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The Daily Duel: Daily Strategy - Pitching

Kevin Payne

Kevin has worked for Rotowire just under a decade and has covered basketball, baseball and football. A glutton for punishment, he roots for his hometown Bills, Sabres and the New York Yankees. He hosts the RotoWire SiriusXM show every Wednesday and Friday and you can follow him on Twitter @KCPayne26.

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As I’ve suggested over the first couple of weeks of baseball, the pitcher is the most important player on your daily fantasy team as they generally score the most points. When selecting a pitcher, it’s important to note who they’re facing. While it’s still early in the season, it’s worth noting which teams are going to be favorable or unfavorable matchups for your pitcher. Before you throw the small sample size card at me, these are some stats you might want to take into consideration when choosing your pitcher. Periodically throughout the season I’ll revisit these stats to see where the teams are trending and if they’ve improved or gotten worse.

Teams with the highest strikeout rate:

San Diego – 9.4 strikeouts per game
New York Mets – 8.9 strikeouts per game
Milwaukee – 8.3 strikeouts per game
Chicago Cubs – 8.3 strikeouts per game

As you can see, these are the teams you want to consider when looking at pitching matchups. In Fanduel’s game, strikeouts are important, as each one earns you a point, the same amount for completing an inning. While there’s a small sample size of nine or 10 games for most teams, it’s notable to see the way each team is trending.

Teams with the lowest strikeout rate:

San Francisco – 5.1 strikeouts per game
Colorado – 5.6 strikeouts per game
Kansas City – 5.9 strikeouts per game
New York Yankees – 6.1 strikeouts per game

The Yankees aren’t surprising considering how many pitches their batters generally take. San Francisco and Colorado’s numbers are impressive considering they’re National League teams who send the pitcher to bat instead of a designated hitter.

Teams with the highest home run rate:

Cleveland – 1.9 home runs per game
Baltimore – 1.6 home runs per game
Texas – 1.5 home runs per game
St. Louis – 1.5 home runs per game

Texas shouldn’t be a surprise considering their launching pad of a home stadium. St. Louis is off to a hot start while their former slugger Albert Pujols is still in search of his first bomb (he missed a few by less than 10 feet during the Yankees series). Home runs are important in that it’s an automatic -1 for your pitcher at a minimum given.

Teams with the lowest home run rate:

Pittsburgh – 0.4 home runs per game
Washington – 0.5 home runs per game
Chicago Cubs – 0.5 home runs per game
Philadelphia – 0.6 home runs per game

Given the elite pitchers they’ve run into this early in the season, it’s not a surprise to see Pittsburgh here. Philadelphia is showing that they miss the bats of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. Washington is another surprise given the youth and upside of their top four batters and with Adam LaRoche off to such a hot start.

Teams with the most runs per game:

Cleveland – 6.5 runs per game
St. Louis – 5.7 runs per game
Detroit – 5.3 runs per game
Boston – 5.3 runs per game

It’s not surprising to see the Tribe at the top of the list given they rang up 32 runs in their three-game series in Kansas City. Detroit and Boston aren’t a surprise either given each team’s loaded lineup.

Teams with the fewest runs per game:

Pittsburgh – 2.0 runs per game
Oakland – 2.8 runs per game
Cincinnati – 3.1 runs per game
Philadelphia – 3.11 runs per game
Minnesota – 3.11 runs per game

Again, it’s not a shock to see Pittsburgh on this list given the difficult matchups they’ve had to start the season. The big surprise here is the Reds, who outside of Jay Bruce, Joey Votto and Zack Cozart are off to a slow start.

The early season results show that in general you want to select a National League pitcher against teams like San Diego or the Chicago Cubs. Last season the top four run scoring teams and top five home run hitting teams came from the American League. The top five teams in ERA and top six teams for pitching strikeouts all came from the National League. This isn’t meant to come off as a revelation given the nature of the DH vs. the pitcher batting in each league, but it’s generally not a bad idea to go with the National League when selecting a pitcher.

Tip Of The Week

This is an old gambling trick that can be used with daily games. Take a look and see what Las Vegas thinks of each game, notably who is favored and the over/under on the run total. Obviously, Vegas is not going to always be right, as upsets happen and a game anticipated to be high scoring can end up being a pitcher’s duel or vice versa. Some websites will take it a step further and give odds on players hitting a home run or how many strikeouts a pitcher will have. Again, it isn’t written in stone that just because the numbers say one thing it’s going to happen. But it’s a good way to get a reference point to see what you can expect out of a player or team.

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