MLB DFS Picks and Pivots – Friday June 8

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 25: Matt Carpenter #13 of the St. Louis Cardinals on deck in the third inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 25, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 25: Matt Carpenter #13 of the St. Louis Cardinals on deck in the third inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 25, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
CHICAGO, IL – JUNE 07: Manager Joe Maddon #70 of the Chicago Cubs watches as his team takes on the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field on June 7, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Phillies 4-3. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/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 a mess that started out with our SP2 Dennis Santana getting scratched 2 minutes before lock which although I was able to make a swap, many others did not and he was anywhere from 15-20% owned on FantasyDraft which left many drawing dead. Funny enough, that 0 from Santana may have been an actual improvement over the Main Slate SP2 Jalen Beeks who at 50% plus ownership in cash games scored a lovely -1. Yes, a player who did not play at all on the early slate actually outscored Beeks. So with all that said, I am ready in a big way to move on to this Friday MLB DFS 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.

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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!

CHICAGO, IL – MAY 29: Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox walks out of the dugout to warm up before the game against the Chicago White Sox on May 29, 2017 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

MLB DFS – Starting Pitching Overview:

After a day where we were forced to sort through some horrendous SP2 options on two pitchers sites we are welcomed by a loaded 14 game Friday slate where finding two good pitchers will be about as easy as any slate this year – the question is going to be which one or two do you prioritize?

If you like strikeouts than this is the slate for you as we have seven of the top fourteen arms in baseball this season from a K% perspective with Chris Sale, Jacob deGrom, Justin Verlander, J.A. Happ, Trevor Bauer, Stephen Strasburg and Vincent Velazquez all sporting 29% or higher K rates on the season. This is not a slate to get cute – there are simply too many high strikeout arms available and making sure you lock in that K upside is going to be step #1 on this MLB DFS slate.

On FantasyDraft it is interesting that Justin Verlander ($24.2K) and Trevor Bauer ($23.1K) are actually the top two arms from a pricing perspective with both pitchers being on the road and my gut take initially is to drop down $2-$3K and focus on guys like Stephen Strasburg ($21.4K) and Chris Sale ($21.1K) who have similar strikeout upside in elite home match-ups.

Strasburg will take on the San Francisco Giants as a -196 home favorite and this is the perfect line-up to maximize the Nationals right-hander’s K upside as he is sporting a 35.4% K rate against right-handed batters this season and will face a Giants line-up with 5-6 RHB in the line-up. Against right-handed pitching this season, the Giants have a 25% K rate which is the 6th highest mark in all of baseball so this looks to be an elite spot for Strasburg. If you scroll through the projected line-up the 5-8 batters for the Giants (Longoria, Sandoval, Williamson and Hernandez) all have 25% or higher K rates and then when you add on the pitcher spot, this is a bottom of the order that Strasburg could mow through and rack up a massive strikeout game.

Sale gets REVENGE NARRATIVE against his former White Sox club which leads all of baseball in K rate (27.7%) against left-handed pitching this season. Sale has a 34% K rate on the season and will take on a WHite Sox team with the lowest projected run total and a projected line-up with a massive 29% K rate against left-handed pitching this season.

The interesting aspect of this slate is that you could lock in guys like Sale AND Strasburg on FantasyDraft, putting together a duo that rank 1-2 in Vegas odds pitching against the two teams with the lowest projected run totals in what would seem to be a cash game players dream scenario. Additionally, we get two elite K arms facing off against teams that rank among the highest strikeout teams against the handedness they face tonight so the upside is exactly what we want in GPP’s.

In the context of the slate there are SO many good arms we haven’t even touched on as we could take Jacob deGrom at home, Masahiro Tanaka against an awful Mets line-up or you could drop down to second tier arms like Caleb Smith at home versus San Diego or Vincent Velazquez in a boom or bust spot against Milwaukee. The point here is we have SO many options and the ownership will likely be spread out because the depth and quality of starting pitching on this slate is as good as any slate I can recall.

My initial take when looking at the slate is not “which pitcher do I pay up for” – it is really more “can I afford to pay up for BOTH pitchers on two pitcher sites?” On FantasyDraft for example if you lock in Strasburg and Sale you still have nearly $7.2K per batter remaining which is a completely reasonable route to take when building your bats, so the question becomes – can we find the right value bats to make this build work?

PITTSBURGH, PA – MAY 25: Matt Carpenter #13 of the St. Louis Cardinals on deck in the third inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 25, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

MLB DFS – Top Hitting Spots:

We have a game in Coors Field with a 10.5 run total so by default we have to mention it but if you want to pay up for both arms on this slate than the pricey Coors bats will have to wait for another day which I think is perfectly fine with so many other good offenses we can target against some bad pitchers. What I love about slates like this is we have this loaded top-tier of arms to use but we also have some of the biggest gas cans in baseball on the slate so you get a perfect balance of elite arms and high upside stacks which means the scores should be VERY high across the industry tonight.

Happy Harvey Day! It is Matt Harvey day for the Reds in Great American Ballpark with 80+ degree temperatures and the Cardinals coming to town which makes this stop number one on my value stack crusade. At this point we all know how bad Harvey has been this season, especially against left-handed batters as he has surrendered a massive .321 ISO, .404 wOBA and 39.2% HC rate against them this season which means Matt Carpenter ($7.2K) is the first target we should build in on this slate considering his price point relative to the match-up.

This Cardinals team is really starting to hit the ball with authority over the last week as players like Yadier Molina, Jose Martinez, Dexter Fowler, Tommy Pham, Matt Carpenter and Marcell Ozuna all have 45% or higher hard contact rates over the last two weeks and this team as a whole is 8th in baseball over that time in HC rate with a team wide 40% mark. With so much hard contact and every single one of these guys with the exception of Pham being priced in the $6k-$7K range, they make for an ideal stack against Harvey and the fact that Vegas has them as the third highest projected scoring team (5.3 runs) on the slate would seem to support that idea.

The Blue Jays have the second highest team total behind the Astros tonight (interesting how Coors does not break the top 3) and with Andrew Cashner on the mound, it is not all that surprising. This season, Cashner is giving up a .265 ISO, .375 wOBA and 34% HC rate to left-handed batters and will face a top of the Blue Jays order with four dangerous bats in Curtis Granderson, Justin Smoak, Kendrys Morales and Yangervis SolarteSmoak at $8.2K is by far my favorite play here as this season he has a massive .254 ISO and 60% fly ball rate against RHP and when you consider that Cashner is giving up a 46% FB to LHB, this is a spot where I am calling a Smoak monster bomb!

The Jays and Cardinals have two of the top three run totals on the board and are super cheap across the industry so stacking them both with the top end arms is a viable roster build that frankly comes together quite easily. This would seem like a great cash game build and has the upside for GPP’s where you can make this a core part of your roster builds and simply look to make 1-2 pivots in GPP’s to find some off the wall plays at low ownership.

The one team I think will go over-looked here is the Dodgers as they have a mediocre 4.4 run total in a game with a 7.5 run total so I doubt it gets much press across the industry. The Dodgers over the last two weeks are really heating up as they have the second highest ISO of any team in baseball, scoring a league leading 85 runs with 25 total home runs over the last 14 days. Now a three game set in Coors Field certainly is skewing those numbers a bit but I am a believer in riding teams when they are hot and against Brandon McCarthy who is surrendering a 37% HC rate and 1.52 HR/9 to LHB this season, this could be a spot to go right back to the Dodgers as a difference maker in GPP’s.

Yasmani Grandal, Joc Pederson and Cody Bellinger all have a .200+ ISO against RHP this season with 38% HC rates and they absolutely hammer McCarthy’s favorite pitch, the sinker. McCarthy throws a sinker 40% of the time this year and here are the ISO’s for the three Dodgers lefties against that pitch since 2016 – .252, .256 and .352 – so to say they profile well against the one time Dodger would be an understatement. I think a Dodgers three-man stack here is a nice way to get separation from the field or you can use them as one-off plays in your line-ups – either way, I think this is a spot to target with a trio of bats that have combined for 10 HR’s over the last two weeks.

PITTSBURGH, PA – JUNE 05: Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers on deck against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 5, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/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: Stephen Strasburg ($21.4K)

SP: Chris Sale ($21.1K)

IF: Matt Carpenter ($7.2K)

IF: Kendrys Morales ($6.3K)

IF: Yadier Molina ($6.9K)

OF: Marcell Ozuna ($7.6K)

OF: Curtis Granderson ($6.7K)

OF: Jose Martinez ($7.2K)

UTIL: Justin Smoak ($8.2K)

UTIL: Cody Bellinger ($7.4K)

Slate Overview: So the question I posed at the beginning of this article was could we get both Sale AND Strasburg into our builds and feel good about the line-up we have? Take a step back and think of it this way – I have the two largest SP favorites on the board going against the two lowest projected scoring teams on the slate and both have massive K upside. Now, I have paired them with two stacks in the Cardinals and Blue Jays, the teams with two of the top 3 projected run totals on the board facing Matt Harvey and Andrew Cashner and used a guy who has homered in three straight games as my one-off. I think I found a roster path that checks all the boxes and the beauty of it is – the price points on these guys are all so similar that you can mix and match this core REALLY easily across multiple line-ups. It is going to be a fun night to kick off the weekend of MLB DFS – enjoy all!

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