Welcome to the Tuesday 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.
What an ugly night for the chalk on a four game slate as two of the top arms in Zack Godley and Julio Teheran got blasted as the Padres dropped 11 runs on the Braves and the Giants put up a 10 spot on the Diamondbacks while Mike Fiers was the highest scoring pitcher on the night in the “worst spot” against the mighty Yankees line-up. Thankfully for me, a chalky home run by Giancarlo Stanton and big nights from the Angels duo of Mike Trout and Justin Upton was enough to push me across the cash line in cash games but that “chalkiness” was not enough to make a dent in tournaments on such a small slate.
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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.
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 – Starting Pitching Overview:
Welcome to a loaded MLB DFS slate where we have an overwhelming number of aces to sort through including a number of the best strikeout arms in baseball and two high-profile DL returns with Carlos Martinez and Madison Bumgarner making their returns to the mound today. As great as both Car-Mart and MadBum are as pitchers, with so many elite arms available I just do not see a reason to throw high-end arms in their first start off the DL – there are other places we can spend up for pitching and I think the risk of using a pitcher fresh off the disabled list is something we do not need to take on with a slate this pitching rich.
Max Scherzer ($25.4K) is the cream of the crop on this slate as he leads all pitchers in baseball over the last month with a 40% K rate and 18% swinging strike rate and steps to the mound at home as a slate leading -250 favorite against the Tampa Bay Rays. Mad Max has double-digit strikeouts in four of his last five games and is in one of those spots where if you have the money you simply plug him in and move on – in fact, I think the spot is SO good that you need to find the money to get him in as your SP1 and move on.
Ross Stripling ($18.5K) has seen his price continually rise after four straight dominating starts where he has struck out 35 batters in 25 innings of work, walking only 2 batters and surrendering only 4 runs in those four starts. Over the last month, Stripling’s 35.4% K rate is 4th in all of baseball behind Max, Chris Sale and Jacob deGrom so you are getting an elite strikeout arm at a second tier price point in this start against the Pirates.
Scherzer and Stripling are my top two plays on this slate and my goal is to build them into my SP1 and SP2 slots across cash games and tournaments as it is rare we have the ability to get two of the top 5 strikeout arms in baseball (over the last month) on the same roster while still being able to stack up some intriguing spots.
If you need pivots, the logical choices are Corey Kluber ($24.7K) and Sean Newcomb ($18K) in the same price ranges that allow you to essentially keep the same hitter build if you are looking to mix and match for multiple entires. Kluber is still an elite arm although his 27% K rate is down materially from his career best season a year ago and Newcomb gets a road start against a right-handed heavy Padres team which should work well for his splits as he is sporting a 24% K rate with a miniscule .056 ISO and 27.7% HC rate versus RHB.
On any other slate I could make the case for these arms but I am finding it difficult at first glance to move off this pairing of Scherzer and Stripling as long as I can make the bats work with the remaining $7K per batter to fill out my line-up on FantasyDraft.
MLB DFS – Hitting Overview:
If we want to pay up for pitching tonight (and I think we need to) then we are going to need some value stacks and thankfully there are a handful of bad arms on this slate facing reasonably priced offenses that make this build easy to see.
The Baltimore Orioles may only have a 4 run projection from Vegas but with a game against my favorite pitcher – LHP Jason Vargas – this is a spot where the right-handed heavy Orioles should simply dominate. Vargas worked his way through 5 innings against the Braves last time out (much to my chagrin) without giving up a run but this is a pitcher who is giving up a .237 ISO and 37% HC rate to right-handed batters and this Orioles team will likely roll our 8 RHB tonight in Citi Field.
The results for the top Orioles bats have not been there this season which is why the prices are depressed outside of Manny Machado ($9.4K) but looking at the last two weeks this is a team that is hitting the ball hard consistently this is the perfect spot for the results to start to show themselves. Danny Valencia ($5.5K) and Mark Trumbo ($7.6K) each have a 50% HC rate over the last two-week and all of Machado, Valencia and Adam Jones ($7.4K) have .200+ ISO’s over that time.
With the price points on guys like Joey Rickard ($5.4K) in the lead-off spot and Jonathan Schoop ($6.7K) in the middle of the order, this is a stack that is cost-effective and easy to build. I think you can legitimately make a case to stack up 1-7 in this Orioles projected order tonight or pick and choose the bats you want in a smaller stack – for my money, I am prioritizing Machado, Schoop and Valencia and working off that trio in all Orioles stacks tonight.
The Oakland A’s get a massive ballpark boost heading to Texas in 90 degree plus weather and will face another bad LHP in Matt Moore who has been hittable from both sides of the plate the last two years surrendering over 36% HC to hitters from both sides of the plate with the higher (.254) coming from left-handed batters. Over the last two seasons, Matt Chapman ($8k) has a .200+ ISO against LHP and a 40% hard contact rate with a team high 51% fly ball rate which aligns perfectly with Moore’s fly ball tendencies against RHB during that time (43%) making him one of my favorite plays on the board tonight and a key play in any Oakland stack.
Mark Cahnha ($7.3K) is an interesting bottom of the order play here as he is sporting a .345 ISO against LHP this season with the highest FB mark in 2018 of any A’s player at 45%. Chad Pinder ($7.2K) actually has the highest exit velocity (94MPH) against LHP this season and has a .321 ISO against fastballs in the 90-92 MPH range which is what Moore throws over 50% of the time.
The A’s and Orioles actually correlate quite nicely in stacks with their IF/OF flexibility and give you a core build attacking two pitchers in Vargas and Moore that have the second and third worst SIERA’s on the slate of any available arms over the last two seasons. Mix and match these stacks up and pay up for pitching – that’s my goal today!
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!
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SP: Max Scherzer ($25.4K)
SP: Ross Stripling ($18.5K)
IF: Manny Machado ($9.7K)
IF: Danny Valencia ($5.5K)
IF: Jonathan Schoop ($6.7K)
OF: Joey Rickard ($5.4K)
OF: Mark Canha ($7.3K)
OF: Chad Pinder ($7.2K)
UTIL: Matt Chapman ($8K)
UTIL: Luis Valbuena ($6.3K)
Slate Overview: This is a slate where I think you need to prioritize pitching as the opportunity cost is simply too high to miss at pitcher with so many elite K arms available. As I said, the fact we can get two of the top 5 K arms in Max and Stripling on the same roster and still stack up bats is there I see my builds going and the fact I can attack two of the worst pitchers on the slate in Vargas and Moore while doing so makes this an initial build I am pretty excited about. Keep an eye on my twitter @2LockSports and I will update thoughts throughout the day! Have a good one all!
Best of luck in your MLB DFS contests across FantasyDraft, FanDuel and DraftKings and stay tuned to Fantasy CPR for all the latest DFS news and analysis!