MLB DFS Pitching Preview: June 22, 2021

Huge slate for Tuesday night, so let’s get right into the pitchers that I’m currently considering in my pool:

My June 22, 2021 Pitcher Pool
Pitcher FD DK SIERA K/9 BB/9 HR/9 Barrel% *Opp *Opp wRC+ *Opp K%
Gerrit Cole $11,000 $11,000 2.85 11.67 1.60 1.33 8.6% KCR 93 21.8%
Freddy Peralta $9,500 $10,000 3.06 13.03 3.54 0.78 7.4% ARI 92 21.8%
Max Scherzer $10,800 $10,800 3.12 12.19 2.36 1.31 9.0% PHI 98 23.4%
Clayton Kershaw $10,200 $9,200 3.13 10.19 1.41 1.04 7.0% SDP 116 22.3%
Lucas Giolito $10,500 $9,400 3.46 11.69 3.21 1.40 8.0% PIT 88 22.0%
Zack Wheeler $11,400 $10,200 3.50 9.20 2.04 0.54 4.5% WSN 98 22.4%
Charlie Morton $8,300 $7,300 3.83 9.99 2.90 0.89 6.1% NYM 104 22.3%
Zac Gallen $8,000 $8,900 3.98 10.39 3.55 0.98 6.6% MIL 96 25.2%
* – since 2019

We’re gonna divide these pitchers between the best projected, how we can pivot, and how we can maximize our leverage.

PROJECTION — Gerrit Cole, Lucas Giolito, Max Scherzer

There are five pitchers on FD between $10.2k and $11.0k and four between $10.0 and $11.0k on DK. Gerrit Cole leads the way in projection on both sites. He’s the most expensive on DK, by a hair, but $400 cheaper than Zack Wheeler on FD. He’s looking to be close to the highest-owned pitcher across the board. Lucas Giolito has the next-highest points projection, but the highest projected ownership because of his price. The point-per-dollar advantage allows us more flexibility with our lineups than Cole, but playing him carries huge ownership for a full slate.

Max Scherzer is a strong pivot off of the two, carrying about 75% of the ownership Cole and Giolito will at around 85-to-90% of the point projection. Scherzer has the worst matchup of the three in terms of run prevention and is in the worst ballpark for home runs, but has the only good matchup for strikeouts.

Cole and Giolito are both facing teams with horrible track records against right-handed pitching, but they don’t strike out. Cole has to pitch in home run-happy Yankee Stadium, but his Achilles’ heel is home runs against left-handed hitters, and we’re not scared off by Jarrod Dyson and Nicky Lopez. Giolito’s weakness is still shaky control and home runs, but PNC Park has an 85 home run factor — miles below the 116 of Giolito’s home ballpark.

This is all to say that all three are great plays in that: Cole is the best pitcher on the slate with a great matchup; Giolito is the best value; and Scherzer will be the lowest-owned of the three in the best strikeout matchup as a heavy strikeout pitcher. Cole and Giolito carry heavy ownership risks and the requirement that we find leverage over the field through contrarian hitter stacks; Scherzer carries the risk of getting mashed for two or three home runs, not to mention that he’s just coming off of injury. But the injury could lower his ownership as the day goes on, as it’s probably capped in the 20% range.

Play any one of these three. Just build the right lineup around them as to not have too much cumulative ownership.

In MME, we should have some exposure to all three in 50-or-more lineups. But building 20 or five or one, we don’t have to play any of them.

PIVOTS — Freddy Peralta, Charlie Morton

Freddy Peralta isn’t a top-two pitcher on his own team, but he competes to be a top pitcher on this stacked slate, as we can see by the numbers above. His control is shaky and this is a tough strikeout matchup, but: no one is gonna play him; the strikeouts are so heavily baked-in that I don’t care about the matchup; the matchup is great for run prevention; and none of the top-five pitchers on this slate have great strikeout matchups anyway.

We’re getting such a discount on Peralta that — when we factor in the ownership — I’m heavily considering him for my single-entry contests on both sites. His strikeout stuff is probably the best on the slate right now. His power prevention is stronger than the three we just discussed, who’ll carry more ownership. So, why not?

On DK, with five guys carrying SIERAs of 3.50 and lower, the popular build will be to spend $19k or more on two stud pitchers. This means that value hitting will be over-owned. We can pivot off of the entire field and play whatever hitters we want by rostering Charlie Morton as our SP2 at a fraction of the price. Morton’s SIERA falls short of the aces, but it’s still under 4.00 and his K/9 is a pubic hair from being double digits. His 3.18 BB/9 for this season is a bit concerning, but his 0.86 HR/9 on that 5.1% barrel rate more than makes up for it.

Morton isn’t a top-five pitcher on this slate, but he doesn’t have to be at that price. His point-per-dollar rating on DK is the highest of all palatable pitchers, so he will carry ownership, but it should closer to 30-to-35% instead of the projected low-20s at which we currently have him. So, if we devoted 40% to him, that’s 40% of our overall builds differentiating from around 75-to-80% of builds. He will require that we find leverage in our hitters, but we’ll have more options to do so than the vast majority of the field playing the same two or three value stacks.

MAXIMUM LEVERAGE — Zack Wheeler, Clayton Kershaw

Zack Wheeler and Clayton Kershaw coming in at single digits is a massive mistake on behalf of the field that we should exploit.

Wheeler is a guy whose newfound strikeouts aren’t a flash in the fan. They’ve been a long time coming, as his lower strikeouts of the past were coming with consistent 95-to-96 mph heat. Now, he up to averaging 97.5 mph this season and the K/9 is up to 11.02 with continued elite control and power prevention. He probably has the best control and power prevention on the slate. Combine the Ks with that and I seldom care about salary or opponent when the ownership only requires that I go 10% to be overweight on the field. The matchup isn’t great, but it isn’t tough. Wheeler’s power prevention and velocity can make almost any team look like cats trying to bite their own ears.

Kershaw is just in a crappy spot. The Padres are a buzzsaw. But we’re talking sub-5% ownership, so we can play him at ~8% and be overweight. In recent years, his K/9 trailed off to the 9.00 range and he was getting blasted for bombs here and three. This season, his K/9 is way up to 10.60, his control is still elite, and his HR/9 is way down to 0.92. Kershaw isn’t matchup-proof anymore, but he can be just fine against anyone and put up the fantasy points for us to cash in on the slight possibility of a dominant performance. We don’t need him to dominate 35% of the time here at low exposure and ownership.


Marcus Stroman has a 4.28 xERA and only an 11% soft contact rate. I don’t trust that he’s as great as his results have shown and this matchup sucks. Playing him on this stacked slate is gibberish.

Andrew Heaney gets slapped in the face with bags of dongs way too often. And Angel Stadium is a sneaky-great home run ballpark.

Blake Snell has a bad matchup. But his control and power prevention are so terrible that I just can’t consider him when he needs strikeouts against a team that’s hard to strike out. And if he pitches great, how many innings do we get? Do we even get six? Strong pitcher that I normally love to play because he doesn’t need six innings to get ten strikeouts, but this is the wrong slate.

Zac Gallen is the one I feel I can most regret leaving out of the pool. He’s the guy we didn’t discuss who I’m most likely to play. We gotta love 10.39 K/9 against the Brewers’ strikeout-heavy lineup in Arizona with the roof closed. We gotta love his price. I might only play five lineups on DK and double-stud only one, so he could find his way into my pool then.

Stats cited are since 2020 unless otherwise noted. Projections via THE BAT; ownership projections via Rotoginders at 11:30 a.m. CST; park factors via EV Analytics through June 22, 2021.

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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1 year ago

Keep these coming. Wheeler busted but the thoughts on Peralta and Morton were spot on.