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Daily Fantasy Strategy- Picking Starting Pitchers

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Most Important Part of Daily Fantasy Baseball

In my opinion picking the starting pitcher is the most important part of roster creation in daily fantasy baseball. Most sites require decent to stellar performances in order to secure wins especially in tournaments.

I pride myself on being able to identify these stellar pitching performances before they happen. I thought some of you might want to know my mind processes so that you may be able to mimic my style and find success for yourself. I do all these steps in order of importance.

Skill

The very first thing I do is look at a list of all the pitchers scheduled to pitch for that day. Then I will write a list of 8-10 names of who I think is the most talented. For daily fantasy purposes talent is derived from strikeouts, innings, wins, and low earned runs output.

I will value a player’s ability to strike batters out over all other talent variables. Strikeout pitchers usually throw hard. You want guys with high K/9 and high ground ball rates. All those stats can be found at Fangraphs. Wins are fluky and not as important in this list creation.

The top skill pitchers for today would be Zack Greinke, Felix Hernandez, Josh Johnson, Ryan Vogelsong, Phil Hughes, Doug Fister, Dan Haren, Jason Vargas and Chris Tillman. When you dive into matchups, you will rid yourself of some of these pitchers, but it’s a good list to start. I also know that Vargas and Vogelsong are not dominant pitchers but they are winners. There really isn’t a lot to choose from today.

Matchup

After I have my list of dominant pitchers only then will I look at matchups. I give all pitchers a boost if they are playing the lesser MLB teams. To me the lesser MLB teams for this year are: Astros, Athletics, Mariners, Pirates, Cubs, Marlins, Mets, Twins, and Padres.

For three reasons really, lesser teams tend to strikeout more than other MLB teams, score less runs, and lose. If that hasn’t clarified my list then I will look at a team-specific flaw to use to my advantage.

For example, if I have a dominant, elite lefty going against the lefty-heavy Mets, I will always roster that pitcher. This is the time you start looking at the opposing teams lineup. Everyone loves to look at Batter-vs-Pitcher historical data like found at DailyBaseballData.com, but I tend to look at splits which can be found on any player’s profile page on most sites.

Some teams will try to offset the splits by starting lefties against right-handed pitchers or vice versa that have no business swinging a bat on the Major League level.

We saw an example of that yesterday when the Pirates tried to oppose LHP Wade Miley with a squad of right-handed batters named Josh Harrison, John McDonald, and Gaby Sanchez at clean-up. Those are the days where picking a pitcher is easy.

So after looking at today’s matchups, Greinke, Vogelsong, Vargas, and Hughes survive. I axed Johnson and Fister because both those offenses are too dangerous to risk targeting. Tillman and Haren were absolutely hit hard their last times out, and I don’t want to gamble they figure it out against high-powered offenses like the Red Sox and White Sox.

King Felix makes me nervous with his drop in velocity and dangerous Texas hitting.

Park Factors

I will always wait to look at park factors until last, and I hardly ever consult a list. I just use my brain. If you aren’t familiar with which parks are good pitchers parks and which are good hitters parks, you can look over some of the compiled data at these links:

You should find it easy enough to know that home runs are hit in large quantities in Colorado but hit far less often in San Diego. So bump up hitters and downgrade pitchers in a hitter’s park. This will be a tie-breaker for me. If you choose to use a hitter in a pitcher’s park make sure they have deep power or gap power with speed.

Weather and Park Factors

You can also include weather in with park factors. Pay attention to wind blowing out or in, but don’t be obsessive about it. Obviously, if the chance of rain is 70 percent or higher and persistent then you should avoid that game entirely. Pitchers pitch better when it’s cold, and hitters hit better when it’s warm. Most all players perform better at home unless they play at an extreme pitcher’s park like in San Diego.

There is weather in Cleveland for the Indians/Yankees game so I will be eliminating Hughes from my list. That leaves Zack Greinke, Jason Vargas, and Ryan Vogelsong as the last men standing. I will say that I am not in love with the pitching today and probably won’t be putting a lot of money out because of that.

Happy drafting, and I hope this helped.

 

About Ben Pritchett

Member of the FSWA. Top 4 2012 Most Accurate Fantasy Baseball Expert. Top 3 Finisher in the 2012 DSFC football championship. Written for The Hardball Times and Daily Joust.

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