We’ve lightly discussed in this space before the utility of rolling out a relief pitcher for daily fantasy.
In short, the cost per point can be favorable and some of the best value available, but the risk of posting a zero is high –the most heavily used closers, Cody Allen and Mark Melancon (31 appearances each), have appeared in fewer than half of their teams games (not to mention each started the year as a setup man – Francisco Rodriguez leads full-season closers with 30 appearances, 46 percent of his team’s outings).
Whether you choose to deploy a closer or not will largely depend on your risk preference. To try and help out, the table below shows how often closers have pitched with certain rest (it includes seasons since 2010 in which a pitcher notched at least 10 saves).
Unfortunately, there’s not a non-database way I know of for breaking this down once pitchers have pitched back-to-back days or even three straight days. All this table can tell us is that closers getting an extra day of rest becomes less and less likely as you move along, so while a closer who pitched yesterday is, in the aggregate, the most likely to pitch, the longer a pitcher has been off, the less likely he sits again, though this levels off a great deal after three days rest, likely due to the presence of minor injuries in the data.
The Daily Five
Kyle Kendrick – $9,127
You’re not going to blow the doors off of anyone with Kendrick, but when a starting pitcher is facing the worst offense in baseball and checks in at a four-figure price, you have to take a closer look. Kendrick doesn’t strike out a ton of batters but should go deep enough to turn a profit. Brad Johnson likes him on a thin day, too, and that guy is pretty smart.
Chase Whitley – $9,915
Want to get really risky today? It’s a thin Thursday, and you’ve gotta risk it to get the biscuit. Starting two pitchers below $10K is a rarity, but it will allow you to go hitter-heavy or start one of the three pitches checking in at $20K-plus without budgetary concerns. Whitley draws the Mariners, who are a below-average offense against righties and one that strikes out a fair amount, plus the game is in Safeco, where the Mariners slug just .344. For his part, Whitley has been solid through five starts and while regression is coming, that should be true for both his walk rate and his strikeout rate, which should be better than the 17 percent mark he’s at right now.
(A reminder: Our job here isn’t really to recommend ace pitchers to you. Whitley and Kendrick aren’t necessarily the two best options, but you already know that Chris Sale is awesome.)
Braves stack – This seems ridiculous since the Braves can’t hit righties and have just posted 3, 13, and 2 runs at Coors Field, but if you’re not going to Run the Jhoulys and his 58.9 percent line drive-plus-fly ball rate at Coors, where he has a 5.40 ERA and .381 wOBA against, you may as well just scrap the Braves for the season. And remember, we just saved a bunch of money with cheap starters.
Freddie Freeman – $8,400
Jason Heyward – $7,647
Justin Upton – $7,355
Tommy La Stella – $5,795
If Dan Uggla were to get a start, you’d almost have to jump at the boom-or-bust proposition for just $3,365, bumping one of the more expensive plays.
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