Choosing pitchers in DFS can be a very tricky proposition because more times than not you’re going to win or lose based on how they perform. I play at DraftKings, which requires two starting pitchers; FanDuel only requires one starting pitcher. Since I play at DraftKings I’m going to focus the rest of the article on that format.
There are a lot of strategies on how to select pitchers. Some recommend choosing the hitters first, then the pitchers. That’s a bad idea. Predicting future baseball results can be a very futile, but predicting the performance of a starting pitcher is more accurate than hitters. Therefore, I choose the two pitchers I want to use for that day.
The pitchers I choose vary depending on the type of format I’m playing. Specifically, 50/50 (double ups) and GPP (guaranteed prize pools). In general when I’m recommending a pitcher for GPP it’s because they have upside to have a big day at a very low cost. What makes a pitcher a GPP recommendation and not a 50/50 recommendation is the GPP pitcher has a greater chance of not performing well. In 50/50 contests if one of your pitcher blows up (i.e. has an in-game ERA of over 4.50 and a WHIP over 1.3) you’re not likely going to win. When I’m choosing pitchers for 50/50 I want pitchers who have a great chance of providing a quality start with a strikeout per inning.
Below you will find analysis on what type of format I would use a particular pitcher (if at all) for Monday, May 25, 2015. Also, I omitted some pitchers on purpose because there is no chance I would be using them in any format. Lastly, I’m not ranking the players because I want you, the reader to make him his/her own mind ;0)
Nate Eovaldi: Pass
The Royals have a fairly left-handed lineup and Eovaldi still has not figured out lefties. This year lefties have a .988 OPS and for his career before 2015 .770 (compared to only .678 against righties).
Bartolo Colon: GPP
Colon has been brutal his last three starts, allowing 17 earned runs 15.1 innings. However, he’s facing the Phillies at home. The Phillies do not have a good lineup or a good team. They currently have the lowest wOBA against right-handed pitching for the season. The velocity of the fastball has been relatively stable, which is why I think he could have a bounce back start.
Dallas Keuchel: 50/50, GPP
Keuchel is a good pitcher. He fields his position well, holds runners well and produces a lot of ground balls. In fact he had the highest ground ball rate last season and leads all qualified starters this season. The Astros are among the leaders in baseball in the number of times they utilize the defensive shift, which is great for him. He’s going to be a massive regression candidate as the season progresses, but I expect him to have continued success against the Orioles who are 24th in the majors in wOBA in the past month.
Wei-Yin Chen: GPP
Since Chen pitches a hitter friendly ballpark you would think he has a substantial difference in his home-road splits, but his career numbers are almost identical at home and on the road. The Astros strikeout the most of any team in baseball so you may be able to get 6-7 innings with 8-plust strikeouts.
Kyle Lohse: GPP
If you remove the first start of the year he has a 4.47 ERA and 1.113 WHIP so he’s pitched much better than his ERA and WHIP would indicate. For the year, the Giants surprisingly have the fourth best wOBA against right handed pitching.
Tim Lincecum: GPP
In Lincecum’s last four starts he has a 1.05 ERA and a 0.974 WHIP, but I’m still not buying. The simple reason why is during that stretch he’s walking 10.9 percent of batters. I avoid high walk pitchers for yearlong fantasy as well as DFS, but he’s facing an average Brewers team and may be worth a chance.
Joe Kelly: GPP
The Twins mash lefties, but they cannot hit righties; they’re 27th in the majors in wOBA against righties for the season. Despite Kelly’s poor ERA and WHIP he has made an improvement in the strikeout rate; going from 15.9 percent last year to 21.2 percent this year.
Tanner Roark: GPP
The reason why he’s only a GPP is because the most pitches he’s thrown this season is 50 pitches so I doubt the Nationals will allow him to come close to 100 pitches. If I knew for a fact he could throw 100 or more I would say he’s a 50/50 play too.
Jesse Hahn: GPP
Hahn has not looked like the pitcher he was last year, but he hasn’t pitched as poorly as his ERA would indicate. He’s facing the Tigers who have the third highest wOBA against righties so he is definitely a high risk, high reward player.
Carlos Martinez: GPP
Martinez could be a 50/50 play, but I want to see what the Diamondbacks lineup looks like first. The reason why I say that is because for some reason they are platooning A.J. Pollock, their second best hitter, with two other outfielders. Also, he still has major problems getting lefties out so if the lineup is fairly left handed I wouldn’t use him in a 50/50.
Chase Anderson: GPP
I love fastball-changeup pitchers. Anderson has pitched extremely well for the season, but he’s going to regress to a 3.30ish ERA when the season concludes. The reason why is he doesn’t have overpowering stuff and he pitches in one of the worst ballpark for pitchers. In the past month the Cardinals have the fifth highest wOBA against righties.
Drew Hutchison: GPP
I wrote a “scouting” report on Hutchison here.
Jake Odorizzi: 50/50, GPP
Odorizzi has totally revamped his approach to pitching. He’s walking far less batters, generating more ground balls and is pitching deeper into games. All of that is great, but this is coming at the expense of the strikeout rate, which is not good for fantasy. Despite that, he’s going to be on my 50/50 lineup.
Roenis Elias: GPP
Elias pitched great in his last start against the Orioles, but the Rays are sixth in the majors in wOBA against lefties. Last year walks plagued Elias, but this year the walk rate is down two and a half percentage points (from 9.2 percent to 6.8 percent).
Brett Anderson: GPP
The Braves are 26th in the majors in wOBA against lefties for the year and Anderson has struck out 15 batters in the past two starts (11.2 innings). Eventually the Dodgers are going to hit so the odds of him winning are higher than normal.
Tyson Ross: GPP
Most fantasy players will have Ross as a 50/50 player, but he’s walking batters at an enormous rate (13.5 percent), which is too high for me. Since he’s one of the better pitchers on Monday he’s going to be priced too high.
Jered Weaver: GPP
In his last three starts Weaver has a 1.54 ERA and 0.729 WHIP. Maybe he has found something and made the appropriate changes? Or maybe he’s benefitted from a .179 BABIP?