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Daily Games

MLB GPP Pivots: Saturday 8/1

by Brad Johnson
Updated On: August 1, 2020, 1:41 pm ET

This article outlines the best daily fantasy MLB GPP pivots of the day at every position. We take a comprehensive look to uncover these core recommendations, factoring respective salaries into the analysis.

Please note, these player picks were organized early in the day. For MLB contests, always check lineups and weather closer to game time. Rain, wind, or unexpected managerial decisions could open up additional sources of value. Be sure to keep an eye on the MLB Headlines and Injuries desk.

PITCHER

Drew Smyly – Giants (vs Rangers) – Yahoo: $29, DK: $7300, FD: $6100

Let’s be honest, you’ll probably never feel confident about using Smyly. I know I won’t. However, there are quite a few factors in favor of dusting him off tonight. The most obvious is the venue. Oracle Park is a haven for pitchers, especially the homer prone sort like Smyly. The Rangers offense is strikeout prone. As a result, Smyly projects to supply over a strikeout per inning as a result. The biggest concern is he’s not fully stretched out, adding risk of a short outing if he’s not efficient.

Going back to an uneven 2019 campaign, he made an adjustment late in his Rangers tenure that carried over to his time with the Phillies. He posted a mid-4.00s ERA despite coughing up an extreme home run. Now what if we cut that home run rate by 30 percent to account for Oracle Park? Suddenly, he starts to look more like a high-3.00s ERA pitcher with a strikeout per inning. That’s a DFS hero at these prices. Here’s the icing on the cake, Smyly’s 93.4-mph velocity through two appearances is a career-best by nearly two-mph.

 

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CATCHER

Salvador Perez – Royals (vs Gio Gonzalez) – Yahoo: $14, DK: $4100, FD: $2800

There isn’t really a chalky catcher unless people decide they want to pony up for Francisco Mejia (assuming he starts) as part of the Padres stack at Coors Field. You can certainly find cheaper picks than Perez, but none will have the advantage of batting in the heart of the lineup. Between Gonzalez and the White Sox bullpen this is a friendly matchup for the powerful slugger. Gonzalez typically works down in the zone, and Perez’s swing is geared to lift such pitches. His aggression should lead to several balls in play, although we’re really hoping for a home run.

Perez is the top catcher per our Rotoworld Player Projections.

FIRST BASE

Jose Abreu – White Sox (at Glenn Sparkman) – Yahoo: $19, DK: $4200, FD: $3000

The Royals have a bullpen game planned this evening. And the Kansas City relief corps is a tasty snack for a volatile offense like the White Sox. Abreu is consistently batting third. He has the makings of a steady high-floor pivot with enough ceiling to potentially keep pace with the Coors bats. The Royals bullpen presently has a 2.95 ERA, but it’s all smoke and mirrors. ERA estimators believe they should have roughly a 5.00 ERA. That jibes with the quality of their personnel.

SECOND BASE

Nick Madrigal – White Sox (at Glenn Sparkman) – Yahoo: $12, DK: $2800, FD: $2000

With Tim Anderson presumably sidelined (hip soreness), there’s a chance Madrigal will be immediately promoted to leadoff. If this happens, he’ll turn from cheeky nine-hole pivot to bargain chalk. Assuming the Sox remain cautious (they’ve steadfastly refused to move Luis Robert up in the lineup), Madrigal should receive four plate appearances against bad pitchers. The fleet-footed second baseman is a ball-in-play machine. Imagine if you took Luis Arraez then added speed and better plate discipline. Few batters have his multi-hit potential, although you’ll have to put up with almost no chance for a home run.

THIRD BASE

Yandy Diaz – Rays (at Wade LeBlanc) – Yahoo: $14, DK: $4200, FD: $2700

Diaz is off to an icy start at the plate, but it appears to be purely bad luck. Just as he always does, he’s making plenty of hard, low-angle contact. A matchup against LeBlanc, a homer prone southpaw with a slight fly ball tendency, is a near-ideal setting for Diaz. The be-muscled slugger has handedness platoon splits, albeit there’s some indication these are small sample artifacts. More interestingly, LeBlanc’s pitch usage might help Diaz to get lift the ball over a wall.

SHORTSTOP

Marcus Semien – Athletics (at Yusei Kikuchi) – Yahoo: $19, DK: $5000, FD: $3400

I could be wrong about this being a pivot since Semien might be the most popular shortstop outside of Coors Field. I’m betting on the duo of Fernando Tatis Jr. and Trevor Story to absorb the bulk of the high-end shortstop spending.

As for Semien, he’ll bat leadoff against a southpaw who has allowed a .305/.362/.543 batting line to right-handed hitters. Over a long career, Semien has a .276/.337/.474 line versus lefties. While he's earned a reputation as a lefty-masher, I’d argue it’s overstated. His plate discipline and contact profile are nearly the same against both pitcher types. Even so, you should pick Semien simply because he’s a good leadoff hitter against a highly exploitable pitching staff.

OUTFIELD

Jose Martinez – Rays (at Wade LeBlanc) – Yahoo: $14, DK: $4700, FD: $2900
Hunter Renfroe – Rays (at Wade LeBlanc) – Yahoo: $15, DK: $4400, FD: $2900

While we can’t be sure about Diaz’s platoon splits, Martinez is an undeniable lefty masher. His plate discipline and contact profile are both notably improved against southpaws, leading to a sharp uptick in doubles and home runs. And like Diaz, Martinez is better against fly ball pitchers. The Orioles bullpen is a wasteland. They just dumped one of their best relievers, Richard Bleier, for player to be named later.

No one, not even Giancarlo Stanton, is more likely to homer today than Renfroe. The potent slugger has extreme platoon splits. His plate discipline and batted ball profiles are both massively improved when facing a southpaw. For example, his strikeout rate drops from 31.5 percent against right-handers to just 20.5 percent versus southpaws.

One word of warning: LeBlanc leans on a changeup which can serve to nullify platoon advantages.

Kyle Lewis – Mariners (vs Mike Fiers) – Yahoo: $19, DK: $3900, FD: $3200

Few players are hotter than Lewis. Personally, I usually avoid the hot hand as it tends to be overly popular relative to expected output. However, Lewis probably slips through the cracks just because he plays for the Mariners. Shockingly, our Rotoworld Player Projections expect him to outperform several superstars and ALL of the outfielders playing at Coors Field.

A couple factors seemingly work in Lewis’ favor opposite Fiers. The righty slugger has all fields power and is seemingly willing to go with a pitch. Fiers will nibble the edges so it’s good that Lewis won’t be trying to pull everything. This also helps to explain why he reaches base often. This year, he’s reached base 72 percent of the time he’s put the ball in play (.722 BABIP). A more reasonable expectation might be somewhere around 33 percent of the time.

Brad Johnson

You can read more from Brad Johnson on Rotoworld, FanGraphs, and RotoFanatic. Find him on Patreon and Twitter @BaseballATeam.