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DFS Baseball 101: Breaking Down DraftKings Pitching

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. Rath won the 2016 FSWA "Baseball Article of the Year, Online" award and was a finalist for the FSWA Best Baseball Series in 2011.

Throughout the baseball season I have broken down each site and indicator when playing daily fantasy sports. With the recent merger of DraftKings and DraftStreet, it is a perfect time to analyze the DraftKings data starting with the pitching side. With two starting pitchers, the need to find value every day is key.

One of the key differences between FanDuel and DraftKings is you need the second starting pitcher, but also look at the range of scoring on DK. The max was Clayton Kershaws no hitter game at 59.25 and the lowest was Colby Lewis at -22.55. While on FanDuel, the scoring for Kershaw was 28 and Lewis was -7.67. The downside for pitching is very little on FanDuel, making it necessary to avoid those cheap pitchers on DraftKings.

Your target score for DraftKings should be at least 100 points in cash games (head to-head and double ups), so if you allocate the recommended 30-40% of your $50,000 cap it puts you at $15K-$20K. In tournaments, you can go lower on the pitching spend, and increase your hitting because you are trying to hit the most optimal scoring lineup vs. the entire field vs. just one player or 50% of the field. Your target score for pitching needs to be at least 40 combined points with 50-60 ideally in tournaments.

Lets start off with our baseline for starting pitching by looking at the total averages.

Sample Size

March 31-July 26th (2965 games)

Avg Salary $7890
Avg Pts 14.77
Avg Ratio 1.87

Average Stat Line (Scoring)

IP 5.92 (13.32)
K 4.87 (9.74)
W 0.34 (1.38)
CG 0.02 (0.05)
SHO 0.10 (0.03)

TOTAL 24.52

ER 2.58 (-5.17)
H 5.84 (-3.50)
BB 1.80 (-1.08)

TOTAL -9.75

Home 15.43 PPG
Road 14.11 PGG
Around a 10% edge for taking a pitcher at home.

Averages by Salary Range

$10,000-$13,400 (410)

Avg Salary $11,109
Avg Pts 21.1
Avg Ratio 1.9
# of games 30+ (105) 26%
# of games 20+ (226) 55%

$9000-$9900 (369)

Avg Salary 9388
Avg Pts 16.69
Avg Ratio 1.77
# of games 30+ (41) 11%
# of games 20+ (138) 37%

$8000-$8900 (543)

Avg Salary 8412
Avg Pts 15.15
Avg Ratio 1.80
# of games 30+ (39) 7%
# of games 20+ (185) 34%

$7000-$7900 (614)

Avg Salary 7419
Avg Pts 14.38
Avg Ratio 1.93
# of games 30+ (39) 6%
# of games 20+ (194) 32%

$6000-$6900 (614)

Avg Salary 6453
Avg Pts 12.39
Avg Ratio 1.92
# of games 30+ (23) 4%
# of games 20+ (153) 25%

$4400-$5900 (387)

Avg Salary 5480
Avg Pts 10.35
Avg Ratio 1.88
# of games 30+ (6) 2%
# of games 20+ (62) 16%

I thought it was interesting to see that the $7000-$7900 range provided the best ratio of 1.93 making the theory of taking the one stud in the $9K+ range along with someone in the $7000-$8000 range the best strategy. The value in starting pitching really takes a dive under $7000.

What do you need to get 30+ Points from your starting pitcher?

Sample - 253 games
Avg Salary $9421
Avg Ratio 3.94
Avg Stat Line - 7.7 IP, .87 W, 0.55 ER, 9.04 K, 3.95 H, 0.14 SHO, 1.08 BB, 0.19 CG

Best Value Ratio SP (at least 5 starts)

Jesse Hahn-2.96
Jake Arrieta-2.87
Corey Kluber-2.64
Danny Duffy-2.46
Garrett Richards-2.46
David Phelps-2.44
Tyson Ross-2.43
Clayton Kershaw-2.41
Matt Shoemaker-2.38
Jacob deGrom-2.38

Worst Value Ratio SP

Mike Pelfrey 0.10
Joe Saunders 0.58
Paul Maholm 0.77
Robbie Ross 0.80
Scott Baker 0.82
Scott Carroll 0.93
Wandy Rodriguez 0.98
Nick Martinez 0.99
Juan Nicasio 1.08
Brandon Morrow 1.11

Top Overall Pitchers

Clayton Kershaw 30.56
Felix Hernandez 26.89
Jose Fernandez 26.85
Chris Sale 26.11
Masahiro Tanaka 26.05
David Price 25.71
Johnny Cueto 25.20
Yu Darvish 24.90
Jesse Hahn 24.17
Adam Wainwright 23.69
Corey Kluber 23.33
Max Scherzer 23.28
Jon Lester 23.03
Garrett Richards 22.12
Jake Arrieta 21.82
Cole Hamels 21.51
Zack Greinke 21.48
Julio Teheran 21.44
Scott Kazmir 21.41
Tyson Ross 20.80
Madison Bumgarner 20.35
Sonny Gray 20.31

Total Points Against vs. Team

Top 5


Bottom 5


Total Points Against (Park)

Top 5

@Astros 18.42
@Mariners 18.17
@Padres 18.06
@Phillies 17.59
@Reds 16.41

Bottom 5

@As 8.83
@Rockies 9.47
@Indians 12.11
@Tigers 12.13
@Brewers 12.22

Best Teams for LHP

White Sox-17.57

Worst Teams for LHP


Best Teams for RHP


Worst Teams for RHP


Best Teams vs. RHP Road


Worst Teams vs. RHP Road


Best Teams vs. LHP Road


Worst Teams vs. LHP Road


Best Teams vs. LHP Home
White Sox-19.68

Worst Teams vs. LHP Home
Blue Jays-9.75

Best Teams vs. RHP Home

Worst Teams vs. RHP Home

DraftKings Pitching Plays for Monday

Yu Darvish-$11,400, at home vs. NYY, -143 favorite, total 8
Madison Bumgarner-$10,100, at home vs. PIT, -154 favorite, total 6.5
Jesse Chavez-$8000, @Houston, -192 favorite, total 8.5
Bartolo Colon-$7300, at home vs. PHI, -129 favorite, total 7.5

Top Plays

C: Wilin Rosario $4100 vs. Wada LHP
1B: David Ortiz $5400 vs. Dickey RHP
2B: Scooter Gennett $3800 vs. Odorizzi RHP
3B: Josh Donaldson $5100 vs. Oberholtzer LHP
SS: Jose Reyes $5200 vs. Buchholz RHP
OF: Shin-Soo Choo $4300 vs. Phelps RHP
OF: Jay Bruce $4200 vs. Anderson RHP
OF: Drew Stubbs $4400 vs. Wada LHP

Cheap Play: Dan Johnson $2500 vs. Buchholz RHP

Monster Stack: As RHB vs. Oberholtzer (Cespedes, Donaldson, Lowrie, Norris, Gentry)
Sneaky Stack: Cubs RHB vs. Flande (Castro, Alcantara, Ruggiano, Castillo, Bonifacio)

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Michael Rathburn plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: burnnotice, DraftKings: burnnotice, Yahoo: burnnotice, Fantasy Aces: burnnotice, FantasyDraft: burnnotice.