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Daily Baseball 101: Evaluating DraftStreet Pitching

Michael Rathburn

Michael Rathburn

Known as “Rath” in the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) community, he has helped run operations for two prominent daily fantasy sports startups. Michael has taken his insider knowledge and expertise in daily fantasy sports to the content side. He was also nominated by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association for Best Baseball Series in 2011.


Last week I broke down hitting on Draftstreet, and we tackle pitching this week. With three starting pitchers in lineups on DraftStreet, it’s important to get the strategy right as pitching is the most constant variable in daily fantasy baseball.

The strategy I employ is a goal to evenly distribute salary from hitting and pitching at 50 percent. With three starting pitchers, your average salary per pitcher is $16,666. Now, chances are you will have to take one pitcher in the $20-$25K range, one in the $15-20K range, and one in the $10-15K range. Taking an ace with a great matchup is a must when the opportunity presents itself. In your other starting pitcher slots, focus on getting high strikeout pitchers versus weak teams in pitching-friendly environments.

Here are some examples of how to build a three man pitching staff:

Average Salary - $24,000/$16,000/$10,000
Average Salary - $22,000/$16,000/$12,000
Average Salary - $20,000/$16,000/$14,000

This is all based on the landscape of the matchups and salaries, but it provides a good baseline.

On DraftStreet, you can employ the strategy of taking both starting pitchers from the same game because wins only account for two points. An example of this last week was the Reds at the Padres. You could have taken Mat Latos and Jesse Hahn because both salaries were around $16-18K and the over/under was just 6.5 runs. Latos finished with 8.5 points and Hahn racked up 14.5 points, netting savvy owners 23 points for $33K, which is above the ratio (0.69) needed to win consistently in heads-up and 50/50 contests. (0.60 should be your target).

Here is a breakdown of the pitching data from March 31 – July 4:

- 2468 pitching performances
- Average Salary - $14,525
- Average Points Per Game – 6.79 (Home 7.14/Road 6.43)
- Average Ratio – 0.47 (Home 0.50/Road 0.45)

Top starting pitcher vs. Team (Home/Road points per game)

1. San Diego – 9.87
2. Miami – 9.46
3. @San Diego – 8.97
4. Minnesota – 8.92
5. Pittsburgh – 8.51
6. @Seattle – 8.44
7. Atlanta – 8.42
8. Chicago White Sox – 8.39
9. Philadelphia – 8.36
10. @Houston – 8.23

Bottom starting pitcher vs. Team

1. @Colorado – 3.54
2. @Oakland – 4.44
3. LA Angels – 4.99
4. LA Dodgers – 5.07
5. @Kansas City – 5.22
6. @St Louis – 5.26
7. Baltimore – 5.27
8. @Detroit – 5.27
9. @LA Dodgers – 5.29
10. @Milwaukee – 5.32

Teams to target with a right-handed pitcher

1. San Diego – 9.31
2. Houston – 8.99
3. Philadelphia – 8.37
4. Miami – 8.19
5. Washington – 7.87

Teams to avoid with a right-handed pitcher

1. LA Dodgers – 4.52
2. Oakland – 4.91
3. Kansas City – 4.97
4. LA Angels – 5.18
5. Colorado – 5.39

Teams to target with a left-handed pitcher

1. San Diego – 9.64
2. Chi White Sox – 8.78
3. Pittsburgh – 8.71
4. Seattle – 8.61
5. Atlanta – 8.28

Teams to avoid with a left-handed pitcher

1. Texas – 4.14
2. Oakland – 5.02
3. LA Angels – 5.23
4. Chicago Cubs – 5.62
5. NY Mets – 5.82

Salary Range

$20,000-$30,000 – 10.52 ppg; 0.46 Ratio; 131/225 10+ ppg (58%)

$18,000-$19,999 – 8.41 ppg; 0.44 Ratio; 71/182 (39%)

$16,000-$17,999 – 7.24 ppg; 0.43 Ratio; 135/411(33%)

$14,000-$15,999 – 7.19 ppg; 0.47 Ratio; 139/453 (30%)

$12,000-$13,999 – 6.07 ppg; 0.46 Ratio; 119/503 (23%)

$10,000-$11,999 – 5.23 ppg; 0.47 Ratio; 96/452 (21%)

$0-$9999 – 5.02 ppg, 0.60 Ratio; 48/243 (19%)


The best value is the $14,000-$15,999 range, but you need to also lock in guaranteed points so taking a pitcher $20,000+ is a viable strategy. If you target a pitcher in that highest price range, you will need to find a $10,000-$12,000 pitcher to offset the spend. The majority of starting pitching falls between $12,000-$15,999.

10 PPG Target (30% of the time starting pitchers earn 10 PPG or higher)

- $15891 Avg Salary
- 0.90 Ratio
- 13.39 PPG

Breakdown of Average Stats for at least 13.39 ppg:

7.0 IP
7.2 K
1.48 Win (75% of the time the starting pitcher gets the win)
-0.97 ER
-0.05 L
-1.11 Hits
-0.35 BB
0.15 CG

The key here is selecting a strikeout pitcher who goes deep into games, with a target of seven innings and seven strikeouts. This selection should be matchup and park driven. Focus on the weakest hitting teams in the best pitching parks. Pitchers that get at least 8 K/9 and teams that strikeout at least 20% against that handed pitcher, along with being in the bottom 10 of wOBA.

Teams with most 10+ PPG against

1. San Diego – 37/81 (46%)
2. Houston – 34/86 (39%)
3. Atlanta – 30/83 (36%)
4. Miami – 30/79 (38%)
5. Chi White Sox – 29/85 (34%)

Teams with fewest 10+ PPG against

1. LA Dodgers – 16/79 (20%)
2. Kansas City – 16/81 (19%)
3. LA Angels – 17/89 (19%)
4. San Francisco – 19/84 (22%)
5. Oakland – 19/82 (23%)

No surprise with those top five teams - they all strikeout a ton, or in the case of the Padres, simply can’t hit anything. Don’t go against Miami at home, though. The Marlins have mashed at home this season despite the park historically playing out to be extremely pitcher friendly.

Daily Fantasy Ace (Pitchers averaging at least 10 PPG)

1. Clayton Kershaw – 14.51 (Home 16.38)
2. Jesse Hahn – 13.94 (4 starts)
3. Chris Sale – 12.97 (Home 14.89)
4. Masahiro Tanaka – 12.88
5. Felix Hernandez – 12.44
6. Johnny Cueto – 12.23 (Home 14.53)
7. Yu Darvish – 12.07 (Home 14.13)
8. Adam Wainwright – 11.78
9. David Price – 11.34
10. Max Scherzer – 10.88
11. Jake Arrieta – 10.77
12. Julio Teheran – 10.39
13. Corey Kluber – 10.26
14. Zack Greinke – 10.16 (Home 12.80)
15. Madison Bumgarner – 10.01

Some of these aces get a bump at home, while Bumgarner has surprisingly been the reverse.

Worst Starting Pitchers (at least eight starts)

1. Nick Martinez – 0.65
2. Paul Maholm – 1.27
3. Samuel Deduno – 2.27
4. Jacob Turner – 2.33
5. Cesar Ramos – 2.64
6. Clay Buchholz – 3.08
7. Eric Stults – 3.16
8. Kevin Correia – 3.21
9. Felix Doubront – 3.31
10. Robbie Ross – 3.35
11. Franklin Morales – 3.42

Bottom line: Never take these guys and target hitters against them.

Most Consistent Starting Pitchers (percentage of games above 6.8 PPG + at least 10 starts)

1. Clayton Kershaw – 11/12 (92%)
2. Chris Sale – 11/12 (92%)
3. Masahiro Tanaka – 15/17 (88%)
4. Felix Hernandez – 15/18 (83%)
5. Jon Lester – 14/17 (82%)
6. Garrett Richards – 14/17 (82%)
7. Adam Wainwright – 14/17 (82%)
8. Doug Fister – 8/10 (80%)
9. Michael Wacha – 12/15 (80%)
10. Alex Wood – 8/10 (80%)

Most people don’t think about Lester, Fister, Wacha, or Wood in this class, but they provide great value and consistency as your second starting pitcher.

Here are some examples of pitching plays today:

- Wainwright ($24,156) versus PIT (-161 favorite; 7.5 total) – Top ace of the day
- Hisashi Iwakuma ($15,079) versus MIN (-201 favorite, 7.5 total) – biggest favorite of the day; low scoring game vs bad pitcher
- Jesse Chavez ($13771) versus SF (-149 favorite, 7.5 total) – high % for a win, plus LHB could mash Ryan Vogelsong
- Chris Tillman ($11237) at WAS (+156 underdog, 7.5 total) – innings eater in a low scoring game

The arms I’m going with Monday are – Wainwright/Iwakuma/Tillman or Chavez