DFS Pitching Preview: June 20, 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.

Tonight’s a smaller slate, but it’s a doozy. Not many stacks to feel great about, but there’s a lot of pitching to differentiate ourselves. There are five aces, but only three to whom we’re paying much attention, an underpriced guy who’s sometimes an ace, and three really cheapos from which to choose.

ACES TO IGNORE: Max Fried, Logan Webb

These two face off against one another in Atlanta. I’d have some interest in the more pitcher-friendly San Francisco and this should be a low-scoring affair, but there’s no need to go here. The quality of the lineups and the low projection for strikeouts cap both of their ceilings. We shouldn’t spend too long on them. Just to say that we can fade them in single-entry/three-max (SE3) and should stick with low exposure in mass-multi-entry (MME).

ACES WE WANT: Gerrit Cole, Corbin Burnes, Shane McClanahan

All three of these guys are great real-life pitchers and have high strikeout rates, making them great to roster in DFS. They should all be in the 40-50% range on DraftKings. Frankly, you’re not doing anything wrong by being aggressive with them all.

Gerrit Cole projects the highest in THE BAT because the Rays are an average matchup for run prevention and a good one for strikeouts, but I’m more intrigued by Corbin Burnes. It’s Burnes who leads the slate in SIERA, K/9, BB/9, K-BB%, HR/9, and barrel rate since 2021. He faces the Cardinals who are a tougher matchup than the Rays across the board, but Burnes’ baked-in strikeouts make me unafraid to be most aggressive here, as he projects within an inning-pitched of Cole. meaning that if Burnes goes seven innings instead of his projected six, burned closes the gap between the two.

Shane McClanahan is someone on whom we can go underweight. It’s a tough matchup with a ton of right-handed power and his ownership is high. But we shouldn’t all-out fade this spot because McClanahan is putting up Cy Young level numbers this season: 2.28 SIERA, 12.06 K/9, 34.5% CSW rate — all of which lead the slate. There’s a great argument that McClanahan is matchup-proof, he’s been so great, but he’s riding a .251 BABIP, an 87.0% LOB rate, and his great 2.48 xERA is pretty distant from his 1.84 actual ERA.

PREMIER SP2: Yu Darvish

Yu Darvish only has 7.29 K/9 this season, but is SIERA’s under 4.00, his command is very strong (1.72 BB/9), and his power prevention is elite (0.72 HR/9), so we take him up against the horrible Diamondbacks. Darvish is the main reason that Logan Webb and Max Fried are out of play. If we’re gonna take on a strikeout risk, we should do it: (a) cheaper; (b) in a great matchup for run prevention and strikeouts; and (c) with someone who isn’t a bum.

Darvish isn’t a great pitcher anymore, but close one eye to block out the strikeout stuff and everything looks great. Darvish will absorb some ownership, but the most popular build will not be with Darvish. It’ll be the double-ace lineup using two of the three we discussed above. On a smaller slate, we shouldn’t worry about Darvish unless he gets over 40%.

CHEAP SP2s: Lance Lynn, Josh Winckowski, Caleb Kilian

Including his rehab starts, Lance Lynn has more runs allowed than strikeouts forced. This is scary as hell when we add the Blue Jays matchup, but at $5.8k, he can’t be ignored. His 10.04 K/9 makes him one of four pitchers on the slate with double-digit K/9 since 2021; his 20.4% K-BB rate makes him one of five — the other four being the three aces and premier SP2 in our pool. Lynn isn’t on their level when he’s on, but this price tag overcompensated for how bad he’s been in a small 2022 sample. We can go 10-15% on him and have the potential to do some damage.

Josh Winckowski is a whopping $6.2k. He isn’t very good, and he isn’t guaranteed six-plus innings, but he draws the God-awful Tigers — the best matchup on the slate. If we’re gonna gamble on Darvish for $8.1k, we should be overweight on Winckowski because we should seldom let opportunities against the Tigers go to waste.

JT Brubaker is interesting against the Cubs in Pittsburgh, but his power prevention issues with the Cubs ability to mash has me more enthusiastic about the better matchup in the same great park for pitching on the other side of this game in Caleb Kilian. Like the 2022 version of Darvish, Kilian isn’t a great strikeout pitcher, but he’s $5k and facing the Pirates, who more closely resemble the Tigers than a below-average club. Kilian also has a leash. He got rocked for five runs in a Wrigley wind game last time out, but was allowed to go five innings in his other start (despite giving up three runs).

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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