Welcome to the Friday edition of MLB DFS Picks and Pivots, a fantasy baseball column focused on helping you find the best core lineup for this slate of DFS action!
For those of you finding us for the first time, the concept behind MLB DFS Picks and Pivots is to give you a first look at the day’s MLB DFS slate, including our top picks, plays and pivots, using FantasyDraft pricing as a reference, to help you build your best line-up and win big
Picks and Pivots is not a simple “best plays” column but rather it focuses on slate strategy and roster construction to help give you insight into how I will look to play this slate.
Thursday’s MLB DFS slate was dominated by strong pitching and some unlikely hitting stars as the “chalk” offenses failed to go off as we expected with the top two fantasy batters being Maikel Franco and Niko Goodrum just as every tout in the industry predicted. Nick Pivetta was the top fantasy play of the day as he dominated the Marlins in a 32 fantasy point shutout and was locked into the line-ups of most of the tournament winning teams on this day.
Picks and Pivots is not a simple “best plays” column but rather it focuses on slate strategy and roster construction to help give you insight into how I will look to play this slate. The goal of this article is to dig through the slate, highlight our top plays and help you identify the best slate strategy across your MLB DFS line-ups.
Below you will see the scoring for FantasyDraft which is very similar to my experiences on DraftKings with perhaps the biggest difference being the roster build with allows for the most flexible roster construction across the major sites as you are required to roster two SP’s, 3 IF’s, 3 OF’s and 2 UTIL spots.
As always, we will look to update our final lineup thoughts throughout the day on our twitter account @FantasyCPR so make sure to give us a follow for all the late breaking lineup news.
Without further ado, let’s get into today’s slate!
MLB DFS – Starting Pitching Overview:
After a bit of a choppy Thursday in baseball’s scheduling, we get back to a more traditional Main Slate tonight with 7 games to choose from.
Lance McCullers ($24.1K) is one of my favorite pitchers to watch in baseball and I tend to lean on him in DFS every fifth day and I can tell you I grabbed him in every season long fantasy baseball league I am in. His stuff is just filthy and his strikeout upside is as good as it gets on this slate as evidenced by his 10K outing versus the Rangers in Texas in his first start this season.
Today, McCullers gets a home start against a Padres team that is without Will Myers and as a -260 home favorite, this looks to be the cash game pitching lock of the day. On FantasyDraft I have to say they are going to make you think about it as the price tag is absolutely through the roof as McCullers will cost you 24% of your total salary cap but when you really think about it in percentage terms, he takes up the same salary percentage as he would on FanDuel where he is only $8.6K (24% of your total $35K cap). So this could be a spot where you get over the sticker shock and simply lock and load the best arm on the slate. At home last season, McCullers had a 29.9% K rate, giving up only 0.8 HR/9, a 66% ground ball rate with a ridiculous 22.9% hard contact rate. All the metrics are screaming to play him and the match-up against the Padres without Myers just makes this all the more enticing.
Kenta Maeda ($21.5K) is the second highest priced arm on FantasyDraft but the top dog on FanDuel and after a 10K performance in his first start versus the Giants, he will get to face the same San Francisco team tonight in the Giants pitcher friendly ball park. The game log watchers may simply connect the dots here and think they can replicate the 10K effort and while Maeda is a solid pitcher he is not the kind of elite K arm that I personally think is worth the salary on this slate. Maeda had a solid 25% K rate last season with similar metrics in 2016 and interestingly enough had only one double-digit K game over the last two years so it seems a bit foolish to expect another 10K’s against the same Giants team he faced a few days ago. Also it looks like we may have some potential weather issues to keep an eye on here tonight!
Luis Castillo ($17.1K) is my preferred SP2 on this slate as this is an arm who sported a 27% K rate last season and struck out 6 batters in a tough opening day start against the Nationals. Now Castillo did give up 6 runs and 6 hits with 2 home runs in that game but the strikeouts were there and he only issued one free pass and today he will take on a significantly softer line-up in the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Castillo was dominant against right-handed bats last season, with a 29.9% K rate, a 63% GB rate and a 27% hard contact rate and today will take on a Pirates projected line-up with 6 right-handed bats including starting pitcher Trevor Williams. Keep an eye on the weather here as well as there is over a 50% chance of rain with increasing storms as the game gets later.
If weather washes out both Maeda AND Castillo, not only will it push more ownership towards McCullers but it will make finding an SP2 a MASSIVE challenge as the other options here are less than ideal.
Parker Bridwell ($11.2K) might be the one viable punt as a -133 home favorite against the A’s but keep in mind this is a pitcher with a 15% K rate. Now Bridwell was able to pitch to a solid mid 3’s ERA but his lack of K upside makes him nothing more than a punt play IF and ONLY IF Maeda and Castillo are washed off this slate.
MLB DFS: Top Hitting Spots to Target:
Like with most slates this MLB DFS season, the Astros and Yankees have the two top projected run totals so as usual you can start your roster builds with them.
The Astros will take on Luis Perdomo who is an extreme ground ball pitcher to RHB (66%) while limited hard contact to 29% so going after the left-handed bats in this line-up today may be the place to attack Perdomo who gave up a 36.6% HC rate to LHB with a 1.23 HR/9 rate. The big bats from the Astros all hit from the right side so going after the LHB in the Houston line-up not only gives us the chance to attack the correct splits but we also save some salary. Josh Reddick ($7.4K) is the top target here and is the only Astro to face Perdomo before, going 4 for 5 with a home run against him. A bottom of the order Houston stack could be the way to go here with Marwin Gonzalez, Brian McCann and Derek Fisher all sporting the platoon advantage against Perdomo tonight.
The Yankees get to face old Gas Can – Kevin Gausman – in Yankee Stadium and as a pitcher with a 1.4 HR/9 rate to both righties and lefties last season, this is a spot to mix and match your stacks this evening. BvP fans will look at Aaron Judge ($9.6K) and his 6 for 12 mark with 3 home runs against Gausman only furthers the reason to play a batter who had the highest ISO and HR/FB against RHP last season. Because Gausman is beatable from both sides of the plate my perspective here is so start your Yankee build with Judge and mix and match across the rest of the Yankee line-up as needed. Didi Gregorious ($8.9K) continues to be a strong play in the cleanup spot and do not overlook the big RHB like Gary Sanchez or Giancarlo Stanton as Gausman over his career has been a reverse splits pitcher surrendering 1.5 HR/9 to RHB.
The Rangers/Blue Jays game has the highest run total on the Main Slate and the Rangers bats in particular are priced at extreme discounts considering they are taking on a SP in Marco Estrada who gave up 1.5HR/9 to hitters from both sides of the plate last season. Now Estrada does a great job of limiting hard contact (less than 30%) but we saw last year in his only start in Texas he gave up 6 ER and 7 hits in only 4 innings of work.
Adrian Beltre at $5.7K (really?), Rougned Odor ($6k) and Shin-Soo Choo ($6.7K) are all priced insanely low today and what I love about them here is that I can easily fit in McCullers and some of the big Yankee/Astros bats by using the savings from the Texas hitters. If you really need some punts here you can even drop down below $5K with bats like Ryan Rua or Drew Robinson.
On the Toronto side, the right-handed bats against LHP Matt Moore are all viable options as they come into this game with a team total over 5 facing a SP who had a 35% HC rate to RHB last season. For every reason I like the Rangers salary saving ability, the same goes for the Blue Jays here as depending on the line-up we could roster a handful of bats for under $6K including Steve Pearce, Devon Travis and Kendrys Morales.
MLB DFS – Sample Line-Up and Slate Overview:
The line-up below is meant to be illustrative only to further back-up the logic laid out in previous slides and is not meant to be an optimal line-up or a roster you simply plug and play on your own!
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SP: Lance McCullers ($24.1K)
SP: Luis Castillo ($17.1K)
IF: Marwin Gonzalez ($7.7K)
IF: Adrian Beltre ($5.7K)
IF: Steve Pearce ($5.7K)
OF: Aaron Judge ($9.6K)
OF: Giancarlo Stanton ($10.4K)
OF: Josh Reddick ($7.4K)
Util: Yangervis Solarte ($6.4K)
Util: Devon Travis ($5.9K)
Slate Overview: As we head towards lock today there are a few things I want to keep my eye on with the most critical being the weather across this slate as we have some trouble spots that could wreak havoc with our pitching options. Assuming we are good to go weather wise, I want to keep my eye on the Toronto and Texas line-ups as this is a great spot to find some value while still being able to pay up for a McCullers/Judge/Stanton trio at the core of your line-up build. Good luck tonight all!
Best of luck in your MLB DFS contests across FantasyDraft, FanDuel and DraftKings and stay tuned to Fantasy CPR for all the latest DFS news and analysis!