DFS Pitching Preview: September 14, 2021

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

There’s some talent on this slate with mixed matchups, so we have a lot of work cut out for us, tonight. Early on, my pool is:

September 14 Pitcher Pool
FD DK SIERA K/9 BB/9 HR/9 Barrel% Team Opp wRC+* Opp K%*
Gerrit Cole 11400 10700 2.93 12.08 1.98 1.28 9.3% BAL 103 24.2%
Nathan Eovaldi 10000 9600 3.59 9.47 1.57 0.93 6.9% SEA 94 25.3%
Drew Rasmussen 6200 6500 3.81 10.14 3.77 0.83 5.3% TOR 114 20.3%
Frankie Montas 9300 10000 3.91 10.01 2.91 1.16 8.7% KCR 88 21.9%
Jesús Luzardo 7000 6300 4.47 9.09 3.75 1.78 9.2% WSN 103 22.3%
Touki Toussaint 8000 7300 4.64 9.34 4.48 2.05 10.2% COL 79 23.7%
Kyle Gibson 8600 8100 4.67 7.24 3.52 0.95 5.0% CHC 91 25.9%
* versus handedness of SP

Full slate, so I won’t go through every pitcher, as there are a lot of gas cans, too. If you think I’m leaving someone out, feel free to tweet me. I will confess Zack Greinke and José Berríos are close and might enter my pool. Marcus Stroman has a great matchup, but we can play Kyle Gibson for less in an even juicier matchup, so I left him out, but he’s fine, too.

Lucas Giolito off the IL is way too much of a pitch count concern; for his price, we need volume. He’s projecting very well, with a projected pitch count in the low-80s, so any word that he gets normal workload, and he’s high on my list. Just not aggressively foreseeing that at this moment of the day.

THE ACE — Gerrit Cole

Don’t be scared of Gerrit Cole without the sticky stuff. Since June 23, he has a:

2.89 SIERA
13.65 K/9
15.5% SwStr%
35.1% O-Swing%
2.76 BB/9
1.16 HR/9
11.4% Barrel%

Going into Camden Yards, there could be more concern for lesser control and his awful power prevention than Yu Darvish post-sticky stuff, but that 11.4% is on contact and Cole is inducing chases and not giving up contact.

The Orioles aren’t terrible, so we don’t have to play Cole, but Cole is the best pitcher on the slate and that isn’t close. The control and power concerns with the ballpark are valid reasons to bump him closer to the field, but he’s still way above the field.

THE PIVOTS — Nathan Eovaldi, Frankie Montas

Nathan Eovaldi is firmly the second-best pitcher on the slate and feels safer because he draws the terrible Mariners, who gift strikeouts to all pitchers. Eovaldi’s elite control gets him deep into games for innings, so the context raises his upside into ace territory. He just isn’t Cole.

Cole has that 13-15 strikeout upside every slate against all opponents in every ballpark, whereas Eovaldi is relatively capped. For the price, Eovaldi isn’t a huge step. Battling the megachalk possibility of Cole, his ownership is a huge discount, though. And ownership is a cost. Remember that.

If that’s still too much to spend under the condition of not playing Cole, Frankie Montas draws a tough strikeout matchup, but a great one for run prevention in a great ballpark for doing so. On DK, he’s more than Eovaldi, so the argument is tough; but, on FD, he gets cheaper — where we only play one pitcher. There are a lot of baked-in strikeouts, his control is just a bit worse than Cole’s, and his power prevention has been elite post-sticky: 0.56 HR/9 on a 7.3% barrel rate.

Where I’m not playing Cole, I’m loading up on these two at what could be single-digit ownership on FD. Eovaldi will catch some ownership on DK, but will still be at a huge discount. THE BAT like Eovaldi for more raw points than Cole on DK, so that could put his ownership on the rise, so keep a look out.

THE SP2s — Drew Rasmussen, Jesús Luzardo, Touki Toussaint, Kyle Gibson

Drew Rasmussen has the worse matchup we’re discussing. The Jays are packed with power and don’t strike out much. But Rasmussen has shown elite power prevention and strikeout stuff. Chances are, the Jays win this battle, but we don’t care about what will happen a vast majority of the time. We care about how often the Jays will wet the bed in relation to Rasmussen’s ownership. Rasmussen has the stuff to succeed and any group of hitters can fold any night. This is a solid low-exposure spot for leverage.

The Jesús is a solid pitcher who gives up too much power at times. The Nats really only have a couple of guys to supply it. If Jesús Luzardo can get through he heart of the order, his strikeouts should cruise through this lineup for free. He’s the top spend-down option on both sites, despite his control and power prevention issues, as his K/9 is enough for me. The play is volatile and we should watch ownership before we decide to hit the gas, though. Higher-owned, he becomes a bad play; low-owned, a fantastic play who allows us to do whatever we want for hitting.

Touki Toussaint is all over the place. He can’t find the strike zone, but it might not matter in a great spot for run prevention against the Quad-A Rockies. The Rockies aren’t a great strikeout matchup, but their active roster’s 32.8% O-Swing rate is among the worst in the league this season. This is a sneaky-great spot for Toussaint to rack up the strikeouts. The fear, of course, is whether or not he can command his pitch count to stay in the game long enough.

Everyone is gonna play Kyle Gibson — I think. He draws the Quad-A Cubs, who strike out a ton. Gibson himself doesn’t have the baked-in strikeouts to lock him in, but his lack of command could induce chasing that helps him compile the strikeouts. We’ve seen him go seven (and even eight) innings this season quite a bit, so his seven shutout innings with six strikeout ceiling is in full effect. The downside, of course, is that those potential strikeouts can easily become walks and he barely last four or five innings, which is why I’m more likely to be defensively underweight on the flocking field than aggressive overweight.

Stats cited are since 2020 unless otherwise noted. Park factors via EV Analytics.

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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