DraftKings Contest Review – Pitcher List Freeroll 4/19

Erik Smith reviews the Pitcher List Friday Freeroll Series on DraftKings and analyzes the top lineup.

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In addition to our daily previews of the upcoming slates on DraftKings, every Sunday we will be reviewing our Pitcher List Friday Freeroll Series. Daily fantasy players often get caught up in the cycle of preparing for the current day, building lineups, making last-minute changes, watching the games and following their winnings without taking a step back to look at what strategies were effective for the day’s contests. We will try to shed some light on winning plays and trends, as well as see where players went wrong.


Pitcher List Freeroll, Friday 4/19, 7:05 p.m.


Our third contest in the Pitcher List Friday Freeroll Series on DraftKings featured 40 entries. Players are competing for a monthly prize, with the highest score for April receiving a Pitcher List T-shirt. Pitcher List staff will be playing as well, though they will not be eligible for prizes.


Winning Lineup Analysis


Davemuiriv took home first place with a score of 159.7 points, good for the fourth-highest score across our three Pitcher List contests this month. This point total would have been good for 120th place in the MLB $75K Four-Seamer (20-entry max) on the same day, which would have paid out $50 on a $4 buy-in.

Pitching carried Davemuiriv’s lineup, as he rostered the third- and fourth-highest scoring pitchers in the field while spending under $8,000 on each. You can read my preview of the slate for more details on why Jordan Lyles was an excellent pick, but in short, he has been solid this year and had a very exploitable matchup. Lyles was only 10% owned—an extra bonus, as drafters were likely scared off by the threat of rain. Lyles could have been even better, as he was forced to leave the game after a comebacker off the hand after six shutout innings.

Marcus Stroman ended up as one of the best picks on the slate, as he delivered the third-highest score of any pitcher selected, while only costing $7,500. The matchup didn’t provide many clues that this performance was coming, as the Athletics offensive wOBA against right-handed pitching was middle-of-the-pack among splits on this slate, and their 20% strikeout rate against righties was among the five lowest of Friday’s matchups. Any clues to picking Stroman would have come from his performance this year, as his 17.25 DraftKings PPG was the eighth-best among Friday’s 28 pitchers. Stroman looks improved this year, but he still isn’t an elite strikeout pitcher. While his price is low, he makes for a nice value arm with a very solid floor and decent enough upside. But if Stroman’s price catches up with his recent success, I’m not sure he will have the upside to match the price.

Goose eggs from Jorge Alfaro and Travis Shaw show that a lineup can overcome a bad performance or two and still produce a winner. Rostering Fernando Tatis Jr. at 7.5% ownership when he scores 35 points certainly helps overcome two zeroes and was the key to Davemuiriv’s offense. Three of Tatis Jr.’s four stolen bases on the year came in this game, which I’m not sure anyone could have predicted. But he did homer against starter Anthony DeSclafani, a pitcher who has been extremely prone to allowing the long ball. The takeaway here should be that a talented player like Tatis Jr., at a reasonable $4,200 price tag leading off against a homer-friendly pitcher, can be a huge difference-maker at a low ownership percentage. A higher-owned hitter scoring 35 wouldn’t separate you from the field as Tatis Jr. did.

The rest of the lineup was notable for not featuring a stack, with the only two teammates being Joey Gallo and Danny Santana, and they weren’t even next to each other in the batting order. This ended up being a contrarian lineup, and Bryce Harper at 12.5% owned (17th-most owned hitter) in Coors is essentially free money. Davemuiriv was definitely focusing on power with this lineup, and combined with excellent pitching picks, it was enough to eke out a win over the second-place lineup by .05 points (sorry, Niffoc4).


My Lineup – 20th Place


For the second straight Pitcher List contest, the threat of rain scared me off a pitcher that ultimately was a good play. I pivoted from Lyles in Pittsburgh, where rain was in the forecast, to Justin Verlander, which caused me to downgrade several spots in my lineup. The end result was fine, as Verlander was Verlander, and punt-play Brandon Drury ($2,500 against subpar pitcher Aaron Brooks) amazingly hit a home run. Stephen Piscotty was another player I pivoted to and wasn’t particularly thrilled about rostering, but I suppose the last-minute lineup shuffling was worth avoiding the possibility of a zero from one of my pitchers.

Most of my other plays were detailed in my preview of the slate. For the second straight week, I rostered some of the highest-owned players in the contest. I’m not sure if this is due to other drafters reading my preview and following my advice (I hope!), or if I need to branch out more and go for less obvious plays. Paul Goldschmidt was easily the highest-owned hitter at 37.5%, and Marcell Ozuna, Paul DeJong, and Jose Martinez were among the eight-highest-owned hitters. It’s an interesting dilemma for me personally, as I want to use the players I pick in my preview article (because they are good plays, and I don’t want to give out advice that I don’t follow myself), yet playing all of the popular plays typically isn’t good strategy to win a tournament. However, you can see how highly owned players can work in cash games, like 50/50s and double ups, as I whiffed on my stack (outside of Martinez) and still finished just inside the top half of entries. When 37.5% of entries also picked a dud in Goldschmidt, it brings a large portion of the field down with you.


Contest Overview


Scores in the third Pitcher List freeroll ranged from 159.7 to 62.3 points. There were 126 different players rostered across the 40 entries, including 19 of the 28 available pitching options on the slate. Below are the players who provided the best bang for their buck in Friday’s contest, as well as the 10-most-owned players from the contest. If you would like to join our freeroll, first sign up for an account by clicking the DraftKings banner in this article. Once you have a DraftKings account, or if you already have one, click here to join the Pitcher List Friday Freeroll Series. There is still one week left in our April contest, where the top overall score wins a Pitcher List T-shirt, so if you’ve missed out so far you still have a chance to win. Next month we will go to a different format for choosing a winner; stay tuned on Twitter for more information.


Fewest $ Spent Per Point
Player %Drafted FPTS Salary
Fernando Tatis Jr. 7.50% 35 4200
Brett Gardner 2.50% 25 4300
Brandon Drury 2.50% 14 2500
Jose Martinez 22.50% 20 3800
Grayson Greiner 7.50% 14 2700
Yoan Moncada 5.00% 23 4700
Omar Narvaez 7.50% 18 3800
Robinson Cano 17.50% 17 3600
Josh Harrison 10.00% 14 3100
Ryan Cordell 2.50% 14 3100


Most Owned Players
Player %Drafted FPTS Salary
Paul Goldschmidt 37.50% 3 4800
Carlos Rodon 32.50% 23.9 8300
Justin Verlander 27.50% 30.15 10400
Paul DeJong 25.00% 7 4900
Cody Bellinger 25.00% 7 5600
Marcell Ozuna 25.00% 2 4900
Jose Martinez 22.50% 20 3800
George Springer 22.50% 18 4900
Matt Strahm 22.50% 24.8 7100
David Dahl 22.50% 10 4600


I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is eriks44) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games on which I offer advice. Although I have expressed my personal views on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings, and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.

Graphic by Justin Paradis (@FreshMeatComm on Twitter).

Erik Smith

Ohio University graduate. Former food service employee in Yellowstone National Park. Now lives in Asheville, NC, right off the Blue Ridge Parkway. DFS enthusiast and Reds fan.

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