DFS Pitching Preview: August 9, 2022

Our pitching in MLB DFS isn’t just a source of fantasy points. The price tags on pitchers make it so 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.

Coors Field is on this slate and it’s free on FanDuel, while about half of the players are underpriced on DraftKings. So this could be a day where we’re all looking at aces for our lineup because they’re affordable with Coors stacks. And it’s a great day to be about the four aces.

ACES: Cole, Ohtani, Wheeler, Bieber

Gerrit Cole, Shohei Ohtani, and Zack Wheeler are pretty bunched up near the top for me. Cole is the best per-inning pitcher on the slate and leads these four slate with 131.1 innings pitched. He has the worst matchup in the Mariners by a fairly wide margin. It’s easy to pivot off of him, but it’s so easy to go overweight on him without investing in too many lineups because he’ll be greatly underowned. We shouldn’t get too bogged down in matchups for elite pitchers in mass-multi-entry. In single-entry, we’re more concerned with not deviating from the optimal too much.

Ohtani has the better matchup than Wheeler, but it’s close, as both the Athletics and Marlins are bad. I’ll gloss over the great K/9 and BB/9 to just say that both will be adequately owned, so I’m not looking to go overweight. Ohtani’s ownership is always up there. If I’m gonna pay up for a relatively high-owned pitcher on a slate where ownership might be so bunched up that it doesn’t matter, so the top-owned Shane Bieber is my primary target.

Bieber is fourth on the slate in SIERA since 2021, but it’s 3.28. He’s outside of the top five in K/9, but still, it’s 10.57. And — oh, by the way — he’s a right-handed pitcher against the Tigers; an autoplay that prints on the regular.

The Tigers’ projected lineup has a .293 wOBA, a .137 ISO, and a 24.8% strikeout rate against righties since 2021. Moreover, three of the top-four in their projected lineup — Riley Greene, Javier Báez, and Miguel Cabrera — have groundball rates at or over 50%.

And we haven’t even looked at Bieber’s leash, yet. He should cook ’em up here, but even if he gives up two or three runs, Bieber will go deep into this game. He’s gone six-plus innings in 12 of his last 14 starts and in 15 of his last 18. Seven of his last 13 starts have been seven-plus innings. Dialing up Bieber for seven or eight strikeouts in seven-plus innings is completely reasonable. He might not project as well as Cole, but I’m going with the elite righty with a long-assed leash against the Tigers in single-entry.

His price is so nuts on DraftKings that Bieber can be our automatic SP2 with Cole, Ohtani, and Wheeler.

Back to Wheeler, it’s easy to forget him with the other three options because his strikeout matchup isn’t generous. But that’s precisely why we shouldn’t forget him. The field looks like they won’t go 10% on him, so you can be for damned sure that we should want more than 10%. He’s K-per-inning is just too dependable and he’s got a leash worth mentioning, as well.

We’re talkin’ about going seven innings in each of his last three starts, five of his last six starts, and six of his last nine starts. In a favorable matchup with that K-per-inning baked in, 25-plus on DraftKings and 40-plus on FanDuel is one of the simplest bets we can make.

PER-INNING ACES: Peralta, Cobb

Freddy Peralta is a hell of a per-inning pitcher, despite over 3.00 BB/9. His strikeout stuff is right there with Cole and Ohtani, among the best in the league. The problem is that he isn’t a very economical pitcher, as it is, and will be limited to around 80-85 pitches.

Alex Cobb has been a wizard this season: 3.06 SIERA, 9.48 K/9, 0.61 HR/9 on a 3.6% barrel rate. This is elite and he’s way too cheap for the efficiency. He won’t go seven innings very often, but he’s gone six-plus in five of his last six starts; not including 5.2 in the one outlier. I don’t care about this matchup with the Padres. Cobb’s command and power prevention are speaking for themselves. If we wanna load up on Coors or Coors with the Blue Jays, we can simply pair Bieber-Cobb at pitcher on DraftKings.


It always feels a bit ridiculous to play Charlie Morton on a stacked pitching slate. But these are the slates where we don’t need many lineups to go overweight on a polarizing pitcher, who can strike out eight in six or get blown up for six in three. Morton is about risk tolerance. The matchup sucks, but the matchup doesn’t matter when he’s on. It’s just impossible to know which Morton shows up.


The top of the pitching pyramid is so loaded and noisy that it’s difficult to see the whole forest for the trees. Alek Manoah and Carlos Carrasco are simple: Manoah leads the slate in innings pitched this season (132.0) and has a neutral matchup against a right-handed-heavy lineup in a tough ballpark for righty power; Carrasco has an excellent matchup for run prevention and strikeouts (28.9% against righties since 2021) in a pitcher-friendly ballpark.

No one’s playing Cobb, Manoah, Morton, or Carrasco, so we can sprinkle them around pretty generously and be overweight on the field. The four aces project to be the best, but we can’t just play Cole-Bieber-Coors and call it a day because everyone’s doing that. The cool thing about being contrarian by spending up or down is that our entire build becomes unique.

Alex Sonty is a professional DFS and poker player, while contributing to RotoGrinders and FanGraphs, as well as serving as a part-time political science professor in Chicago, IL. He’s been playing fantasy sports since 1996 and entered the DFS realm in 2014, currently playing high-stakes MLB and NFL cash games and GPPs. He is a Chicago Tribune and SB Nation alum, while holding a J.D./M.A. and L.L.M. from DePaul University.

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