FanDuel Pitching Primer: Friday 3/30/18

Pitching options are a little light after an ace-filled opening day. Who should you target on the bump on tonight's main daily fantasy baseball slate?

In daily fantasy baseball, success starts with nailing the starting pitcher spot in your lineup.

When compared to hitters, pitching performance tends to be much more predictable and stable throughout the course of the season. You know what you're getting from a top-level ace when you roster him: probably a dominant effort with only one or two implosions per season. In contrast, even the game's best hitters have days at the plate when they go 0-for-4.

As a result, lineup construction should begin with the starting pitcher. Each day we will highlight a starter to consider from each pricing tier, and we'll also look at one contrarian play for tournaments.

Who should you consider on tonight's main slate?

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High-Priced Stud

Robbie Ray, Arizona Diamondbacks

vs. Colorado Rockies
FanDuel Price: $9,500

After an opening day that saw several aces take the hill for their season debut, today's slate features a solid yet unspectacular group of arms.

The clear-cut option at the top is Robbie Ray of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ray showed dominant form last season in a breakout campaign, posting a 15-5 record with a 2.89 ERA and a 32.8% strikeout rate. There are some red flags with Ray that you always needs to be aware of when rostering him, like his 10.7% walk rate and his 40.4% hard-contact rate. However, this guy just misses so many bats that if he is dominant and you don't have him, good luck.

On the other side of the matchup, the Colorado Rockies unsurprisingly led the major leagues in runs scored at home last season but were 25th in runs scored on the road. We have seen repeatedly over the last few seasons that this Rockies offense is just not the same away from the thin air of Coors Field.

Ray offers the best combination of safety and upside given the relatively few top-tier pitchers that are on the slate.

Mid-Range Play

David Price, Boston Red Sox

at Tampa Bay Rays
FanDuel Price: $8,500

As we saw yesterday with Chris Sale, the Tampa Bay Rays' offense is going to be prone to striking out a ton this season. Sale's debut saw him pick up where he left off from 2017, twirling six innings of dominant baseball with nine strikeouts and no earned runs allowed.

Today, the Rays get the "fortune" of facing another lefty just a tier below Chris Sale in David Price. Price struggled through an injury-riddled 2017 and finished the season with only 74.2 innings pitched but by all accounts is back to full health at the start of 2018.

The biggest plus working in Price's favor tonight is his matchup with his former team. The current projected lineup for the Rays is a combined 12-94 (.128 batting average) in their careers versus Price. Another bonus for the Sox lefty is that his former home ballpark, Tropicana Field, is a site where he has had a lot of success over his career. The Trop also ranks in the bottom half of numberFire's Park Factors.

I wouldn't blame you if you wanted to wait and see if Price is truly back to his dominant form before rostering him, but this may be the cheapest we see him all season. Take the discount and the matchup to the bank if you need a mid-range pitcher tonight.

Value Option

Aaron Sanchez, Toronto Blue Jays

vs New York Yankees
FanDuel Price: $5,900

Aaron Sanchez is only two years removed from an All-Star season in which he posted a 3.00 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP over 192 innings pitched. Last year, though, was a tumultuous campaign for the young right-hander as a few physical ailments limited him to only 36 innings pitched.

Tonight, he gets the matchup no mortal looks forward to, the 2018 version of "Murderers Row" for the New York Yankees. The Bronx Bombers wasted no time inflicting fear into opposing pitchers yesterday as newcomer Giancarlo Stanton belted two mammoth home runs in his debut in pinstripes.

The good news for Sanchez and his Toronto Blue Jays is that he gets the split advantage vs. the Yankees' three biggest bats in Stanton, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. Aaron Sanchez has historically been much better at limiting right-handed power, as evidenced by his career .604 OPS allowed. That number jumps up to .724 in his career versus left-handed bats.

As far as cheap options go on tonight's slate, you could do much worse than Sanchez. His upside is through the Rogers Centre's roof this season if he stays healthy. Couple that with the Yankees' propensity to swing and miss, and Sanchez represents a great value.

Contrarian Play

Kyle Hendricks, Chicago Cubs

at Miami Marlins
FanDuel Price: $8,200

A dad bod. Mid-range jumpers. Uggs boots. Kyle Hendricks. All things that are not "sexy". However, out of this group, at least Kyle Hendricks can help our DFS lineups. The Chicago Cubs' righty represents a great under-the-radar play tonight.

I guess this is where I should tell you why Kyle Hendricks isn't sexy. When we think of the Cubs' pitching staff that has had so much success over the last few years, these names come to mind: Lester. Arrietta. Lackey. But the most overlooked of this staff has consistently been Hendricks. The Dartmouth-grad led the NL with a sparkling 2.13 ERA in 2016 despite an average velocity of only 88.2 miles per hour. In 2017, his velocity dipped all the way down to an average of 86 miles per hour, but Hendricks maintained a pristine 3.03 ERA.

Simply put, Hendricks has been good. Very good. He is a great real-life pitcher who sprinkles in some great fantasy outings. He also gets a matchup tonight with the Miami Marlins, who, quite frankly, don't seem too interested in winning baseball games this season. Hendricks is a great contrarian option when your opponents are chasing the other sexy arms on tonight's slate.

Drew Crawford is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Drew Crawford also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username squid0308. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.