MLB DFS Picks and Pivots – Monday May 7

MONTERREY, MEXICO - MAY 06: Players of the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers line up during the Mexican national anthem prior the MLB game at Estadio de Beisbol Monterrey on May 6, 2018 in Monterrey, Mexico. Padres defeated Dodgers 3-0. (Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images)
MONTERREY, MEXICO - MAY 06: Players of the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers line up during the Mexican national anthem prior the MLB game at Estadio de Beisbol Monterrey on May 6, 2018 in Monterrey, Mexico. Padres defeated Dodgers 3-0. (Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images) /
MONTERREY, MEXICO – MAY 06: Players of the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers line up during the Mexican national anthem prior the MLB game at Estadio de Beisbol Monterrey on May 6, 2018 in Monterrey, Mexico. Padres defeated Dodgers 3-0. (Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images) MLB DFS /

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 all about the pitching as four of the top five and seven of the top nine overall fantasy point scorers on the slate were hurlers. Chris Sale and Max Scherzer was 1-2 which was not all that surprising however to see arms like Andrew Triggs and Chad Kuhl right behind them Domingo German, Mike Clevinger and Kyle Freeland all in the top 10 on this slate shows you just how pitching heavy this slate really was.

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!

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 05: Pitcher Stephen Strasburg /

MLB DFS – Starting Pitching Overview:

The single biggest decision you are going to make on this slate is how you intend to approach Stephen Strasburg ($26.7K) against the Padres as the lone “ace” available at a price point that is really going to make you think. From a pure “who is the best pitcher” available perspective it is clearly Strasburg as his 28.6% K rate going against a Padres team that strikes out at the highest rate against RHP in all of baseball (27.9%) would seem to indicate this is the perfect spot to go all-in on the Nationals right-hander. Now add in the fact that this game is in an extreme pitcher’s park in Petco and Strasburg has two double-digit K games in his last three outings and everything seems to point to just locking him in.

The decision to fade Strasburg is not about the stuff and it is not about the match-up as you simply cannot argue with the metrics staring you in the face but you can certainly make the case on a shorter slate like this (7 games) where ownership will be more concentrated anyway, to simply fade the clear chalk and hope that MLB DFS variance is on your side tonight.

If you are going that route, and my gut tonight is telling me to do just that, I am not sure you have to look far for a pivot option – simply go to the other side of this game with Tyson Ross ($16.9K). From a pure game theory perspective it would stand to reason if Strasburg is the overwhelming chalk that his opposing pitcher would be completely ignored by the masses as we rarely see DFS players on two pitcher sites take opposing arms in the same game. This theory is a nice side note but it is not THE reason to play him – instead I think the pure skill level of Ross needs to be addressed here as his comeback story is seemingly legit.

Ross’s game log is the first thing that caught my eye as he has given up 0-1 ER in three of his last four starts with his last three starts generating 33%, 36% and 37% K rates – that is some eye-popping metrics when digging deep for a DFS SP. FanGraphs did an incredible job as they seemingly always do of breaking down his comeback from thoracic outlet syndrome, the same ailment that knocked Matt Harvey down from Dark Knight status but that it seems like Ross has come all the way back from.

I cannot recommend a read more than I can the one I linked to above as the breakdown of Ross’s slider, which he is throwing 46% of the time this season, is simply phenomenal. Throughout his career, Ross has always been someone who has limited damage (0.6 HR/9) and his career numbers in PetCo are fantastic with a 2.78 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and .227 BAA and 271 K’s in 268 IP while only giving up 13 HR’s.

If Ross was not pitching against Strasburg tonight and was in Petco against a middle of the road offense, he would likely generate a ton of buzz but I think tonight with all the focus on Strasburg, he will get totally over-looked which makes me VERY interested as a pivot play on this slate.

From a match-up perspective we mentioned the high K rate of the Padres against RHP this season but it is worth noting that the 2nd and 3rd highest strikeout team versus RHP are also on this slate as the Phillies and Rangers are both playing at home against RHP tonight with the Phillies taking on Jeff Samardzija and the Rangers taking on Michael Fulmer.

Fulmer is an interesting case for me tonight as I think people will look at the Rangers/Tigers total of 9.5, highest on the slate, and just ignore the arms but it is worth noting that Fulmer has allowed 2 or fewer runs in 5 of his 6 starts so far this season, so why exactly are we rushing to pick on him? Now the xFIP of 3.95 tells me regression is coming and pitching in Arlington with in 88 degree heat could be a death-blow to the Tigers right-hander but this Rangers projected line-up strikes out at a 28.9% clip against RHP this season so there is some sneaky upside here tonight with Fulmer.

Listen, the obvious plays here tonight are going to be Strasburg and likely Kyle Hendricks at home as a massive -230 favorite against the Marlins. You can pair those two together and play it safe if you want, but I think this is a night where playing the chalk pitchers on a short slate is going to lead you to the same general roster build as everyone else as your options are just limited with a player pool of this size so it may make sense to take some chances and hope the Padres can get to Strasburg early and you get K upside from arms that will be over-looked.

HOUSTON, TX – APRIL 25: Carlos Correa #1 of the Houston Astros celebrates with George Springer #4 as Josh Reddick #22 looks on after the final out against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Minute Maid Park on April 25, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

MLB DFS – Top Hitting Spots:

One of the reasons I think Strasburg gets the bulk of the ownership tonight is that there is no high-end offensive stack that is going to jump off the page at people as we do not have a single run total of 5 or higher. On nights like this, I think the play for most will be to pay up for the safety of pitching so if we are fading Strasburg (and his sky-high salary) then we will have room for bats that others will not.

The Houston Astros have been a puzzling case this year against left-handed pitching, scuffling out of the gate with a .150 team ISO after sporting a .200+ ISO last season. What is interesting to me is that the contact rate is generally the same while the hard contact rate is actually up so what stands out to me is the BABIP this year (.283) is materially lower than last year .309 which could mean positive regression is coming for these Astros hitters.

Jose Altuve ($9.4K), Carlos Correa ($9K) and George Springer ($9.8K) all had .200+ ISO’s last year against left-handed pitching and although Altuve and Correa have scuffled so far this year, Springer is putting up a .324 ISO against LHP this season while all three hitters have a 35% plus hard contact rate. Outside of the big three, you can build a full on Astros stack at relatively cheap price points including clean-up hitter Yuli Gurriel ($6.4K) who has a .217 ISO and 42% HC rate against LHP this season.

Although this Astros/A’s game only has a 8.5 total, second lowest on the slate, I love the game stack potential here with two powerful offensives against soft throwing lefties in Brett Anderson and Dallas Keuchel. Keuchel just faced this same A’s team a few starts ago where he gave up 7 hits, 6 ER and 3 HR’s so I have no issue going right back to Oakland here on this slate. Keuchel is giving up a .213 ISO to RHB this season and will face a Oakland team loaded with right-handed power as Mark Canha (.379 ISO), Khris Davis (.200 ISO) and Matt Chapman (.189 ISO) all present significant power upside against the Astros left-hander.

The Mets/Reds game has a 9.5 game total with Homer Bailey taking on LHP P.J. Conlon who is making his major league debut in Great American Ballpark. Conlon is a soft tossing lefty with minimal strikeout upside so this is a spot where I think all the Reds power bats are in play including Eugenio Suarez ($9K) and Adam Duvall ($7.4K) who both have .300+ ISO’s against LHP this season.

On the Mets side, I am writing this as a Mets fan so take it with that bias in mind, but I want no part of this offense right now even with Homer Bailey on the mound – in fact, Homer Bailey might even be…..tournament playable. Yes I know Bailey is awful, he has given up 2 HR in every single one of his last three starts but the reality is that the true blow up outings are really not happening (he has given up 3 or fewer runs in 4 of his 7 starts) and this Mets offense is completely lost right now. With Yoenis Cespedes leaving Sunday’s game with an injury the line-up here tonight could be a total mess as Jay Bruce and Michael Conforto look flat-out lost at the plate. The Vegas total and run projection combined with the deflated price points and a match-up with Bailey made lead to some buzz here but I am staying FAR away as someone who watched them get completely over-matched by Chad Bettis and Kyle Freeland the last two days, this offense needs to show me something before I invest any bankroll in them.

ARLINGTON, TX – APRIL 25: Marcus Semien #10 of the Oakland Athletics and Khris Davis #2 celebrate after scoring in the third inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington on April 25, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/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: Tyson Ross ($16.9K)

SP: Michael Fulmer ($15.4K)

IF: Jose Altuve ($9.4K)

IF: Carlos Correa ($9K)

IF: Yuli Guriel ($6.4K)

OF: George Springer ($9.8K)

OF: Mark Canha ($7.4K)

OF: Khris Davis ($9.4K)

UTIL: Matt Chapman ($7.3K)

UTIL: Eugenio Suarez ($9K)

Slate Overview: To Strasberg or not to Strasberg – that is the question. Whenever a slate is so focused on one player, my gut is to play the variance and just fade them entirely and although Strasburg is a good pitcher – this is not Max Scherzer or Chris Sale level talent we are fading here so the case for a fade is strong in my opinion. Not only are you fading Strasburg but you are going to have a completely different roster build from everyone overpaying for the Nationals SP and if you want the complete leverage play you pivot to Tyson Ross on the other side of this game. Maybe I am wrong, it happens – but this feels like a great GPP slate to simply play ownership and take the lower owned path to potential profit.

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