MLB DFS Picks and Pivots – Wednesday August 29

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 23: Ronald Acuna Jr. #13 of the Atlanta Braves celebrates with Ozzie Albies #1 after hitting a home run in the third inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on August 23, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 23: Ronald Acuna Jr. #13 of the Atlanta Braves celebrates with Ozzie Albies #1 after hitting a home run in the third inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on August 23, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /
MILWAUKEE, WI – JUNE 15: Christian Yelich #22 and Lorenzo Cain #6 of the Milwaukee Brewers celebrate after Yelich hit a home run in the fourth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Miller Park on June 15, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/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.

There is a saying we will hear sometimes in MLB DFS that not all runs are created equal, especially in reference in team totals etc. The Dodgers last night had a near 7 run total in Vegas as the clear top stack and ended up scoring 8 runs so everyone was happy right? Wrong. Brian Dozier hit a solo HR and Manny Machado had 4 RBI’s on the back of two singles and although the Dodgers did put up 15 hits – the fantasy upside was limited with only 3 of those going for extra bases – meaning somehow our Dodgers stack scored 8 runs and was still a MLB DFS letdown – go figure!

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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!

ST. LOUIS, MO – JULY 28: Javier Baez #9 of the Chicago Cubs attempts to catch a foul ball against the St. Louis Cardinals in the sixth inning at Busch Stadium on July 28, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

MLB DFS – Early Slate Overview:

Initially I was not going to play this four game early slate but the more I look at it the more I am intrigued by it so figured I could update Picks and Pivots to give you guys a few thoughts.

The best pure play game on the slate is the Astros and Athletics who will face-off for the final time in the regular season with only 1.5 games separating them in the standings and what is most interesting is you have a game that has the two best arms available in Dallas Keuchel and Trevor Cahill and you also have the two most potent offenses on the slate. Normally in a spot like this I would likely just avoid the arms and the offenses and hope this turns into a 4-3 type game where nobody from the game really is a must-own but I think within the context of this slate going all-in one way or the other is the way to attack it.

Now Keuchel and Cahill are both solid arms but in this instance, I am going to side with the offenses and simply game stack this based off the talent and upside that resides in both dugouts. Because I respect the talent of the SP’s, I will focus on the best pure hitters from both sides with my eyes on a Carlos Correa, George Springer, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman stack on the Houston side with the trio of Khris Davis, Matt Chapman and Matt Olson on the A’s side of this game.

From a pitching perspective, one of the reasons I am fine fading Keuchel and Cahill is that I think we have better pure pitching environments including a game in San Diego and the wind blowing in at a 10-12 MPH clip in Wrigley. Now, I am clearly not playing Jason Vargas and in fact, Javier Baez has to be the best one-off play on this slate with his .288 ISO against LHP this season, but I do have some interest in Cubs RHP Alec Mills. Mills made his first start of the year last time out against the Reds and dazzled with 8 K’s over 5.2 IP, generating a 14.2% swinging strike rate and now gets an wind-aided match-up at home against the Mets.

I ended up using Jacob Nix on yesterday’s slate at home against the Mariners and it worked out so why not go back to the well with LHP Joey Lucchesi today. From a pure K upside perspective, Lucchesi and his 25% K rate this season is arguably the highest upside arm for me when you consider the ballpark and my hope is we see Nelson Cruz head back to the bench after playing the OF in a NL park on Tuesday night. The fact that I can get the arm with the highest K rate on the slate, in the best pitching park is why I side with the Padres left-hander and honestly I think between Cahill/Keuchel and potential Danny Duffy chalk, this could be a spot where he goes over-looked.

My guess is that the Cubs against Vargas and Duffy versus the Tigers becomes the chalk build so I am fine pivoting off that on this early slate especially at pitcher where I do not think there is a single must play. You could almost take the approach of play whichever arms are not popular (expect Jason Vargas – don’t do that) and then just game stack the most talented offenses in the A’s and Astros. Go light on your bankroll but this actually looks like a decent early slate to dabble in.

MARYVALE, AZ – FEBRUARY 22: EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white) Freddy Peralta of the Milwaukee Brewers poses for a portrait during Photo Day at the Milwaukee Brewers Spring Training Complex on February 22, 2018 in Maryvale, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images) /

MLB DFS – Starting Pitching Overview:

We get a 9 game Main Slate on this Wednesday and the first thing that jumps out to me is the weather – not only do we have brutally hot temperatures across nearly every game environment but we also have steady rain issues which could knock out two games I would have interest in with the Reds/Brewers and Indians/Twins looking like really dicey situations to make it through on this slate unscathed.

If the weather in Cincinnati is go enough to play (looks like strong thunderstorm chances), then Freddy Peralta ($18.5K) is the highest upside arm on the entire slate in my opinion. From a pure upside perspective, the 30.4% K rate that Peralta has is simply unmatched on this slate as the second closest arm is Zack Godley at 24% but as we pointed out the last time Peralta pitched, he has been far less effective on the road, failing to top 15 fantasy points in any of his previous 5 road starts. Now this is the same Reds team he just dominated for a 30 spot in Milwaukee, but it is worth noting that the last time he faced the Reds on the road he lasted only 5 innings with 3 K’s and 10 fantasy points.

One other big thing to note, the Reds now have Scott Schebler back in the line-up and there is a chance Joey Votto is back tonight for the Reds so if people are going to use Peralta just because they see the last start versus the Reds, this could be a spot we pivot off him and let others chase a game log that frankly was against a different Reds offense.

Speaking of game logs – what in the name of Nolan Ryan has gotten into C.C.Sabathia ($16.7K)? In his last three starts against the White Sox, Rangers and Orioles, the Yankees left-hander has struck out 7, 8 and 12 batters, sporting a massive 37.5% K rate and 15.4% swinging strike rate. Tonight, Sabathia steps to the mound as a -230 home favorite in the same “can’t miss” spot that Tanaka and Lynn failed to capitalize on the last two nights and on a slate without much great pitching, I suppose Sabathia could become the chalk option here again tonight. We all know at this point in the year the White Sox are awful against LHP, as no team in baseball strikes out at a higher clip (26.4%) against southpaws than the White Sox so the match-up is obviously elite and the recent K stuff from Sabathia makes this a spot where when you consider the reasonable price tag – maybe it is chalk worth eating.

Speaking of pitchers who are running hot – Alex Cobb ($12.9K) has a streak going where he has given up 2 or fewer runs in 7 of his last 8 starts, and has put up 20+ fantasy points in three of his last five starts which were outings against the Yankees (in NY), Boston and at Cleveland. If Cobb can put up those kinds of numbers against three of the best offenses in baseball, how can you not have interest at this price point today against the Blue Jays?

As Josh Cole from RotoGrinders pointed out before his last start – the change for Cobb is pretty simple:

"The reasons for his improvement aren’t hard to discern: he’s simply throwing his best, his splitter, pitch more often. From the beginning of the season to the All-Star break (17 starts), Cobb threw his splitter 15.6 percent of the time; in the six starts since, he’s thrown 38.2 percent splitters."

This is a case where it is easy to look at the game logs and think you are simply “chasing” the points but the fact that there is a real change in his pitch type that overlays with this recent success leads me to believe that it is sustainable.

The fact that I am at the end of the pitching section and I am leaning towards rolling with a Sabathia/Cobb duo tells you everything you need to know about this slate and just when we think it is safe to trust these two will be the time that they get walloped – this is starting to feel like a hold your noise and click on two pitchers you hope don’t kill you slate.

FanDuel MLB: LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 25: Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers is soaked with sports drink by Yasiel Puig #66 after the RBI single that scored Chris Taylor #3 in the 12th inning to defeat the San Diego Padres 5-4 at Dodger Stadium on August 25, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. All players across MLB will wear nicknames on their backs as well as colorful, non-traditional uniforms featuring alternate designs inspired by youth-league uniforms during Players Weekend. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) /

MLB DFS – Top Hitting Spots:

Let’s get this out-of-the-way – the Dodgers are in Arlington against Mike Minor – you know I am going to love the Dodgers hitters tonight and every night – I haven’t had enough coffee to be witty so let’s keep it simple,

Mike Minor is a fly-ball pitcher who is giving up a .210+ ISO this season to hitters from both sides of the plate and the Dodgers projected 1-7 batters tonight all have a .197 or higher ISO mark against LHP since the start of 2017. The Dodgers are all in play, I love them all – I always do.

HOWEVER – yeah, what’s up – I have a however – remember what I said in the open about all runs not being created equal? The Dodgers scored 8 runs last night on 15 hits but with only 3 extra base hits, the fantasy points simply did not follow and Minor is a pitcher who tends to limit the damage and troll those who stack against him. In 23 starts this season, you know how many games that Minor has given up more than 1 HR? FOUR. That means in 83% of games he has started this year he has given up 1 or 0 HR’s – so as much as the Dodgers seem like a great spot (and they are), this could be another game where they score their 6-7 runs but do so without the fantasy points following.

My guess is that the Dodgers and Yankees are the chalk stacks tonight with the two highest Vegas totals and with this being a shorter slate, I do think that ownership and game theory is more important than on a larger 15 game slate like we had last night.

With that in mind, finding a pivot off these two chalky offenses is where I want to focus my time today. The Indians have a 5.4 run total which is just behind the Yankees and Dodgers but the weather in Cleveland looks like that game could be a total wash – and you scroll down and see the Rangers, Phillies, Reds/Brewers game and then the Braves.

The Atlanta Braves could be that sneaky offense tonight that goes over-looked against the Tampa Bay Rays for a few reasons. The Vegas total at only 4.7 is going to keep them out of the mainstream discussion and because they are racing the Rays, who will used Diego Castillo as an “opener” before likely turning the game over to LHP Jalen Beeks, we do not have the easy/clean analysis of simply attacking the opposing starting pitcher as we now have to prepare not only for two early arms but they throw from different sides of the plate!

Now the Castillo/Beeks duo makes digging into the splits a bit tougher but if we opt to simply focus on the best Braves hitters we can build a nice three-man stack at a reasonable price tag with Ronald Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman and Ozzie AlbiesWith the assumption that Jalen Beeks will be the long-man, playing a cheap punt catcher like Tyler Flowers also comes into play or you can roll with Johan Camargo who has a .261 ISO versus LHP since the start of 2017.

One additional way to attack this slate would be to pick and choose from one-off plays with Matt Carpenter standing out as the best play in my opinion as he will take on Trevor Williams in St. Louis and this is a pitcher he has flat-out owned in his career going 7 for 16 with 3 HR’s against the Pirates RHP.

MIAMI, FL – AUGUST 23: Ronald Acuna Jr. #13 of the Atlanta Braves celebrates with Ozzie Albies #1 after hitting a home run in the third inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on August 23, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/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: CC Sabathia ($16.7K)

SP: Alex Cobb ($12.9K)

IF: Freddie Freeman ($8.7K)

IF: Ozzie Albies ($8.6K)

IF: Johan Camargo ($7.4K)

OF: Ronald Acuna Jr. ($10.3K)

OF: Giancarlo Stanton ($9.5K)

OF: Kike’ Hernandez ($8K)

UTIL: Matt Carpenter ($9.8K)

UTIL: Brian Dozier ($8.1K)

Slate Overview: Without any top-tier pitching to pay for on this slate, paying up for all the bats you want is going to be a relatively easy path which in my mind means the Dodgers and Yankees stacks become the obvious build supported by their lofty Vegas totals. Even in this example line-up, it is easy to use them as fill-in plays while eating a little bit of the chalk. With that in mind, trying to find the one pivot to differentiate yourself today is going to be key – which is where my focus on the Braves stack comes in as an opportunity to stack a strong offense in a good hitting spot. Good luck tonight all and keep an eye on the weather as it could easily turn a 9 game slate into a 7 game slate before we blink.

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