MLB DFS Picks and Pivots – Monday September 24
Welcome to the Monday 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.
After a wild Sunday of NFL DFS action in Week 3, we are here to kick off the FINAL week of MLB DFS action – just a few more days of regular season baseball and a handful of slates to play so let’s jump right in.
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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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Without further ado, let’s get into today’s slate!
MLB DFS – Starting Pitching Overview:
As if MLB DFS is not already full of variance, enter the last week of the regular season where the majority of the playoff spots are taken and you have a whole lot of teams with nothing to play for. So, let’s look to narrow down our player pool by finding the team right away that have something to play for –
- Oakland – has essentially locked up the second wild card but are still pushing the Yankees for home field in that game.
- Milwaukee, St. Louis and Colorado are three teams fighting for two playoff spots with the Rockies sitting 1.5 games outside looking in right for the wild card right now.
- The Cubs meanwhile have only a 2.5 game lead over Milwaukee for the NL Central lead while the Dodgers sit only 1.5 games ahead of the Rockies for the NL West title.
With the player pool narrowed to the teams with something to play for – it leaves us with three arms to consider building around at three very different price tiers – Clayton Kershaw, Cole Hamels and Tyler Anderson.
Clayton Kershaw ($19.5K) is the priciest of the arms in our player pool, getting a road start against Arizona, a team he has faced four times this season and has failed to top 20 fantasy points in three of those outings. This streak of simply average performances included his most recent turn against Arizona on September 1 when he went 7 innings with 3 K’s and 2 ER for only 15 fantasy points which although solid, is certainly not the vintage Kershaw we are used to paying for. In fact, in four starts in September, Kershaw is sporting a 19.5% K rate – pedestrian by any standards and if it was not for the name value here, I am not sure we would be willing to pay nearly $20K for him tonight.
Cole Hamels ($15.8K) may have let us down in a seemingly perfect spot against a watered down Arizona squad last time out, but at this price point tonight, I think we can go right back to him at home against the Pirates. Hamels has made two starts against this Pittsburgh team since joining the Cubs and has gone 12 scoreless innings with 12 K’s while putting up 21 and 30 fantasy points in those outings. The game will be in Wrigley Field so we do not have any Vegas data yet as the wind looks like it could be blowing across the field or slightly out to LF so we need to watch that as the information comes out during that day.
Tyler Anderson ($11.8K) is the cheap SP2 play on this slate as he gets the extreme Coors Field discount for a pitcher who has shown his ability to rack up big games regardless of venue. Anderson will take on the Phillies, a team he met once this year on the road and went for 26 fantasy points on the back of 6 K’s and 1 ER allowed in 7 innings of work. Anderson actually has a lower ERA at home this season and his K rate jumps 2% to 23% when pitching in Coors and will take on a Phillies team that has high K upside throughout the line-up.
UPDATE – Tyler Anderson has been SCRATCHED. Jon Gray will start in his place.
As much as I respect Kershaw, I think taking the savings on Hamels and Anderson gives you a path to load up on bats while locking in two arms with paths to 20+ fantasy points night which honestly is all I think we need on a night where the bats are where we make the biggest impact.
MLB DFS – Top Hitting Spots:
We have a Rockies team with everything to play for, in the best hitting environment on the slate and the highest team total – yeah, I think we know where to start tonight. The breakdown against Zach Eflin is pretty straight forward – you attack him with left-handed batters and avoid the right-handed batters.
Eflin on the season is a fly-ball pitcher to lefties and a ground ball pitcher to righties with an elevated .215 ISO mark to LHB and a 1.5 HR/9 rate which is nearly double his mark against right-handed hitters. Charlie Blackmon, David Dahl and Carlos Gonzalez make for the perfect platoon trio here as all three batters have a .190+ ISO mark against RHP this season and you can easily add-on someone like Nolan Arenado if you want the full on Rockies stack.
The Dodgers bats are hopefully going to be over-looked tonight with a 3.8 run total which is nearly a full run lower than their season average as they take on LHP Robbie Ray. Now Ray certainly has elite K ability but there are a few metrics and game notes here that make this a high upside spot for the right-handed heavy Dodger line-up.
First, the roof is expected to be open at Chase Field all week for this series and the temperatures are going to be in the high 80’s to low 90’s which makes this arguably some of the best hitting weather on the slate.
Secondly, for as good as Ray can be – what is his weakness in 2018? He is a fly-ball pitcher with a 46% HC rate against right-handed batters – so combined that tendency with a line-up loaded with RHB in hot weather and you have all the makings for a Ray blow-up spot here. We have four batters in the Dodgers projected line-up with 200+ ISO marks versus LHP this season – Chris Taylor, Justin Turner, Manny Machado and Matt Kemp – so using the Dodgers as a secondary power stack around the Rockies here tonight gives you considerable HR upside where the ownership should be deflated due to the name value of Ray and low Vegas total.
The Cubs will take on Jameson Taillon in Wrigley and there are two guys who have some serious BvP numbers against the Pirates right-hander. Javier Baez is 10 for 16 with 4 doubles, 2 HR and a .625 ISO against Taillon while Anthony Rizzo is 9 for 18 with 2 HR’s and a near .400 ISO mark against the Pirates hurler. BvP is not something I look at a lot, but in division match-ups like this I do think it is helpful as this is a match-up the hitters see often and looking at BvP can be a useful metric for understanding which pitchers they see well within their division.
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: Cole Hamels ($15.8K)
SP: Tyler Anderson ($11.8K) (SCRATCHED)
IF: Justin Turner ($9.3K)
IF: Manny Machado ($9.2K)
IF: Javier Baez ($9.3K)
OF: Charlie Blackmon ($10K)
OF: Carlos Gonzalez ($8.6K)
OF: David Dahl ($9.6K)
UTIL: Matt Kemp ($7.5K)
UTIL: Anthony Rizzo ($8.6K)
Slate Overview: Of course Anderson gets scratched – gotta love late season MLB DFS! My initial take is simply pivot to Kershaw and find some cheap value bats like Scott Kingery ($5.4K in Coors) to make it work. Play smart tonight all!
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