Pitching matters. That’s the basic gist of this entire Daily Fantasy Baseball article, if you’d like to save yourself five minutes and move on.
Starting pitching matters – specifically – Daily Fantasy Baseball pitchers.
This isn’t to just say that starting pitchers matter the most and you should pay the highest salaries. It’s more that – pitching matters in not only how you select your pitchers, but also how you select your hitters.
As a matter of fact, I already posted an article that explains why pitchers matter more in Daily Fantasy Baseball leagues than they do traditional formats.
For my Daily Fantasy Baseball reports that I’ll be posting each Wednesday and Saturday every week on SoCalledFantasyExperts.com, I’ve decided to break pitching down in several ways. This should not only help us choose the best starting pitchers for our Daily Fantasy lineups, but we’ll also be able to uncover especially bad pitching matchups that we should exploit with some hitters.
In this article, we’re going to express the things that will matter to us the most when it comes to selecting our Daily Fantasy Baseball pitchers. We’re going to reference the big three Daily Fantasy Baseball sites: FanDuel.com, DraftKings.com and DraftDay.com.
Traits to Target in Daily Fantasy Baseball Pitchers
So here are the things I’ll be tracking in my reports, which should hopefully, result in better pitchers in your lineup. And I’ll also share the worst pitching matchups on those days, which would result in better hitters in your lineup.
1. A Pitcher-Friendly Park
Obviously, a ballpark with flyball dampening air, deep fences and wide foul-ball areas helps your pitchers more than thin air that allows balls to fly deep, short fences where fly-outs become homers and small foul territories.
Don’t worry as much about a home or away pitcher as much as you want a pitcher in a good stadium on that day.
Here are the five parks from last season that rank the lowest in ESPN’s Park Factors page:
- Safeco Field
- Petco Park
- Citi Field
- Dodger Stadium
- Angel Stadium of Anaheim
2. Facing Lineups with Lower wOBA
We know of wOBA (weighted on-base averages) as a better way to define individual offensive stats more than just slugging percentages, on-base percentages or batting averages. Here are the five teams with the lowest wOBAs from 2014:
- San Diego Padres: 0.283
- Cincinnati Reds: 0.294
- Philadelphia Phillies: 0.295
- Atlanta Braves: 0.296
- N.Y. Mets: 0.299
3. A Strikeout Pitcher
To be more specific, you really want a pitcher with a higher rate of strikeout rate minus their walk rate, compared to other pitchers on that day.
While searching for pitchers with better control and dominance compared to others is a good way to keep runs from crossing the plate, this trait actually means a little more in sites that deduct for walks, like DraftKings and DraftDay.
FanDuel only scores points for pitchers for wins, earned runs, strikeouts and innings pitched.
4. Facing Lineups That Strike Out a Lot
We don’t have enough stats from the 2015 season to really get an idea of the high-K offenses, but we can look at last year’s numbers for now. The five teams that had the highest strikeout rates last season were:
- Chicago Cubs: 24.2%
- Houston Astros: 23.8%
- Miami Marlins: 22.9%
- Atlanta Braves: 22.6%
- Chicago White Sox: 22.4%
5. Facing Opposing Pitchers with High ERAs and WHIPs
While this isn’t necessarily a recipe for a huge score from your pitcher, since he could still get shelled for several runs and hits, grabbing a pitcher who faces a much weaker pitcher is a good deal.
This is especially true for Daily Fantasy sites that reward wins at a higher rate than others. For instance,
- DraftKings awards four points for a win (the equivalent number for negative points awarded for 2 ER)
- com awards 10 points for a win (the equivalent number for negative points awarded for 3.3 ER)
- FanDuel awards four points for a win (the equivalent number for negative points awarded for 4 ER)
Those numbers mean a win is twice as valuable on DraftKings than it is on FanDuel, and about 1.67 times as valuable as on DraftDay. You can have a lesser pitcher that will give up more earned runs with a good shot at a win on DraftKings, as opposed to on FanDuel.
For example, if you start R.A. Dickey against a pitcher with a higher ERA/WHIP, like Scott Feldman, here’s what your scoring could look like if Dickey picks up the win, even though he gives up 4 ER (removing the other scoring factors):
- FanDuel: 0 pts
- DraftDay: (-2) pts
- DraftKings: (-4) pts
Not having the win would destroy you in DraftKings, whereas your FanDuel scoring isn’t effected as much.
6. On a Team with Good Defensive Efficiency
Remember that a bad defense means more than just a batter reaching base on an error. Errors extend innings, which means pitchers are facing more batters than they should, using more pitches, and there are more chances of a run crossing the plate. You want a pitcher that has a good defense behind him, making the tough plays – but also showing good range and getting to balls a bad defense might not get to.
While offseason player movement certainly moved players around the league, and we won’t know which defenses really are the best until a few weeks in, we can look back at last season’s numbers. Here are the five teams with the best Defensive Efficiency ratings from 2014:
- Cincinnati Reds: .712
- Seattle Mariners: .712
- Oakland Athletics: .710
- Baltimore Orioles: .706
- A. Angels: .703
Those are a few of the things I’ll be looking for when I’m picking my Daily Fantasy Baseball pitchers this season. Some other things to look for might be a cheap spot starter with good numbers going up against a high-strikeout team, or a National League pitcher facing another NL team, since he should get at least a couple strikeouts against the opposing pitcher.
David Gonos spent 5 years as a CBSSports.com Senior Fantasy Writer and three more years writing with SI.com. Over the past 17 years, his work has been published on NFL.com, MLB.com, FanDuel, FoxSports.com and USA Today. Since 2001, he has been tracking down the Top 50-plus Free Fantasy Football Draft Tools online. You can contact David Gonos here.