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Daily Fantasy Baseball: How To Pick A Pitcher

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The most important decision you will make in Daily Fantasy Baseball is deciding which pitcher you will choose. Pitchers tend to be the highest scoring and subsequently highest salary players, so how well they perform will most likely be the difference between a good day and a bad one. So how do you choose a pitcher? What you must consider is site scoring rules, quality of matchup, and Vegas projections.

The Differences Between FanDuel And DraftKings

The best pitchers to pick are extremely different depending on which site you play on because of the scoring systems.

FanDuel has a scoring system that is incredibly favorable to pitchers. While the best pitchers tend to have an expectation of 1.5-1.75 fantasy points per $1000, hitters only reasonably have .75-1 fantasy points per $1000, and the higher the salary, the worse the expectation. Therefore, FanDuel makes picking the best pitcher, regardless of salary, likely the best play.

DraftKings, on the other hand, has a much more balanced scoring system, where hitters and pitchers have similar expectation, both with about 2 fantasy points per $1000. On DraftKings, picking the most undervalued pitcher with the best matchup tends to be the best play.

Evaluating The Matchup

One of the more important things to look at as far as matchup is the opponents strikeouts per game. You can find that data here. Strikeouts are worth a lot on FanDuel, and having a matchup with a high strikeout team is extremely important. You can also uses Sportsbooks, such as Bovada player props, to see how many strikeouts they project for every pitcher for that day. DraftKings gives negative points for walks and hits, so how bad the other teams hitters are matter a lot as well. For example, the Royals strikeout less than any team in the league, but are not a very good offensive team.

It’s All About The Odds

The most important thing to consider is how well Vegas projects the pitcher to do and how big of a favorite he is.

We tend to use thegreek.com because they offer run projections for individual teams, which gives us more information to consider. If an opposing team is projected to score very little runs, it’s safe to say the target pitcher is going to have a lot of innings pitched and strikeouts. Because wins are worth 4 points, it’s also worth considering how big of a favorite a pitcher is, because that is directly related to how likely a pitcher is to get the win.

Home/Away Matters

It seems a bit bizarre, but baseball has one of the biggest home field advantages of any sport. Walk rates decrease, innings increase, and strikeout rates increase at home for pitchers, so be strongly inclined to use pitchers who are at home.

When In Doubt, Pick The Biggest Favorite

Picking the best pitcher is important, but overall it’s not that hard. More often than not, the pitcher on the team who is the biggest favorite to win will be the best pitcher, because that will be the pitcher who has an opponent that is projected to do the worst and is most likely to get 4 points for getting the win.

Summary

  • On FanDuel, the scoring system greatly favors pitchers and therefore you should pick the best projected pitcher regardless of salary. On DraftKings, the scoring system is more fair to hitters, so pick the best value at pitcher.
  • The best matchups tend to be the worst hitting teams who strikeout the most.
  • Sportsbook odds tend to be very accurate for baseball. A pitcher who is expected to hold their opponent to few runs is also likely to do well in the strikeouts and innings department as well.
  • Be biased towards picking pitchers at home as well as the biggest favorite.

View all posts by Daniel Steinberg
Daniel Steinberg

About the Author

Daniel Steinberg Daniel Steinberg is a former bond trader at a multi-billion dollar proprietary trading firm in Chicago. He uses his knowledge of statistics and his creativity from his career as a poker professional to create the most advanced Daily Fantasy statistical analysis that you will find anywhere. Follow him on twitter @DanielSingerS

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