MLB DFS: Breaking down the top daily fantasy baseball pitchers on FanDuel & DraftKings for May 4, 2021
Diving into today’s MLB DFS slate to uncover your best pitching plays.
If you’ve been reading this column lately, you’ll know that we’re a big proponent of sticking to the core principles that came out of a deep analysis of 2020 data. Don’t be afraid to pay up for pitching (both sites), and spending around $15,000 to $18,000 is often the optimal range in that department (DK).
Main Slate Targets
It’s really a core group of 2 that I feel good about today (FD), but on DK we need to expand the list to a couple more.
Jacob deGrom takes the mound today for the Mets, and he’s sporting a 2.8 opponent run total with a 64% win%. His underlying metrics are out of the world, with a 1.38 SIERA, 23% whiff%, 46% chase% and mere 0.51 ERA with a 15.2 K/9. Honestly, he’s just insane. When we thought he had reached his ceiling, he continues to defy the odds and is taking him game to the absolute next level.
A matchup with the Cardinals is a fine situation to get him, as they have a 25.5% K% in the split and a very average wOBA and hard hit rate as well. You can play him with confidence in any matchup, and tonight is no exception. Seven innings and 8-10 Ks is right there for the taking. Let’s just hope the Mets can get him some semblance of run support against Johan Oviedo (which they really should be able to).
If pivoting down a little bit, as deGrom’s $12,500 price point on FD is a hefty one to pay, we can look towards Aaron Nola.
Nola’s having a solid year for the Phillies, and is second on the list in terms of SIERA in 2021 after deGrom for the day’s slate (3.33). He has a great 9.3 K/9 to 1.2 BB/9 rate, is missing bats at a solid 12%/32% clip, and is tied for tops on the slate in terms of win% with 64%. His matchup is even better than deGrom’s based on the numbers (27% K% and .288 wOBA for MIL vs RHP), and he’s over $3,000 less on FD ($700 difference on DK, which is way too little). He’s in play on FD for GPP purposes as there’s plenty of K upside in him tonight for the price delta.
I’m not high on J.A. Happ against TEX even though the 3.5 opponent total and 61% win% are great. He has a mere 5.1 K/9 this year (7% whiff%) and a 5.33 SIERA as well – a near 3.5 run difference between the SIERA and ERA (1.96) thanks to a .154 BABIP (completely unsustainable). There’s nice upside here though as TEX is awful vs LHP – but I do worry he’ll backfire given how poor the leading indicators are.
I do love me some Shane McClanahan from a talent perspective, but a matchup with LAA is a bit of a tricky one given the thump they have in the middle of their lineup. I’d also like to see him be a bit cheaper than he is on DK – but there’s still K upside here. Even if he’s only in the 60-70 pitch territory, he could still go 4 or 5 innings and accrue 5-7 Ks, which you’ll be happy with out of SP2 slots on DK.
The one name that I can get behind here is Nick Pivetta though, who faces a DET lineup with a near 30% K% split today. Corey Kluber dominated them just a couple of days ago with 10 Ks over 8 IP, and Pivetta does miss some bats. Like Happ, his underlying metrics (5.23 SIERA this year) do not speak to the 2.81 ERA being sustainable – but this kind of matchup can be fruitful for a guy with swing and miss stuff.
The moral of the story is that you have to play deGrom or Nola on FanDuel – full stop. On DraftKings, I’d be playing deGrom in 100% of my entries, and supplementing him with what is likely some McClanahan, Pivetta or Happ for SP2 purposes based on upside and matchup alone.
That will do it for our version of the Pitching Primer today. Best of luck in your contests!