MLB DFS Picks and Pivots – Friday May 18

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 6: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees watches Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the New York Yankees during batting practice prior to their game against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium on April 6, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 6: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees watches Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the New York Yankees during batting practice prior to their game against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium on April 6, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images) /
UST. LOUIS, MO – MAY 17: Carlos Santana #41 of the the Philadelphia Phillies rounds third base after hitting a home run against the St. Louis Cardinals in the fifth inning at Busch Stadium on May 17, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) MLB DFS /

Welcome to the Friday 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.

Thursday’s MLB DFS slate was an ugly one for pitching and it got that much tougher to sort through when Cole Hamels and Mike Soroka were ultimately scratched and when you add-on a somewhat surprising Atlanta/Cubs PPD, it was an ugly night for many, including yours truly.

I had the opportunity to join the guys over at late Thursday night to give you all a game by game first look on this slate so please check it out and give my friends over at Wisetake some love!

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!

SAN DIEGO, CA – APRIL 27: Jacob deGrom #48 of the New York Mets pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on April 27, 2018 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /

MLB DFS – Starting Pitching Overview:

Let me start here – this slate is going to be dominated by weather as we have big time rain concerns in Washington which will likely take Max Scherzer out of consideration tonight while the game in Atlanta and Pittsburgh set up to have some rain risk as well just one night after many, including me, were burned by the game in Atlanta.

With the weather forecast looking better in New York, the first place I look towards for pitching is with Jacob deGrom ($18.4K), as deGrom hs seen his price drop on both FantasyDraft and DraftKings to the point where you simply cannot ignore it. deGrom has a 32% K rate on the season which is 7th highest in baseball and tops on this slate yet he is priced tonight as the 4th highest pitcher on FantasyDraft – behind Tyson Ross people!

The Mets right-hander will take on an Arizona team that has the 4th highest strikeout rate in baseball against RHP (25.3%) on a night in Citi Field where the temperatures will be in the 50’s with the wind blowing in at 15 MPH. deGrom has historically been a pitcher who dominates at home with a K rate over 5% higher in Citi Field over the last two seasons so take advantage of the price drop here on deGrom and lock him in as your SP1 tonight in New York.

As I mentioned with CK on the WiseTake show last night, you can absolutely roll out Zack Godley on the other side of this game as well if you are not going with deGrom. This Mets offense right now is in shambles with Yoenis Cespedes and Todd Frazier both on the DL and Godley at only $16K gives you solid K upside if you want a leverage play deGrom in the lowest total game on the slate.

C.C. Sabathia ($15K) is 170 road favorite against the Royals and has given up 0-1 ER’s in five of his seven starts to kick off the season. Sabathia not only gets a massive ballpark boost with this game being in KC but he has also flashed a bit more K upside in recent starts with a 24% K rate against Boston and a 35% K rate against the Indians. The Yankees left-hander made one start in KC last year going 6.2 innings with 4 K’s and 0 ER and this is basically the exact kind of line you are hoping for in this spot and at this price range. Sabathia is doing an incredible job this year of limiting hard contact at only 28% and he has shown K upside versus left-handed bats with a 34.8% strikeout rate which could pay dividends against a Royals team with 3-4 lefties in the projected line-up.

Drew Pomeranz ($14K) is a guy I had circled in when I first sat down and did my research as we have seen the strikeout stuff start to really come back over his last few starts with 6 K’s in back to back outings and a 26% K rate over those two starts. Tonight he will get a start at home against an Orioles team he has dominated throughout his career, sporting a 32% K rate over 90+ plate appearances. My only concern is Pomeranz is how popular he will become and it is less about his skill set and more about the recency bias as those who watched David Price dominate this match-up on Thursday may rush to Pomeranz with the expectation of a similar outcome.

One name that I initially dismissed was Michael Fulmer ($11.9K) who gets a road start against the Mariners and looking back at it, I made the mistake of simply looking at the game log and seeing that he just got beat up by this same Mariners team and just moved on. I went back and looked at the game where he gave up 5 hits, 2 HR and 6 ER in only 4.1 innings and noticed that almost all of the damage was done by two guys who will likely not be in the line-up tonight as it was Robinson Cano (2 run home run) and Nelson Cruz (2 hits, 1 RBI) who knocked him from the game. We know Cano for sure will be out and Cruz remains questionable with a foot injury so there is the potential for a watered down line-up here.

The loss of Cano alone is enough to get me interested though as if you look at Fulmer’s numbers this year, it has been the lefties that have given him trouble with a .253 ISO and 1.6 HR/9. Right-handed batters on the other hand have really struggled to the tune of a .063 ISO and over his career he has seen his GB rate increase to well over 50% which makes this an interesting spot in a line-up that will be right-handed heavy.

Fulmer does have an xFIP of 3.97 which means there is some minor positive regression coming against his 4.37 ERA but this play is really more line-up driven than anything else assuming Cano and Cruz are both out. As an SP2, Fulmer could make a nice play that could get over-looked as many make the same silly game log mistake I initially did.

NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 6: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees watches Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the New York Yankees during batting practice prior to their game against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium on April 6, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images) /

MLB DFS – Offense Overview:

We have five teams with projected run totals of 5 or higher on this slate so finding high-octane offenses to stack will not be overly difficult tonight. At this point the top stack on every slate is going to be the Boston Red Sox until they prove otherwise and it will be interesting to see if J.D. Martinez is back from an illness which forced him to leave last night’s game early. If Martinez is out, I could see a case where the Red Sox stack loses a bit of steam ownership wise but any way you slice it, the Red Sox should simply destroy Alex Cobb tonight who is giving up a .330 ISO to left-handed bats and a .224 ISO to right-handed hitters.

I expect the Cubs versus Homer Bailey to be the buzz stack of the day but this feels like another James Shields spot where stacking against Bailey has a good chance to burn those who blindly play it, thinking Bailey is this can’t miss gas can. Bailey has actually held teams to 3 or fewer runs in 5 of his 9 starts so far this season, giving up only 1 or 0 HR’s in those games so keep that in mind before playing the inflated priced for the Cubs in what is likely the be the most popular stacking spot across the industry.

With so much emphasis on the Red Sox and Cubs and the Yankees being on the road in Kansas City, this seems like a spot where the New York bats get over-looked against RHP Jakob Junis in Kauffman Stadium. Junis has really struggled this season with right-handed power, giving up 7 HR’s in 27 innings of work, good for a 2.28 HR/9 mark on the season and that number gets even worse at home as all seven of those homers against right-handers have been in KC in only 13 innings – that’s a 4.85 HR/9 rate for those of you keeping track at home.

Aaron Judge ($11.1K) and Giancarlo Stanton ($9.7K) seem like right-handed hitters that have some power upside and with their price points being in the same range as Betts/Martinez and Rizzo/Bryant could this duo actually be the lowest owned pairing on the slate?

My favorite game stack tonight is in Toronto as we have a 10 total between the A’s and Blue Jays with two pitchers in Marco Estrada and Brett Anderson that we can pick on with cost-effective powerful bats. Estrada, an extreme fly ball pitcher with limited K ability, has been downright awful to start this season with a 5+ ERA that is supported by similar xFIP and SIERA marks while allowing 10 HR’s already which is good for a 2 HR/9 mark on the year. The home runs are coming from both sides of the plate but as a reverse splits arm, it has been the right-handers that have really punished Estrada with a .286 ISO and 37% hard contact rate this season.

Khris Davis ($7.2K) and Matt Chapman ($7.4K) are both sporting .200+ ISO’s against right-handed pitching and have a team leading 52% and 44% fly ball rates on the year which sets up perfectly in this match-up against a fly ball arm in Estrada who is giving up a ton of hard contact. The pricing on these A’s bats is just dirt cheap across the board so you can add someone like Matt Olson ($6.8k) who has homered in two of his last three games and has a massive 51% hard contact rate against RHP this season.

Brett Anderson on the other side of this game is an extreme ground ball pitcher (55.6% on the year) who has given up 13 ER in his first 14 innings of work this season which is good for an 8+ ERA on the young season. Anderson has essentially no strikeout stuff, sporting an 11% rate this season while giving up a .298 ISO to right-handed batters so far. Justin Smoak ($7.5K) and Kevin Pillar ($7.8K) both have .200+ ISO marks against left-handed pitching over the last two season with Josh Donaldson ($9K) with a team high .331 mark which puts them all in play in a game that features two of the top 6 projected scoring teams on the night. Stack it up kids.

BOSTON, MA – MAY 15: Matt Chapman #26 and Khris Davis #2 of the Oakland Athletics celebrate after both scoring in the eighth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on May 15, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/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: Jacob deGrom ($18.4K)

SP: CC Sabathia ($15K)

IF: Josh Donaldson ($9K)

IF: Justin Smoak ($7.5K)

IF: Matt Chapman ($7.4K)

OF: Khris Davis ($7.2K)

OF: Kevin Pillar ($7.8K)

OF: Matt Olson ($6.8K)

UTIL: Aaron Judge ($11.1K)

UTIL: Giancarlo Stanton ($9.7k)

Slate Overview: We will need to keep an eye on the weather across the board tonight and do our best to avoid the risky spots as on a slate this large, I see little reason to absorb any unnecessary weather risk. With the weather looking better in NY, deGrom at his price point at  home against Arizona is a lock for my SP1 and I will likely look towards Sabathia/Pomeranz as my SP2 in the mid-range. The Oakland-Toronto game stack looks perfect for roster builds tonight as we get high totals, home run happy pitchers and cheap price points which allow you to stack it up and still grab a top end arm – oh yeah, and you can add in a nice two-man Yankee mini-stack for the cherry on top. Good luck tonight all!

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