightly worse than his .810 mark against righties. That tracks with his career OPS against lefties, which is .804.

Outside of Seager, I’m also interested in the Rangers’ Mark Mathias 1B/2B ($2,000 DraftKings, $2,700 FanDuel) on DraftKings. He has a .795 career OPS through 78 plate appearances, which is excellent for a minimum-priced hitter.

Christian Yelich ($4,200 DraftKings; $3,400 FanDuel) Milwaukee Brewers at Arizona Diamondbacks (Merrill Kelly)

Yelich continues to be underpriced relative to his recent production, which has shown marked improvement. He hit under .250 in 2020 and 2021, but he’s up to .281 since the All-Star break.

He’s matched up with Merrill Kelly, who does have much ability to miss bats. That works out nicely for a hitter like Yelich, who still has solid speed at age 30 (16 steals on the season.) He has a career BABIP of .349 and a .333 mark in 2022, so the balls he puts in play have a good chance of becoming hits.

Yelich leads all outfielders outside of Ronald Acuna Jr. — who costs an extra $1,800 — in the FantasyLabs median projections on DraftKings.

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

Thursday features a four-game main slate starting at 6:10 p.m. ET.

Start Your PRO Trial Today

Lineup builder and optimizer

Real-time DFS models & projections

Data-driven analysis & tutorials

MLB DFS Pitching Picks

MLB DFS Stud Picks

Shane Bieber ($9,600) Cleveland Guardians (-189) vs. Baltimore Orioles

Bieber looks like the Cy Young winner of old over the last month or so, with a string of six excellent starts. He’s allowed two runs or fewer while lasting at least six innings in each of them, with four of the six also coming with eight or more strikeouts. That run included tough matchups against Tampa Bay, Toronto, and Houston, all top-10 offenses against right-handed pitching.

Today he has a somewhat easier ask against the Orioles, who rank just below average with a 99 wRC+ against righties. Vegas has Baltimore implied for just 3.2 runs on Thursday, the second-lowest mark on the slate. The Guardians’ moneyline odds are also the slate’s second-best, so Bieber is in an excellent position from an odds standpoint.

He’s also due for some positive regression in the strikeout department. His strikeout rate on the season is a moderate 25.2%, but his swinging strike rate is 13.9%. Loosely speaking, strikeout rate is generally slightly more than double the swinging-strike rate over a long period. Bieber’s career K% of 29.6% is slightly more than double his 14.2% swinging-strike rate. In 2022, the average swinging-strike rate is 11.1%, and the league average K% is 22.3%.

Regardless, Bieber is an excellent play today in a solid matchup. He leads the FantasyLabs Models in median and ceiling projections while coming in second in THE BAT.

Spencer Strider ($8,800) Atlanta Braves (-402) vs. Colorado Rockies

After two forgettable relief appearances in 2021, Strider has been lights out in his official rookie season. Through 27 appearances — 16 of them starts — he has a 2.87 ERA that’s actually higher than all of his leading indicators. Additionally, he has a ridiculous 36.7% strikeout rate on the year.

Betting markets expect that to continue, with his Braves as massive favorites against the Rockies, who are implied for just 2.7 runs. That makes Strider’s $8,800 price tag an obvious value. He was priced over $9,500 in his last two starts, so this is an excellent buy-low opportunity.

He also has an excellent matchup against the Rockies. Colorado is tied for the second-worst wRC+ against right-handed pitching on the season, ranking ahead of only the Tigers. The Braves are also at home, rewarding Strider with the best Park Factor for pitchers on the slate.

Strider leads THE BAT’s median and Pts/Sal projections on Thursday while ranking slightly lower in the FantasyLabs set.


MLB DFS Value Picks

Merril Kelly ($8,100) Arizona Diamondbacks (+113) vs. Milwaukee Brewers

With the top pitchers on the slate (Strider and Bieber) with affordable salaries, hunting for a cheaper option won’t be a priority on Thursday. That said, Kelly is projecting reasonably well for an $8,100 pitcher.

His Diamondbacks are slight underdogs, with the Brewers implied for a moderate four-run total. Milwaukee is a solid offense with a 104 wRC+, so that speaks to Kelly’s abilities. He has a sub-3.00 ERA on the season and a 3.17 xERA.

The drawback is the lack of strikeout upside from Kelly. His strikeout rate is just 21.4% on the season, and his swinging strike rate is 9.6%. That makes it difficult for him to get to one of the top scores on the slate. Therefore, he’s a better cash game play than GPP option, but I’d only consider him if the savings from Bieber or Strider make a big difference elsewhere in your lineup.


MLB DFS GPP Picks

Brandon Woodruff ($10,000) Milwaukee Brewers (-131) at Arizona Diamondbacks

Woodruff is the only $10,000 pitcher on the slate Thursday, with his brewers favored against Kelly and the Diamondbacks. His metrics don’t really support that price tag — and neither does his Vegas data — but that can be a good thing for tournaments.

His high price tag relative to his projections means ownership on Woodruff should be manageable. He’ll be far less popular than Bieber or Strider, and finding viable low-owned options on a four-game slate is crucial.

Woodruff currently trails only Bieber and Strider in THE BAT’s median projections while checking in ahead of Strider in the FantasyLabs set. He’s a plus-EV GPP option today but a bit thin for cash games.

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 Atlanta Braves:

  • Ronald Acuna Jr. (1) ($6,000)
  • Dansby Swanson (2) ($5,400)
  • Austin Riley (3) ($5,700)
  • Matt Olson (4) ($5,300)
  • Travis d’Arnaud (5) ($3,900)

The Braves have an excellent 5.5-run implied total today as they play host to the Rockies. Their price tags reflect that, but there are not a ton of offenses in great spots, so they could be worth paying up for.

They have a matchup with Chad Kuhl ($5,700) of the Rockies, who has struggled in 2022 even when adjusting for his home ballpark of Coors Field. He has a 5.17 ERA, but his 5.01 SIERA — which adjusts for ballpark — tells a similar story. His ERA also creeps above 6.00 when pitching on the road.

With Colorado also having one of the league’s worst bullpens, this is an ideal spot to target the Braves. They’re a top stack today.


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 non-Braves DraftKings stack from THE BAT when generated by ceiling belongs to the Boston Red Sox:

Boston is the only team besides the Braves implied for more than 4.4 runs, checking in at 5.2 on Thursday. Unfortunately, they’re another home team, but they have an excellent matchup.

They’re hosting Glenn Otto ($6,000) and the Rangers. Otto’s 5.20 SIERA on the season is similar to Kuhl’s. Unlike Kuhl, Otto is also traveling to a more difficult park for pitchers. Fenway has a 47 Park Factor, the worst for pitchers on the slate.

With the Red Sox coming in slightly cheaper than the Braves, they’re my preferred choice for cash games. Of course, mixing in as many members of both teams as possible is certainly viable.

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New users only

Other MLB DFS Hitter Picks

Corey Seager SS ($5,200 DraftKings; $4,100 FanDuel) Texas Rangers at Boston Red Sox (Rich Hill)

Seager is an interesting pivot on Thursday, with Dansby Swanson of Atlanta and Xander Bogaerts of Boston likely to carry the bulk of the ownership at shortstop. He’s having a very strong year, with an OPS north of .800 and 29 home runs with a month left to play.

He’s facing fellow lefty Rich Hill ($7,000) of the Red Sox. While still solid, Hill’s best days are behind him, and he has SIERA and ERA numbers in the low fours coming into the game.

While I tend to avoid lefty-lefty matchups, Seager hasn’t shown much of a drop-off when facing southpaws. In 2022, his OPS against lefties is .799, only slightly worse than his .810 mark against righties. That tracks with his career OPS against lefties, which is .804.

Outside of Seager, I’m also interested in the Rangers’ Mark Mathias 1B/2B ($2,000 DraftKings, $2,700 FanDuel) on DraftKings. He has a .795 career OPS through 78 plate appearances, which is excellent for a minimum-priced hitter.

Christian Yelich ($4,200 DraftKings; $3,400 FanDuel) Milwaukee Brewers at Arizona Diamondbacks (Merrill Kelly)

Yelich continues to be underpriced relative to his recent production, which has shown marked improvement. He hit under .250 in 2020 and 2021, but he’s up to .281 since the All-Star break.

He’s matched up with Merrill Kelly, who does have much ability to miss bats. That works out nicely for a hitter like Yelich, who still has solid speed at age 30 (16 steals on the season.) He has a career BABIP of .349 and a .333 mark in 2022, so the balls he puts in play have a good chance of becoming hits.

Yelich leads all outfielders outside of Ronald Acuna Jr. — who costs an extra $1,800 — in the FantasyLabs median projections on DraftKings.