MLB DFS Pitching Preview: May 18, 2021

Our MLB DFS lineups don’t start and end with pitching. I’m not saying to punt pitcher every night or even every now and then. I’m just stressing that each and every slate does not rest upon our pitching. That said, the pitcher position is so vital because it’s the slot where we can get the most accurate projection in an extremely volatile wing of DFS.

Our pitching 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.

To begin, there’s significant weather on this slate. Stay tuned to the weather report and Kevin Roth on Twitter.

FANDUEL: Woodruff

Among pitchers on the slate, since 2019, Brandon Woodruff ranks first in SIERA (3.37), 2nd in K/9 (10.85), and 1st in K-BB% (24.2%). This season, he has 49.1 innings pitched in eight starts, only having allowed five barrels in 109 batted ball events (4.6%) and three home runs, despite five starts in homer-friendly parks.

Tuesday, he faces a sub-par Royals team in the least homer-friendly park in MLB, whose active roster already has a low park-neutralized 93 wRC+ against right-handed pitching.

Zack Wheeler and Blake Snell will total over 40% of ownership in large-field GPPs, so the smaller fields and single-entry stuff could have them taking up 60-to-70% of lineups with Woodruff capping out in the low-teens in the former and single digits in the latter formats.

Wheeler and Snell project better than Woodruff, according to THE BAT, because their matchups are beyond extreme with Wheeler having an extremely long leash and Snell being free to roster. But remember that the discounts we get in terms of salary for Wheeler and Snell come at the unseen cost of ownership.


Pricing has been so stupid on DraftKings these days that it’s very easy to spend up at pitcher. Too easy. To the point where everyone’s doing it and spending down to the $7k range is becoming the leverage play on a lot of slates. Tonight, spending down to Patrick Corbin could be the gamble that turns the slate on its head for us.

Corbin’s was really terrible in 2020 and to start 2021, but we’re finding the old Corbin lately. In his last five starts, he’s gone 30.0 innings with at least six in four of those, striking out only 23 and walking seven, but three of those starts were without any walks. He’s had a home run problem, but the wind is forecasted to be blowing in at Wrigley Field tonight to the tune of 15 mph. It’s stupid to say, “Take away the homers and he’s not that bad,” but this is literally a case where we can take away the homers and get him for only $6.1k as our SP2.

The Cubs have a 97 wRC+ against left-handed pitching — and this is a pitcher-friendly environment — with their projected lineup carrying four strikeout rates over 25% and that doesn’t include the pitcher slot.

Corbin averages out around average, but the fact is that he’s an extremely volatile boom-bust pitcher in a great run prevention environment facing a totally beatable matchup.


What if I told you that the third-lowest SIERA (3.13) on the slate since this season was Jameson Taillon? He’s had 11.61 K/9 to only 2.16 BB/9 and faces a Rangers team with a 26.3% strikeout rate. This is another boom-bust option, as he’s either going five or six innings and striking out a ton of guys or he’s getting shelled, but no one is going to play. He’s currently projected at under 5%, which has been largely unheard of this season for pitchers against Texas. We shouldn’t use him if we’re only playing three or five lineups, but if we’re playing 10 or 20, why not toss him in one?

Stats cited are since 2019 unless otherwise noted. Ownership projections via

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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