Pitching must be the center of your daily fantasy baseball drafting strategy. This is an area where you cannot make a mistake. If you do, your chances of finishing in the money of your league are almost zero. It’s possible still, but only by accident and not by design.

First, understand the nature of pitching in your league. Pitchers are awarded for strikeouts, innings pitched, and wins. They are punished for walks, hits, and earned runs. Focusing on the good and avoiding the bad is a must. There are statistics that you can look at for deducing this with more accuracy. Look to WHIP first. Walks plus hits divided by innings pitched reveals a pitcher’s consistency. It shows how many people they are letting on base per inning on average over the course of a season. Some of these base runners will become earned runs, others will not. The higher the WHIP number, the more likely a high ERA is. However, ERA is notoriously imprecise and should almost never be used in fantasy analysis. WHIP accomplishes everything that we need, but with a much higher degree of accuracy.

At DraftKings, you need to draft a second pitcher. This is tricky for many people. The first impulse is to draft a second top tier pitcher. This could work, but it’s often not the best policy. The second impulse that many have is to draft a low-tier pitcher. Again, if your first stringer does well, the second string pitcher is just the icing on your fantasy cake.

There’s a better way of looking at this problem. Don’t think of the second pitcher as a bonus, but rather a supplement. Your second tier pitcher should be providing you with points, but you should not have the same expectations as with your top pitcher. Look for a pitcher that will score points, but you shouldn’t be aiming for 30+ points like you would expect from your top choice. They might do this, and that’s awesome, but it shouldn’t be the expectation. You want a pitcher with a chance of a win, and that’s about it. If this happens, you will get exactly what you should be looking for with your second tier pitcher. It supplements the pitching points you already have, acts as an insurance policy of sorts, and the whole time it gives you enough leftover salary to draft a top quality offensive crew.

In this light, you should be looking for a Clayton Kershaw/David Price/Justin Verlander/Madison Bumgarner quality player, as well as a lesser name. That lesser name pitcher should have almost an equal chance of posting the win as your top choice, but with lower quality stats along the way. If Kershaw gets 12 strikeouts in a game, you should only be expecting 3 or 4 from your second tier pitcher. It’s a reduced point amount, but the win plus the innings pitched will still give you good value. And it allows you to find power in your batters without making sacrifices. It does take a knowledge of value and finding cheap points here and there, but it works.

There will be flukes here and there. However, there are ways to minimize the chances of this happening. Pick a good, top tier pitcher always. Look for one going against a weaker team. Also, don’t be afraid to spend a lot to have a good pitcher. You aren’t trying to save money, but rather win your league. You need to spend money to do that, and if you have to spend more than you’d like to make that happen, so be it. There are other areas on your roster where you can make up that money.

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