Welcome to the Monday 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.
Sunday’s MLB DFS slate was set up to be dominated by a trio of aces wit Corey Kluber, Luis Severino and Lance McCullers all on the hill yet the top pitching performances ended up being from Caleb Smith and Miles Mikolas – just like we planned right? The bats carried the day on this slate as seven of the top ten scorers were hitters as Jose Ramirez and Manny Machado put up 2 HR days at the top of the leaderboard and we saw another day with big time runs scored in Coors Field as the Cubs and Rockies combined for 16 total runs as Charlie Blackmon, Javier Baez and Trevor Story all found their way into the top 10.
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 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 Pitcher Overview
Welcome back to a Monday MLB DFS slate where once again we have a few top-level arms at the top of the pricing structure we need to decide on as the first step in our roster build. Gerrit Cole ($25.1K) is basically today’s Corey Kluber although it feels crazy to put Cole on that level quite yet but this price feels just a tad bit too high for my liking considering he is facing one of the best offenses in baseball in the Angels. One of the biggest takeaways for me yesterday was how people were willing to ignore the match-up with a potent Orioles line-up and pay the inflated price for Kluber as he was 73% owned in the $25 Home Run GPP on FantasyDraft so it will be interesting to see if people keep this ownership trend going for Cole tonight.
Carlos Carrasco ($23.1K) gets the exact same match-up against an Orioles team that beat up on Kluber yesterday and if I was not willing to pay up for Kluber why would I want to pay up for Carrasco here? Carrasco is a very good pitcher but his 20% K rate this season is markedly down from his 28% rate a year ago and even though he has put up solid back-to-back outings with 6/7 K’s, I cannot justify paying this price when you factor in the offense he is facing. There is simply not enough upside to justify the risk.
Masahiro Tanaka ($16.9K) is the single largest favorite (-205) on the board but after two straight rough outings where he gave up 6 ER to the Marlins and Red Sox, the price has put him at a spot that is tough to ignore in the context of this slate. I am a big believer in metrics and when I look at Tanaka’s numbers I see a pitcher tha is due for some positive regression as his SIERA of 3.33 is nearly three runs lower than his 6.45 ERA on the season.
Here is my take on Tanaka – he struck out 7 and 8 batters against Toronto and Baltimore, put up 19 and 28 FP in those games and had a 30%+ K rate after two starts. He got roughed up against the Red Sox but I am willing to throw that game out because outside of Sean Manaea, nobody seems able to slow down that offense. The last game against the Marlins is the one where I will let the advanced metrics guide me as although he gave up 6 ER, the .438 BABIP and .326xFIP simply do not align with the 10+ ERA in this game and I am willing to side with tonight being a bounce back against the Twins.
Tanaka last year was a significantly better pitcher at home with an ERA nearly 3 runs lower and a 29% K rate and has some signficant success PvB wise versus this Twins team holding them to a .234 average with only 1 HR and a 27% K rate over 90 plate appearances. At this price point, I can get a top-tier talent for a discount to anchor my staff.
Walker Buehler ($11.1K) is the third cheapest pitcher on this slate as he gets a home start for the Dodgers against the Marlins and when you consider this is a top prospect (#12 in all of baseball per MLB Pipeline) facing one of the worst teams in the majors, I want as much exposure as I can get. Buehler has some serious K potential as he has flashed his strikeout upside consistently in the minors with a 30%+ K rate in AA and AAA so far in his young career. Buehler so far this season has struck out 16 batters versus 4 walks over 13 innings in AAA and has thrown between 72-80 pitches in each of his three starts at that level. This play is simple for me – you get an elite prospect with massive K upside against a weak offense in one of the best pitcher’s parks on the slate – oh by the way he is priced below Kevin Gausman and Matt Moore – he is my SP2 lock tonight.
MLB DFS – Top Spots for Hitting:
Bryan Mitchell in Coors Field. That is where you start with evaluating hitters for tonight as Mitchell has a 18% walk rate, only a 7% K rate and is giving up 42.6% hard contact so far this season. There is a reason the Rockies have a 6.2 projected run total from Vegas today and although they will/should be the chalk stack – this is a spot where I think you simply find a way to eat the chalk and be different elsewhere.
All the usual suspects are in play here – Charlie Blackmon ($10.6K), Nolan Arenado ($9.9K), Trevor Story ($9.3K) and DJ LeMahieu ($9.3K) are a top 1-4 stack tonight and with Gerrardo Parra serving his suspension David Dahl ($5.9K) could be an elite value in the heart of the Rockies order tonight if he is in the line-up. Basically as many Rockies as you can get in your build tonight is where I am going with this write-up – I am not usually a Coors Field must stack kind of guy but when you get a pitcher this bad pitching in Coors I simply think you do whatever it takes to get maximum exposure.
If you want to pivot off Coors there are three other teams with 5+ projected run totals as the Yankees, A’s and Mariners bats all have great match-ups against mediocre pitchers on this slate. On the Yankee side they will take on Jake Odorizzi, a reverse splits arm who has given up 1.52 HR/9 to RHB in his career with a 2.08 HR/9 mark to right-handed bats in 2017. It may seem like a high price to pay for Aaron Judge ($11K) today but when you overlay Odorizzi’s 40% hard contact rate to RHB and his pitch types, this looks to be a spot where a Judge home run is all but a foregone conclusion. Odorizzi throws his 91 MPH nearly 50% of the time to which Judge has a .550 ISO and .519 wOBA and no batter had a higher ISO (.364) against RHP in 2017 than Mr. Judge.
Matt Moore is pitching against Oakland tonight so basically if you are a right-handed batter in this A’s line-up you are in play as Moore has given up a 43% hard contact rate and 9 ER in only 11 IP to RHB so far this season. Khris Davis ($9.4K) is the top play as his .228 ISO is top on the team over the last two seasons but Matt Chapman ($8K) is not far behind with a .202 ISO mark and you can make the case to play either as a one-off or stack them together.
Lastly, the Mariners get to tango with Miguel Gonzalez, a pitcher with a 7% K rate and a 33% hard contact rate this season with right-handers inflicting most of the damage with a 37% hard contact rate and 14 ER in only 7 innings of work. Nelson Cruz ($8K) will likely go a bit over-looked with this not being the traditional lefty-righty match-up but his .310 ISO versus RHP this year makes him an elite one-off play or you can even look to stack him with a red-hot Mitch Haniger ($7.5K) who is second in the majors with 22 RBI’s so far this season.
UPDATE: Gonzalez has been put on the D.L and Carson Fulmer will start in his place. He is equally awfully – low K rate, high HR/9, enjoys walking hitters and generally not getting batters out. If you were stacking this spot before do not let this news change your opinion.
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: Masahiro Tanaka ($16.9K)
SP: Walker Buehler ($11.1K)
IF: Nolan Arenado ($9.9K)
IF: DJ LeMehieu ($9.3K)
IF: Trevor Story ($9.3K)
OF: Charlie Blackmon ($10.6K)
OF: David Dahl ($5.9K)
OF: Aaron Judge ($11K)
Util: Nelson Cruz ($8K)
Util: Matt Chapman ($8K)
Slate Overview: With the Rockies bats in the absolute perfect spot for a huge offensive night, stacking the bats will be the priority for me tonight and I believe there is a clear path to doing this with the cheaper pitching options available to us with Tanaka/Buehler. I understand it means fading Cole/Carrasco but against the Angels and Orioles bats, that is a risk I am willing to take and if the ownership on these top end arms is going to be as high as we saw with Kluber yesterday than I have no issue fading and hoping that two of the best offenses in baseball can put a crooked number on these top priced arms. Best of luck tonight!
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!