DFS Pitching Preview: June 14, 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.

On a 15-game slate, we can play half of the pitchers in mass multi-entry (MME), but we don’t have to. Trimming the fat with a scalpel, let’s flip the script and start with who I’m definitely not playing.

FOLD PREFLOP: Shane Bieber, Logan Webb, Max Fried

First off, all three of these guys are great pitchers in real-life. They just don’t fit into a full slate. Max Fried is way too expensive and doesn’t have the baked-in strikeouts to attack a Nationals team that doesn’t strike out much at all. Logan Webb is cheaper, but in the same boat: like, I have no clue what we’re hoping for in playing him against the Royals. Last, we have Shane Bieber in Coors. He can be fine, but it’s Coors and this is a full slate where we’re about to discuss some pitchers with over a strikeout-per-inning in good-to-great matchups for strikeouts.

ACES: Gerrit Cole, Dylan Cease, Sean Manaea, Chris Bassitt

It’s really weird to lump Gerrit Cole in with these three, but matchups and pricing force us to. At the risk of burying the lede: Cole is the ace of the slate and it’s not particularly close. Since 2021, he leads the slate in SIERA (2.92) and K-BB rate (26.9%) by a wide margin and this version of the Rays isn’t so hot after injuries. And Tampa’s projected lineup has a 24.9% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching since 2021. Factor in their .285 wOBA and .147 ISO and we have a nut ceiling spot for — not only the ace of the slate, but — arguably the best active pitcher in the game.

Dylan Cease, Sean Manaea, and Chris Bassitt are in this mix because they’re all under $9k on DraftKings. They’re all between $9k and $10k on FanDuel, but pricing doesn’t matter on FD because every hitter is free.

Cease is in a ceiling spot in Detroit. His 12.40 K/9 since 2021 leads the slate, so when we mix in the Tigers projected lineup’s 24.3% strikeout rate against righties, we see that this nut spot shouldn’t be ignored. Cease has command issues (to say the least), but the Tigers’ 7.4% walk rate shouldn’t scare us — nor should their .296 wOBA and .146 ISO.

Manaea isn’t in a total nut spot, but he could end up with the best hand. His 9.60 K/9 since 2021 blends well with the Cubs projected lineup carrying five guys with strikeout rates over 23.5%. I won’t be playing any Manaea for reasons we’ll discuss, but he’s viable.

Bassitt isn’t sexy, but the Brewers are a below-average hitting bunch. They have power, but Bassitt’s 1.04 HR/9 since 2021 can neutralize that. In New York, we have a low-scoring team in a great run prevention environment. Like Manaea, I won’t be playing Bassitt, but he’s viable.

I’m looking to pair Cole and Cease in DK single-entry tournaments (SE). If I can’t afford both, I’d rather spend down to someone on par with Manaea and Bassitt at a slightly cheaper price. In MME, we should splash Manaea and Bassitt around.

On FD, everything begins with Cole for SE. The hitting is just too cheap everywhere. Cease is a great play, too, but after him, I have no idea why we need money. Sure Coors is on the slate, but Bieber should be fine and I’m not playing chalk Guardians. Wrigley should be a wind game, but everyone is free in that game.

SP2 PIVOTS: Yusei Kikuchi, Tyler Mahle

Yusei Kikuchi is a guy for whom we just take all of the numbers on a sheet of paper, wipe our butt with it, and flush them down the drain. Kikuchi is best described as a boom-bust microcosm of inconsistency. He’s an effectively wild one who can mow any great team down and follow it up by getting shelled by some bums. This is a great matchup against some bums with a projected lineup coming in with a 25.2% strikeout rate against left-handed pitching since 2021. Kikuchi has 10.03 K/9 this season. He’s a priced up near the aces on DK, but he can perform like one. If his ownership is down, we’ll wanna go overweight on him.

We should feel great gambling on Kikuchi. Tyler Mahle might feel “safer,” but he isn’t. Sure, he brings a 10.14 K/9 this season into tonight against a decent strikeout matchup in the Diamondbacks; but he also comes with 4.11 BB/9.

With safety confirmed a myth, Kikuchi has the higher upside. We should chase the higher upside. Consult ownership later in the afternoon, though.

CHEAP SP2: Trevor Rogers

Trevor Rogers has been pretty horrendous this season, but he’s a season removed from 10.62 K/9. Sure the 5.0% HR;FB rate was bound to come down, but it’s touch to believe his 2022 7.92 K/9 without losing any velocity. The command is worse than the power prevention and the power prevention has become pretty bad.

I’m not gonna lie, folks. This is rough ridin’. The Phillies are really powerful and this is a low-key big-time home run park. But Rogers is the best play under $7,500. So, if we need the money, we can find it here.

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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