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.
Pivot: Tom Koehler – Miami (FanDuel Price: $7,200)
Koehler isn’t a flashy pick; in fact, some would label him downright boring. However, he could be a very serviceable pitcher to stack around while taking on an anemic Atlanta lineup in one of the best pitcher-friendly environments around. Koehler tossed 6.1 innings with 2 earned runs and 6 strikeouts at Washington last week, and this draw is much more favorable. He could produce a similar, serviceable line tonight, in a nice position to get bonus points for the win (-140 favorite).
Pivot: Evan Gattis – Houston (FanDuel Price: $2,500)
He has to break out at some point, right? It could happen tonight, as Gattis will face Justin Verlander’s reverse-splits, allowing a .313 wOBA against right-handed hitters over the past three seasons. Not only that, but Gattis will enjoy a hitter-friendly environment in Houston, and the Astros rate as a top three offense in the night slate. He has upside for this too cheap salary.
Pivot: Justin Bour – Miami (FanDuel Price: $2,500)
I’m interested to see how popular Bour will actually be tonight. He has a great matchup against Bud Norris (.361 wOBA vs LHB), but Chris Davis and Prince Fielder will likely eat up a large chunk of the ownership percentage. Bour is playable in all formats, especially if you are trying to create enough cap space to squeeze Max Scherzer into your pitcher spot … Pedro Alvarez is a cheap, high-upside tournament pivot at first base as well.
Pivot: Josh Harrison – Pittsburgh (FanDuel Price: $2,600)
If you have been playing fantasy baseball over the past several seasons (or if you are a Pirates fan), then you probably realize that Harrison is one of the streakiest hitters in baseball. Well, he’s starting to warm into a patented hotstreak, reaching base four times over the past two games, collecting one run, one RBI, and three stolen bases. He’s a candidate for multiple hits, stolen bases, and runs in a non-imposing matchup vs Taylor Jungmann. The fact that he’s likely hitting 7th in the lineup will keep his ownership low despite the very plausible upside.
Pivot: Luis Valbuena – Houston (FanDuel Price: $2,400)
If you haven’t noticed, Valbuena is a frequent name within this MLB Pivot article. That’s because he’s cheap, hitting in an excellent ballpark, and holding inherent power upside. The matchup against Justin Verlander isn’t terrific, but Valbuena only need one pitch to pay dividends on this near-minimum salary. If you can’t reach top plays like Manny Machado or Adrian Beltre here, you may as well save some cap space while simultaneously investing in power upside.
Honestly, there aren’t many enticing pivot options at shortstop. This is one of the last positions I’m filling out in my lineup, essentially seeing how much cap space I have left over after I align my priority picks. Carlos Correa has a ton of upside, but he’s also very expensive, making it difficult to blend him with Max Scherzer at pitcher. Jonathan Villar may be my favorite “per dollar” filler of the position, assuming he’s hitting in the top-half of the lineup. Danny Espinosa is minimum-salary ($2,000) in a decent matchup, and I’d look to him as a tournament “swerve”.
Pivot 1: Ryan Braun – Milwaukee (FanDuel Price: $3,800)
Even though this is a nice matchup for Braun, I’m expecting him to slip through the cracks tonight. The emphasis will likely be on Texas, Baltimore, Miami, and Houston outfielders, and Milwaukee’s offense should be overlooked with a modest team total. That doesn’t mean we can rule out Braun, as he has an elite .426 wOBA and .293 ISO against left-handed pitchers. That cross-references well against Pittsburgh southpaw Jon Niese’s .320 wOBA susceptibility to right-handed bats. Even though PNC Park doesn’t cater to righty power, Braun didn’t have a problem smacking two long-shots yesterday.
Pivot 2: David Peralta – Arizona (FanDuel Price: $3,500)
Most people think of Petco Park in San Diego as a drastic pitcher-friendly environment. That’s true from a “macro perspective”, but taking a look closer tells a different story. The park is very tough on right-handed power, but actually profiles average to left-handed pull-hitters. Peralta can be considered one of those, and he’ll look to exploit San Diego pitcher Andrew Cashner, who struggled with a .360 wOBA vs left-handed hitters last season.