MLB Pitching Primer: Thursday, May 17th

Everything in the sport of baseball comes down to the hitter-versus-pitcher matchup – which makes pitching the most important element of MLB DFS play. Without an understanding of the best pitching plays on the day, your DFS efforts will be sunk! Each day, the Pitching Primer will provide you with some of the top pitching plays on the day – taking a close look at the “why” behind these picks, and helping you to identify pitchers others might overlook.

Thursday, May 17th

Main Slate

I don’t normally put too much personal stuff in here, but I’m making an exception today – feel free to skip down to the Arms to Trust section if you’re short on time.

Today is a difficult anniversary for me – one year ago today, at the start of a Wednesday afternoon slate where I distinctly remember I was way more overweight Bradley Zimmer than I intended, my wife came home from a doctor’s appointment. Her doctor had told her that the pain she felt in her breast wasn’t normal and had set up an emergency imaging appointment for later that day. My wife was nervous about the appointment, so being the person that I am, I looked for some statistical evidence to comfort her. It was two days before her 35th birthday, so according to the stats I could find online, the chances she would develop breast cancer – over the next five years – were about 250-1. With no family history of breast cancer, the odds were even lower.

I went to the waiting room of the next appointment with my wife, and she went back into the patients-only area. I late swapped inactive players from a Giants lineup which had annoyingly come in after lock for the afternoon slate, as other patients went back for testing and then emerged like clockwork about 45 minutes later. Bradley Zimmer hit a home run. Soon it was 5 PM, and the receptionist asked why I was still waiting there. I told her that my wife was still in the patients-only area, and the receptionist replied that there must be some mistake, because all of the patients had gone home. She checked in the back, came back to the waiting room, and without making eye contact informed me that she had made a mistake – my wife was indeed still in the back area getting tested, and was very upset. They were going to make an “exception” and allow me into the back area. I concluded that my wife was having such an irrational meltdown before the tests, that the receptionist couldn’t even make eye contact with me.

A few minutes later, I found out the obvious truth, that my wife had breast cancer. A month later after surgery, the news got worse, as we found out that the cancer was at best case Stage 3. It would require chemotherapy for the rest of the year, radiation treatment after that, medication for the next decade, and after all of that, an uncertain prognosis.

It’s a year later – my wife has been through it all, and is feeling better every day. Of all things, she’s proud that she got back up to five miles on her run yesterday, and she is busy re-growing hair and chasing after our two-year old daughter. When my daughter is old enough to understand what has happened, her Mom will become her hero, as she is mine. We know that the long-term prognosis is still uncertain, but we live each day thankful just to have that day, as healthy and happy as we can be.

I write all of this in the Pitching Primer to bring up a few points. One, statistics aren’t everything. Life is full of uncertainty. We can take as good a look as possible at the past and try to predict future outcomes, but sometimes the best statistics aren’t going to indicate what is about to happen. It doesn’t matter if Max Scherzer has a 13.96 K/9 – that may indicate that he has the highest strikeout potential on a given slate, but on that night he may strike out 21 batters, or he may get scratched right before game time. We don’t care what the averages say across all cases, we care about what the actual results will be in the particular case that we care about at the moment.

Second, and there is no great DFS analogy for this, but go to the doctor and get things checked if they are bothering you. There are some legitimate questions in cancer treatment over whether early regular scanning is more beneficial, but it’s not debatable in my wife’s case – delaying getting things checked would have been catastrophic. If you or anyone you care about thinks something could be wrong, take things seriously and get to the doctor.

Finally, life is short. Put your phone down and be present with the people that you love. Winning six figures in a DFS tournament would be great – but it won’t be as important to you as the company of the people that matter to you. I’ve been in both places in a short amount of time – winning my biggest ever DFS prize a few weeks before the life of someone I love was threatened – and there is no question which incident impacted my life more and stuck with me more strongly to this day.

Now that I’ve said all of that – man, what an awful night for pitching.

Arms To Trust

Tyler Skaggs vs Tampa Bay Rays

Skaggs isn’t normally the quality of pitcher that gets listed in this category, but he is probably the safest play on the board today.

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About the Author

  • John Breslin (squirrelpatrol)

  • John Breslin, aka Squirrel Patrol , is a consistent top-ranked Grinder and RotoGrinders contributor. He is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and graduated with a M.B.A. from prestigious New York University. He followed that up studying abroad at the London School of Economics. He’s been playing fantasy sports since 1996 and is still scarred from being on the losing end of James Stewart’s 5-TD performance. He was the top CVR ranker for RotoGrinders for both DraftKings and FanDuel for the 2016-17 NBA season.

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