I cannot believe this is my first DraftKings MLB DFS Picks piece of the 2022 season.
As soon as the season kicked off, I tested positive for COVID and have essentially been knocked onto my back side since. That said, with a return to health both physically and mentally, I’m ready to get back to work and am wildly excited and grateful to have the opportunity to do so.
Let’s get started on the right note as we will begin with a four-game main/night slate given the early start for the 12:20 pm ET slate.
*Weather Concerns: SEA @ CWS
DraftKings MLB DFS Picks – April 13, 2022
P – Corbin Burnes (MIL) – $9,600 vs. BAL
As for as pitching goes on this slate, Burnes is a must on the two-pitcher system at DraftKings.
Despite an underwhelming first start of the 2022 season for the reigning NL Cy Young winner, the matchup is a fine one tonight as Burnes takes on the lowly Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.
On Opening Day in Chicago against the division rival Cubs, Burnes turned in five innings of three-run ball and most uncharacteristically walked three after displaying some of the game’s best control last season. He also struck out just four in those five frames.
That said, we’ll lean more on a hefty 2021 sample size. Obviously, the Brewers’ ace was brilliant last season, working to a tidy 2.43 ERA, but also with eye-popping peripherals such as a 1.63 FIP, 12.61 K/9 and 1.83 BB/9. He also kept the ball in the park at an elite 0.38 HR/9 rate, and it’s worth noting he posted a dynamite 0.30 HR/9 clip in the shortened 2020 season across nearly 60 innings of work.
The O’s are off to a not-so-hot start to the season offensively in sitting 21st with a .288 team wOBA in the season’s infancy, however I’m dialing in on their MLB-worst 30.9% strikeout rate through their first 188 trips to the plate.
They’re also hitting just .207 on the season with minuscule power in the form of a .110 ISO, so there’s absolutely not reason to be fading Burnes on a tiny slate.
P – Shane McClanahan (TB) – $7,500 vs. OAK
If you’re avoiding the risk of the game today in Chicago and thus eliminating the pitching in that one, your’e pretty much down to McClanahan, Frankie Montas, Gerrit Cole and Jose Berrios on this slate. I’m not going to debate the merits of each arm, but rather simply role with McClanahan in what should be a solid matchup for the sophomore left-hander.
Last season, McClanahan burst onto the scene and hurled a 3.43 ERA/3.31 FIP across 25 starts and just over 123 innings, but the strikeout and walk numbers were also fantastic in the form of a 10.29 K/9 against just 2.70 BB/9.
His Opening Day start went quite well once he got out of a bases loaded, one-out jam in the first. He would go on to pitch 4.1 frames of shutout baseball while punching out a whopping seven Baltimore Orioles and walking a pair as well.
One risk when it comes to the hard-throwing southpaw is the Rays’ management of his workload. He went four innings or fewer in seven of his 25 starts last season and was limited to just 68 pitches in his first outing of the 2022 campaign. We can expect the latter figure to increase tonight, but the Rays will continue to manage his innings but with the team favored at -181 on the moneyline in this one there appears to be solid win upside if he can hit the five-inning minimum.
The A’s are hitting fine early in the season with a .327 wOBA that’s tied for 10th league wide, but their 24.1% K-rate is an elevated figure and one McClanahan is certainly capable of exposing in the pitching-friendly confines of Tropicana Field in Tampa.
C – Alejandro Kirk (TOR) – $3,100 vs. NYY
Kirk is a nice low-cost catching option on this slate despite a difficult matchup with one of the game’s best in the Yankees’ Gerrit Cole.
With Kirk you get a fantastic young hitter. The sample size is limited at the MLB level, but the young 23-year-old backstop has posted a 102 wRC+ across the first 230 trips to the plate for his big-league career, but has showed notable pop in that time as well with a .181 ISO and nine long balls to this point.
In his 60 games and 189 plate appearances in the bigs last season, he posted a 106 wRC+ with eight homers and an impressive .194 ISO in that time. In 14 Triple-A games, Kirk mashed to the tune of a .347 average, .924 OPS and 144 wRC+ with two homers and a .184 ISO at the minors’ highest level.
Kirk’s splits have leaned towards lefty’s as a right-handed hitter, but still owns a solid .162 ISO off righties in his brief MLB tenure, and if there’s one area to target Cole it’s with home runs.
Cole yielded a solid enough 1.19 HR/9 last season, but also a n elevated 1.73 mark in the shortened 2020 season and surrendered a long ball as part of his four innings on Opening Day in Boston. Cole owns a subpar 1.36 HR/9 across 43 starts since coming to the Yankees prior to the 2022 campaign.
There’s nice value potential here with the young Blue Jays catcher.
1B – Anthony Rizzo (NYY) – $4,700 vs. TOR
Rizzo was the final member inserted into this lineup and he won’t be a part of any stack, but of course we know what kind of hitter we’re getting with the former Cub.
Rizzo brings a very nice mix of bat-to-ball skills and power to the table. His consistently low K-rates have resulted in a 15.8% career mark in that department, making him a tough out at the plate every single time. That said, he also owns a career .213 ISO and is playing in a venue that is perfectly suited to his skill set.
Thanks to the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium, Rizzo brings plenty of power potential to the plate at home. For instance, as part of a hot start this season, Rizzo has already hit two homers with both coming at home against right-handed pitchers. He owns a 1.143 OPS, .475 wOBA and a .504 xwOBA that confirms his excellent work across the first five games and 22 plate appearances of his season.
I’m sure we’ll see a far better version of Jose Berrios for the Jays in this one, but he endured the worst Opening Day start of them all (and worst of the season so far) against the Rangers his first time out. Berrios recorded just one out and was tagged for four earned runs on three hits — including a homer — with two walks to boot. He faced just seven Rangers hitters before getting the hook.
Regardless of his Opening-Day struggles, the red-hot Rizzo is always a solid look at home against right-handed pitching.
2B – Cavan Biggio (TOR) – $3,100 vs. NYY
We don’t have a confirmed Blue Jays lineup at the moment, so we don’t know whether it will be Biggio or Santiago Espinal getting the nod at the keystone here. That said, with Yankee Stadium tailoring towards left-handed hitters such as Biggio combined with his work off Cole in their history against one another, I would think it would be Biggio getting the nod.
We’ll keep an eye on that, but for now we’ll focus on what Biggio brings to the table. After raking across his rookie 2019 season before an excellent 2020 showing, it’s been a tough go for the son of Hall of Famer Craig Biggio. The younger Biggio hit just .224 with seven homers and an 84 wRC+ last season and has received just five plate appearances without a hit to his credit so far this season.
That said, the lefty-swinging, versatile Biggio posted a palatable .721 OPS off righties last season with all seven of his dingers coming off a righty as well. He’s hit well off this particular righty, at least in the power department as Biggio has two homers and three extra-base knocks against Cole across 15 at-bats, giving him a .961 OPS in this matchup.
Perhaps that’s enough to get Biggio a start in this one tonight.
3B – Matt Chapman (TOR) – $3,900 vs. NYY
With Kirk and Biggio giving us nice value upside at their respective positions, I figured we might as well cap a three-man Blue Jays stack with Chapman who also comes at a reasonable cost despite a tough matchup on hand.
Like Biggio, Chapman’s overall work at the plate took a dip last season, but the guy very much remains a serious power threat. Chapman posted a 101 wRC+ that is 18 points below his 119 career mark, but he still managed to hit 27 home runs with a .193 ISO that is well above league average. Chapman owns a career .234 ISO and has hit as many as 36 long balls from the 2019 season.
One thing with the righty-hitting Chapman is he doesn’t care whether he’s facing a lefty or righty. For his career, he owns a .232 ISO off lefties and a .235 mark off righties. He also owns a 121 wRC+ off lefties and a 119 mark off righties. His career-long splits are remarkably similar and he’s likely bound to hit righties better this season than he did last after seeing his splits shift towards southpaws a season ago.
He’s not exactly off to a scorching-hot start to his Blue Jays career with a .176 average and 89 wRC+ through the first five games of the season, but he does have a homer and a double to his credit which gives him a .235 ISO on the very young campaign. Chapman has just one hit through the first two games of this series.
He makes sense as a cheap option to complete this stack tonight.
SS – Willy Adames (MIL) – $4,700 vs. BAL
Now we’ll get to our main four-man stack as the Brewers take on left-hander John Means and the Orioles tonight.
Means is coming off a nice rebound season in which he turned in a 3.62 ERA across 26 starts on the heels of a 4.53 mark from the shortened 2020 season, but his peripherals weren’t so kind. Means also posted a 4.62 FIP, but also yielded a hefty 1.84 long balls per nine innings. He was also particularly worse at home where he posted a 4.62 ERA and a 2.10 HR/9.
Means has long been a pitcher that’s been able to out-pitch his peripherals but with a career 1.68 HR/9 clip he remains a targetable pitcher in a park that’s historically been hitter-friendly, but we’ll get to the park factors shortly.
For now, we’ll dial in on Adames who has broken out into a star in this league. The former Tampa Bay Ray has raked since coming over to the Brewers in an early-season trade a season ago. Adames hit for an .886 OPS with 20 homers and 26 doubles in 99 games with the Brewers last season and is off to a hot start this season, hitting .316 with a homer and a pair of doubles as part of a .988 OPS through the first five games of his season.
Adames has actually been a reverse-splits hitter who has superior numbers off righties, but still hit for a well-above-average .215 ISO off lefties last season and a .211 mark on the road off lefties.
He’s a potential superstar in the making.
OF – Andrew McCutchen (MIL) – $4,800 vs. BAL
The likely leadoff hitter for the Crew tonight is McCutchen who remains a very productive hitter and one that has pummelled left-handed pitching.
I mean, he hit just .222 last season, but also clubbed 27 homers as part of a .222 ISO at the dish. With ISO figures of .201, .180 and .222 over the last three seasons, the former MVP still has it at the plate despite playing this season at 35 years old with plenty of wear and tear on his body.
The work of late has just been far superior off lefties such as Means. McCutchen raked southpaws to the tune of a .293 average last season, but also a monstrous .329 ISO, 1.027 OPS, .429 wOBA and 168 wRC+. If you want to go back to the 2020 season, it was a .283 average, .267 ISO, .944 OPS, .402 wOBA and 151 wRC+ off southpaws.
He’s fallen well below average off righties in recent seasons, but the work off lefties makes him a fantastic play out of the leadoff spot tonight.
OF – Hunter Renfroe (MIL) – $5,000 vs. BAL
Despite hitting for a ton of power, Renfroe has bounced around a lot lately, going from San Diego to Tampa to Boston to Milwaukee since the 2019 season. Regardless of his overall work at the plate being just slightly above league average for his career, we’re after the light-tower power here.
Renfroe has posted a whopping .252 ISO for his career and has 128 long balls to his credit across 581 career contests. Renfroe has never posted an ISO below .236 in his career across parts of six seasons, so we are almost certain he’s going to hit for plenty of power each and every year when it’s all said and done. Renfroe has hit at least 31 homers in each of the last two full seasons.
The good news is the numbers favor left-handed pitching for the righty-swinging outfielder. For his career, Renfroe has tagged southpaws for a .291 ISO, .895 OPS, .372 wOBA and 135 wRC+. He hits righties for plenty of power with a .234 ISO off them, but he’s otherwise far superior at the plate off left-handed pitching.
In prior seasons, Camden Yards was an elite home run venue for right-handed bats. Swish Analytics gives Camden Yards a 1.20 HR rating for right-handed hitters since 2014, with 1.00 being average. In other words, this venue was 20% more favorable for homers for right-handed bats.
Now, that could very well change this season as the organization pushed the left-field fence back 26 1/2 feet while raising the wall from just 7 feet, 4 inches to 13 feet. That’s almost certain to lower the number of homers to left, so it’s something to keep in mind this season in Baltimore.
The power threat remains significant with Renfroe in this matchup, however.
OF – Tyrone Taylor (MIL) – $3,500 vs. BAL
Completing a four-man Brewers stack here is Taylor who should get plenty of starts this season against left-handed pitching.
Taylor proved to be a fine contributor last season as he slugged 12 homers with six stolen bases across 93 appearances and 271 trips to the plate. Analytically, that’s good for a .210 ISO, .333 wOBA and 106 wRC+. Taylor owns a career .214 ISO so the power potential is certainly there, and it’s not just off lefties.
For his career, he’s seen 113 plate appearances off lefties and 220 off righties. Off lefties, he’s posted a .286 average, .190 ISO, .812 OPS, .349 wOBA and 117 wRC+. For the most part, he’s been notably superior off lefties, but he’s still hitting righties for a .227 ISO and .767 OPS for his career along with a 102 wRC+. He’s no slouch against either side.
The Brewers aren’t laced with additional left-handed outfield bats, so the pinch-hit potential is lessened this season for Taylor and combined with his power off righties, he should get more full-time starts this season.
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