Daily fantasy players face multiple challenges when selecting the right starting pitcher for their cash game and tournament lineups. **video
Do you spend up for an ace, knowing full well that a poor outing will completely sink your team? Do you opt instead for a mid-tier or low-cost option and run the risk of getting a lousy return on investment, to the point where you might even end up with a negative point total? Is the matchup a good one? Is it a home game? How does he fare against lefties?
And with today's major-league landscape more homer-heavy than at any point in the past 15 years, you also need to consider whether the pitcher you're selecting has a serious problem with the long ball. Not only do home runs take a major bite out of your fantasy point tally, they can also result in shorter outings, with managers more likely to turn to the bullpen than in years past.
Here are five pitchers you might consider rostering in daily fantasy in the right matchup, but who have had troubles keeping the ball in the park so far this season:
Jake Odorizzi, Tampa Bay Rays
Odorizzi's peripherals aren't necessarily terrible, but that home-run rate is a real eye-opener. The veteran right-hander has already surrendered 18 home runs over 79 2/3 innings this season, and has been taken deep in all but one of his 15 of his starts entering Thursday. That included three multi-homer starts in five June outings.
Daily fantasy players shouldn't be surprised; Odorizzi had trouble with the long ball last season, surrendering 29 home runs aver allowing 20 and 19, respectively, over his first two full major-league campaigns. While he has managed to limit the damage for the most part, you know you probably aren't getting seven shutout innings from Odorizzi, capping his tournament upside.
Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees
This one is a legitimate head-scratcher. While Tanaka's home-run prevention rates hadn't exactly been elite through his first three seasons in the United States, he is on a whole other level so far in 2017, coughing up 21 home runs in 97 2/3 frames - only one fewer than the 22 he surrendered in 199 2/3 innings a season ago.
When Tanaka gets taken deep, it often comes in bunches: He already has four starts in which he has allowed at least three home runs. But there's good news: Entering Thursday, the 28-year-old righty hasn't given up a home run in three consecutive starts. If he has turned the corner, he becomes a much more trustworthy mid-range option in all formats.
Lance Lynn, St. Louis Cardinals
Lynn has been a nice story so far this season, boasting an ERA below 4 while averaging nearly a strikeout per inning after missing the entire 2016 season. But before you consider sliding him into your daily fantasy lineup, you need to consider whether you can live with the possibility that Lynn gives up a bunch of home runs and gets an early hook.
After being one of the best run-prevention starters during his first four years with the Cardinals - never surrendering more than 16 long balls in a full season - Lynn has already been tagged for 20 home runs through his first 17 turns. He has significantly outpitched his FIP so far in 2017, suggesting that major regression is coming. Stay far away from him moving forward.
Mike Fiers, Houston Astros
Fiers is the most interesting pitcher on this list; home runs have been a major trouble spot, but his performance over his last seven starts (4-1, 2.20 ERA, 43 Ks and zero home runs allowed over 41 innings) suggests he has overcome his long ball problems and become a legitimate go-to option across the majority of daily fantasy game types.
Still, you should proceed with caution. There's no way Fiers can continue to keep the ball in the park at this rate - we're still talking about a pitcher who was torched for 18 home runs over his first nine starts this season. That said, the real Fiers is probably somewhere in the middle of those two stretches - and if you consider his solid peripherals, he's still a decent mid-tier option in most matchups.