Happy Mother’s Day to all the deserving moms out there. I get to celebrate today with my wife, who is celebrating her first Mother’s Day with our 11-month-old son. Yes, I have had a long time to plan for this holiday!
Today, I want to talk about game-stacking. An under-utilized, overlooked strategy (at least in my humble opinion) in daily fantasy MLB. There aren’t many articles in the industry written yet around MLB game-stacking as a prime philosophy, but I feel it’s my mission this week to talk at length as to why this strategy is underutilized.
Game-stacking has gained notoriety mainly with NFL, and for good reasons. Scoring a few touchdowns typically leads the opposing offense (unless you’re Adam Gase) to abandon the run as they play catch-up. When both teams are passing, the clock stops more often, leading to more plays, and more fantasy points (sometimes). These stacks take shape with the usual QB/WR1/Opposing WR1 roster or even further with the additional RB or WR added in.
In baseball however, more runs on one side don’t significantly change the approach of the opposing offense. Batters are still up there trying to get on base, hit the ball hard, and hit home runs. However, pitchers sometimes do change their approach when throwing with a big lead vs. in a tight game. Grooving pitches is more common when the tying run is not on base and at times that can lead to mistakes. And as we know mistakes = money. Also, throw in the ballpark as a constant for each game, the weather, and the attractiveness of guessing less outcomes to fall your way to win a whole lot of money. Therefore, game stacking is one of my favorite MLB strategies to deploy.
What got me thinking about this strategy more and more recently was partly due to this past Friday night’s MLB slate. It was a relatively low scoring slate, with the Phillies (vs. Charlie Morton), Nationals (vs. Jameson Taillon), and Astros (vs. Ross Stripling) leading the pack among offenses with 12, 11, and 10 runs, with an Astros / Blue Jays game stack taking home some major prizes among the tournaments I competed in (by game stacking, I am referencing a 5-3 on DraftKings or a 4-4 on FanDuel).
This capped off a week where I saw the Red Sox and Tigers play two games over 18 combined runs, and last Sunday’s game with the Cubs and Reds combining for 25 runs. Nothing new for a week of MLB games but notable that with each of these games, it was not always those direct game stacks which are taking down tournaments.
In a game of micro-edges, with stacking offenses commonplace now, MLB game stacking is a strategy which can still create inherent leverage. Anyone who does read my work (appreciate you!) may know I subscribe to the guess less, correlate more theory in building DFS lineups. In game stacking, getting one offense right hopefully can lead to the other (that’s 2 outcomes), along with a pitcher or two depending on site and I like my odds better than 8 or 9 separate outcomes.
As we get into today’s slate, here’s my quick reminder on the key indicators I follow to identify where we may see some home runs on Sunday:
As far as game environments on Sunday which stick out above the rest which should be good for offense: Nationals at Yankees, Mariners at Rangers, and Pirates at Cubs.
The Nationals are coming into form with Juan Soto back, and the Yankees offense is starting to click too. Both bullpens are above average so the later innings worry me but Joe Ross vs. Domingo German should yield 2 home runs per side minimum. If the weather is hot and humid in New York on Mother’s Day, all the better. As for the targets on each side…
Nationals: Juan Soto goes in every stack because he’s simply too good. Trae Turner has a 30% Barrel rate over his past 28 at-bats. Victor Robles surprisingly carries a 60+% HH rate and a 50+% FB rate so Home Runs may be in his future. Josh Bell is also hitting the ball hard and Kyle Schwarber has 8 hard hits in his last week but nothing to show for it.
Yankees: Mike Ford and Aaron Judge lead the team with 75% HH rates and 0 home runs over the past week. Make sure Ford is in the lineup and be aware Judge just snapped an 0-20 skid yesterday with an extra-inning single. Either way, both have been smacking the ball. Giancarlo Stanton has also been scorching but his 60% HR/FB rate is unsustainable. Gio Urshela is also over 50% HH rate along with DJ LeMahieu who hit two home runs on Friday. I’ll also add Kyle Higashioka has a .500 ISO vs. sinkers which Ross throws almost 50% of the time.
Outside of game-stacking, my favorite individual offense to stack is the Minnesota Twins vs. Tigers (Matthew Boyd). They most likely won’t be sneaky but with Boyd coming back off injury and at least 5 maybe 6 or more Tigers bullpen innings incoming, the Twins will be prioritized. One stat over the past week which really jumps off the page to me is the Twins 13% Barrel rate (1st in MLB). In total, they have 23 Barrels, and the next closest team has 19 (Rangers).
A hard-hitting team, against a pitcher who gives up hard contact (+35% career) and home runs (1.63)? Sign me up.
You have to love Nelson Cruz every time a lefty is on the mound. Josh Donaldson and Jorge Polanco account for 8 of those 23 Barrels (4 each) over the past week, and Miguel Sano carries his 50% HH rate to go along with 0 home runs. Byron Buxton and Alex Kirilloff getting hurt takes some of the steam out of this offense overall, but they have enough firepower and Boyd had enough regression coming (only 2% HR/FB in 2021, near 14% career) to have a healthy offensive day.
Finally, I’ll leave you all with this: a view of the top Hard-Hit rates over the past 7 days (remember, we’re looking for Green-Green-Green across FB, HR/FB, and HH%)
Happy Home Run hunting!
Good luck today to all! I hope to see you at the top of the leaderboards!