MLB DFS Picks and Pivots – Thursday August 30

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 25: German Marquez #48 of the Colorado Rockies pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning at Coors Field on August 25, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. Players are wearing special jerseys with their nicknames on them during Players' Weekend. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - AUGUST 25: German Marquez #48 of the Colorado Rockies pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning at Coors Field on August 25, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. Players are wearing special jerseys with their nicknames on them during Players' Weekend. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
CINCINNATI, OH – AUGUST 29: Jesus Aguilar #24 of the Milwaukee Brewers celebrates with Mike Moustakas #18 after hitting a home run in the 10th inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on August 29, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) MLB DFS /

Welcome to the Thursday 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.

My goodness – have the Brewers and Reds stopped scoring yet? Depending on how much exposure you had to the slugfest in Great American Ballpark likely determined your cash position on a night where these two teams combined for a whopping 25 runs with Christian Yelich and Mike Moustakas coming in as the first and fourth overall raw point performers on the night. Personally my saving grace on this MLB DFS slate was having an essentially un-owned Johan Camargo rack up 28 FPTS as part of my low-owned Braves stack and I guessed right with Manny Machado as Mike Minor continued to do his thing, limiting damage to two solo HR’s from Machado and Bellinger and stifling the rest of the popular Dodgers stacks.

We have some BIG news at Fantasy CPR as we are now looking for PAID writers to join our team to write about fantasy sports. Seasonal or DFS, any sport you want – get your voice heard and get paid for talking fantasy sports. Apply today HERE!

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!

HOUSTON, TX – APRIL 25: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros pitches in the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Minute Maid Park on April 25, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

MLB DFS – Starting Pitching Overview

We get a nice 8 game MLB DFS slate on this Thursday with no weather issues and some spots that initially look to be ones that become core parts of our roster build. Let me start with the player that jumped off the page to me at first glance and although he is not even remotely close to the most popular – this player is going to be first in all my line-ups tonight and sets the tone for the rest of my roster build.

Over the last month, this pitcher, who is priced as the 6th most expensive arm on FantasyDraft at $15.9K, has a 30% K rate spanning 6 starts with a 13.2% swinging strike rate while averaging 26.2 fantasy points per start on FantasyDraft with every single game being over the 20 FPT mark. Tonight, this pitcher gets the single largest ballpark shift as he heads to the best pitcher’s park in baseball to face a line-up with a 26% projected K rate and oh by the way – did I mentioned he is only $15.9K.

German Marquez at San Diego is arguably my favorite play on this slate based off match-up alone and when you add in his elite recent form and this crazy cheap price tag – this is an all-in spot for me and even with the assumption he becomes the chalk SP2, I plan on being overweight on the field.

We actually have a pretty strong strikeout arm slate tonight as we have five of the top twenty strikeout arms over the last month taking the hill as all four hurlers have a 25% or higher K rate during the last 30 days. We already mentioned Marquez, but I did want to point out that Rick Porcello (30%), Mike Foltynewicz (28.4%) and Rich Hill (25.2%) were on this list and with Porcello in that recent form at home against the K happy White Sox, there is an argument to be made for the Red Sox right-hander.

Justin Verlander ($23.3K) is the fifth member of that list, second in all of baseball during that time frame behind Jacob “Cy” deGrom with a 34.5% K rate which is actually a tick above his 33.5% season long average and will get a home start tonight against the Angels.

Verlander has made four starts against the Angels this season and is priced at the lowest point for any start this year which is odd considering the success he has had against this Angels team. Now it could be his previous start where he “only” got to 18.7 FPTS against this Angels team and my hope is that recency bias in the game log keeps people away because his other three starts were all ceiling type games for Verlander – going for 31.3, 35.3 and 39.7 FPTS against the Angels.

Not only will the Angels be without Justin Upton but they also have announced Albert Pujols will be out for the year and that is a sneaky boost to Verlander’s upside here today as you are replacing Pujols and his paltry 12% K rate against RHP and likely replacing him in the line-up with Kaleb Cowart who has a 32% K rate against RHP in 2018.

One of the reasons I am fine paying up for Verlander here in all formats really goes back to the price point on Marquez as we can roster two arms with 30%+ K rates over the last month and still have $7.6K per batter to fill out our line-ups which is more than enough to build a solid line-up on this slate.

ATLANTA, GA – AUGUST 29: Johan Camargo #17 of the Atlanta Braves celebrates with Ronald Acuna Jr. #13 after hitting a three-run homer in the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at SunTrust Park on August 29, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

MLB DFS – Top Hitting Spots:

The Yankees have by far the highest total on this slate, well over 6 runs at home against Francisco Liriano but after failing in similar chalk spots the last few nights against the White Sox, I wonder how willing people will be to go back here? Now let’s not oversell the Yankees being cold here – they have a league leading 13 HR’s over the last week and have still scored 35 runs which is 6th most in baseball and frankly I think most will see the run total a full run higher than the next closest team (Boston) and jam in all the Bronx Bombers they can get.

Now much like the argument I made to fade the Dodgers last night against Mike Minor – I will make a similar one for the Yankees against Liriano – in 20 starts this season, you know how many times the Tigers left-hander has given up more than 4 runs? THREE TIMES and only one time since June – so 85% of the time, Liriano is able to limit the damage to 4 or fewer runs and oh by the way, much like Minor – he has only given up multiple HR’s in four of his twenty starts so although the match-up may look good on paper, this could be a tilt spot for the chalk offense once again.

Writing Picks and Pivots everyday during a long season like MLB, you tend to get into grooves where you focus on teams or players just as a result of your research in previous days bleeding into that days slate. Yesterday as you all know, I was on the Atlanta Braves stack with the assumption they would be completely ignored and when lock hit and I saw the ownership percentages on guys like Freddie Freeman (8%), Ronald Acuna Jr. (6%), Ozzie Albies (2%), Johan Camargo (2%) and Tyler Flowers (less than 1%), I felt really good about how I read the slate and I started to wonder why more people and why I haven’t been on this team more as a stack throughout the year.

Digging into yesterday’s slate, I jotted down some notes – the Braves have the 4th highest ISO against LHP in 2018 at .182 and if you look at the players in this line-up, their individual metrics all jump off the chart against southpaws. Albies, Freeman, Acuna and Camargo all have .210 or higher ISO marks on the season against LHP while the secondary players like Kurt Suzuki and Adam Duvall have massive .421 and .290 ISO marks respectively against LHP since the start of 2017.

For as much as I pound home my love for the Dodgers on a nightly basis, this Braves projected line-up tonight has a .230 ISO mark since 2017 against LHP with 6 of the 8 batters (exclude Markakis and Swanson) all with .200+ individual ISO marks against LHP.

Now hold your nose becomes here comes the cold water. (LOSE YOURSELF – sorry, got sidetracked)

Mike Montgomery on the other side of this match-up is a an elite ground ball arm that has limited batters to a 29% HC rate since the start of the 2017 so metrics wise it becomes a case of which side you believe in more – the Braves power versus lefties or Montgomery’s ability to limit damage?

The Braves have only a 4.25 run total on the slate which is actually a half run lower than their season average which should limit the ownership here much like it did last night and the fact that Montgomery has a .66 HR/9 rate will make this a pitcher that most will not want to pick on.

Now the one thing to note here is Montgomery is making his first start since leaving his last outing due to shoulder inflammation and spending time on the DL without making a rehab assignment, so there is a legit question to how long he is able to go in this game. When you couple that with the fact the Cubs bullpen was used for 6 innings against the Mets across two games, including the continuation of Tuesday’s suspended game, this could be a spot where the Braves get to the Cubs pen early assuming Montgomery is unable to provide much length.

DENVER, CO – AUGUST 25: German Marquez #48 of the Colorado Rockies pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning at Coors Field on August 25, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. Players are wearing special jerseys with their nicknames on them during Players’ Weekend. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/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: Justin Verlander ($23.3K)

SP: German Marquez ($15.9K)

IF: Ozzie Albies ($8.6K)

IF: Freddie Freeman ($8.1K)

IF: Johan Camargo ($7.5K)

OF: Ronald Acuna Jr. ($9.7K)

OF: Adam Duvall ($6.9K)

OF: Chad Pinder ($6.5K)

UTIL: Kyle Seager ($6.8K)

UTIL: Steven Souza Jr. ($6.7K)

Slate Overview: Looking at this roster build that is centered around a Verlander/Marquez combination it screams cash game build but with obvious GPP upside as both arms have over 30% K rate in the last month of action. The key to playing both arms is finding a mid-range stack to fit in and outside of Acuna, the Braves feel simply too cheap considering the caliber of hitter you are getting for guys like Albies/Freeman/Camargo/Duvall at their respective price points. If you can find a couple one-off cheap plays with upside like Seager and Souza in this example, the build really comes together but keep an eye on line-ups today and see if we get any additional value plays (think Craig Gentry at $5.5K the last two days) as using a play like that as a one-off will help you upgrade another bat in your line-up. Good luck all!

Next. DFS MLB Game by Game Breakdowns. dark

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!