If you're playing the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com from DraftKings, you've probably realized that your pitcher selection is extremely vital to your success.
Each day you play, you need to start two pitchers. With the elite options costing a pretty penny -- often well over twice the rate of the priciest hitters -- you can eat up a significant chunk of your daily fantasy baseball salary cap on pitching, so it's important that you correctly pick your hurlers.
To help you along the way, here are three tips when selecting your daily fantasy baseball pitchers.
Pay for pitching
Baseball is filled with variance. On the day-to-day level, pretty much anything can happen. Angels center fielder Mike Trout will probably end the year hitting near his career average of .311, but in a given game, he could hit two homers or go 0-for-5 with three strikeouts.
Meanwhile, pitcher production isn't as volatile. Although hitters see maybe 15 or so pitches and swing at only a handful in a typical game, pitchers sometimes have triple-digit throws to assert their dominance. They're more likely than batters to produce "as they should" relative to their talent.
Because of that, it makes sense to use a higher percentage of your salary cap on pitchers. When you're spending the big bucks, you want to know what you're getting. Even if someone such as Jose Fernandez (currently on the 15-day disabled list) isn't great "value" in terms of a pure comparison of his salary to his projection, there's a lot of worth in knowing what you'll get from a high-priced player.
Search for K's
While you get four points for a pitcher win in the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com, you get half that many for a single strikeout. The site rewards high-strikeout pitchers such as American League whiff leader Jon Lester very well, so it's important to understand how likely a pitcher is to reach a certain threshold of K's. That involves not only knowing the pitcher, but also the offense; sometimes non-hard throwers can still be decent options when they have a good matchup against a strikeout-prone offense.
The Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com from DraftKings in particular is the type of league in which paying for strikeouts is shrewd. The format is a tournament, meaning you're trying to increase the upside of your lineup as much as possible. Regardless of pure player value, you usually need many strikeouts from your pitchers to win tournaments. Thus, while top-tier pitchers are the safest player type in daily fantasy, they also possess the greatest upside.
Finally, it's important to understand various pitcher splits before making your decision. The most obvious is lefty/righty splits. A team such as the Mariners has a lot of upside in certain situations, but they also tend to struggle against left-handed pitching. You might find value in a moderately priced left-handed pitcher when he faces Seattle, against which he matches up well.
You also need to consider home/road splits. Some pitchers are naturally better or worse when throwing at home or on the road, due in large part to the ballpark. Rockies pitchers, for example, often post far superior statistics on the road, where they can get away from the hitter-friendly conditions at Coors Field.
Jonathan Bales contributes DraftKings-related content to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.