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Wednesday, June 23, brings split-slate action with nine early games and a seven-game main slate. Let’s get into the top MLB DFS picks for pitchers and stacks for Yahoo, DraftKings and FanDuel.
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MLB DFS Picks: Spotlight Pitchers and Top Stacks, Wednesday, June 23
Yahoo Stack of the Day: Houston Astros at RHP Tom Eshelman — 5.9 implied runs
Though it will be cooler than normal evening in Baltimore with game-time temperatures in the mid-70s, Houston is still sporting the highest implied run total of the slate. Over his career Thomas Eshelman has made a grand total of 23 major league appearances in three seasons, including nine starts. In this time he has a mediocre 5.02 ERA, 1.39 WHIP and 20 home runs allowed across 75.1 innings. This is the result of twin .260 ISO marks by both right- and left-handed batsmen. The low 7% swinging-strike rate, combined with an 83.5% contact rate, make Eshelman a pitcher to pick on anytime he draws a start.
The Astros are getting a boost with Kyle Tucker out of the health and safety protocol, which gives a little more depth to the lineup. Alex Bregman is still out with an injury, so that should keep Alex Toro in the lineup with his near-minimum salary. Opposing pitchers have been challenging him, and he has responded with hits in four of his last five games, including two multi-hit efforts. Though he has only one extra-base hit in this time, he does have five RBIs and three runs scored.
Focus on the usual suspects with Yordan Alvarez, Michael Brantley and the aforementioned Tucker, who are all swinging the stick from the left side of the plate. Over the last two-plus seasons, this trio each has a .200 ISO with the platoon advantage. Righties Yuli Gurriel, Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve also boast .200-plus ISOs in same-handed matchups over this same period. The masses will be flocking to this stack, though there are plenty of ways to differentiate MLB DFS picks at other positions.
Detroit Tigers vs. RHP John Gant — 4.4 implied runs
After an incredibly fortuitous start to his season where he allowed only nine earned runs through his first 10 outings, John Gant has struggled mightily in his last three appearances. Across a combined 11 innings, he has allowed 15 earned runs, four home runs and 10 walks with just seven strikeouts. This has resulted in a 12.27 ERA and a 1.833 WHIP. Though the Cardinals had Monday off, five relievers saw action after Johan Oviedo was sent to the showers early.
Detroit is not a particularly exciting offense, but most of its hitters are coming in with favorable salaries and can be employed as mini-stacks, which provide a fair amount of salary cap flexibility. Jeimer Candelario, Akil Baddoo and Nomar Mazara are cheap with some pop. Robbie Grossman is leading off and should get five at-bats, which has value. Miguel Cabrera is dinged up, but if he makes the lineup, there is the narrative that he prefers hitting in day games. If he is out of the lineup, then hot-hitting Eric Haase should receive a prominent spot in the order. Finally, Jonathan Schoop is likely auditioning for a trade-deadline move to a contender in need of a power bat.
Oakland Athletics at RHP Michael Foltynewicz — 5.3 implied runs
This is not going to be a fun night for Michael Foltynewicz, who has allowed the second-most home runs this season (17) while pitching the fewest innings among the top five in this ignominious category. In his three June appearances, he has tallied only 11.1 innings, a woeful 12.71 ERA, seven strikeouts, five home runs and an eye-popping 2.21 baserunners per inning. Over his last 77.1 innings he has allowed a .213 ISO to same-handed hitters and an enormous .353 ISO to lefties.
Unfortunately, Matt Olson and Mitch Moreland are the two left-handed power hitting options from Oakland, and they both occupy the first base slot. On FanDuel both can be played with the utility position, though on DraftKings and Yahoo gamers can only select one. Moreland will be less popular, so he is the contrarian play.
Mark Canha, Matt Chapman and Ramon Laureano all had excellent outings yesterday and have above-average power in same-handed matchups. Four Texas relievers combined for 149 pitches yesterday, and four others pitched on Monday. That leaves lefty John King as a likely option out of the pen as the only reliever who has not been used in the last 72 hours. This all but guarantees the Athletics righties of at least one at-bat with the platoon advantage tonight.
Top Target: RHP Joe Musgrove vs. Los Angeles Dodgers — 3.7 implied runs
DFS Salary: Yahoo $47 | FanDuel $7,900 | DraftKings $9,500
This is not going to be an easy matchup for Joe Musgrove, as the Dodgers welcomed back Max Muncy from the injured list yesterday and are likely to do the same with Cody Bellinger today. The implied run total takes that all into account, though that is the median outcome. FanDuel is making things very enticing with the $7,900 salary. Musgrove is in the midst of a phenomenal season and is 10th with a 2.28 ERA, sixth with an 0.850 WHIP and 12th with 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
For those wondering about the sticky substances ban impacting Musgrove, it should be noted that his fastball and curveball spin rates increase by nearly 10% between 2018 and this season. There has been no discernable change to those rates on any of his pitches over his last six starts. For comparison, tonight’s opponent, Trevor Bauer, saw his spin rate increase between 10 and 20% on his various pitches in that same timeframe while hinting at his embracement of the shadowy strategy. Over his last three starts, Bauer’s fastball and cutter have seen a 10 to 15% decline in spin rate. It is hard to discern if this is truly actionable information.
Secondary Target: LHP Robbie Ray at Miami Marlins — 4.0 implied runs
DFS Salary: Yahoo $40 | FanDuel $11,000 | DraftKings $9,200
There is some conflicting information as of this writing if the Blue Jays will be rolling with southpaw Robbie Ray or fellow lefty Steven Matz, who may be clearing the health and safety protocol. This is a park boost for Ray with Toronto playing its home games in its various minor league venues. This season the Marlins are a bottom-five team against southpaws, creating runs 12% less efficiently than league average. They also have the third-highest strikeout rate at 28.1% and a paltry .142 ISO that is the fourth-lowest in the league.
When Ray squared off against Miami back at the beginning of the month, he rolled through them with nine strikeouts and one earned run in six innings while throwing 96 pitches. Ray can be an adventure when hoping to trust him with his home run issues, but this looks like a cherry matchup.
Wild Card: RHP James Kaprielian at Texas Rangers — 4.3 implied runs
DFS Salary: Yahoo $41 | FanDuel $9,000 | DraftKings $8,400
This is a tricky recommendation, as rookie James Kaprielian is certainly not coming with any sort of salary discount. Through seven starts this season he has a 2.84 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and nearly 10 strikeouts per nine innings. The roof will likely be closed tonight in the Texas heat, and Kaprielian should throw 85 or 90 pitches.
This season the Rangers’ offense has been creating runs 12% less efficiently than league average against right-handed hurlers. Their 25.8% strikeout rate is the sixth highest in the league, while their .148 ISO ranks in the bottom third. The alternative would be looking to Jose Urquidy in Baltimore against an equally weak Orioles offense, though he does not have the same strikeout upside.
Final Thoughts for the Wednesday, June 23, MLB DFS Slate
Today it looks like there will not be any precipitation issues for all four MLB slates. As always, be mindful that salaries and scoring formats differ across the various fantasy sites, and a home run play on Yahoo may be a below-average MLB DFS pick on DraftKings or FanDuel.
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