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: Carlos Martinez – St. Louis (FanDuel Price: $9,500)
Martinez is usually a popular selection anytime he takes the bump, but I’m guessing that won’t be the case this evening. He’s an underdog on the road against the Mets, opposing Noah Syndergaard. For that reason, more ownership will likely flood to favorites like Arrieta, Sanchez, Keuchel, and Syndergaard himself. However, Martinez is a high strikeout pitcher you’d love to have in your corner for a reduced ownership rate. The Mets rank sixth in strikeout rate (22.8%) and 23rd overall in wOBA (.309), which signifies a pretty good matchup in New York’s pitcher-friendly park. Granted, the odds at a victory (and a boost in fantasy points) isn’t as high as we’d like. It is possible that the scrappy Cardinals’ lineup could produce a few runs against Syndergaard while Martinez blanks the Mets’ offense. If that becomes a reality, you’ll find yourself ahead of the pack. This is the type of “game theory” approach we are looking to deploy in tournaments.
Pivot: Robinson Chirinos – Texas (FanDuel Price: $2,900)
Chirinos is no stranger to the FanDuel MLB Pivots column, as his “boom or bust” tendencies are often highlighted in tournaments. He hits low in the Texas order, which will likely suppress the ownership rate, along with several holes in his game log. Still, we can’t deny Chirinos’ ability to rack up an impressive fantasy line, considering his two homer, three RBI (40.9 FP) performance last week. The ball should be flying around the park in Texas tonight, as the Rangers check in with the third highest run scoring projection. Chirinos should see several RBI situations to potentially feed his upside.
Pivot: Justin Smoak – Toronto (FanDuel Price: $2,800)
Smoak is often an overlooked member of this powerful Toronto offense, but I wouldn’t ignore his agreeable price/upside combination this evening. First off, we’ll need to double-check that he’s in the lineup. If that’s the case, he could be in line for a nice fantasy performance against Colin Rea and the unimpressive San Diego bullpen. You’ll get some salary relief from the “top notch” first basemen without sacrificing too much upside … I also like Ji-Man Choi ($2,300) of the Angels (against Ian Kennedy) as a cheap pivot play at this position.
Pivot: Devon Travis – Toronto (FanDuel Price: $2,700)
Travis holds a lot of the same rationale discussed with his teammate, Justin Smoak. The Toronto second baseman hits towards the bottom of the order, so I’m hoping that will suppress his ownership rate. Frankly, the price is unbelievably good for a high-upside player within the highest projected scoring team of the day. Don’t worry about Travis hitting low in the order either, as the Blue Jays will likely be rolling their lineup over with ease. Travis has racked up multiple hits in four of the past seven games, and he has a great shot at getting another.
Pivot: Maikel Franco – Philadelphia (FanDuel Price: $3,200)
Franco has been a frequent flyer in the MLB Pivots column as of late. People tend to forget about his upside because of the overall struggles of this Philadelphia offense. Despite playing in a pitcher-friendly park, I really like Franco’s prospects tonight. Miami tosser Jared Cosart is making his first start since April (oblique injury), allowing 14 runs over 14.2 innings so far this season. In other words, he’s a hittable pitcher, and Franco could jump on his susceptible .347 wOBA and 18.9% HR/FB rate against right-handed hitters.
Pivot: Didi Gregorius – NY Yankees (FanDuel Price: $2,600)
This may seem like a strange recommendation of the surface, but please hear me out: Gregorius has actually been very good against left-handed pitching this season, holding an impressive .377 wOBA split. He’s facing Dallas Keuchel (who hasn’t lived up to his Cy Young form) in a ballpark that accentuates left-handed power … I’m also looking towards J.J. Hardy ($2,500) as a cheap, lower-owned shortstop.
Pivot 1: Jake Smolinski – Oakland (FanDuel Price: $2,600)
I recommended Smolinski in last Thursday’s FanDuel MLB Pivots article, which actually became the beginning of a nice hotstreak. The Oakland outfielder has racked up eight hits, two homers, and five RBI over his past four games. Smolinski is a platoon bat utilized against left-handed pitching, and that’s the case against Texas hurler Martin Perez, who holds a .338 wOBA vs RHB. The park shift (and hot weather) in Texas should help Smolinski’s upside.
Pivot 2: Alex Dickerson – OF – San Diego (FanDuel Price: $2,200)
Aaron Sanchez of Toronto will likely be a highly utilized pitcher this evening. There’s plenty of rationale behind it, as the All-Star has been very good lately, the Padres love to strikeout, and he’s a massive home favorite. However, we must recognize Sanchez’s troubles against left-handed hitters (.339 wOBA, 21.8% HR/FB rate), leaving the door open for a few San Diego bats to come through with a nice game. Yangervis Solarte and Alex Dickerson are the two most capable lefties to take advantage of those splits (and the park boost in Toronto). The latter is coming off a sweet 3-5, double, homer, RBI, three run performance yesterday.