Welcome to the Sunday 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.
Saturday’s MLB DFS slate was an ugly one overall as the early games were littered with weather risk which significantly altered our player pool. Max Scherzer dominated on the mound with 36 fantasy points as the highest scoring starting pitcher while two Cardinals, Greg Garcia and Tommy Pham both had big offensive days as they were two of the top five scorers on the slate. The Main Slate was all about offense as the Diamondbacks exploded for 9 runs on the Dodgers and the A’s and Mariners joined together for 18 runs which basically meant if you stacked these offenses, you dominated the cash position as most of the pitching options failed to return much (if any) value.
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.
As always, we will look to update our final lineup thoughtsÃ‚Â 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:
Welcome to a Sunday MLB DFS slate which features a total of 11 games but we have big time weather risk again today as the slate has already been reduced to a ten game slate with the early announcement of a postponement in Minnesota between the Twins and White Sox. Of the remaining 10 games, a whopping seven of them have rain risk with the most significant being in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Detroit.
The one positive is we have an insane amount of stud pitching to choose from on this slate so we will have a handful of viable pivot options depending on how the weather shakes out leading up to lock.
Let’s start with the one stud arm who has the least amount of weather risk on this slate in rookie phenom Shohei Ohtani ($19.4K) who will take his 40% K rate and 23.5% swinging strike rate (seriously look at those metrics) to the visiting mound in KC where he is a massive -196 road favorite. Not only is Ohtani generating a ton of swings and misses and comes ripe with K upside but the reality is his 20% hard contact rate shows that batters just simply aren’t able to make any solid contact. I have been on Ohtani in each of his first two starts as I firmly believe it will take a few turns around the league before the rest of MLB gets enough tape on him to make him adjust but until then I will just keep rolling him out and with so much rain risk in other spots today, there is some safety in building around an arm that will be pitching in cold clear skies in KC with 35 degree temperatures and 20+ MPH winds blowing across the field.
Who should we lock in as our SP2? Well let’s see we have Chris Sale, Stephen Strasburg, Corey Kluber, Noah Syndergaard, Luis Severino and Carlos Martinez available to us so yeah this seems like a day where paying up for both SP’s makes a lot of sense with the only issue being weather risk.
Weather wise it is Kluber, Martinez and Severino who have the most risk but all of Sale, Strasburg and Syndergaard have rain expected throughout their games – the worst part is that all three parks are expected to see the heavy rain later in the game which means even if they try to play through it we have some in-game delay risk which would most certainly mean these stud arms hit the showers early.
Let me make this clear – all of these arms are elite options with 29% plus K rate and every single one with the exception of Carlos Martinez is a -200 favorite so you can make the case to build around any/all of them. Chris Sale ($23.8K) has the perfect match-up today for a monster DFS outing as his 36% K rate matches up with an Orioles team that is striking out at a league high rate this season of 27.4% but as I write this early Sunday AM, I just think there is huge risk allocating this much salary to a player with rain risk that could delay/PPD this or any game mentioned.
Now if you want to play it safe from the weather you could opt to look at the games being played in domes as we have the Phillies-Rays and Pirates-Marlins playing in domes. You may be dodging the weather risk here but you are taking on a ton of player risk fading the top end arms and going here but I do like the idea in GPP’s of using Phillies starter Ben Lively ($12.2K) on the road against the Rays. Lively has flashed some solid K upside in his first two starts with a 23% K rate, striking out 12 batters in 11 innings. The ERA over 5 is the concern many will have but look at the BABIP so far for Lively at .412 which is screaming bad luck especially when you consider he has allowed only one home run and limited his walks to three over his first two starts.
As an example, last game against the Reds he gave up 5 ER and 9 hits but dig deeper and you will see only a 16% hard contact rate with 7K’s and a .471 BABIP which tells me he was just getting really unlucky. Of all SP’s with at least 10 innings of work this year, Lively ranks 6th in BABIP but considering his xFIP and SIERA show a pitcher whose ERA should be closer to 3.5 than his 5.5 current mark, there is sneaky upside here when you layer on top his already demonstrated K upside.
MLB DFS – Top Hitting Spots:
With so many elite arms on the mound today it should not shock anyone that the run projections across the slate are down but that does not mean are lacking for solid hitting spots to build around.
The Angels are a team I have gone to early and often this season and with their right-handed heavy line-up they can simply be death to a LHP like Eric Skoglund today and his 1.47HR/9 rate and 36% hard contact rate to RHB.
Look up and down this Angels line-up and you can make the case for a full on stack with the right-handed bats of Zack Cozart ($9K), Ian Kinsler ($7.4K), Albert Pujols ($6.9K), Mike Trout ($10.5K) and Justin Upton ($9.1K) The Angels are leading all of baseball in runs per game at 6.62 this season and with a suspect lefty on the hill in one of the few games without rain concerns this is going to be one of the best offenses to build around today.
The underlying metrics for the Angels hitters versus LHP are off the charts as four of the five players not above have wOBA’s of .350 or higher against lefties with those same four (Pujols the only one excluded) sporting ISO’s of .220 or higher. Upton is THE bat to own as his .353 ISO and .477 wOBA versus lefties is simply off the charts but I see no reason to play him as a one-off when the rest of the stack is just as deadly.
Sticking with the indoor game idea on this slate there are some interesting bats to pick and choose from as one-offs, specifically Rhys Hoskins ($10.3K) taking on LHP Ryan Yarbrough and the Rays. Hoskins numbers versus LHP since his debut have been every bit as good as the numbers we just rattled off for Justin Upton as his .438 ISO would suggest there is simply incredible power upside to be found here.
You can opt to use Hoskins as a one-off power play or even mini stack him with another right-handed bat like Maikel Franco ($7.3K) in what I would expect will be a spot at super low ownership. The Phillies have one of the lowest run totals on the board but this is going to be a bullpen game for the Rays where Yarbrough is only expected to go 4-5 innings max and you will turn it over to a pen that is sporting a 4.3 ERA and 1.48 WHIP so far this season.
If you need a one-off home run punt play, the price on Justin Bour ($5.4K) jumps off the page to me against Ivan Nova who last year gave up 1.78 HR/9 to LHB with a 35% contact rate and you get the added benefit of no weather impact with this game being in Miami.
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: Shohei Ohtani ($19.4K)
SP: Ben Lively ($12.2K)
IF: Ian Kinsler ($7.4K)
IF: Albert Pujols ($6.9K)
IF: Zack Cozart ($9.3K)
OF: Mike Trout ($10.5K)
OF: Justin Upton ($9.1K)
OF: Ben Zobrist ($7.6K)
Util: Rhys Hoskins ($10.3K)
Util: Maikel Franco ($7.3K)
Slate Overview: With all the weather issues wreaking havoc on this slate my goal is to be a but more tournament minded heading into the slate and willing to take some player risk to balance the weather risk others will be taking. You can opt to ignore the weather and simply play teams like the Angels with no rain forecasted or build around a team like the Phillies playing in Tropicana Field. If weather was not a thing this would be a day I would lock in two stud arms and move on but there is enough risk in my mind to alter my approach today and play the slate in such a way where I remove the weather risk entirely. Good luck 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!