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The "GPP Pitcher" Myth?

Carlos Rodon was a popular play on Friday in guaranteed prize pools...for those who lost their money. Meanwhile, some well-known experts paid up for the services of Clayton Kershaw, the most expensive pitcher on the slate. What gives?

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

In Friday's MLB Grand Slam action on FanDuel, I was sucked into the Carlos Rodon hype. It was cheap hype to buy into, as his price was a mere $5,800. I thought Rodon's low cost was too good to be true, and that many others would be using him as well. Evidence of my erroneousness:

My only fear was the rest of the pack playing him as well, which would have rendered a quality start nearly obsolete. I loved that Rodon's low cost allowed me to load up on studly hitters. And for the record, Happ pitched well enough for the win, haters.

I am unsure as to why I capitalized Nelson Cruz, though it probably had something to do with him facing the (occasional) gas can known as Clay Buchholz. Heading into Friday's game, Buchholz had allowed a .413 wOBA to opposing right-handed hitters this season, and I thought Friday was as good a day as any for another Cruz dong. I was wrong.

Luckily, Posey, Fielder, and Beltre all homered--but their heroics could not atone for Rodon's face-plant. His command was extremely poor, as he walked six batters on his way to only four innings-pitched and five runs allowed. His ugliest moment had to be allowing the fourth inning home run to Josh Phegley--a man who now has an anemic .211/.233/.333 career line with eight career home runs. Eight! You know you failed in epic fashion when a guy with seven career home runs goes yard off of you.

In short, Rodon's grand total of four FanDuel points torpedoed my lineup. I would also not call it helpful that my All-Star caliber outfield experienced what I would liken to a sudden, face-first fall (which is Merriam-Webster's definition of a face-plant). Hanley, Joc, and Nelson accounted for 10 outs and a measly 1.50 FD points combined. It really was quite terrible.

The sharps took a different approach. Good for them.

Clayton Kershaw was universally-owned by Drew Dinkmeyer, Peter Jennings, and Dave Potts. I happened to recognize these names as I flipped through the leaderboard on Friday night, so I scribbled down their respective rosters for comparison's sake.

Dinkpiece: Kershaw, Posey, Belt, Cano, Beltre, Andrus, Pagan, Blanks, Blanco

CSURAM88: Kershaw, Castro, Belt, Turner, Beltre, Andrus, Trout, De Aza, Pagan.

CheeseIsGood: Kershaw, Posey, Belt, Altuve, Beltre, Andrus, Raburn, Blanks, De Aza.

I felt I constructed a worthy roster on Friday. And I assumed many others would be using a similar, Rodon-centric strategy. After all, Rodon amassed a whopping 16 points versus Cincinnati in his first start, and the Athletics were a great matchup for the left-handed hurler. If Rodon had duplicated his earlier success on Friday, I would have finished in the money even with the weak efforts of my outfield. And therein lies the rub. I think.

What the sharps have shown me--at least for one isolated competition--is to not mess around with my starting pitching. Especially on FanDuel, where you can only start one pitcher. I plan to get at them on Twitter to see if one will chime in with their individual take on Kershaw for this past Friday. Until then, I can only assume that Kershaw's match-up against the Colorado Rockies was just too good to pass up, despite the $11,000 price tag. Or maybe these guys just fell in love with the values of their San Francisco bats against Jason Marquis of the Cincinnati Reds. Especially Dinkmeyer, who started four of them (the maximum). And obviously the Rangers stack was popular, even among amateurs like myself. At least I got one thing right, eh?

Hindsight is obviously 20/20 and I know it will not serve me well to second-guess every roster move I ever make. But early on in my development--and maybe there are others out there who agree--I think it is wise to see what the guys who have already been successful are doing. I won't say my Rodon lineup should never have been formed--on the contrary, I was pretty excited about his upside and I felt good about the power-potential of my lineup. What I learned on Friday, though, is that just because it says "guaranteed" in the competition's description does not mean that I should instantly begin to mine for a cheap starting pitcher. Apparently there are days when going with the "guaranteed" ace can be the right call. I bet that chalk sure did taste good for those three experts on Friday.

Here's to finding out what that tastes like for myself, sometime very soon. So long as it does not involve rostering Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg owners, you are welcome. He will now promptly score 20 FanDuel points today. Cheers.