It’s widely known among the DFS community that rostering a $4,000 pitcher generally isn’t worth the salary flexibility that comes with the territory. On the flip side, there seems to be less talk about how to approach these pitchers from an offensive perspective.
My interest was piqued when writing about the Troy Tulowitzki trade. Tulo carries an average salary of $5,200, but was only priced $4,100 in his scheduled Blue Jays debut against Jerome Williams, who is arguably the worst starter in the big leagues – didn’t make sense.
Pitchers generally receive the minimum price tag because they either have a poor track record or no track record at all. Along with that comes the perception that opposing hitters will be priced higher as a result.
From my experience, if forced to choose one strategy, DFS players would be more likely to avoid the day’s top pitchers than specifically target the bottom tier. It seems as though DraftKings plays into this line of thinking as well – I routinely see prices slashed on hitters when they’re facing an elite pitcher, but never seem to see an increase when they face bottom-of-the-barrel arms.
Here’s an example:
It makes sense that Curtis Granderson is on sale with Kershaw on the mound, but why a discount when facing $4,000 Ian Thomas in his major league debut? It’s not as if Granderson was struggling either – he was +.36 PPG above the league average in the 10 games leading up to the Dodgers visit.
This is also reflected in the chart below –
So far in 2015, 66 pitchers have taken the mound priced at $4,000. The price of opposing hitters has not budged, despite these pitchers averaging just 8.58 points per start (almost half of the league average).
This means that you can grab hitters who are facing replacement level pitchers at the same cost as when they’re countered by a DFS league-average pitcher ($7,500).
To help put this into perspective, here’s a look at the most recent $4,000 pitchers side-by-side with the latest $7,500 pitchers:
There’s a lot more credibility on the right side to go along with those far superior numbers.
Now you’re probably wondering if hitters are able to take advantage of these matchups. The answer is a definitive YES.
Hitters average an impressive 8.29 points per game (+1.72) against pitchers priced at $4,000 compared to an overall average of 6.75 (+0.06).
So next time you’re shopping for pitchers and come across a $4,000 arm, consider targeting him by loading up with opposing bats.