Fantasy MLB DFS Picks Breakdown (Friday, May 26): Kevin Gausman Leads the Way at Pitcher

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

Friday features a 12-game main slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET.

MLB DFS Pitcher Picks

MLB DFS Stud Pick

The high-end pitching options are a bit thin for a 12-game slate. Only two starters are priced above $9,900 on DraftKings, and they both barely hit that threshold.

Kevin Gausman is the most expensive arm on the slate at $10,300, and his Vegas data isn’t ideal for his price tag. He’s just a -158 favorite, and the Twins are implied for 3.5 runs. That’s still the third-lowest mark on the slate, but it’s far from an elite figure.

However, Gausman brings tons of strikeout upside to the table. He’s been one of the best strikeout pitchers in baseball over the past four seasons, and his K/9 is up to 11.57 in 2023. His strikeout rate puts him in the 90th percentile, and he should be able to pile up the whiffs vs. the Twins. They boast the second-highest strikeout rate against right-handed pitchers for the year, and their projected lineup owns the third-highest splits-adjusted strikeout rate over the past 12 months.

Add it all up, and Gausman leads all pitchers with an 8.35 K Prediction. No other pitcher is within a full strikeout of Gausman, giving him the highest ceiling on the slate by a comfortable margin. He’s expected to carry massive ownership on Friday, but Gausman stands out as the clear top arm.

MLB DFS Value Pick

Grayson Rodriguez stands out as an excellent value option on FanDuel, where he leads the slate with a 90% Bargain Rating. Rodriguez has had an up-and-down start to his first full season in the big leagues, but his talent is undeniable. He entered the year as the No. 22 prospect per FanGraphs, and he’s had no problems striking out big-league hitters. He’s racked up 10.71 strikeouts per nine innings over his first nine starts, and his strikeout rate puts him in the 70th percentile.

Unfortunately, Rodriguez has had some major issues when batters make contact. They are hitting him extremely hard, and he’s surrendering home runs in bunches. His HR/FB rate sits at 23.3%, which is way above the MLB average. If he can show some improvement in that department, his ERA should dip significantly closer to his 3.82 xFIP.

Rodriguez doesn’t draw an ideal matchup Friday vs. the Rangers, who rank third in wRC+ vs. right-handers this season. However, they also have the eighth-highest strikeout rate in that split. Vegas is at least showing Rodriguez a bit of respect, with the Orioles listed as -125 home favorites.

Still, this play is about the price tag more than anything else, and Rodriguez has plenty of upside for his salary. He leads all pitchers in FanDuel projected Plus/Minus per THE BAT, and he has the fourth-highest ceiling projection. He trails only Gausman, Freddy Peralta, and George Kirby in that department, and all three players are at least $2,100 more expensive. Rodriguez is a good way to save some salary at pitcher without sacrificing much upside.


Like Rodriguez, Hunter Brown entered the year as a big-time pitching prospect. Unlike Rodriguez, he has put together quality results right out of the gate. He’s pitched to a 3.20 ERA and a 3.08 FIP while striking out 9.95 batters per nine innings. He draws an outstanding matchup Friday vs. the A’s, resulting in -280 moneyline odds and a 3.3-run opponent implied total. Historically, pitchers with comparable marks in both categories have averaged a Plus/Minus of +4.32 (per the Trends tool). Brown’s K Prediction of 7.16 also ranks second on the slate, so he checks a lot of boxes on Friday.

Brown also stands out using our PrizePicks and Underdog Fantasy simulations table:

Alex Wood has yet to really get in a groove this season, pitching just 20.0 innings. He’s yet to record even five full innings in a start, and he’s topped out at 75 pitches. That doesn’t give him much upside, but he does draw one of the best possible matchups Friday vs. the Brewers. They have been dreadful against left-handed pitchers this season, ranking 29th in wRC+ and first in strikeout rate. I still wouldn’t expect Wood to pitch more than five innings, but he has the potential to be extremely effective while on the mound. He’s a solid SP2 for tournaments at just $6,300 on DraftKings.

Kirby has been an excellent source of value all season, posting a positive Plus/Minus in seven of his past eight outings on DraftKings. He should be able to keep the good times rolling against a light-hitting Pirates squad. They rank just 20th in wRC+ vs. right-handed pitchers, and they’re 29th in that split over the past 30 days. Their implied team total of 3.2 runs is the lowest mark on the slate, and Kirby provides a smidge of salary relief from guys like Gausman and Brown.

MLB DFS Hitter Picks

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 300 lineups.

The top DraftKings stack in our MLB Models when generated by projected points using THE BAT belongs to the New York Mets:

The Mets have had a disappointing start to the year, considering their lofty expectations. They have the highest payroll in baseball history, yet they start a three-game series vs. the Rockies at just one game over .500. Colorado took two out of three from the Mets at Citi Field, and the Mets have had issues offensively and on the mound. They rank just 18th in runs per game while they’re 24th in team ERA.

Still, Coors Field can heal plenty of woes, and Vegas is showing the Mets a ton of respect on Friday. They’re currently implied for 7.1 runs, which is one of the highest marks of the entire season. The Braves rank second on the slate at 5.6 runs, so the Mets own a massive cushion over the rest of Friday’s offenses.

They’re taking on right-hander Connor Seabold, who is probably not good enough to be a major-league starter. He pitched to an 11.29 ERA across 18.1 innings with the Red Sox last year, and he has a 7.81 ERA for his career. He’s been slightly better in his first year with the Rockies, but his 5.97 ERA is nothing to write home about.

The Mets’ offense is led by Pete Alonso, who has turned in an MVP-caliber start to the year. He leads the league with 19 homers, putting him four clear of Jorge Soler and Max Muncy in second. His 45 RBIs rank third in baseball, and he’s on pace for a new career high in wRC+. Alonso has homered twice in his past three games, and it certainly wouldn’t be surprising to see him put one over the wall again on Friday.

If you’re looking to save a bit of salary with the Mets, consider replacing one of their veteran sluggers with one of their youngsters. Francisco Alvarez owns the top projected DraftKings Plus/Minus in THE BAT, and getting a $3,300 catcher at Coors is always appealing. He’s also been outstanding at the dish after a shaky start to the year, posting a 184 wRC+ in May.

Brett Baty is also viable at $3,400, and he’s expected to bat fifth in the lineup. He hasn’t been quite as impressive as Alvarez, but he has four homers in 32 games and will have the splits advantage vs. Seabold. The Mets should be the most popular stack target on this slate, but there are some creative ways to target their lineup that should help with ownership.

Other MLB DFS Hitter Picks

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 X from Derek Carty of RotoGrinders. With this purchase, you can use his projections alone or create aggregate projections within our Player Models.

For this example, we created a 50/50 blend with THE BAT X and the FantasyLabs projections to pinpoint some hitters that stand out.

Corey Dickerson OF ($2,300 DraftKings, $2,000 FanDuel) Washington Nationals at Kansas City Royals (Jordan Lyles)

Saving salary on a Coors Field slate is always important, and Dickerson stands out as one of the best values using the blended projections. He has the third-highest projected Plus/Minus on DraftKings, and he ranks first in that department on FanDuel. Dickerson has always been able to hit righties, posting a 120 wRC+ in that split for his career, and he’s facing an extremely hittable right-hander Friday in Lyles. He owns a 7.15 ERA for the season, and he’s surrendered an average of 2.22 homers per nine innings.

William Contreras C ($3,700 DraftKings, $2,800 FanDuel) Milwaukee Brewers vs. San Francisco Giants (Alex Wood)

While the Brewers’ struggles against southpaws are well-documented, Contreras thrives in that split. He’s posted a 138 wRC+ vs. left-handers this season, and he’s homered twice in just 44 at-bats. Contreras owns a 153 wRC+ vs. southpaws for his career, so there’s no reason to expect much regression moving forward. Wood ranks in just the 10th percentile in average exit velocity, so Contreras has the potential to go yard if he squares one up.

Adam Frazier 2B ($2,700 DraftKings, $2,700 FanDuel) Baltimore Orioles vs. Texas Rangers (Jon Gray)

Frazier was one of the better offensive second basemen in baseball two years ago, but he had a down season with the Mariners in 2022. However, he’s having a resurgence in his first year with the Orioles. He’s been red hot at the dish recently, posting a positive Plus/Minus on DraftKings in six straight games. He has five extra-base hits over that time frame, and his wRC+ is up to 113 for the year. He’ll be on the positive side of his splits vs. Gray, who looks like a major regression candidate moving forward. He’s pitched to a 3.02 ERA through his first nine starts, but his 5.18 xERA is significantly worse.