MLB DFS Picks and Pivots – Wednesday May 2

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 01: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals warms up in the batters circle before hitting a three run home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the fifth inning at Nationals Park on May 1, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 01: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals warms up in the batters circle before hitting a three run home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the fifth inning at Nationals Park on May 1, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /
WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 01: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals warms up in the batters circle before hitting a three run home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the fifth inning at Nationals Park on May 1, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) MLB DFS /

Welcome to the Wednesday 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.

Tuesday’s MLB DFS slate was all about pitching however it was not Sale, Max or Kershaw that ruled the night, instead it was the pitcher with the toughest match-up as Justin Verlander struck out 14 Yankees hitters over 8 innings of work for a slate leading 43.6 fantasy points. The wind in Wrigley seemed like it would wreak havoc with 3 HR’s in the first inning but the pitchers really settled in after that and it was Jon Gray who actually had the second best pitching performance on the night as he struck out six Cubs and surrendered only that lead-off home run to Anthony Rizzo.

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.

If you are looking to try out a new DFS site, head on over to FantasyDraft and enter my referral code for 10% rake back on your entries.

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 – Early Slate Pitching:

We get a nice little Wednesday split slate for MLB DFS with a six game early slate that has elite pitching, some great stack spots and warm weather with the wind blowing out seemingly in every ballpark this afternoon so let’s go.

Corey Kluber ($25.6K) is the best pitcher on the early slate as a massive -290 home favorite with a 28% K rate and a match-up against a weak Rangers line-up that loves to strikeout. In fact the projected line-up for Texas has a 28% K rate on the season against RHP and their 25.2% K rate against RHP this season is 4th most in baseball. By all accounts this is your cash game SP1 and probably the guy to roll with on one pitcher sites but I am personally looking at a small slate like this as one to play more tournament style games and therefore I plan to fade Kluber and is massive ownership tonight.

Listen Kluber is great but he has also struck out 6 or fewer batters in three of his five starts this season, his K rate is down 6% from last year, his walk rate is up slightly and he is giving up 33% hard contact so far this season which is 5% higer than last year. Now I am not saying he is going to get lit up here, but I think there are ways to talk yourself into the fade here and steering clear of using over 25% of your budget on the chalk arm of the slate.

So if I am not using Kluber I must be using Carlos Martinez ($21.1K) right? Wrong. Sure C-Mart is fine but let’s not pretend like C-Mart does not have his blow-up days and the fact he only has a 25% K rate this season makes me wary paying up for him against a dangerous and underrated White Sox line-up.

So rather than pay up for either arm I am going to go with two cheaper options with upside starting with Blake Snell ($18.7K), a pitcher with a 29.9% K rate (yes that is higher than Kluber or C-Mart this season) who has gone four straight starts with 2 ER or less and has 25+ fantasy points in each of those outings. Snell has every bit the K upside of Kluber or Martinez here as he has 9 or more K’s in three of his last four starts and while the increased K’s give us the upside we want, the fact he is walking substantially fewer guys this year is what really makes him a great play in my opinion. Snell had a 10% walk rate last season and walked eight guys in his first two outings but since then he has a 24:1 K:BB rate over his last three starts. Sure you can yell small sample size all you want but nobody has ever questioned the talent of Snell and if we can get a more controlled version of him while not sacrificing the K upside against a weak Tigers line-up (PS. Detroit go ahead and sit Castellanos and VMart today after a night game last night).

If you read Picks and Pivots you know I am a sucker for punt plays – especially when the slate context sets you up to use them. If you want to pay up for Kluber/C-Mart today – guess what – you can’t afford the top stacks which are in incredible spots this afternoon and that’s not a route I want to go. So instead let me introduce you to Fernando Romero ($9.2K), one of the top Twins pitching prospects who happens to be cheaper than 8 hitters on this FantasyDraft slate.

You know what I like seeing in a pitcher’s scouting report summary – the word dominant. This is a top prospect not only in the Twins system but also across baseball as the #66 ranked prospect going into this season who has a solid K arsenal (23% in the minors). This play is all about the context of the slate for me as I can get massive salary relief here, allowing me to stack up any and all the bats I want, and I can take a GPP shot on an arm with K upside against a Blue Jays team that strikes out 23.5% of the time against RHP, 12th in baseball.

Sure there is risk here but it is a six game slate – playing chalk Kluber isn’t going to help differentiate you from the masses as you will be forced into the same roster build as everyone else who pays for him. If you lock in Romero/Snell as an example you can stack two high-end offenses which is a roster build that the Kluber/Martinez owners will not be able to replicate.

CLEVELAND, OH – APRIL 25: Jason Kipnis #22 celebrates with Francisco Lindor #12 of the Cleveland Indians after Lindor scored on an error during the eighth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on April 25, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

MLB DFS – Early Slate Hitting:

One of the reasons I think fading Kluber/Martinez is viable today is that we have two offensive stacks in the Red Sox and Indians that appear on paper to be in potential monster run producing spots.

The Indians get to face LHP Matt Moore – you may know him from such statistics as his 5+ ERA, SIERA and xFIP (sorry no regression coming here for you pal) and his fly ball tendencies and 37% hard contact rate to right-handed batters the last two seasons. I know the weather has not exactly benefited us at Wrigley the last few days but this game will be played in 75 degree weather with 19 MPH winds blowing out to right field – I smell a stack.

Francisco Lindor, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Ramirez as each player has a .190+ ISO against LHP the last two years and the pitch type data on Moore seems to match up quite well with this trio. Moore throws a 91 MPH fastball over 50% of the time – care to guess the ISO’s of guys like Lindor and E5 against that pitch in recent years? .258 and .333 for those two gents with 36% and 43% hard hit rates respectively. Hopefully this Indians stack jumps out to a massive lead with a barrage of runs that not only gets my stack off and running but also puts Kluber in a position where there is no need for him to push deep into this game.

The Red Sox are the other offense we want to target today against LHP Danny Duffy as with Mookie Betts expected back in the line-up this becomes a murderer’s row of right-handed power bats for Duffy to navigate. The numbers on Duffy this year are flat-out bad as he has only a 16% K rate while giving up a .270 ISO to RHB and a 40% plus hard contact rate to hitters from both sides of the plate. The K rate is down, the walks are up and the hard contact is way up which is a bad combination against the Boston line-up and with another warm game environment ( 83 with 16MPS winds blowing out to RF) this is another all-in stack kind of spot with Betts, Hanley Ramirez, Xander Boegarts and lefty masher J.D. Martinez at the top of my wish list today.

Naming the top two stacks that also have the top Vegas implied totals may seem like the easy way out but it’s presented in the context of this slate. Listen, they will be popular stacks but with so much focus on Kluber my guess is people will have to pick only a few of these bats and mix them in with less desirable options where as we can simply click in all the studs and roll the dice with our cheaper SP options. On a six game slate I am willing to take that chance today!

TORONTO, ON – APRIL 26: J.D. Martinez #28 of the Boston Red Sox is congratulated by Andrew Benintendi #16 and Hanley Ramirez #13 after hitting a three-run home run in the fifth inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on April 26, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

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!  

SP: Blake Snell ($18.7K)

SP: Fernando Romero ($9.2K)

IF: Francisco Lindor ($9.5K)

IF: Edwin Encarnacion ($8K)

IF: Xander Boegarts ($9.5K)

OF: J.D. Martinez ($9.8K)

OF: Mookie Betts ($10.8K)

OF: Jose Ramirez ($9.4K)

UTIL: Hanley Ramirez ($8.3K)

UTIL: Logan Morrison ($6.8K)

Slate Overview: This slate is simple – I am going to pick my poison and hope that Kluber is simply mediocre and instead roll with the offenses of the Red Sox and Indians in what I am hoping is a slew of home runs and big innings. This is not a simple either/or choice as the decision to pick Kluber for example means you have a totally different roster build and stacking the top bats becomes nearly impossible although it is doable to a degree if you went say Kluber/Romero as you would have about $8K per bat remaining. On a six game slate like this I am going to take some GPP shots and avoid cash games entirely and hope for some early afternoon fireworks across some ballparks with big time winds and warm temperatures.

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 05: Jacob deGrom /

MLB DFS – Main Slate Pitching:

The Main Slate has some really interesting pitching options including Jacob deGrom ($22.4K) at home versus the Braves and Stephen Strasburg ($21.2K) at home versus the Pirates. The interesting thing about this slate is that we have very few great offensive spots to attack so on paper this would seem like a great day to pay up for our pitchers but there red flags with both deGrom and Strasburg today as a result of their opposition.

deGrom has to face one of the best offenses in baseball in the Atlanta Braves that is not only tops in runs scored in the National League but has one of the lowest K rates in all of baseball at 20.4% against RHP. As low as this rate it, it is not as low as the Pirates 19.7% K rate which is who Mr. Strasburg has to face this evening as both arms will also be in 70+ degree weather with the wind blowing out in NY and DC.

My guess is that people will choose to go the “safer” route with Strasburg against the weaker Pirates line-up which makes me interested in rolling out deGrom as my SP1 tonight. deGrom has a 31% K rate this season and has already put up a 10K performance against the Braves in Atlanta earlier this season so this is a spot where I am willing to roll with the elite K upside of the player and allow it to outweight the downside of the match-up.

The SP2 choice on this slate feels just way too easy as I can get a pitcher with the highest K rate on the slate at 31.2% which is 7th in the league and he is somehow only $14.9K. James Paxton at home versus Oakland as a -180 home favorite with his K rate seems like the clear chalk option here but I am not sure I can talk myself off of it. I get that Paxton has had two bad outings this year where he gave up 6 ER to the Indians and 5 ER in Texas but other than those outings he has given up 2 ER or fewer in four of his six starts with at least 7 K’s in each of those games. This is a pure price enforcement play and I will happily nab two top 10 strikeout arms in Paxton and deGrom tonight that rank 7th and 9th in baseball this year in terms of K rate and still have $7.8K per batter to fill out my roster.


MLB DFS -Top Hitting Spots on Main Slate:

Unlike the Early Slate the hitting on the Main Slate is much less apparent as we only have one team on the slate projected for more than 4.5 runs – which in many ways is why I am opting to pay up for either deGrom/Strasburg today – as we simply do not need the salary for any must have bats. The best offensive spot at first glance is in Cincinnati with the Reds and Brewers facing off as we have 80+ degree temperatures in an elite hitting environment and two arms in Luis Castillo and Wade Miley that we can certainly stack against.

Miley has yet to make a start this season but last year surrendered a 1.67 HR/9 rate and 33% hard contact to right-handed hitters so right away we can look at Eugenio Suarez and Adam Duvall who both have .230+ ISO’s against LHP over the last two seasons and even though Joey Votto is on the wrong side of the platoon split, this is still a hitter with .238 ISO versus LHP the last two years and with the L/L match-up will likely be lower owned than he should be.

Castillo was impressive last season but has been downright dreadful to start this year with horrendous numbers against left-handed bats as he has given up 17 ER and 5 HR’s in only 12 IP versus LHB this season which means Travis Shaw and Christian Yelich become elite plays for me on this main slate. The Brewers are incredibly right-handed heavy and Castillo has been very tough on RHB even with his struggles this year so the only other bat you could consider here is Jonathan Villar or you may be better off just using Shaw/Yelich as a mini-stack.

There are some interesting one-off plays here today with #1 on my list being Nelson Cruz against LHP Brett Anderson. The fact that Cruz is only $8k against a lefty is crazy to me and its a great example on this slate of where you can pay up for pitching and still get elite hitters with soft pricing in spots like this. Anderson  has always been al elite ground ball arms so I dont love the idea of stacking against him as his ability to generate soft cotact and induce ground balls makes Cruz really more of a one-off target from the Mariners.

One item that may get over-looked today is that the Orioles activated Mark Trumbo off the D.L. on Tuesday and we can expect that the right-hander will be in the heart of the Orioles order against LHP Andrew Heaney. Trumbo has always been a lefty masher with a .229 career ISO against LHP and a 35% hard contact rate and will take on a pitcher in Heaney who has surrendered a .413 ISO to right-handed bats the last two seasons. In his career, Heaney has allowed a 2.11 HR/9 right to RHB with a 39% hard contact rate so I actually really like this Orioles stack as a spot to build around tonight. Manny Machado has a .280 ISO versus LHP the last two seasons and do not forget about lefty masher Danny Valencia who at only $5.5K on FantasyDraft could be one of the best point per dollar plays on the slate assuming he is back in the line-up tonight.

SEATTLE, WA – SEPTEMBER 21: Starting pitcher James Paxton /

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!  

More from FanSided

SP: Jacob deGrom ($22.4K)

SP: James Paxton ($14.9K)

IF: Travis Shaw ($8.2K)

IF: Eugenio Suarez ($9.2K)

IF: Manny Machado ($9.3K)

OF: Nelson Cruz ($8K)

OF: Christian Yelich ($8.1K)

OF: Adam Duvall ($7.7K)

UTIL: Mark Trumbo ($6.6K)

UTIL: Danny Valencia ($5.5K)

Slate Overview: The Main Slate is pretty awesome in my opinion as we get some great pitching and because there is not an “obvious” stack spot, I like the idea of building 2-3 mini-stacks instead. The pricing is not overly difficult so I have no issue paying up for deGrom/Strasburg and taking on the “risk” with them tonight as I feel like I can balance my line-up with an under=priced Paxton and a ton of high upside bats. Enjoy both slates today and we will see you back here on Thursday.

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