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MLB DFS Pitching Analysis: April 13, 2021

Our MLB DFS lineups don’t start and end with pitching. I’m not saying to punt pitcher every night or even every now and then. I’m just stressing that each and every slate does not rest upon our pitching. But the pitcher position is so vital because it’s the slot where we can get the most accurate projection in an extremely volatile wing of DFS.

Our pitching isn’t just a source of fantasy points. The price tags on pitchers make it so they shape they dictate the freedoms and restrictions of building our lineups. Before reading this article, it’s highly suggested that you read my article, “DFS Pitching Primer,” so the concepts discussed here make more sense.

That we’re not selecting the best players. We’re constructing the lineups which carry the most leverage without sacrificing many projected fantasy points.

Tonight’s slate features a wide variety of pitching quality, but we’re gonna focus on the top — the best pitcher, the best play, and the best contrarian option — or else some poor editor is gonna have to sift through 3,000 words, as there is just so much really good pitching.

The best pitcher of these three is Shane Bieber and it isn’t particularly close. His 3.09 SIERA, 11.99 K/9, and 27.9% K-BB rate all lead the slate. And his matchup against the White Sox is not as scary as many think it is. The White Sox only have a 102 wRC+ against right-handed pitching and they carry a 24.5% K rate. Vegas has the implied run total for the White Sox around 3.5, which is totally fine. And Bieber is about $1k too cheap on both sites for his skill level. That all said, Bieber won’t carry the most ownership.

Trevor Bauer will likely actually be the heavily-owned chalk tonight because he’s a couple hundred cheaper than Bieber and is projecting better across the industry, despite being far short of Bieber in SIERA at 3.77 and overall skill. There are three key reasons why:

      1. The Rockies are a trainwreck. Forget the home-road garbage. We don’t have to speculate on the extremes of Coors Field. The Rockies active roster has a 79 wRC+ against right-handed pitchers with a 25.1% K rate.

      Is Trevor Story legit-good? Sure. Is Charlie Blackmon nothing to slouch about? Sure. Does C.J. Cron have the type of power that transcends the Coors advantage? Sure. Can Ryan McMahon be a real thing? Sure.

      But the rest of the Rockies lineup is hot garbage and none of the guys I mentioned are elite. According to the RotoGrinders Plate IQ tool, their projected starting lineup has an Earth-shattering 27.2% K rate.

      2. Bauer’s environment is better for run prevention. Guaranteed Rate Field is a low-key big-time hitters park. It has a 102 park factor for wOBA and a 116 for home runs, according to EV Analytics, compared to 101 and 109 for Dodger Stadium. The rumor is that Dodgers Stadium’s home run factor goes down at night because of the marine layer. Not sure I believe it, but still a significant park advantage for Bauer.

      Vegas sees (1) and (2) to give Colorado a 2.51 implied total — almost a full run under the White Sox.

      3. Bauer’s one of the best pitchers in the league. Not like Bieber, but still… Bieber is probably a top-three pitcher in baseball, while Bauer is somewhere in the middle or bottom of the top-12, depending on who you ask. The most valuable quality Bauer possesses after his 11.23 K/9 and sub-4.00 SIERA is his ability to pitch deep into games. We get points for innings and more innings equal more Ks. His 6.36 innings pitched per start is elite in today’s game and his three complete game shutouts (CGSO) since 2019 as tied with one guy in MLB over that span.

This is the worst wRC+ versus any handedness in the league and one of the worst K rates in a much better ballpark for pitching than Bieber has to face. Add Bauer’s leash and there is legitimate CGSO upside for Bauer tonight.

That said, projecting considerably lower than Bauer, there’s Lucas Giolito. His matchup isn’t as finger-lickin’ juicy as Bauer’s and he’s pitching in the same park as Bieber, but no one’s gonna play him. His 3.48 SIERA is better than Bauer’s. His 11.89 K/9 is higher than Bauer’s. And his 24.6% K-BB rate is higher than Bauer’s.

Cleveland doesn’t strike out much (22.9% against right-handers), but their 90 wRC+ against right-handers is awful. Vegas has the game as a pick-em, so the implied total for Cleveland is even with the White Sox.

In cash games, we play Bauer. In smaller tournaments, we take a stand on Bauer or Bieber. But in large-field tournaments where we need more leverage over the field of entrants, Giolito has to be in the mix. If we’re maximum multi-entering or even playing 20-plus lineups, we should consider lineups without any of the three, as the pool of SP2s is about as deep as it gets.

All stats cited are since 2019, unless otherwise noted.


MLB DFS Pitching Analysis: April 6, 2021

Our MLB DFS lineups don’t start and end with pitching. My first five-figure tournament score came on a night where Collin McHugh scored negative points, I think–or maybe it was, like, six points. Extremely flukey, as I made the big money because Justin Turner hit three HRs for me at nearly no ownership. I’m not saying to put pitcher every night or even every now and then. I’m just stressing that each and every slate does not rest upon our pitching.

The pitcher position is so vital because it’s the slot where we can get the most accurate projection in an extremely volatile wing of DFS.

Our pitching isn’t just a source of fantasy points. The price tags on pitchers make it so they shape they dictate the freedoms and restrictions of building our lineups. Before reading this article, it’s highly suggested that you read my article, “DFS Pitching Primer,”so the concepts discussed here make more sense.

That we’re not selecting the best players to win tournaments. We’re constructing the lineups which carry the most leverage without sacrificing many projected fantasy points.
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DFS Pitching Primer

Pitching can be the spot of our lineups where we experience the lowest degree of variance in a sport full of volatility. We’re not going to explore how to minimize variance, but how to make the best plays tailored for our lineups to fit the contests we’re playing using projections and leverage.

A lot of things factor into a pitcher scoring fantasy points via strikeouts, innings, and run prevention. A pitcher’s skill is pretty important, but what’s the best way to gauge a pitcher’s skill? The answer is mostly through the predictive analytics of their past performance, which ought to be distinguished from the descriptive analytics.

Projection

We get fantasy points for outs, Ks, and Ws (on FD, we also get the points for the QS); it’s that simple. We lose points for ER on both sites, baserunners on DK. Keep it simple. Find a predictive run prevention metric between xERA, FIP, xFIP, or SIERA. Decide between the per-nine rates or per-100 batter-faced stats like K/9 versus K%. I prefer xERA, based on the Statcast numbers, or SIERA, as they isolate that over which the pitcher has the most control. I prefer K/9 because K% can double-count for events already recognized in the run preventers, as we’re really just looking to project Ks with that metric.

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