The Triple T: Tim’s Top Three
Welcome back to the 2021 MLB DFS season! As many of you know, MLB DFS is all about stacking so it only makes sense to focus on that in this article. I will list my favorite plays within each stack to make it easier to build a lineup from the recommendations. There may be more guys on team that can be used and salary will certainly dictate that, but the guys I list are my favorites within that team and can be mixed and matched. When we “stack”, that traditionally means that we play 3 to 5 guys from a particular team so that we can have exposure among multiple players throughout that lineup of the runs generated. Stacking could come in the form of a 5/3 stack (five players from one team and 3 from another), a 4/4, or even a 5/2/1 or 4/3/1. My personal favorite is a 3/3/2 as it allows me to get exposure to three of my favorite teams on a slate.
We should note that this MLB DFS season will play a little different then previous seasons as Covid-19 has made for an abbreviated year last year which could change how starting pitchers are used THIS season, how lineups and substitutions are managed, as well as the virus still being around, leading to positive tests and causing players to quarantine. Regardless, I am just happy to have the sport back and it should be a lot of fun. Tread lightly for the first couple weeks as we see how things are shaking out and we get a solid data set to work off!
Use these MLB plays along with your own research! Remember, this is a GPP-style article (outside of the cash cores) so I take some more chances than others. The format for this article is not set in stone so if there is something you want to see or would like me to consider changing, please let me know. After all, this site is for YOU. Let’s dive in!
*Be sure to compare with your own research from our incredible MLB DFS matchup tool!
Any changes or edits will be marked in Red – check back before lock!
Notes: I need to start off by saying that with the weather issues out there tonight and the abysmal pitching, this is one of the worst slates so far this season that I can recall. It is a real good night to play light and I also think it is a night where it really is worth hedging your lineup. What that means is that if you are heavy on a particular pitcher, I would allocate some of you buy-ins to make a line with the team going against that pitcher. No guy on this slate is safe by any stretch so you don’t want to get hung out to dry by being heavy on one and having him implode. It’s a strategy I would recommend anyway on every slate if you’re heavy on a pitcher but particular with this crop of guys. Mahle has the highest K rate on the slate, averaging 14 per nine innings and Arizona has the lowest total on the slate so I do think that is where people gravitate to and I may go there myself in cash especially. There is cause for concern because Great American is like Coors-East and the wind is blowing out there and while Mahle’s strikeout rate looks great, his swinging strike rate is just average. His called strike rate is huge and probably unsustainable so we could see that 14 per 9 strikeout rate regress a little. Because of that, I might even lean Wacha as crazy as that sounds but anything goes tonight. Wacha is interesting because while he is allowing absolutely eye-popping exit velocity marks (highest in the league), he is not allowing homers and inducing groundballs at a high rate. He has faced Boston once and the Yanks twice which is what could be skewing his hard hit rates/exit velocity. As bad as the Yanks have been, they do have some mashers and a few of their guys rank at the top of the league in hard hit rate among batters and he has handled those two offenses pretty well over three starts so far. KC is pesky but they do present a little easier matchup than he has seen in his first few. The pickings are pretty slim which brings us to David Peterson who is an average pitcher at best and has a tough matchup tonight against the Cubs who actually have the best ISO in the league to southpaws. Peterson got rocked in his first start against Philly but then came back to pitch a gem against them. I probably won’t be stray a ton from Mahle or Wacha but I don’t hate giving Peterson a flier in a line just because of the horrible hitting conditions tonight in Chicago that should suppress some power. I can live with 35% flyballs and 35% hard contact on a slate like this and hope he can get squeeze by Willson, Baez and Bryant a couple times. Junis is a guy that is giving me fits. I expect him to have some ownership on a slate like this, especially on DK as a SP2. I’m just not feeling it. This guy is allowing a 42% hard hit rate and just 3% soft contact – that’s pretty bad. Now, Wacha’s marks are about the same, but as we mentioned earlier, he has had the tougher schedule and he induces groundballs a little more. Junis is a high line drive and moderate flyball guy so there’s a chance a couple of those leave the park. He also gives way to a pretty bad pen so a win is not a given here either even if he leaves with a lead. There are just too many red flags with him for me to comfortably recommend him as anything other than a boom-or-bust and frankly, I may even have some TB tonight if it looks like he is going to be popular.
Top MLB Team Stacks (both sites, no order)
– I am going to list my preferred player stack, but these aren’t the only guys I would use as there may be some others that offer us salary relief.
– Red Sox (Martinez/Bogaerts/Verdugo/Devers) – Weather here is hairy so keep a close eye on it. Trent Thornton gets the start and while he isn’t bad, he shouldn’t be going deep here and should be giving way to either Anthony Kay or Tommy Milone who aren’t good. This offense has been one of the surprises of the early going and they should continue tonight against below-average arms with a strong wind blowing out.
– Blue Jays (Bichette/Guerrero/Biggio/Semien/Grichuk) – Garrett Richards has been pretty bad to righties this year and this Toronto lineup can throw a lot of them at him. He is allowing a flyball rate over 50% to them with an ISO over .200 and slugging of almost .500 to them and that doesn’t bode well for Richards with a strong wind blowing out despite being cold.
– Braves (Acuna/Freeman/Albies/d’Arnaud/Ozuna) – Kluber used to be pretty feared when he would take the hill but now his average fastball is barely touching 90mh and he is getting hit hard. The Braves have started kind of slow but they were one of the best teams to righties last season and should be right up there this year when it is all said and done. Yankee Stadium projects to see a heavy 15-20mph wind blowing out tonight which should be great for bats in this one.
Top Boom-or-Bust Stacks
These are stacks that I anticipate will be lower owned but have huge potential. They are usually all-or-nothing stacks that we play shooting for a tourney takedown
– Reds (Suarez/Votto/Naquin/Winker/Barnhart) – Merrill Kelly is one of the worst pitchers in the league and while the Reds will be down Moose and Casty here, they are still capable of getting to Kelly. Kelly is allowing a flyball rate of over 41% to both sides of the plate (55% to lefties), an ISO over .250 to both sides and slugging percentages over .500 to both. He doesn’t have a humidor to save him here in Great American.
– Tampa Bay (Meadows/Lowe/Wendle/Arozarena) – This one is a little bit of a reach but I think Junis could be popular on DK as a SP2 so I am putting TB in play. The Rays have started off the year very slow but they have shown signs of coming around, including an outburst last night. Over the last two weeks, they are 4th in the league in hard hit rate to righties while striking out at the 9th fewest rate. This tells me that they’re seeing the ball well, they are just running into some bad batted ball luck. We need flyballs against Junis and Meadows, Lowe and Wendle all have flyball rates over 45% to right handed pitchers this season. This is a matchup that I could see going either way but if Junis is going to have ownership, I think this stack could be a good leverage play. I was initially scared by the cold weather but 1) you don’t need homers to score runs and 2) there were 21 runs scored here last night in an almost identical environment. I wanted to list the Mets here but do feel the leverage could be better with Tampa.
– Yankees (Judge/Stanton/LeMehieu/Torres/Urshela) – Talk about bad batted ball luck! The Yanks actually have a couple guys up at the top of the league in exit velocity in Stanton and Judge but these two guys have a combined BABIP of around .230. Stanton alone has a BABIP under .200 but he’s smashing the ball so he should see that improve. All these guys do have a very high K rate which puts them in this class but if they can get under some of these pitches from Anderson, they could leave the park quick in that wind.
Bonus note: I am seeing heavy ownership coming in on Mahle as we approach the slate and I definitely think it is worth it to get an Arizona stack The wind is blowing out, Arizona’s batters in the lineup don’t strikeout a ton, and a couple guys have pretty high flyball rates against righties that could play well against mahle’s 50% flyball rate. He has a strikeout rate of 14 per 9 innings but I think that could be a little inflated by the early going as his 12% swinging strike rate is nothing special and a huge 22% called strike rate could be helping him and sure to regress. This is a direct leverage play to the Mahle chalk that I expect to see. He is hardly a “sure thing” and when we see a mediocre pitcher projected to be highly owned, we target that guy especially when he has some red flags. Arizona should be rolling a lefty-heavy lineup and it is worth noting that mahle traditionally struggles with lefties, especially at home where he has allowed a whopping 2.5 HR/9 to them.
Top Three One-Off Plays
– Escobar, Ari
– Meadows, TB
– Conforto, Mets
Cash Game Foundation
*Since hedging your tourneys with cash games is extremely important in these daily sports like MLB, we have decided to include a cash game (double ups, 50/50’s) section at the bottom of our MLB DFS articles this season. These guys will be my foundation for cash games. I will focus mainly on where I think ownership will be and solid floors more so than who the actual “best” play at the position will be. Some guys have very high ceilings suited best for GPP while also having low floors not ideal for cash games. It is imperative that we play ownership in cash as we just need to beat half the field in these games rather than finish first. We want to pay close attention to where the field is going so if we have a bust at high ownership it doesn’t bury us. I love tourneys because they give me a chance to take some risks, but we want to play it safe in double-ups so I use my cash games to maybe eat some chalk that I may not be particularly high on because, again, we want to play ownership in cash.
***will make an update here at 6:00pm! ***
* I would avoid cash on such a small slate with a few weather question marks. If you do play, Mahle should be the cash chalk at pitcher so I would focus on getting him in your cash lines
As always, remember to make sure these players are indeed in the lineup, that weather is okay, and keep an eye on Vegas odds. Don’t forget that baseball is by far the highest variance sport but by truly digging in to the numbers and turning over every stone, we can mitigate that variance. Please follow Top Flight Fantasy Sports on Twitter and Facebook if you haven’t already and good luck!