DFS Primer: The Importance of Pitching
March 28, 2016 | Jason Bales
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Welcome to Spring Training, rookie! This article is intended for novice daily fantasy baseball players. If this does not describe you, this article will probably not be very useful. The information presented throughout this series may be rather obvious for the experienced fantasy player, but, again, this is not the target audience. If you are experienced, feel free to read through this article as a refresher prior to that start of the season, or to hear some opposing opinions regarding previously held game strategy. Now, let’s get you in shape for this fantasy season!
So, the pitcher position is the first area of concern for the new daily fantasy baseball player. Do I have to spend up for the best pitching option on the board? Should I use a less well-known or consistent pitcher in order to secure Bryce Harper and Mike Trout? These are all important questions, and we are going to go through a couple of responses to that question below.
Should you punt the pitcher position?
Hey, guys! I have been playing daily fantasy baseball for multiple years now, and in the beginning, I had a ton of questions that I just couldn’t seem to figure out. Why is it so much better to pay up for Clayton Kershaw? Why aren’t Mike Trout and Bryce Harper just as important? Well, the answer has to do with the consistency of pitchers compared to the variance of hitters. Pitchers tend to pitch, for the most part, the same every time they take the field. Sure, there are games where a pitcher has a bad outing. There are also games where that same pitcher will throw a complete game shutout. However, it is not very likely at all that Clayton Kershaw is going to post around zero fantasy points. Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, on the other hand, are probably going to post zero a couple of times in the first month of baseball. Hitting is just a lot more variable than pitching is. Hitters are hitting over a period of around 400-500 at-bats. Pitchers are pitching around 30 games a season. All in all, do not punt pitchers, especially not in 50/50 contests. It is better to have Clayton Kershaw than it is to have Bryce Harper and Mike Trout.
I rarely punt the pitcher position. Baseball, just by its nature, is a high-variance sport. The top hitters in the game are just as likely to go 0-for-4 as the bench player who gets a spot start. Pitching is the most predictable aspect of the sport, so I generally like to build my lineups (especially cash) around a strong pitcher (or two on DraftKings). Getting the pitcher position right goes a long way towards putting together a successful lineup. If I take a chance on a cheap pitcher it is because I like his matchup and ability. In that situation I would likely only do so for a tournament entry.
Wow. I somewhat differ from the two above, but there are specific reasons for that. For the most part, I tend to pay up for pitchers when I am playing cash games. With that being said, I will use any pitcher on the slate in the right situation. I love stacking teams in Colorado when playing GPPs (Guaranteed Prize Pools or tournaments), which means I need to find serious value at the other positions. I love looking at Vegas lines while picking my pitchers, and there are definitely situations in which a cheap pitcher could be a great option. For instance, if a terrible team is playing in San Diego and two cheap pitchers are throwing, the favorite in that matchup would make a good pitching option. To sum it up, I generally pay up for pitching in cash games, but I will use value pitchers in GPPs.