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 squirrelpatrol , is a consistent top-ranked Grinder and RotoGrinders contributor. He is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and graduated with an 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. John beat out the competition to take home first place in the 2018 FanDuel World Fantasy Baseball Championship and has numerous other six-figure finishes to his name.

    SquirrelPatrol RotoGrinders Interview


  • drewcrawford03

    • 972

      RG Overall Ranking

    • 2018 FanDuel WFFC Finalist

    Amen man! Glad things are on the up and up. Staying present is becoming a more-talked about issue among the DFS community, and I’m glad it is.

  • tkdman14

    • 754

      RG Overall Ranking

    • 2015 DraftKings FFWC Finalist

    Great intro to help keep things in perspective for people on the grind. Glad to hear she’s doing well!

  • thehazyone

    RG Contributor

    • Blogger of the Month

    Hey John – I normally don’t comment on articles I edit, but wanted to say your opener moved me. As someone who lost both parents to cancer, I know the struggle all too well. Keep strong and my thoughts are with you and your family.

  • wolfjb1

    So happy to read that everything is looking good.

  • Cameron

    RG Co-Founder

    • 2014 FanDuel NFL Survivor Champion

    • 2016 RG Season Long Champion: NFL

    Thank you for sharing your story. That was moving. I’m so happy for you & your wife. Thoughts are with both of you. Keep enjoying every day!

  • lindsay

    Touching story. Glad to hear everything is well. Good luck to your family!

  • acdawg712

    Glad to hear everything is getting better and that the cancer was caught before reaching Stage 4.

  • squirrelpatrol

    • 31

      RG Overall Ranking

    • Ranked #27

      RG Tiered Ranking

    • x5

      2018 FanDuel WFFC Finalist

    • 2018 FanDuel WFBC Champion

    Thanks all, the positive comments mean a lot. We’re hanging in there and enjoying each day!

  • MorningNapalm

    Perspective truly is everything. All the best to you and your wife.

  • Willdog7

    Thank you 4 sharing ,prayers up.

  • ChrisGimino

    • 995

      RG Overall Ranking

    • 2015 DraftKings FFWC Finalist

    • 2016 DraftKings FBWC Finalist

    Thank so much for this important message John. Love the positivity in such a difficult time, and prayers to your whole family.

    This hits particularly close to home with my life over the past year – and while my wife has been more fortunate with the news she received after each frighting visit to specialists, there is just no way I can read this and not close the laptop, shut down the social media, and call some people I care about tonight. Very inspiring. Thank you.

  • ehderefeller

    Great advice and attitude- will be keeping your family in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Touchole

    Thanks for sharing. Certainly puts life into perspective. Glad your wife is doing well.

  • wordsandwich

    I never comment on these posts but read them every day. Best wishes to you and your wife and kids, I hope she continues to kick cancer’s ass.

  • laser1000000

    Thanks for sharing. My best to your family.

  • uncleberms

    • 444

      RG Overall Ranking

    • Ranked #16

      RG Tiered Ranking

    Sometimes it’s hard to believe that even the touts that we read and rely upon for so much information on a daily basis to make our DFS lineup building process easier, are actually human beings, with real lives, real loves (outside DFS), and more than just a computer, a database, and an algorithm or two. Thanks for sharing and best wishes for you, your wife, and your daughter. I will never again be pissed off that you are ahead of me on the leader board. :)

  • natsfankw

    I haven’t read past the intro yet… but had to comment. Thank you for sharing and I wish you and your family all the best! Cancer is a bitch that we all deal with on some level at some point in our lives and I hope she kicks its’ ass!

  • onehitquit21

    Dave thanks for sharing your personal story about your wife,it sure put’s a real spin that life isn’t a given and winning in DFS isn’t even relevant when someone you love is going through the type of life change your wife had to endure, please give her my best and thanks again for a real life lesson which we put aside when were playing DFS!!!

  • Coheedrodeo

    john, I wish you and your wife and daughter the best of luck. touching story to make my eyes water while doing research. Awesome job by her to run 5 miles!!

  • affyp00

    John – I will say a prayer for you and your family, my best wishes to your wife, your daughter, and yourself.

  • Dfsnyyfan82

    God bless you and your family. Your wife is a hero etched in the hall of fame already.

  • Scital

    This was deep bro – thanks for the read. An good luck on you guys happy and long future!!!

  • ChuckyB7526

    Wonderfully written article on an incredibly emotional subject, John. Thank you for reminding us what really matters in life. I will keep your family in my thoughts and prayers.

  • monds6

    • 124

      RG Overall Ranking

    • Ranked #86

      RG Tiered Ranking

    • x2

      2015 DraftKings FCFWC Finalist

    • 2013 DraftStreet DSFC Finalist

    John so glad your wife is doing better – prayers with your family. My mother in-law just successfully battled cancer into remission for the 5th time – your wife is way tougher than me and we all know women are tougher than men :) keep battling, praying and of course winning

  • kirkdiese

    • 993

      RG Overall Ranking

    • 2016 FanDuel WFBC Finalist

    I’ve been through quite a lot with loved ones in my life getting breast cancer as well. Sounds like you’re wife is through the hardest part and will kick cancer’s ass. Stay strong and thanks for sharing.

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