MLB DFS for Tonight: Yankees, Blue Jays and James Taillon are Prime Picks

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Pitchers with the highest optimal probabilities: Dylan Bundy, Jameson Taillon

This is an exciting slate as we do not necessarily have any marquee pitchers that would generally take the crown at the top of the optimal board, but for now, that sits with Dylan Bundy. Bundy by no means has top pitcher written all over him as the public sees his 5.76 ERA, which factors into his ownership projecting to be half of his optimal probability. However, his xERA and xFIP sit around 3.50, which gives us hope that he should be due for a turnaround with a few things going his way.

There is no better opponent to change your fortunes than the 15-23 Oakland Athletics, who sport league-worst positions in wOBA and wRC+. Given his expected minimal ownership that could go even lower, seeing how bad his recent performances have been, there is some potential for upside with Bundy on a slate that lacks any shoo-in. 

The Yankees have been hitting the cover off the ball so well to start the year that Jameson Taillon is not needed to be much more than an average starter who eats innings and limits the damage. Through six starts, Taillon has only pitched six innings once and has not reached seven strikeouts in a game yet, but he has not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his starts. This will be his third start of the season against Baltimore, but he has a combined six strikeouts in those two games while pitching four and two-thirds innings in each outing.

For a guy who is the fourth costliest on the slate with the highest projected ownership, there is stronger, high-upside potential with some of the other arms. However, if you are confident in the rest of your lineup, Taillon has earned the trust of DFS players for being a consistently safe play (so far) which does not come easy in the current MLB landscape.

Pitchers seeing the most leverage: Logan Gilbert, Adrian Houser, Nathan Eovaldi

Gilbert, Eovaldi, and Houser are the three guys that we see the most leverage on. Still, they are the three most expensive pitchers on this slate going up against talented offenses, which tells us all we need to know about why we are seeing this leverage on them specifically.

Logan Gilbert was arguably the best starting pitcher in the AL through his first five starts with a minuscule 0.64 ERA. That was enough for the DFS sites to alter his salary projections making him the costliest pitcher on tonight’s slate. Still, he has been hit around over his past two starts, letting up a combined seven earned runs and 10 hits, although his strikeout production has seen an increase.

While the Blue Jays have not necessarily put it altogether just yet, we are all well aware of some of the studs in their lineups, making this by no means an easy matchup for Gilbert. Despite Toronto’s limited production over the past two weeks, especially with bottom five rankings in ISO, wOBA, and wRC+ in that period, they still have the horses. If you are confident in Gilbert to bounce back, getting 5% projected ownership on a guy who was dealing for most of the season is an absolute steal. 

This is a game full of ifs, but this is undoubtedly one of the most enticing ones that we’ll see.

Houser is a good game manager who does not necessarily have the stuff to tear up the strikeout column. Luckily for him, the Braves have been striking out at the highest clip in baseball over the past two weeks at roughly 30%. Houser has also done pretty well-limiting power this season, with only one home run allowed through six starts. Keeping the ball in the park is a good sign as the Braves have the sixth-highest ISO and ninth-highest HardHit% this season. Given that Milwaukee’s hurler could see an uptick in strikeout production paired with his ability to limit the Braves’ power, he could be in line for a strong performance tonight. The salary is not ideal, but the expected single-digit ownership should make you soon forget about the cost to roster him.

Eovaldi has been pretty consistent with his track record of the past few years, with minimal runs allowed and respectable strikeout numbers while being dependable whenever he steps on the mound. The Astros are certainly a tough matchup for the Red Sox righty as one of the top offenses in the AL this season.

We already have an idea of Eovaldi’s high floor, but is he capable of taking it to the next level and dishing out a gem, and is the salary worth that risk? The Astros are not the best team to try that luck against, especially at the second most expensive arm on an already bare pitcher slate.

In comparison to guys like Logan Gilbert and Adrian Houser, who have given us reason to believe they have a higher upside tonight, there will be more favorable opportunities to get an Eovaldi gem.

STACK IT UP

Stack optimal probabilities are calculated by using the top 6 projected hitters for each team. Team cost is the average cost of that team’s top six optimal probability players.

Team stacks with the highest optimal probabilities: Yankees, Giants

The Yankees could be in for a field day against Spenser Watkins, who does not strike people out and struggles giving up power at the MLB level. This season, the Yankees lead the league in ISO, wOBA, wRC+, HardHit%, and Barrel%, which should be all the reasoning needed for New York as tonight’s top optimal stack. The Yankees will certainly be highly owned, but sprinkling in some of the sluggers feels like great value, given that Watkins is just not very good.

While the Giants do not feature the offensive star power like the Yankees, they are a productive offense going into Coors tonight priced at the fifth cheapest stack on the slate. We project them to be the highest owned stack on the slate as a result, but Chad Kuhl has been pretty good at Coors in his two starts there this season. Allowing only three earned runs through over 13 innings pitched is as good as you might get at Coors. Yes, the Giants are an enticing play given all factors lining up in their favor, but this could be a fade spot for them given the high ownership and Chad Kuhl having held down the fort so far this season in Denver.

Team stacks seeing the most leverage: Astros, Blue Jays, Twins

The Astros offense is rock solid as they have top three positions in wRC+ and ISO while having a low strikeout percentage which has been the norm for them over the past few years. As previously mentioned, Eovaldi certainly is a solid pitcher who can do some damage and will be no pushover for the Astros offense. However, getting an offense that has been playing phenomenal baseball over the past 15 games with leverage in their favor while not being overly expensive is value in itself.

The aforementioned Blue Jays certainly have not lived up to the hype so far this season and have been struggling lately, but Logan Gilbert’s past two starts are also a reason for concern. Someone is due to get out of their slump tonight, so if you believe that the baseballs are indeed not dead, stay tuned. Vlad Jr, George Springer, and Bo Bichette should be able to get their bats going, and leverage on this stack could be valuable and will not last for the entire season.

The Twins are going into tonight swinging the bats well as they have top eleven rankings in ISO, wOBA, and wRC+ along with top-six rankings in HardHit% and Barrel% over the past two weeks. Their opponent, James Kaprielian, has been nothing special in his brief MLB career. Still, his best start this season was easily against the Twins, where he only allowed one run while registering seven of his ten total strikeouts.

If you believe in Kaprielian’s whole body of work rather than a single recent performance, then taking the Twins at an affordable value while seeing leverage feels like an excellent get. Fading Kaprielian is an added bonus since we project him to see nearly 20% ownership on this slate. 

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