One of the most common difficulties that you will face when drafting a pitcher for your daily fantasy sports roster is the allure of other pitchers. If there are two similarly talented pitchers at similar prices, how do you know which one to pick? In most cases, even if you can have two pitchers, it is only right to pick one of these pitchers. It’s a tough scenario, and the reality is that in many cases you will have to rely on guessing. But, by ensuring that your guesses are educated and backed up by statistics and probabilities, then you can make your team that much stronger on average.
Let’s say you are debating between Chris Sale and Matt Harvey. You can’t choose both because it will put the rest of your team in a position where talent will be almost impossible to find. At DraftKings, Sale is currently priced at $11,600 while Harvey is $11,300. Both have similar stats, although Sale has the edge on strikeouts and has been scoring more fantasy points per game on average. Still, Harvey has the cheaper price tag here, which is also quite attractive.
The best way to proceed when you have a tough decision like this one is to resort to the scoring rules of your league and just flesh out the math behind them. It can be time intensive the first few times you do it, but in the end, it will be worth it by helping you to place higher in your fantasy contests. This is a good default move regardless of the sport you are playing and the stakes you are playing at. Be familiar with the scoring and how your choices will affect that.
In this specific case, Harvey’s biggest appeal shouldn’t be his smaller price tag. In daily fantasy baseball, the pitcher is the most important piece of your roster and spending an extra $300 to get a better pitcher is completely okay, even if the dollar per point value goes in the wrong direction. No, Harvey’s biggest draw here is the fact that he has a lower WHIP than Sale. It shows that he is more consistent in keeping people off base. Harvey’s is at 0.99 and Sale’s is 1.07. Per inning, Harvey has 0.08 fewer walks or hits. Over a long period of time, that’s a tangible result, but not over the course of a single game. Even if both pitchers play 10 innings (they won’t), and they play in perfect correlation with their past stats (they won’t), the trade off is not enough to go with Harvey. Sale has had 22 starts and 193 Ks, or 8.8 Ks per start. Harvey has 22 starts and 135 Ks, or 6.1 Ks per start. At DraftKings, that’s the difference of more than 4 points per game, while at FanDuel, it’s more than 2 points. In the end, the edge that Harvey has in consistency is overpowered by Sale’s better numbers. Sale, then, is worth the extra $300 and then some.
A further consideration here would be the matchups. Sale is facing the Chicago Cubs for this matchup, and they are a decent team this season. There are no real stars when it comes to hitting, but they are fairly consistent. Sale’s high strikeout rate should be prevalent despite the Cubs’ better record. Harvey is facing the Pittsburgh Pirates, a team at a similar level to the Mets this year. Both pitchers have a chance of a win, but the better individual stats of Sale weigh out over the uncertainties provided by the rest of their teams.