Daily Fantasy Strategy – 8/13/13 – For Draftstreet

Happy Ace Day, everyone! Today’s slate of games features many of the best and most exciting young pitchers in baseball, and in honor of that, I’m going to talk a little bit about how terrific pitching performances could affect your daily fantasy team … and what we need to be looking for when we pick starters in formats like DraftStreet.

Points given for a win are much more valuable than points taken away for a loss

In a number of fantasy formats, we tend to pick starters in the hopes that they’ll rack up one of our favorite archaic stats, the pitcher win. 5×5 fantasy usually uses the win as a primary category, and players in daily leagues almost always gain bonus points based on the W. In Draftstreet, that’s no different, as pitchers win 1.5 points for your team with a W, but lose .75 points for a loss. Now, to me, that point swing is not a big enough deal to make me avoid awesome pitchers on struggling teams. Take a look at Matt Harvey, for example.

The Mets aren’t a strong team, offensively or otherwise, but they feature one of the most dynamic pitchers in the game. Does that mean we should ding Harvey for his team’s failure to perform? I don’t think the swing between a win and a loss is big enough to give this any consideration. Pitchers at an elite level like Harvey can carry their team to a win on their own, and when just an inning pitched earns a guy .9 points in a league, there needs to be much more focus on performance rather than win (or loss) bonuses.

At the same time, I try not to overvalue guys like Charlie Morton or Wandy Rodriguez just because they’re pitching on a terrific Pirates team, or buy Chris Capuano because the Dodgers are surging. It’s far more important that a guy goes the distance than it matters if he wins or loses, in my book.

Efficiency matters a lot

Which of these two performances would you rather see from your DraftStreet starter?

Pitcher A: Five innings, four walks, seven strikeouts, seven hits, two runs, win.

Pitcher B: Eight innings, three walks, seven strikeouts, ten hits, three runs, no decision.

The eye test might say that you’d want the guy who won the game and gave up less runs. And technically, you’d be right. But the difference between these two lines is just .05 points. The additional run saved and the win from Pitcher A is basically offset by three additional innings of work from Pitcher B. The more likely that your starter is to go a long while through the lineup, the better it is for your team … and you don’t have to worry about the vagaries of whether or not the pitcher will benefit from his team scoring enough runs. For this reason, guys like Ervin Santana, Justin Masterson and James Shields might have a little more value than you might normally ascribe to them, thanks to their ability to throw a lot of frames.

The Daily Five

Jeff Samardzija – $12,701

And building off that, I like Jeff Samardzija today. The Shark has thrown a little over 153 innings in 24 starts this season, or about six and one-third innings per game. While he’s coming off a very poor start against Philadelphia last week, he’s had two other disaster-type starts this year in which he’s given up seven or more runs, and he’s come back strong after each of them.

Gio Gonzalez – $13,004

Aside from a blip on July 31 against Detroit (a pretty blip-prone team), Gio has been pretty great since the end of May. On Tuesday, Gio gets the Giants in his home park, and there’s a not-insignificant chance that, since he’s left-handed, the team will sit one of its better hitters in Brandon Belt.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia – $6,965

It has flown under the radar, but the strikeout-prone Saltalamacchia is actually having a pretty great offensive season. Despite striking out all the time 31.1% of the time, Salty is posting a career-high .339 wOBA. Facing the homer-prone Todd Redmond in the homer-prone Rogers Centre seems like a decent bet to me.

Wilmer Flores – $7,726

Admittedly, this is kind of a wild-card bet here. Flores has hit well in the bigs since being called up to fill in for David Wright, and he’ll get the platoon advantage against Hyun-Jin Ryu today. Sure, Flores could be fooled by Ryu, but he’s an all-bat prospect, and I have a feeling that his plate coverage will serve him well against the Dodgers’ starter today.

Will Venable – $8,304

This is a guy who consistently burns me in regular fantasy leagues, as I always seem to bet on his tools and hustle allowing him to surge past the PetCo park factors and put up decent fantasy numbers. Well, this year — and especially recently — Venable’s been on a fantasy tear, sacrificing walks for more homers and stealing 13 bases on the season. Facing Jeff Manship in Colorado today is a very nice matchup.

One Day FREE Fantasy Contest – $1,000 in cash prizes

Daily Fantasy is easy — you pick a lineup that’s good for one night only, and then you’re eligible to win cash. FanGraphs readers are hereby invited to enter a FREE one-day week one NFL competition with $1,000 in prizes.

CLICK HERE to sign up now!

This free contest will be Pick ‘em style drafting. The way Pick ‘Em leagues work is you have eight tiers of players and each tier will have players to choose from. You select one player from each tier. Nothing to lose and it takes five minutes to build a team. You can adjust your roster up until the contest starts when the NFL regular season starts, at which time your rosters will lock and the Live Scoreboard will be available.

This post, covering one of the leading sites for daily fantasy is sponsored and made possible by the generous support of Draftstreet. FanGraphs will maintain complete editorial control of the postings, and brings you these posts in our continued desire to provide the best analytical information on the latest in baseball.

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Bryan values positional flexibilty and a good 12-6 curveball. He's the Lead Writer at Beyond the Box Score. Catch him on Twitter at @bgrosnick.

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Wilmer Flores? whaaa? U want me to pay nearly 8k for a Met in Dodgers stadium vs a pitcher who’s been more effective vs righties than lefties.

I could take Chris Johnson, Alex Rodriguez, Longoria, Headley, Arenado all for less money with better matchups in better offensive environments (save for Longoria)