7/22/2014 12:00 A.M. ET
Pitching strategy varies to yield best results
By Jonathan Bales / Special to MLB.com
As is the case in season-long fantasy baseball, daily fantasy strategy is all about tailoring your approach to appropriately exploit your league's starting and scoring requirements.
Those participating in the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com from DraftKings have to optimize a semi-uncommon lineup in the world of daily fantasy baseball: one that requires two starting pitchers. As 20 percent of your lineup is pitching, picking good arms is absolutely vital in the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com. To do so, here are several general approaches you can use, along with when they're most appropriate.
Pick ace pitchers
We know that pitching is much more consistent than hitting on a night-to-night basis. We also know that we want to allocate a high percentage of our salary cap to positions on which we can count for a steady stream of points. With these facts in mind, it makes sense to pay for top pitching, which often yields quality results.
The main problem with using two true aces -- we're talking guys such as Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish -- is that they cost a pretty penny. It can be extremely difficult to fit two top-tier arms onto your team in the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com.
The best time to employ this double-ace strategy is when you can find awesome values for hitters. If you can identify two or three minimum-priced bats that are making spot starts or have been thrust up in the batting order, you can potentially save enough cap space for a pair of expensive pitchers.
One of the benefits of this approach is that, because of the cost, the two-ace strategy is not all that common. That's a good thing in the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com, where it's helpful to create a unique lineup. Each ace might be highly utilized on his own, but they'll rarely be in the same lineup together.
A balanced approach
Some daily fantasy players prefer to take a more balanced approach to roster construction, forgoing both the top arms and the bargain hurlers. We're talking about second- and third-tier arms that have just enough upside to help you win, but not as much risk as the cheapest pitchers who are most likely to struggle.
The balanced approach to pitching gives you a decent chance to hit on both of your arms. It's best used when you also prefer a balanced combination of hitters. If you're looking to get players such as Troy Tulowitzki and Mike Trout onto your team, you might need to save some money on at least one pitching spot.
The high-low strategy
In contrast to the balanced-pitching strategy, a high-low approach forgoes the middle-tier hurlers in favor of one ace and one really cheap option. This type of strategy can often cost the same amount of money as the balanced approach, but you get the benefit of fitting an ace into your lineup. You're taking a risk on a bottom-tier pitcher but, if you can hit on that player, you're in a really good position. The high-low strategy can be employed with basically any combination of hitters.
The riskiest of the pitcher-selection strategies is to "punt" the position, selecting two low-priced arms so that you can spend good money on your bats. Few users truly punt both pitching spots because it's rare to hit on both of them.
Punting your pitching is an option when you like a really high-priced stack of hitters, such as those on the Angels or Tigers. Doing so also helps to create a unique lineup -- you're essentially trading safety for upside. This sort of roster won't provide many points on a frequent basis but, when it hits, it typically does so in a big way.
Jonathan Bales contributes DraftKings-related content to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.