DFS Pitching Preview: September 13, 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.

Today, there’s Jacob deGrom. And, then, there’s everybody else. This, despite some really good arms up top. Four guys over $10k on DraftKings and five guys at or over $9.9k on FanDuel — none of whom project well for those prices, except for deGrom.

ACE — deGrom

deGrom surpasses everyone on this slate in SIERA, K/9, BB/9, and HR/9 by wide margins. Sure, he’s only pitched 43.1 innings this season, but we see similar dominance when we expand the scope to 2021. For FanDuel, there’s nothing else to really say here. The Cubs strike out a ton and go from bad to worse without Patrick Wisdom and Willson Contreras. Don’t overthink it. This is a nut ceiling spot for maybe the best player in baseball.

PIVOT — Cole, Kershaw

Gerrit Cole might not pitch against the Red Sox. The DFS sites and Fangraphs have him as the probable starter, but MLB.com has the Yankees starter as TBD. If Cole plays, he’s definitely the second-best pitcher on the slate. And he will definitely be under-owned. But, if we’re gonna get picky, Cole has issues with power prevention from time-to-time and the Red Sox have a .171 ISO against right-handed pitching; Cole is a strikeout wizard, but the Red Sox projected lineup only strikes out 21.0% of the time against right-handed pitching. Cole’s dominance is baked-in to where he can dominate anyone, but on a deGrom slate, these weaknesses lower his ceiling a tad.

If I’m pivoting off of deGrom on either site (I won’t), I’m more likely to slide down to Clayton Kershaw. 89 pitches isn’t what we want when we’re spending ~$10k, but his 1.68 BB/9 helps him get economical with those pitches. Most of the time, pitch count matters; but we’re less concerned with a pitcher who throws strikes and simultaneously makes guys miss. When we get picky, we see that the Diamondbacks projected lineup has been strong against left-handed pitching — .343 wOBA, .181 ISO, 18.7% strikeout rate. There’s a unique wizardry to Kershaw, but this caps his ceiling.

It bears repeating that we’re just playing deGrom. But we can double-ace with Cole or Kershaw on DraftKings and we shouldn’t lock button deGrom on either site, so we’re gonna have some of Cole and Kershaw in MME play. But in single-entry, we’re not-not-playing deGrom. Let the field make the mistake of overthinking this and utilize time spent on how to play deGrom on how we can differentiate with bats.

SP2 — Ryan, Kopech, Kremer

Dean Kremer and Michael Kopech are in play, but neither come close to Joe Ryan. THE BAT has Ryan third in points-per-dollar on DraftKings and second overall in ceiling points over there for only $8.1k. About four points separate him from Kopech, the next guy under $8.4k. The Royals are just bad and we should feel bad if we fade this situation. They don’t hit well and they strike out a good amount, while Ryan comes in with a strikeout-per-inning.

Kopech is a fine play because he’s really cheap and draws a Rockies projected lineup (on the road) with a .306 wOBA, .153 ISO, and a 22.9% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching. Kopech isn’t striking anyone out this season and he’s walking a ton of guys, but this is a spot where a walk or two can turn into an extra strikeout or two. That matchup is that good.

Ryan is a better pitcher in a better spot, but if the $1k savings can do better for our lineups, we should experiment.

That said, if we’re spending this far down, maybe we just save with Kremer. Kremer’s 6.75 K/9 is dominated by Kopech’s 8.03, but Kremer’s 2.00 BB/9 is far better than Kopech’s 4.49 and his seemingly legit 0.67 HR/9 is less risky than Kopech’s 1.10. Kremer has a cush matchup himself against the Nationals lineup — .315 wOBA, .156 ISO, 23.2% striekout rate against right-handed pitching.

Kremer strikeout-per-inning is low, but he’s gone five-plus innings in six straight starts — including seven innings on August 16 and 7.2 on August 27. He can go seven tonight in a nut spot. And, as we know, from innings can come strikeouts.

CHEAP SP2 — Bubic

We have to mention Kris Bubic because of his projection. This Twins lineup is just a meh strikeout matchup and Bubic only comes in with 7.09 K/9. If he had something recent with seven innings, maybe, but besides back-to-back outings in mid-July, Bubic has no seven-inning starts all season. That said, he is allowed to stretch into the third time through the order, so there’s a shot at six innings, which is great for the price tag. It’s just too easy to pair deGrom with Ryan, so I’m not going here.

But you’re totally allowed to and feel decent about your moral fiber.





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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aaron rosenthalmember
4 months ago

in a 6X6 category roto where pitching metric differentials are close (and have two other starters going tonight) — worth the risk starting Cole @BOS?