DFS Pitching Preview: September 3, 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.

Both sites are very different on this slate because of pricing, but the overall slate is such that there are no truly great aces. Without ownership data, we’ll focus more on matchups to narrow our pool:

FD DK SIERA K/9 BB/9 HR/9 Barrel% Opp Opp wRC+* Opp K%
Freddy Peralta $10,200 $9,300 3.32 12.60 3.76 0.72 5.9% STL 91 22.2%
Nathan Eovaldi $9,100 $9,800 3.61 9.33 1.49 0.91 6.9% CLE 91 23.8%
Shohei Ohtani $10,800 $8,700 3.89 10.97 3.97 0.93 7.0% TEX 80 23.2%
Adam Wainwright $9,600 $10,000 4.06 7.99 2.10 0.99 6.5% MIL 93 24.6%
Kyle Gibson $9,400 $8,100 4.64 7.21 3.44 0.95 5.1% MIA 82 25.4%
Glenn Otto ** $6,700 $5,000 1.76 12.60 0.00 0.00 20.0% LAA 103 23.6%
* denotes versus handedness
** only 5.0 IP

TIER ONE: KINDA’ ACES — Peralta and Ohtani

Freddy Peralta is the best pitcher on the slate, but he’s projected at only 75 pitches coming off of the IL. This doesn’t take him out of play if there’s an ownership gap between him and Ohtani that supplies us leverage. If Peralta is rolling — translation: throwing strikes — then, 75 pitches can get us some game depth to compile Ks with his elite K/9. His ceiling is capped at under 30 points, but his median projection might be good enough if we can get 15-to-20 from our SP2, as well.

Shohei Ohtani isn’t the second-best pitcher on the slate in terms of SIERA, but he is in terms of K/9 and has a nut matchup for run prevention that comes with a K rate that shouldn’t get in his way. The issue with Ohtani is that he’s walked a ton of guys in the effort to make them chase. But he’s been elite since his infamous June 30 blowup in New York:

3.41 SIERA
8.80 K/9
0.80 BB/9
1.00 HR/9
34.4% O-Swing rate

He’s down to a tad under a strikeout per inning over this stretch, but he’s gone six-plus innings in six of those seven starts. So, the dominant performance we should expect should be a seven-inning outing with six or seven strikeouts, maybe one walk (?), and two or fewer runs with the ceiling of a monster double-digit strikeout game.

Not to mention, his price on DK is downright stupid. Especially for this slate.

On FD, the play is Ohtani and it isn’t very close. On DK, the pricing makes it really easy to play both of these guys, but that’ll be chalky and we need to differentiate with the bats. Don’t worry, though; bats are abundant on this slate.

TIER TWO: OVERPRICED BUT GOOD MATCHUPS — Eovaldi, Wainwright, and Gibson

These three are out for me on FD, where I’m just playing Ohtani with a sprinkle of Peralta. But on DK, there’s nothing we really wanna spend down to. These options aren’t fantastic, but their prices could keep their ownership down.

The matchups for Nathan Eovaldi and Adam Wainwright are about the same, as is their baked-in power prevention, but Eovaldi has the best SIERA, K/9, and BB/9 of the three by a pretty wide margin. So, he’s the easy first choice to pair with Ohtani if we don’t like the pitch count of Peralta. Wainwright is simply paying up to be contrarian — a profitable strategy.

Kyle Gibson has a price tag no one wants to pay for Kyle Gibson on a full slate. And we should like that because he draws the best matchup in the Marlins for run prevention and strikeouts. He doesn’t have the baked-in strikeouts of Eovaldi, but his K/9 isn’t a huge drop-off from Wainwright — a gap easily closed by the Marlins’ K% against right-handed pitching.

It’s good to practice building with Eovaldi and Wainwright, then, expand our salary relief to Gibson. It’s valuable to find value on a slate like this and then spend up where we can than to spend up on bats and plug in value where we have to.


The Angels are healthier than they were a bit ago, so their lineup isn’t Ohtani and total trash. It’s not Ohtani, some good power, and some trash. But the K% against right-handed pitching isn’t 21.5% anymore. At this rate, a potentially big-strikeout pitcher like Glenn Otto can catch a big game in 75-80 pitches, basically, for free.

The risk, of course, is the Angels power, which is amplified by Otto’s command issues. But, again, the dude is free.

And it’s totally O.K. to play two pitchers from the same game. Especially when they’re as cheap as Ohtani and Otto are.

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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