MLB DFS Picks and Pivots – Saturday May 5

ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 03: A sign in centerfield after a double from Albert Pujols #5 of the Los Angeles Angels for his 2999th career hit during the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Angel Stadium on May 3, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 03: A sign in centerfield after a double from Albert Pujols #5 of the Los Angeles Angels for his 2999th career hit during the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Angel Stadium on May 3, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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MLB DFS
ANAHEIM, CA – MAY 03: A sign in centerfield after a double from Albert Pujols #5 of the Los Angeles Angels for his 2999th career hit during the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Angel Stadium on May 3, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Welcome to the Saturday 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.

Friday’s MLB DFS slate was really all about Gerrit Cole – either you had him and cashed or did not and likely found yourself outside the cash position. Cole was simply dominant again with 16K’s in a one hit complete game shutout of Arizona which netted him 60 FantasyDraft points, which was 25 points higher than the next closest player on the entire slate.

The biggest takeaway I had on the night was really a follow-up to something I mentioned un yesterday’s Picks and Pivots about how the secondary pieces of a chalk stack tend to get overlooked and that is exactly what happened with the Yankees. Below is a snapshot I tweeted out right after lock of my final line-up in which I went with a wrap-around Yankee stack that ignored the big four bats in the middle of the New York line-up.

Take a look at those ownership percentages on the bottom of the order guys like Andujar and Torres as compared to someone like Aaron Judge who was over 40% owned in GPP’s. That Gleyber Torres home run at 0% ownership was a huge boost for me as I got to pick on the same game environment everyone else rushed to, just in a way that separated me from the pack.

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
FanDuel MLB: CLEVELAND, OH – APRIL 12: Starting pitcher Trevor Bauer #47 of the Cleveland Indians pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at Progressive Field on April 12, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images) /

MLB DFS – Early Slate Pitching:

The four game early slate today is going to be a rough one on two pitcher sites like FantasyDraft or DraftKings as honestly it is hard enough to even find one arm we feel good about using here. Trevor Bauer ($20.8K) is the top priced arm on the slate and also the highest strikeout pitcher with a 27% K rate this season but there is one little problem – he has to face off with the powerful New York Yankee line-up today. Last season Bauer actually had two exceptional performances against the Yankees (one in the regular season and one in the playoffs) where he pitched 6+ innings, gave up 1 ER or less and struck out 7+ batters in both starts with one common denominator – both those games were in Cleveland.

In his two starts in New York (again one in the regular season and one in the postseason) he lasted only 7.2 total innings with 7 K’s and 5 ER and the fact this game is in New York is really what is pushing me away from Bauer. There is sneaky K upside here as the Yankees projected line-up strikes out over 25% against RHP this season but the ballpark is really what is pushing me away from him today.

UPDATE: The Yankee line-up is out and they will rest both Didi Gregrorious and Gary Sanchez sporting a lineup that features a 5-9 of Walker, Andujar, Torres, Romine and Torreyes – this is a nice boost to Bauer’s outlook today in my opinion.

The reality is if you are passing on Bauer today the pickings get really slim REALLY fast as the next tier down of Tyler Chatwood, Tanner Roark and Luke Weaver is well uninspiring to say the least but my gut tells me this is the tier people will talk themselves into today. Rather than talk about the pitchers maybe our best bet is to talk about the offenses we want to target and back into our arms.

Here are the offenses in play today – Indians, Yankees, Cubs, Cardinals, Phillies, Nationals, Royals and Tigers. If you read that list and took the pitchers they face out of the equation, would it be fair to say the Royals and Tigers would be the teams you want to roster hitters from the least?

So on a four game slate where people are going to over own mediocre options like Tanner Roark, why not just take the pitchers taking on the two worst offenses in the Royals and Tigers? Seems like a slam dunk until you are forced to click the names of Jason Hammel ($11.2K) and Jordan Zimmerman ($10K) who are arguably the two worst pitchers on the entire slate but I think rostering both of them today is a viable strategy where you simply load up on bats.

Hammel has faced this Tigers team twice already this season with differing levels of success as he gave up 5 ER in 5 IP the first time through then followed it up with a 9 inning outing where he gave up only 2 ER in a no decision.

Zimmerman is coming off his best outing of the season where he pitched 7 shut out innings and  struck out 5 batters against the Rays but with the Royals having the highest team total on the slate, my guess is everyone ignores that and simply stacks against him.

Listen this is not a recommendation I feel great about as neither arm here has any sort of K upside but this is all about the context of the slate where no arm available has the upside we want when you measure it against the risk of the offenses they are facing. The Tigers and Royals are the two weakest offenses on the slate and the two offenses I least want to take batters from so on a four game slate I am going to simply attack the pitchers here – punt in both spots – hope this is a boring 3-2 game where neither pitcher hurts me and my offenses take down the chalky mediocre pitching options everyone else rosters. Yes I am playing Hammel and Zimmerman today – that is really all you need to know about this four game early slate. Is it too early for a drink?

MLB DFS
WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 02: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals in action against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Nationals Park on May 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

MLB DFS – Early Slate Hitting:

Now that I have convinced you to take this early slate off by recommending Jason Hammel and Jordan Zimmermann, here comes the fun part in locking them both in – you can get any and all the bats you want! No seriously, you can build a freaking all-star team of hitters and you will probably still have money left over when you do that!

With Hammel and Zimmermann as our arms, we have $9.8K+ per batter left so go ahead and spend away with your first stop being the red-hot Bryce Harper ($10.7K) who has four home runs in his last four games and will take on RHP Vince Velasquez in Washington today who he is 5 for 6 in his career against with 1 HR in his career. Keep an eye on the line-up here as we could see Anthony Rendon ($7.7K) get activated here and will likely be over-looked due to recency bias. You can build a nice stack here of the Nationals line-up with Harper, Rendon, Trea Turner and the equally hot Matt Adams against a pitcher in Velasquez who is giving up a 37% hard contact rate over the last two seasons.

If you are fading Bauer, there is some merit to building a Yankees/Indians game stack here to attack not only the likely chalk SP1 but a pitcher in Sonny Gray who has been nothing short of awful this year as a Yankee. Gray has a 17% K rate with a 14% walk rate with a 37% hard contact rate and will face a loaded Indians line-up including Francisco Lindor ($10.3K) and Jose Ramirez ($9.5K) who both have .240+ ISO’s versus RHP the last two seasons.

The Yankees have the highest implied total on the slate against the “best” arm available so it will be interesting to see what wins out here especially after seeing the Yankee chalk last night. Over the last two seasons, all four of the top Yankee hitters – Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Didi Gregorious and Gary Sanchez – have .250+ ISO versus RHP – so building a full on Yankee stack here is not only a viable strategy (as it normally is) but could be an interesting leverage play if Bauer becomes the arm everyone talks themselves into.

MLB DFS
CLEVELAND, OH – OCTOBER 06: Jose Ramirez #11 and Francisco Lindor #12 of the Cleveland Indians celebrate scoring on a hit by Carlos Santana #41 in the first inning as CC Sabathia #52 of the New York Yankees looks on during game two of the American League Division Series at Progressive Field on October 6, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/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: Jason Hammel ($11.2K)

SP: Jordan Zimmermann ($10K)

IF: Jose Ramirez ($9.5K)

IF: Francisco Lindor ($10.3K)

IF: Didi Gregorious ($10.3K)

OF: Aaron Judge ($9.7K)

OF: Giancarlo Stanton ($9.5K)

OF: Bryce Harper ($10.7K)

UTIL: Trea Turner ($9.4K)

UTIL: Gary Sanchez ($9.2K)

Slate Overview: We are only one month into the season and here I am on a Saturday morning write-up a slate where I am telling you to play Jason Hammel and Jordan Zimmermann – life comes at you fast. Do I feel good about locking these guys in? NO of course not but who do you feel good about today? Bauer in Yankee Stadium? You want to roll out a chalk Luke Weaver or Tanner Roark? This slate is ugly when it comes to pitching so why not double punt, attack the two worst offenses on the slate and simply load up on your bats and hope your pitchers are simply “not awful” – YAY DFS!

MLB DFS
HOUSTON, TX – APRIL 02: Charlie Morton #50 of the Houston Astros pitches in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles on Opening Day at Minute Maid Park on April 2, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

MLB DFS – Main Slate Pitching:

OK this is better – we have real pitchers to choose from now. Let’s wash the stink of the early slate options off and get into some real pitchers we want to build around! After watching what Gerrit Cole did to this Arizona team last night and seeing how Charlie Morton ($21.4K) just pitched against the Yankees, it is tough for me to overlook him as my SP1 today. Morton is coming off an incredible 10K performance against the Yankees and has 8+ K’s in three of his last start and now he faces an Arizona team that strikes out at a 25.3% rate versus RHP which is 4th in all of baseball. Not only is the match-up against a K heavy team but it appears like the humidor is impacting the offense so far in Arizona – call it small sample size if you want but the fact so far is this:

"As it turns out: We are, almost across the board. No park has seen a bigger drop in hard-hit rate than Arizona, or a bigger drop in fly ball/line-drive exit velocity, or in weighted on-base average."

There are two very interesting SP2’s I have my eye on here as both have some signficant K upside but I think the recency bias and game logs will have them viewed very differently. First is Caleb Smith ($14.7K) who has been filthy his last two starts with 9 and 10 K’s against the Rockies and Brewers with one game being home and the other in a hitters ballpark like Miller Park. Smith has a 33.9% K rate so far this season which would put him in the top 5 in all of baseball but I am not sure I am ready to go all in here considering his minor league stats show a pitcher with a K rate in the low 20% range.

The price point and upside make him a player I am really interested in however if he becomes the chalk SP2 (which is absolutely possible), then I think you can pivot off him and there is a pitcher above him in Eduardo Rodriguez ($16.9K) that could be a low owned difference maker on this slate. Yes E-Rod burned me and the world his last start as the chalk pitcher but that is exactly why you go back to him here against a strikeout heavy team in Texas. Oh wait, Texas? The team that we all got burned by when they did the exact same thing to chalky David Price?

All this is why I think Rodriguez gets completely ignored today and at a price over $2K higher than Smith he makes for an excellent GPP pivot. The Rangers strike out at a 24,7% clip against LHP which is the 7th highest mark in baseball and when you consider he is a -140 road favorite against the Rangers, there is some GPP intrigue here.

My initial take on this slate is to build high/low with Morton and Smith and take the K upside while still having nearly $8K per batter to build the rest of my line-up but I will keep my ears open for the Caleb Smith buzz as if he becomes too  popular there is some merit to jumping to a low owned pivot who just burned the DFS world.

MLB DFS
NEW YORK, NY – MAY 01: Ozzie Albies #1 and Ronald Acuna Jr. #13 of the Atlanta Braves celebrate after scoring on an RBI double by Freddie Freeman #5 in the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 1, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

MLB DFS – Main Slate Hitting:

So Ty Blach, a low strike-out left-hander who gives up hard contact ro right-handed batters has to pitch in Atlanta against this Braves team? Yeah, lets start here. The Braves have a 5.3 projected run total which is tied with the Red Sox and Dodgers for the highest marks on the slate so ownership will likely be split amongst them all tonight but it is hard for me to pass on the sheer upside of Ozzie Albies ($10.1K) who has a .630 ISO against RHP this season – yes, that is correct – a .630 ISO. I know it is only 27 at bats but this is a spot where I think the numbers are indicative of the real talent and I plan on lock Albies in with Ronald Acuna Jr. ($8.9K) and getting a nice 1-2 punch of this dynamic Braves offense.

The one game that I feel may get a bit over-looked and I actually really like from a game stack perspective is in New York as the Mets and Rockies battle with Steven Matz versus Chad Bettis. This game has the lowest total on the slate which honestly baffles me – this seems like a spot where Matz and Bettis are simply getting too much respect and after watching these teams slug it out for 23 hits and 15 runs last night, I am more than willing to go back here this evening.

As a Mets fan I am still reeling a bit from the news that Matt Harvey has been designated for assignment which closes the book on one of the most polarizing players in recent Met history. Personally I hope he turns it around because he meant more to the turnaround of this team than I think people will give him credit for and I will never forget his World Series performance against the Royals where he simply tried to will that team to victory. The reason I bring this up is because of all the young arms the Mets have trotted out over the last few years, the one I have the least faith in is Steven Matz. I am not sure how the Rockies total is this low when you consider that Matz this season has a double-digit walk rate and is giving up a .257 ISO to right-handed hitters.

Tonight at Citi Field with the wind blowing out to LF at 11 MPH, I am simply going to load up on the right-handed Rockies hitters like Nolan Arenado ($10.1K), Trevor Story ($7.3K) and Ian Desmond ($6.5K) who all have .280+ ISO’s against LHP this season. On the other side of this game, I think this is the night we get reminded of how powerful the Mets offense can be and I want to jump all over the deflated pricing and frankly the fact that the Mets bats will likely be totally over-looked on this slate makes this an even better spot for GPP’s.

Chad Bettis is coming off a year in 2017 where he gave up 1.5 HR/9 to hitters from both sides of the plate but in his career has really been a reverse splits arm that has given up 1.44 HR/9 to RHB versus .8 HR/9 to LHB. With the righty-righty match-up, my guess is Yoenis Cespedes ($7.2K) garners very little ownership here tonight but I love this spot for him as he is sporting a .247 ISO against RHP this season. In fact if the Mets keep with the same line-up as last night with Brandon Nimmo ($5.9K) and Asdrubal Cabrera ($7.5K) batting 1-2 in front of Yo, it would mean all three hitters at the top of the Mets order have a .247+ ISO against RHP this season. There was fight in the Mets last night as they scored 5 runs in the 8th/9th and had the winning run in scoring position before Michael Conforto struck out and I am a believer in that momentum when it comes to baseball – I think it carries over today and the Mets and Rockies have another slugfest!

MLB DFS
NEW YORK, NY – MAY 01: Yoenis Cespedes #52 of the New York Mets connects on a solo home run in the sixth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field on May 1, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/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!  

More from FanSided

SP: Charlie Morton ($21.4K)

SP: Caleb Smith ($14.7K)

IF: Ozzie Albies ($10.1K)

IF: Trevor Story ($7.3K)

IF: Nolan Arenado ($10.1K)

OF: Ian Desmond ($6.5K)

OF: Yoenis Cespedes ($7.2K)

OF: Brandon Nimmo ($5.9K)

UTIL: Asdrubal Cabrera ($7.5K)

UTIL: Ronald Acuna Jr. ($8.9K)

Slate Overview: The Main Slate is definitely the spot to spend your bankroll today as this is a slate with solid pitching and a ton of great hitting environments. I love the high/low combination of Morton and Smith as I capture massive strikeout upside and I think you can differentiate with a Rockies/Mets game stack in a game total that my gut says is simply way too low this evening.

Next: DraftKings MLB Picks

Best of luck in your MLB DFS contests across FantasyDraft, FanDuel and DraftKings ans stay tuned to Fantasy CPR for all the latest DFS news and analysis!