DFS Pitching Preview: July 5, 2022 by Alex Sonty July 5, 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. Usually, I come into this space with a narrowed-down pitcher pool and discuss how I plan to treat that pool. Today, I don’t even have a pool, yet. So, we’re just gonna sort by some data points and see what happens. SORT BY SIERA My spreadsheet naturally sorts by SIERA when I import the starting pitcher pool, so let’s look at the top-5 since 2021 (2022 in parentheses): Jeffrey Springs, 2.89 (3.09) Michael Kopech, 3.54 (4.58) Alex Wood 3.59 (3.58) Luis Garcia, 3.79 (3.56) Mitch White, 3.83 (3.83) Right off the bat, Springs stand out. Way out. He’s also the only pitcher on the slate with over 11.00 K/9 since 2021. Then, I notice that Kopech’s having a rough season. His K/9 is way down to 8.34 this season, while his BB/9 is way up to 4.10. Against a sneaky-tough Twins lineups, we can cross him off pretty easily when we see that Wood is right there with him in a better matchup in a closed dome and Garcia draws the Royals. The problem with Garcia is that his 1.53 HR/9 sticks out like a sore thumb. I’m not worried about this, though, because that’s the one concern and the Royals don’t have much power. The argument against Wood is one of recency bias. He hasn’t finished six innings since June 13. He got knocked around by the Braves once, which is fine, but also by the Pirates and the Tigers, which is very much not fine. Otherwise, though, he went seven and six innings on June 8 and June 13, so the leash we want is there. Wood’s volume seems to rest in the hands of Wood, so we should like him in an average matchup. The Diamondbacks are better against left-handed pitching, but they’re still just average. Circling back to Springs, his K/9 is only 9.75 this season, but that ranks second on the slate (excluding Spencer Howard, who’s only pitched 6.2 innings). Per-inning, he’s the best on the slate. And if you’re questioning his volume, I wouldn’t. He’s gonna five-plus innings in six of his last seven starts; six innings three times. If a “safe” quality start? No, but who is? SORT BY MATCHUP Here we’ll sort the five lowest active rosters’ wRC+ versus the handedness of the starter they’re facing since 2021. For instance, for Kopech versus the Twins, we’d look at the Twins active roster’s wRC+ versus right-handed pitching. In parentheses is the team strikeout rate: Tigers, 85 (24.9%) vs. Cal Quantrill Rockies, 87 (20.8) vs. Mitch White Athletics, 87 (22.8%) vs. Yusei Kikuchi Pirates, 88 (24.5%) vs. Jameson Taillon Royals, 92 (20.5%) vs. Luis Garcia The first thing that should stick out is White appearing on both lists. He’s unspectacular, so no one is truly spectacular on this slate without a true ace. He’s also cheap as hell, so we can do whatever we want from there. And I like going cheap on this slate because there are no aces, so I’m crossing off Quantrill and Taillon because they’re too expensive for their skill sets. The guy who’ll miss few radars will be Kikuchi. He has the highest K/9 on the slate (10.63) and has a similar matchup to White for run prevention that’s much better for strikeouts. On FD, people tend to spend up for the one pitcher, and those who will spend down will likely gravitate toward Wood for $100 more. On DK, though, where we have to play two pitchers, Kikuchi and White are so far ahead of every pitcher under $8.5k that one of them is gonna absorb a ton of ownership or they’ll both split about 50%. This is better than it could be. If the prices on White were far apart, one would dominate the ownership, but them being within $400 of each other caps their ownership. SORT BY K-BB% I don’t really see a point to doing this on this slate because there are no big-time strikeout machines to compare against one another. Kopech should be, but he isn’t. Springs can be, but my guess is that conservation has lowered the average fastball velocity by about two miles per hour. Taillon has the matchup to have a big day in Pittsburgh, but there’s so much ho-hum in his range of outcomes. PROJECTION THE BAT is saying that Garcia is the guy to target. He also appeared on both of those lists. And with the slate being unspectacular, there is a great shot that he’s the top pitcher on the slate. I just wonder if we need to spend up for unspectacular pitching when Springs, Wood, Kikuchi, and White are underpriced in their own ways. And it’s not like Garcia will fly under the radar for his price. He’ll be megachalk for the matchup on both sites. He’ll be viewed as “safe.” Ian Anderson is shooting up in projections and I don’t get it. The Cards are good, but not great against right-handed pitchers, sure. But Anderson can’t find the strike zone and the Cards are among the most disciplined teams at the plate. Bad command in a terrible matchup for bad command. I’m crossing Anderson off with a pencil and re-visiting him later. If I’m gonna risk bad command, I’d rather play Nick Pivetta for more strikeouts in a better strikeout matchup. THE ILLUSION OF SAFETY Don’t fall for the illusion of safety. There is no safety on any slate, but this one is especially dangerous. Every pitcher carries a ton of risk. This is a slate where we should embrace risk. By embracing risk, we already differentiate ourselves from the field. PITCHING POOL If I were just starting this article now, I’d simply break down Springs, Wood, Kikuchi, and White as my pitching pool, leaving notes for Garcia, Pivetta, and Anderson. How I’d rank these guys, sorry, I’m not there, yet.