Finding Value in MLB Pitchers for your DFS Lineup

These metrics are critical to finding the best pitchers for your DFS lineup.

Matt Brown
By Matt BrownPublished: June 20, 2024
Finding Value in MLB Pitchers for your DFS Lineup

Selecting the right pitchers can make or break your DFS lineup. Sure, you might have a few batters that have a great game, but there’s a reason that good pitcher salaries are $10,000+. MLB pitchers are a cornerstone for DFS success because they can accumulate massive fantasy points if they’re having a pretty good day.

With that, understanding key statistics and how they translate into fantasy points can give you an edge over your competition.

Here are four essential statistics we consider when picking MLB pitchers for our DFS lineup.

Strikeouts Per 9 Innings (K/9)

Strikeouts are a crucial component of a pitcher’s value in DFS. Depending on the platform, these can bring in a steady supply of fantasy points.

The strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) statistic measures how many strikeouts a pitcher averages per nine innings. Pretty simple.

This metric is huge because strikeouts directly contribute to fantasy points in most scoring systems. A higher K/9 indicates a pitcher’s ability to dominate hitters and accumulate strikeouts, which are typically worth more points than other outs.

For instance, pitchers like Garrett Crochet and Tyler Glasnow consistently have high K/9 rates, making them prime targets for DFS lineups. Of course, they do come with a high price tag. Crochet’s K/9 is currently the highest in the MLB at 12.6, and Glasnow's is 12.1. Both are extremely high and guaranteed to rack up the Ks for your lineup.

Walks Plus Hits Per Inning Pitched (WHIP)

WHIP is another critical statistic to consider and one we think doesn’t get enough love from the DFS community.

WHIP measures the number of baserunners a pitcher allows per inning. A lower WHIP indicates a pitcher who is proficient at keeping hitters off the bases, which can lead to fewer runs allowed and more fantasy points. Typically, we’ll see these guys with a high K/9 as well, but that’s not always the case.

Pitchers with a low WHIP, such as Ranger Suarez with his 0.888 on the season, are less likely to give up runs, making them valuable in DFS. He doesn’t have the strikeouts like Grochet and Glasnow. However, Glasnow has the 2nd lowest WHIP with 0.914 on the season, and, as we mentioned, he’s 2nd with K/9.

Innings Pitched (IP)

IP is a straightforward but essential statistic. Just like WHIP, it’s often overlooked because it’s not a direct contributor to the fantasy points; however, it means other things are working in favor of the pitcher.

The number of innings a pitcher throws in a game can significantly, yet indirectly, impact their fantasy point total. Pitchers who go deeper into games have more opportunities to accumulate strikeouts and other positive stats, and they are also more likely to earn a win, which is a valuable scoring category in many DFS formats. If you’re playing on FanDuel, you can even get points for a QSTART or quality start. 

We like to consider pitchers who consistently pitch six or more innings per game. Workhorses like Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander often provide length in their starts, increasing their chances of racking up fantasy points.

Monitoring a pitcher's recent performance and team tendencies can help identify those likely to pitch deep into games. We say the team tendencies because the manager also gets a vote as well as the defense behind the pitcher. Just because the pitcher is looking good and efficient doesn’t mean they won’t get pulled after 6.

Earned Run Average (ERA)

ERA is a traditional statistic that measures the average number of earned runs a pitcher allows per nine innings. While ERA is a general measure of a pitcher’s effectiveness, it’s a big deal in DFS as it reflects the pitcher’s ability to prevent runs, which is directly tied to their fantasy point potential. It’s also tied to the defense of the rest of the team, which could affect the pitcher’s ability to go deep in games and get the W.

A lower ERA indicates a pitcher who consistently prevents scoring, making them a safer pick for your lineup. For example, pitchers like Reynaldo Lopez and Ranger Suarez have consistently posted low ERAs, making them reliable options. Both of these aces have a 1.57 and 1.75 ERA, respectively. We like to aim for pitchers with an ERA under 3.00 to ensure we’re picking someone capable of limiting opposing offenses.

Advanced Pitching Metrics to Consider

While the four key statistics mentioned above are some of the stats we look at on a regular basis, incorporating advanced metrics can further enhance your DFS strategy. Two such metrics we sometimes look at are Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) and Swinging Strike Rate (SwStr%). Of course, these are not your common metrics; however, if you want to dig into more advanced metrics we recommend you take a look at Baseball Savant.

Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP)

FIP is designed to measure a pitcher’s effectiveness at preventing home runs, walks, and hit-by-pitches while factoring out the variability of fielding.

It provides a better indicator of a pitcher’s true skill on the mound than ERA alone as it isolates a few key areas. A lower FIP means that a pitcher has been effective at controlling the aspects of the game they can directly influence, which often translates to future success and more fantasy points. Targeting pitchers with an FIP close to or below their ERA can reveal underappreciated options for your lineup.

Swinging Strike Rate (SwStr%)

This is one of our favorite metrics, but you have to read into it. SwStr% measures the percentage of total pitches a pitcher throws that result in swinging strikes. This metric is a strong indicator of a pitcher’s ability to generate whiffs and, consequently, strikeouts.

A higher SwStr% correlates with a higher K/9, providing another layer to evaluate a pitcher's strikeout potential. Pitchers with a SwStr% above 12% are typically among the league leaders in strikeouts, making them valuable for your lineups.

Draft Your Pitchers Wisely

Selecting the right pitchers for your DFS lineup involves a blend of traditional and advanced statistics. At least that’s how we do it and we tend to win a lot.

By focusing on K/9, WHIP, IP, and ERA and supplementing with metrics like FIP and SwStr%, you can identify pitchers that are set to deliver strong fantasy performances. That’s not to say they won’t have a bad game. Even a Cy Young candidate falls flat every now and then.

Matt Brown

Matt Brown

Head of DFS

Matt's deep-rooted enthusiasm for sports betting and daily fantasy sports infuses the EatWatchDraft team with valuable expertise in football, hockey, and baseball. His forward-thinking perspectives are grounded in a solid academic foundation, including a B.S. in Aeronautical Computer Science and an M.S. in Project Management. This combination of sports passion and technical knowledge fuels Matt's innovative input to the platform.