Daily Fantasy Strategy – 9/5 – For Draftstreet

With September call-ups now in full effect, I was curious as to how the pitching environment might change for daily leagues. While we know that more players and pitchers will get chances to play, we don’t see much of a league-wide drop in offense in September.

That’s probably because as many bad or borderline pitchers get extra playing time as batters.

But what about top-end starters? Do the aces do better in September as they feast on raw talent? Or are there more elite performances in general? To find out, I pulled game logs for August and September of 2012 and compared the spread of Draftstreet daily points. If there are more elite starting pitching performances, we’d expect to see September’s results more left-skewed than August.

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Well, the results don’t bear out more elite starts in September. In fact, the proportion of 9-12 and 12+ point outings drops in September. What’s curious is that the proportion of negative starts also drops, so it appears that the expansion of rosters (and thus, player quality) pushes performance to cluster more tightly around the mean (the standard deviation for the sample drops as well).

It might tell us something if later we can control for pitcher quality prior to August, but that’s for a later date.

The Daily Five
Sonny Gray – $13,504
It’s an incredibly thin day, so it’s going to be tough to avoid spending on starting pitching. Gray has looked excellent so far, posting a 2.57 ERA and over a strikeout an inning. Well, the Houston Astros aren’t exactly a challenge and they’re the most strikeout-prone team in baseball.

Miguel Gonzalez – $7,903
There’s a strong wind blowing in at Camden, and it’s not the only thing that blows. The White Sox have a .303 wOBA against right-handers, including a 19.2% strikeout rate, setting Gonzalez up well for a rebound start. He was shelled his last time out and used out of the bullpen for a few games before that, Gonzalez still owns a 4.11 ERA on the year. The wind blowing in should help with his fly ball problem some, too.

Seth Smith – $7,185
Brad Peacock. That’s about the all of it here, as Peacock has a 5.98 ERA and has given up a .420 wOBA to left-handed hitters. Smith, meanwhile, has just a .314 wOBA against righties, though he normally crushes them. He’s struggled a bit of late and while it makes no sense to say a guy is “due,” Peacock is pretty much the slumpbuster.

Matt Joyce – $7,699
Jerome Williams does a nice enough job keeping the ball on the ground but his 4.68 ERA shows that it’s not helping his bottom line much. He’s also posted extreme HR/FB rates since re-entering the majors in 2011, so the balls that do get off the ground tend to leave the park. For Joyce’s part, he’s jumped on righties to the tune of a .361 wOBA this year, safely in between his 2011 and 2012 marks.

Miguel Montero – $6,097
Poor Ryan Vogelsong has had the FIP-ERA gap flipped on him this year as he’s been pounded for a 5.49 ERA. The issue? A 14.6 HR/FB rate that’s probably not reflective of his talent level. However, his groundball rate is also down as opponents have squared up more pitches (25.2% line drive rate). Unfortunately the reliable Diamondbacks are priced as such, so instead I’ll grab my catcher somewhat cheap. Montero, a lefty, has quietly rounded into form since the start of June and had his price further depressed by an early-August injury. He’s back and looking just fine.

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

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Blake Murphy is a freelance sportswriter based out of Toronto. Formerly of the Score, he's the managing editor at Raptors Republic and frequently pops up at Sportsnet, Vice, and around here. Follow him on Twitter @BlakeMurphyODC.

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