FanDuel Pitching Primer: Tuesday 4/3/18

It's Clayton Kershaw night on Tuesday's main daily fantasy baseball slate. Who else is in play besides the Los Angeles Dodgers' ace?

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?

High-Priced Stud

Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

at Arizona Diamondbacks
FanDuel Price: $11,500

If you're spending up tonight, it's pretty clear that Clayton Kershaw is the top option.

Kershaw was his usual, splendid self in his first start of 2018 as the Los Angeles Dodgers' lefty held the San Francisco Giants to one run in six innings with seven strikeouts. A matchup with the Arizona Diamondbacks in Chase Field used to be to the hitters' advantage, but as numberFire's park factors show, the installation of a humidor is expected to drastically decrease run production throughout the 2018 campaign.

The Dodgers' ace was a beast on the road last season, pitching to a 2.03 ERA and a 9-2 record. He also picked up two dominant wins versus these same Diamondbacks, who return the majority of the same lineup.

Kershaw is in a tier by himself tonight, and he makes for a fantastic play if you have the salary to spend up at pitcher.

Mid-Range Play

Zach Godley, Arizona Diamondbacks

vs Los Angeles Dodgers
FanDuel Price: $7,500

It's not everyday that you see a recommended pitcher facing off against Kershaw, but hear me out. Number one, the mid-range in tonight's slate is meager. Number two, Zack Godley is very capable of out-dueling Kershaw tonight at Chase Field for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Godley experienced a breakthrough in 2017, and his 3.32 expected fielding-independent pitching (xFIP) supported that his 3.37 ERA was legitimate. Godley possesses a nasty arsenal, evidenced by his 26.3% strikeout rate and his .218 batting average against.

On the other side of this matchup, the Dodgers have experienced a bit of lull offensively to start the season as Dave Roberts has already dropped the struggling Cody Bellinger in the batting order. If Godley can continue his mix of high strikeout totals along with a high ground-ball rate (55.3% in 2017), he's going to have success regardless of the opponent.

Even though Kershaw looms as the opposing pitcher, Godley is a great mid-tier play tonight.

Value Option

Kyle Freeland, Colorado Rockies

at San Diego Padres
FanDuel Price: $5,600

Anytime a pitcher gets to face the San Diego Padres at Petco Park, they become an interesting value option. Tonight, that pitcher is Kyle Freeland of the Colorado Rockies.

Freeland surprisingly had much better home splits than on the road in 2017. He pitched to the tune of a 3.72 ERA at the hitter's paradise known as Coors Field compared with a 4.57 ERA on the road. Luckily for the young left-hander, it just doesn't get any better from a matchup standpoint than a date with the Padres at Petco. The Padres' home park is dead last in park factor once again.

In terms of Freeland's actual repertoire as a pitcher, he doesn't possess any off-the-charts skills but posted a very respectable 11-11 record in 2017 with a 4.10 ERA. As far as cheap options go on tonight's slate, Freeland checks a lot of boxes. If there are expensive bats that you want to spend up for, Freeland could be the salary-saving pitcher who allows that to happen.

Contrarian Play

Justin Verlander, Houston Astros

vs. Baltimore Orioles
FanDuel Price: $10,300

While most daily fantasy players will be spending all the way up to Kershaw, don't forget about Justin Verlander and the upside he brings to the table.

Verlander experienced a career renaissance after donning the Houston Astros colors last summer, posting a dominant 9-1 record with a 1.95 ERA, 0.82 WHIP and 10.7 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched (K/9). He followed that up with a crisp six-inning win against the Texas Rangers in his first start of 2018.

Mr. Kate Upton gets to face a Baltimore Orioles lineup that has struggled to find traction at the start of the season, scoring only six runs in four games. Baltimore also is averaging 10 strikeouts per game offensively, setting Verlander up for a dominant outing.

From a strategy perspective, most will find the extra $1,200 in salary to pay up for Kershaw on tonight's slate. Settling for Verlander at $10,300 is a way to separate yourself from the pack by using a contrarian play.

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.