MLB DFS Picks and Pivots – Wednesday August 8

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 28: Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers warms up in the bullpen before the game against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium on June 28, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 28: Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers warms up in the bullpen before the game against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium on June 28, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /
CHICAGO, IL – JUNE 22: a fan watches the game between the Chicago White Sox and the Oakland Athletics during the second inning in game two of a doubleheader on June 22, 2018 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/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.

Looking back on Tuesday night’s MLB DFS leaders, it is still hard for me to believe that the Padres stack was what took down the big money as they hung 11 runs on Chase Anderson chalk night in Milwaukee and really hurt my line-ups on the night. Pablo Lopez was fantastic with 7 innings, 5 K’s and 18.75 FPTS (without another win) and the Rangers/Mariners game stack worked quite nicely with 15 runs total with Rougned Odor leading the way but it was the short outing by Anderson followed by a whooping on the Milwaukee bullpen ( 7 runs scored) that pushed the Padres LOW owned stacks up the leaderboard on this night.

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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!

LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 28: Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers warms up in the bullpen before the game against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium on June 28, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

MLB DFS – Starting Pitching Overview:

I don’t know.

I have clicked, re-clicked, scrolled, “fangraphed”, game log watched and done everything short of throw darts looking at this pitching slate and the truth is – I DO NOT KNOW.

Rather than tell you who I want to play – maybe I take the approach of crossing guys off?

  • Clayton Kershaw – No chance I am playing a guy at $24.8K who has not struck out double-digit batters since April – this is simply too expensive.
  • Luis Severino – They want $23K for a pitcher who has given up 20 ER in his last four starts? Sure it is the White Sox but how in the world do you feel good about paying that price for his recent form?
  • Mike Foltynewicz – I do not pick on Washington when I can avoid it, and I certainly am not paying $20K to do so.

So here we are – past the “Big Three,” and I use that term loosely, and we are now into Mike Clevinger, Jose Quintana and Trevor Richards tier of – yeah, I mean they can be used but am I really dying to go these routes? Clevinger is probably the smart cash game play as this is a pitcher who is going to get you 15-20 FPTS as a -200 home favorite but the fact that he is the arm I am looking at here I think tells you more about the lack of opportunity cost at pitcher tonight.

With the context of, “I don’t see a pitcher capable of winning me this slate and I do not want to waste precious salary cap room on over-priced arms”, this may be a slate where you work backwards – build the bats you want and come back to the pitchers later. So let me give you a handful of options to consider once you have built your bats:

  • Jhouyls Chacin ($14.9K) – For every reasons we loved Chase Anderson last night, you have to like the same spot for Chacin putting the Anderson results behind you and simply focusing on the match-up. The Padres have the highest K rate against RHP this season, the projected line-up has a 24% K rate and Chacin is a huge -190 home favorite. Chacin has a 24.4% K rate versus RHB as opposed to only a 14% K rate versus lefties (with an 11% BB rate) so this one needs to be a bit more line-up dependent in my mind. If we get Jankowski, Hosmer, Galvis and Spangenberg in the line-up, you will have enough lefties to where there is pause so just consider the line-up splits once we get official confirmation before you simply lock in Chacin. I will say this – the fact that Anderson failed last night should get us reduced ownership here on the same spot we loved yesterday which is something I always love to target.
  • Brian Johnson ($13.7K) – I am still kicking myself for thickening out using Johnson last start versus the Yankees but I do think we can go back to him today on the road in Toronto when you consider how impressive his recent form has been. In his 6 starts since June 28th, Johnson has a 2.8 ERA with a 24% K rate, 10% swinging strike rate and has now put up 18, 18 and 24 FPTS in his last three outings. The knock on Johnson heading into that Yankee start was he had not seen him pitch 90+ pitches yet and he promptly went out and threw 104 – so you can look at that two ways – either he is stretched out and ready to go or could we see a dud after throwing a season high in pitches.
  • Lucas Giolito ($8.6K) – With Giolito we have a pitcher with a 6+ xFIP against the Yankees who have the highest run total on the board so we must be in the “Offenses to Stack” section right? Listen, this is a risky GPP play considering the guy has put up negative fantasy points in 2 of his last 6 outings but look at the rest of his games – 22, 16, 27, 14, 13 and 22. There is a ceiling here with Giolito and we saw last night with Reynaldo Lopez (7 IP, 6 K and 21.5 FP) that even bad pitchers can have good outings against a banged up Yankee offense.
    • In his first 14 starts, Giolito used his fastball nearly 63% of the time, relying on his slider, change and curve all within 10-15% of the time.
    • Since June 22nd, in a span of 8 games where as noted above he has had success, he has brought his fastball usage down significantly to only 56% and is relying more on his slider and change-up. This is important when you consider his FB has a .232 ISO on it this year while his slider (.170) and change-up (.125) are pitches that induce not only lower ISO numbers but also generate more swinging strikes.

Essentially this is a long-winded way of saying that pitching is a crap shoot and although someone like a Clevinger, Quintana or Chacin may seem “safe” there is every bit the risk that they could go the route of Chase Anderson last night which means taking a risk on someone like Giolito could pay big dividends.

MILWAUKEE, WI – JULY 25: Hernan Perez #14 of the Milwaukee Brewers celebrates a home run with third base coach Ed Sedar #0 during the ninth inning of a game against the Washington Nationals at Miller Park on July 25, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

MLB DFS – Top Hitting Spots:

We made it! We are done with talking pitching and now we can get into the real fun of this slate – the batters. The funny thing is, on this Main Slate we do not have Coors Field or the Arlington high totals and we do not have a single game total over 9.5, yet I love so many offenses on this slate and conversely hate many of the pitchers.

The Cleveland Indians are at home against a RHP in Jake Odorizzi, a fly ball pitcher giving up a .258 ISO and 38% HC rate to left-handed batters this season. Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor are two of the top plays on the slate and you can round out the lefty stack with guys like Michael Brantley and Yonder Alonso if you want to go with a 3-4 man Indians stack.

The Milwaukee Brewers get a home start against a pitcher in Brett Kennedy who is making his Major League debut. Here is the scouting report on Kennedy from FanGraphs:

"Though short in stature, Kennedy throws pretty hard, sitting 91-93 with his fastball and occasionally touching 95. His secondaries are fringey, but when Kennedy is locating his mid-80s cutter/slider he’s effective. He might max out as a fifth starter."

So we have a pitcher in Kennedy with decent K stuff (22% in the minors) who has limited HR’s but the fact he lacks any real strong secondary pitches is a HUGE red flag for me when you transition to the bigs. His big league debut, nerves and now he has to rely on a low 90’s FB to get this Brewers line-up out? Good luck kid. Look at the ISO marks up and down this line-up as you have 6 of the 8 projected starters with .200+ ISO’s against RHP this season so a full on stack is in play here any/all of Christian Yelich, Mike Moustakas, Jesus Aguilar, Travis Shaw, Jonathan Schoop and Eric Thames all looking like they are in prime spots.

It has been a few days since I have professed my Dodgers love in DFS and with Mike Fiers scheduled to make his first start tonight for the A’s, this could be an interesting late night hammer. Fiers, a fly ball pitcher, is giving up a .216 ISO and 38% HC rate to LHB this season and this Dodgers line-up has four lefties in Max Muncy, Joc Pederson, Cody Bellinger and Yasmani Grandal who all have .240 + ISO marks against RHP this season. Depending on roster build, you can use any/all of these guys as one-off plays or a nice mid-range stack as not a single one of these bats costs more than $9K on FantasyDraft tonight.

LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 03: Joc Pederson #31 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates as he crosses the plate on a solo home run in the first inning of the game off Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros at Dodger Stadium on August 3, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/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: Jhoulys Chacin ($14.9K)

SP: Lucas Giolito ($8.6K)

IF: Francisco Lindor ($10.1K)

IF: Eric Thames ($9.8K)

IF: Mike Moustakas ($8.4K)

OF: Jose Ramirez ($11.4K)

OF: Michael Brantley ($9K)

OF: Christian Yelich ($10.3K)

UTIL: Travis Shaw ($9.4K)

UTIL: Max Muncy ($8.1K)

Slate Overview: Looks like a day to build backwards – build your hitter stacks first and wedge in whatever arms in the mid-low range you feel comfortable with – it literally is that simple in my eyes today. I will leave you with this – over the last 8 starts Lucas Giolito has gone for 22 or more FantasyDraft points three times – the same number as Clayton Kershaw and the same number of Luis Severino and Mike Foltynewicz combined. It is your night Lucas.

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