MLB DFS Picks and Pivots – Wednesday May 9

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 24: Manny Machado #13 and Jonathan Schoop #6 of the Baltimore Orioles score in the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 24, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 24: Manny Machado #13 and Jonathan Schoop #6 of the Baltimore Orioles score in the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 24, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /
TORONTO, ON – MAY 8: James Paxton #65 of the Seattle Mariners is congratulated by teammates after throwing a no-hitter during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on May 8, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/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.

Wow what a Tuesday in MLB DFS as it started off with an unlikely barrage of Royals home runs to knock a semi-popular Dylan Bundy without logging a single out but surrendering 4 HR’s and 7 ER. That was simply the appetizer on this night however as James Paxton pitched a 7 strikeout no-hitter against the Blue Jays, leading the slate with 51 FantasyDraft points. Basically if you had a Paxton and Royals stack then you had yourself one heck of a night in DFS and your bankroll likely looks very different waking up this morning!

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!

FanDuel MLB: ARLINGTON, TX – APRIL 01: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Houston Astros throws in the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington on April 1, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/GettyImages) /

MLB DFS – Early Slate Pitching:

Remember on Monday when we had a short slate with only one ace, Stephen Strasburg, and it was the obvious play that led to him being 75% owned in GPP’s? Well on this five game Early Slate on FantasyDraft that kicks off at 2PM EST (the Mets/Reds and Indians/Brewers games are not on this slate) there is one clear arm to pay for and that is Gerrit Cole ($26K) against Oakland.

The biggest difference in Cole versus Strasburg is that I think Cole actually deserves the “do whatever it takes to fit him in” treatment with a league leading 41% K rate this season and has a match-up with an A’s team that strikes out at a 26% clip versus RHP which is 6th most in baseball thus far. Cole has put up double-digit K games in 5 of his 7 outings thus far and is the single arm (maybe even player) on this slate that could set the cash line all by himself.

All that being said – within the context of this slate – I think you need to fade him.

The match-up is incredible and it is one he just faced where he struck out 12 Oakland batters while giving up 3 ER in a ND and racking up 28 FantasyDraft points. This is basically the kind of “ceiling” performance you want from Cole if you are fading him as although it is a great score and likely the highest raw point total for any SP, it id not the kind of score in isolation that can beat you especially when you consider his price and the sacrifices you will have to make across the rest of your roster.

I think setting the ownership at 75% like we saw with Strasburg may be the floor here as the pitching options outside of Cole may actually be worse than Monday and that ownership alone certainly merits a fade – but jeez, where do we turn?

Daniel Mengden ($9.2K) against the Astros – I hate picking on Houston – hate it- but I get it as a total leverage play with everyone on Cole on the other side of this game. This was the exact same scenario we outlined on Monday with Tyson Ross and when rosters locked we saw Strasburg as the overwhelming chalk while Ross was barely 10% owned on a short slate. I know everyone will look at the last time Mengden played Houston where he lasted only 2 innings and gave up 4 ER but look past that at his last three outings besides that game where he has gone 5, 6 and 8 innings, striking out 5-6 batters per game and only gave 1 ER in each start to the Orioles, Red Sox and White Sox.

These are dangerous offenses he has pitched quite well against so I am more than willing to roll the dice here on what might end up being one of the lowest owned arms on the slate and at this price point, you are going to be able to load up on bats (more on that in a second).

Francisco Liriano ($15.1K) in Texas versus Bartolo Colon. I cannot believe I am actually looking here for a pitcher in DFS in 2018 but here we are friends. This is all about potential and match-up as Liriano has the ability to rack up K’s and will be facing a Rangers line-up that strikes out at a 27% clip versus LHP which is second most in baseball. The one caveat here is Adrian Beltre ($6.4K) is back in the heart of this order (he makes for an awesome value play by the way if you aren’t using Liriano – heck maybe even with Liriano) so there is now some pop from the right side which makes this a risky play but one with K upside.

As crazy as it sounds I think Bartolo Colon ($11.3K) is actually in play here too (really every pitcher feels like you can make the case) as this Tigers line-up is just not one I am afraid of. If you believe in PvB than Colon is your dude as he has limited this Tigers line-up to 8 hits in 48 at bats (1.67 average) with only a .226 wOBA. If you roster Bartolo you are simply looking for a “don’t hurt me” kind of outing – 3 or 4 ERs with a handful of K’s  – and depending on the line-up we get with Detroit I could actually see myself going here today.

The more I look at this slate the more I keep coming back to using Reynaldo Lopez or Trevor Williams and this is less an endorsement of their ability and more a result of the fact I have no interest in the Pirates or White Sox bats – so might as well use the pitchers right? Lopez looks like the definition of regression with a 2.5 ERA and a SIERA over 5 and the fact he has struck out only 4 batters in his last three starts combined makes you think his 10K outing versus the A’s a few starts was quite the outlier. The White Sox and Pirates have the two lowest run totals on this early slate outside of the A’s versus Cole so this is a spot where I think you can use Lopez and/or Williams as a “last man in” arm, where you are simply playing the run prevention and hoping your bats can win you the slate.

DENVER, CO – SEPTEMBER 26: Nolan Arenado /

MLB DFS – Early Slate Hitting:

The interesting thing about this Early Slate is that you have to make a decision on whether you covet the pitcher in Cole or you want all the bats and with a game in Coors and the wind blowing out at Wrigley, this may be a day you side with the bats and hope a dangerous A’s offense can take down the chalk SP1.

The Rockies and Angels are going to be the top target on this slate without much argument as they have a 11.5 game total and with Cole on the slate and a general letdown last night I will be interested to see how much people force them in today. The Rockies will face RHP Jaime Berria who is making his third start of the year and has faired well with a 3.5 ERA over those starts but with a 10% K rate and an xFIP and SIERA over 5.5 this looks like the spot for some regression and that is not typically a great place to be when heading to Coors Field.

Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon and Carlos Gonzalez makes for an ideal middle of the order Rockies stack and with both Arenado and Blackmon being priced over $10K they are going to be players the Cole owners simply cannot afford.

The Angels side of this game is interesting in the sense that LHP Tyler Anderson has been exceptional to start the year with a 26.4% K rate and has given up 2 ER or less in each of his last six starts so I wonder how anxious people will be to attack him here. The reality is that the Angels are loaded with right-handed power with Mike Trout and Justin Upton sporting .250 and .330 ISO’s against LHP over the last two seasons. As good as Anderson has been, he is still giving up a .200+ ISO to RHB the last two seasons the I am willing to side with the raw talent here with Trout and Upton as part of a larger game stack.

Although there are some thunderstorm concerns in Chicago (noteworthy with two of the games on this slate being played there) there is also some serious wind blowing out to left field in Wrigley at 14MPH and we get a left-hander in Wei-Yin Chen on the mound for the visiting Marlins. Chen has given up a .215 ISO to right-handed batters over the last two seasons with a 33% HC rate and will have to face a Cubs line-up that has a 2-5 stack of batters all with .220+ ISO’s against LHP the last two seasons. Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo and Wilson Contreras make for a great stack option here to pair with a game stack in Coors Field.

If you are fading Gerrit Cole on this early slate you better hope you have the bats that go off and with no shortage of elite hitting environments I think that loading up on hitters in Coors and Wrigley is a viable tournament pivot and because the price points are so high on these guys you are assured that your roster build will be completely different from those who have to fit in Cole at $26K.

CHICAGO, IL – MAY 07: Kris Bryant #17 of the Chicago Cubs is congratulated by Anthony Rizzo #44 after hitting a two run home run in the 1st inning against the Miami Marlins at Wrigley Field on May 7, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/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: Reynaldo Lopez ($13.5K)

SP: Daniel Mengden ($9.2K)

IF: Kris Bryant ($9.9K)

IF: Javier Baez ($8.3K)

IF: Anthony Rizzo ($8.4K)

OF: Mike Trout ($12.9K)

OF: Justin Upton ($9.1K)

OF: Charlie Blackmon ($10.8K)

UTIL: Nolan Arenado ($10.6K)

UTIL: Carlos Gonzalez ($7.3K)

Slate Overview: Gerrit Cole or bats? That is really what this slate boils down to – pick and side and hope! Even if you chose to go with Cole, you still need to sort through some awful SP2 options so why not double down, punt pitcher and get an all-star team of bats in Coors Field and the wind blowing out at Wrigley. Keep an eye on the weather in Chicago for the Cubs and White Sox and enjoy some day time MLB DFS.

FanDuel MLB: PHOENIX, AZ – APRIL 17: Starting pitcher Patrick Corbin #46 of the Arizona Diamondbacks is dunked with gatorade by Zack Godley #52 and Archie Bradley #25 after pitching a compete game shut-out against the San Francisco Giants the MLB game at Chase Field on April 17, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Giants 1-0. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

MLB DFS – Main Slate Pitching:

Much like the Early Slate we have one clear top option in Patrick Corbin ($25.5K) and then a bunch of much to sort through. The difference on this slate is we do not have a Coors Field or wind blowing out at Wrigley situation so I think paying up for Corbin is a viable strategy considering his elite 34% K rate on the season. Maybe I am still stuck on the early slate mentality but could this be another spot to go with the leverage play and go with Alex Wood ($14.8K) on the other side of this game for a considerable discount?

Wood is a -117 home favorite taking on an Arizona team with a 26.6% K rate versus LHP this season which is 5th highest in all of baseball. Wood also just faced this Arizona team in Chase Field, going 5 innings, striking out 8 while only giving up 1 ER on his way to 21 fantasy points on FantasyDraft. The only draw back with Wood is that he rarely goes deep into games but I think the price reflects that risk in the discount so I have no issue taking the 5-6 innings of K upside here and using my salary savings to pay up elsewhere.

After watching Zach Eflin and Aaron Nola run right over this Giants offense with 9 and 12 K’s respectively, my guess is Nick Pivetta ($14K) becomes a popular SP2 option and I honestly can’t argue with it. Pivetta has a 24% K rate so far this season with a 31.5% mark against right-handed bats so there is definitely upside to chase here after seeing what Eflin and Nola were able to do in the same spot. Pivetta is a solid -121 home favorite who has a xFIP and SIERA of 3.77 which is a full run lower than his 4.77 ERA so there is the potential for positive regression here and with the price point and match-up, I think he is a lock for my SP2 on this Main Slate.

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 08: Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the New York Yankees connects on his second home run of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on May 8, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

MLB DFS – Main Slate Hitting:

Even though the Yankees and Red Sox will be throwing Masahiro Tanaka and Rick Porcello tonight, there is no question the two most talented offenses reside in this game in one of the best hitting parks in baseball in Yankee Stadium. Even with two talented arms on the hill, this game still has a 9 total which really tells you how much firepower is on each of these offensive rosters so they make for a dangerous fade in my opinion with no other offenses able to match their upside (unless Dylan Bundy is pitching against the Royals again tonight).

By dropping down at pitcher with Wood/Pivetta, I have a ton of salary cap flexibility so why not go straight to the elite plays here with Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez and run it back with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo StantonStanton is coming off a 2 home run game last night and as one of the streakiest power hitters in the game I think you want to jump in on the heater as realistically him or any of these four bats has the ability to single handedly set the cash line on a slate without much other elite hitting or pitching for that matter.

The Orioles were a popular stack target last night and with LHP Eric Skoglund on the hill tonight I see no reason not to go back to them. Skoglund has given up a .222 ISO to right-handed batters this season with a whopping 51.9% hard contact rate so to say all the Orioles right-handers are in a great spot would be an understatement.

Over the last two seasons, Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop (fresh off the DL) have .270+ ISO’s against left-handed pitching with 40%+ hard contact rates so they would be the top two guys I would lock in on this slate and with Schoop being only $6.6K on FantasyDraft, it is probably my favorite point per dollar play on the entire slate. This entire Orioles stack is relatively cheap outside of Machado at $9K as you can lock in guys like Trey Mancini, Mark Trumbo and Adam Jones all in the same $7-$7.5K price range which makes this a really easy stack to build around the big four bats in the Yankees and Red Sox game.

BALTIMORE, MD – SEPTEMBER 24: Manny Machado #13 and Jonathan Schoop #6 of the Baltimore Orioles score in the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 24, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/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: Alex Wood ($14.8K)

SP: Nick Pivetta ($14K)

IF: Mark Trumbo ($7.7K)

IF: Manny Machado ($9K)

IF: Jonathan Schoop ($6.6K)

OF: Mookie Betts ($10.9K)

OF: J.D. Martinez ($10K)

OF: Aaron Judge ($10.7K)

UTIL: Giancarlo Stanton ($9K)

UTIL: Adam Jones ($7.3K)

Slate Overview: On a slate without any must have SP in my opinion I think living in the mid-tier for arms and loading up the best bats makes the best approach in both cash games and tournaments. I think Wood and Pivetta are just too cheap and when you see the hitting you can build around them I am finding it hard to argue I should force myself to pay up for Corbin and sacrifice the best bats on the board. Enjoy both slates today and we will see you back here Thursday.

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