MLB DFS Pitching Primer: Wednesday, 6/12 – Main Slate
Welcome back to the Wednesday edition of the MLB DFS Pitching Primer! I’m Thunder Dan and I’ll be covering pitching for MLB DFS on all season long at FantasyCPR. I’m including both FanDuel and DraftKings pricing and will be covering my favorite pitching options for both sites.
Last night was yet another slate in which paying up at pitcher proved to be sub-optimal. I ended up splitting my cash games between Chris Paddack and Spencer Turnbull on FanDuel and they did just enough to help me stay in the green. I will admit that a lot of my GPP options busted, and I even took a few shots on some guys I didn’t write up in the Primer like Jon Duplantier and Trent Thornton, neither of which ended up well.
Today I am covering the main slate only, as we have a typically weird Wednesday with some split slates. The main slate on FanDuel and DraftKings is just 8 games and locks at 7:05. I am going with a “less is more” approach today and giving you only 5 pitchers to consider on DK and 4 on FD.
"The goal of the pitching primer is to help you narrow down your pitching options for both your GPPs and cash games. Analyzing pitchers and pitching matchups is something I really enjoy and I hope to give you a detailed analysis of why I think each pitcher makes for a compelling cash or GPP play."
Every day is a new day and in DFS, and we are presented with a new challenge – to try to find the right combination of pitchers and hitters to get that winning score. I look at it like trying to solve a Sudoku puzzle or a Rubix cube. Let’s start, as we always do, by examining the starting pitching matchups for all 8 games.
MLB DFS Pitching Primer: First Look
Here are tonight’s pitching match-ups. The home pitcher is listed second and the Vegas odds are listed in parenthesis when available. Remember that some pitchers have extremely large home/road splits. Vegas lines and implied run totals can be tricky to navigate at times and they do change throughout the day, but they are certainly a great place to start your MLB DFS research. For cash games, I am often looking for large home favorites, while anything goes for GPP arms.
Merrill Kelly vs. Zach Eflin (-140)
Edwin Jackson (-105) vs. David Hess
Miles Mikolas (-140) vs. Jordan Yamamoto
Mitch Keller vs. Mike Soroka (-205)
Brandon Woodruff vs. Justin Verlander (-130)
Tommy Milone (projected reliever) vs. Jose Berrios (-220)
Daniel Norris vs. Danny Duffy (-140)
Joey Lucchesi (-133) vs. Shaun Anderson
Berrios and Soroka are the biggest home favorites, while Verlander and Duffy are also favored at home but to a lesser extent. However, none of those four pitchers are going to make the cut today. I am going to pay down at pitcher again on this slate and so while those pitchers might be decent plays, I simply don’t see them being worth their salaries on this slate and rostering them is going to handcuff your ability to mix and match the bats you want in your lineups.
MLB DFS Pitching Primer: Cash Game Ace
Brandon Woodruff (8.9k FD, 7.6k DK) @ Houston
Woodruff has emerged as the unlikely ace on this Brewers staff this season and has simply been one of the better pitchers in the National League so far this season. His advanced stats all check out with no major red flags for regression, I think he’s going to continue to be good. He has a tough task tonight since his offense is facing Justin Verlander and he has to face a Houston team that scored 10 runs last night and has the lowest strikeout rate on the slate.
I still love Woodruff here for a few reasons. First of all, his 29% K rate is second to only Verlander on this slate. He’s one of the few guys who is striking out lefties and righties at almost the exact same rate, so the fact that Houston has five lefties in the lineup tonight (they usually have 3 more RHH in this lineup when Correa, Altuve, and Springer are healthy) doesn’t worry me.
Some of the guys filling in for the injured Astros stars have substantially higher K rates (Fisher and Mayfield for example) and I give the edge to the elite strikeout pitcher in those matchups. Finally, despite last night’s outburst, Houston’s offense has been trending down over the last 14 days as they’re hitting only .230 with the 10th worst wOBA and a middling .170 ISO.
For some reason, Draftkings continues to price Woodruff down and he’s such a bargain over there that I am considering just going 100% all in on him in cash and GPP. You should definitely consider him in cash games on FanDuel, too, although there is another pitcher who is considerably cheaper who should have a solid floor tonight.
MLB DFS Pitching Primer: Another Cash Option
Miles Mikolas (7.6k FD, 7.2k DK) @ Miami
Mikolas returns to the Cardinals rotation tonight without having to miss a start despite taking a line drive to the arm in his last outing and being forced to leave early.
I’m going to keep this simple with this pick. Mikolas checks all the same boxes that Dakota Hudson checked last night. He is much better against righties (Marlins are almost all righties), has a solid groundball rate (Marlins hit more groundballs than any other team in baseball), and has excellent control (4% walk rate, won’t hurt himself).
He’s not a strikeout pitcher, but the Marlins will strike themselves out 4-5 times in this game. This is an elite run prevention spot as Mikolas gets a good ballpark and the best matchup for a RHP in baseball. Sorry, Miami, but we have to keep picking on you until you show us that you can actually do something against even the most ho-hum right-handed pitchers.
At 7.6k on FanDuel, he’s my preferred cash option and he makes a great pairing with Woodruff on Draftkings for cash, too.
MLB DFS Pitching Primer: GPP Pivot
Joey Lucchesi (7.9k FD, 9.6k DK) @ San Francisco
The first thing you’ll probably notice is the price disparity. He’s really only in play for me on FanDuel, although I suppose you could make the case that he’ll be incredibly low owned on Draftkings at that price. I just don’t know if he has enough upside to pay that tag off on a point-per-dollar basis.
Anyways, another day and another chance to pick on the Giants, who have the lowest implied team total on this slate. Luchessi has been a bit up and down this year but has flashed his upside in a few outings. He brings a 25% K rate to the table and a 50% ground ball rate, too. He’s faced San Francisco twice this year back in April with one really good outing, and another pretty bad one. He’s a tad unpredictable, which is why I prefer to keep him a GPP-only option.
His biggest weakness has been getting deep into games, as he still is averaging less than 6 innings per start, but at his FanDuel price, 6 clean innings with 6-7 strikeouts, a QS, and a win would be a nice fantasy score and put you in contention for taking down a GPP.
MLB DFS Pitching Primer: Cheap Arm/SP2
Mitch Keller (5.5k FD, 7k DK) vs. Atlanta
I want to clear up a few things here first. Yes, I am a Pirates fan and this pick may be biased a little. And no, this is not a random Pittsburgh middle-school student who got his picture taken in a Pirates uniform, this is actually 23-year-old rookie, Mitch Keller.
Keller is the Pirates best pitching prospect and after watching Chris Archer give up four home runs in the first inning last night, I badly need to believe that Keller is going to help this struggling Pirates rotation. Keller was greeted rudely by the Reds in his debut, surrendering 6 runs in his first inning as a major league pitcher. But four of those runs came on one swing when Jose Iglesias hit a grand slam. Keller settled down and struck out the side, and then worked another three scoreless innings.
His minor league profile is outstanding. Since his demotion back to AAA, he’s pitched well and recently struck out 13 batters in only five innings! He’s got great stuff and while Atlanta is a tough matchup for any pitcher, I’ll definitely give the advantage here to Keller due to his pedigree and it is the first time these Braves hitters will see him. He’s just way too cheap on both sites for how talented he is.
MLB DFS Pitching Primer: Cheap Arm/SP2
Jordan Yamamoto (7.5k DK) vs. St. Louis
So we have another rookie pitching tonight, and Yamamoto is actually making his big league debut for Miami. He was called up from AA straight to the majors and is only available on Draftkings tonight.
There is always going to be some risk in taking a kid who’s skipping AAA and I don’t usually like taking pitchers in their debuts, but I do like Yamamoto tonight for a few reasons.
For one, the Cardinals have been abysmal at the plate over the last two weeks. They have the lowest wOBA and WRC+ in that stretch. We saw both Sandy Alcantara and Elieser Hernandez both hold them in check during the first two games of this series.
The second reason I like him is that his minor league numbers actually look pretty good. He’s been pitching in the minors for 5+ years now and has a solid K rate and his xFIP of 3.79 suggests that his ERA of 3.58 is sustainable. The only small red flag would be a slightly elevated walk rate. He was immediately priced ahead of half the pitchers on this slate which should tell you that Draftkings respects his potential and I am going to have a few shares in case he dazzles in his debut.
MLB DFS Pitching: Rankings and Review
This is where I give you my final rankings for both cash games and GPPs. Remember, rankings for cash are based on safety, while rankings for GPP are based on their ceiling and point-per-dollar upside.
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Remember on DK, I prefer to pay up for at least one high-priced pitcher in cash and on FanDuel I prefer to pay up in cash more often than not. Today that is NOT the case, and I’m taking a different approach to my cash and GPP roster builds.
On DK, my preferred cash game pairing is going to be Woodruff-Mikolas, while my favorite GPP pairing is going to be Keller-Yamamoto (the double rookie combo – oh boy!) in order to save a few extra dollars for bats.
If you play mainly on FanDuel try not to spread your ownership out too much among different pitchers guys, otherwise, you are probably hurting your chances at winning a GPP by getting the right stack with the right pitcher.
- Woodruff (DK)
- Mikolas (FD)
- Luchessi (FD)
Thanks for reading the MLB DFS Pitching Primer and be sure to come back for more great FantasyCPR content for MLB and all other sports! Good luck