The purpose of this article is to outline potential popular selections at every position, then give some sneaky pivot plays with lower ownership rates for tournament consideration. Essentially, it’s your traditional tournament picks segment with an emphasis on getting away from those groupthink selections of the day.
In other words, I’m playing devil’s advocate in going against the grain. Hopefully, this will help find some lower-owned pivot plays to accompany the popular, well-aligned picks in your FanDuel lineups.
We are focusing on the main slate starting at 7:05 ET.
Pivot: Miguel Gonzalez – Chicago White Sox (FanDuel Price: $7,400)
Would you like the good news or bad news first? The bad news: Gonzalez is a severe regression candidate from his current 3.18 ERA. In fact, his 4.94 xFIP not only comes as a huge disparity to that impressive ERA, but that mark ranks 13th highest among MLB starters.
The good news: This may not be the time or place for Gonzalez to crash and burn (yet). His opponent, San Diego, currently ranks 24th in both wOBA and wRC+ against right-handed pitching. Gonzalez’s main susceptibility comes against quality lefties, holding a .334 wOBA, 1.33 HR/9 split in that regard. The Padres don’t have many lefties in the lineup, let alone guys we are overly concerned about. Ryan Schimpf is the only exception, and Gonzalez will need to pitch carefully around him in order to post 40+ FP for the fourth time this season. He’s not a bad risk/reward proposition despite the shaky overall profile. At least we know Gonzalez is capable of upside with a nice matchup to keep outperforming.
Pivot: James McCann – Detroit (FanDuel Price: $2,500)
LAA pitcher Matt Shoemaker has been very generous this season. He currently holds a 5.22 xFIP that ranks fifth worst among qualified major league starters. Walks and a .331 wOBA, 1.33 HR/9 split against right-handed hitters are the main factors contributing to that designation. McCann is a sneaky-good way to exploit that, warming up with six hits, two homers, and five RBI over his past four starts.
Pivot: Albert Pujols – LA Angels (FanDuel Price: $2,800)
While we are talking about pitchers with an inflated xFIP mark, no regular starter has been worse than Jordan Zimmermann (5.66 xFIP) in that category. He continues to be aggressive in the zone, something that has served as his calling card for several years. However, he doesn’t have the command or velocity to back that up. His splits of .382 wOBA, 1.59 HR/9 vs right-handed hitters over the past two seasons bodes well for Pujols’ upside.
Pivot: Jed Lowrie – Oakland (FanDuel Price: $2,500)
Lowrie is an underrated value option with a premium lineup spot and matchup tonight. He’ll face Andrew Cashner and his .360 wOBA, 1.40 HR/9 split against left-handed hitters. The park upgrade in Texas certainly helps as well. The switch-hitting second baseman remains dirt-cheap despite racking up seven hits, two homers, and seven runs over his past six starts.
Pivot: Yunel Escobar – LA Angels (FanDuel Price: $3,400)
I’m piggybacking the write-up of Albert Pujols here. I laid out the details of Detroit pitcher Jordan Zimmermann’s demise earlier, and Escobar is another LAA right-handed hitter to take advantage (along with Mr. Trout). Yunel will likely go underrated due to headliners like Sano, Lamb, and others holding a similar salary.
Pivot: Asdrubal Cabrera – NY Mets (FanDuel Price: $3,100)
We aren’t sure if Cabrera will rejoin the lineup tonight, as he’s currently dealing with a thumb issue. However, he has been pinch hitting over the past few games, so progress has seemingly been made. Most people will avoid Asdrubal due to the orange “day-to-day” designation next to his name on FanDuel. However, if the switch-hitting shortstop gets the start, he’ll have a very good matchup to exploit (Garza’s .364 wOBA, 1.50 HR/9 vs LHB) in hitter-friendly Milwaukee.
Pivot 1: Matt Joyce – Oakland (FanDuel Price: $2,700)
There’s a chance Joyce will be hitting in the bottom-half of Oakland’s order, but I like him regardless. As mentioned earlier, Andrew Cashner of Texas has a vulnerability against left-handed hitters. His inflated walk rate doesn’t do many favors either. Joyce is a veteran bat with a strong profile against right-handed pitching. He should see several RBI opportunities to make some fantasy noise tonight. The hitting upgrade in Globe Life Park helps the cause as well.
Pivot 2: Eddie Rosario – Minnesota (FanDuel Price: $2,600)
Rosario had a 15 game hitting-streak snapped over the weekend, but there’s a decent chance he’ll start a new one this evening. Cleveland pitcher Josh Tomlin has been notorious for coughing up the deep ball over the past few years, and most people will look towards Dozier and Sano to exploit that susceptibility. Let’s not forget about Eddie Rosario, who usually hits down in the Minnesota order. Cleveland’s ballpark plays much better for left-handed power than the impedingly high wall (right-center) of Rosario’s home in Target Field.
Whenever Arizona has a lofty run scoring projection, I seem to mention Brandon Drury ($3100) as a sneaky piece within that. He doesn’t have the name recognition of other D-Back hitters, but there’s a chance he’ll jump on Tyler Glasnow’s .356 wOBA vs RHB.
Keeping the theme at second base, I already mentioned Ryan Schimpf ($3400) when talking about White Sox pitcher Miguel Gonzalez. As outlined in that write-up, Gonzalez is a regression candidate and Schimpf is one of the few Padres who can exploit his weakness to left-handed hitters.
Oakland pitcher Jesse Hahn has been all over the place this season. There’s a decent chance we’ll see his bad side tonight, given the shift to hitter-friendly Globe Life Park. Hahn carries a .360 wOBA and 2.04 HR/9 vs LHB from last season, something Joey Gallo ($3600) and Nomar Mazara ($3300) could use to their benefit.
Kennys Vargas ($3000) follows in the footsteps of teammate Eddie Rosario. I’m not sure if Vargas will be underrated or not, but the high opportunity cost at first base (with a loaded slate) leaves me to believe his homerun upside will have a lower-than-deserved ownership rate.
Staying at first base, Logan Morrison’s ($3300) salary has shot up in the midst of a power-binge with four homers over the past eight games. Most people will encounter sticker shock, but don’t rule him out with a park upgrade in Boston. It just so happens that he has solid numbers against Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello as well.