FanDuel Pitching Primer: Friday 4/13/18

Gerrit Cole tops Friday's pitchers at $10,000. Should we pay all the way up for him or consider a cheaper alternative tonight?

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

Gerrit Cole, Houston Astros

vs. Texas Rangers
FanDuel Price: $10,000

It's hard to ignore Gerrit Cole at the very top of the list on FanDuel. With his new team, the Houston Astros righty has been the best pitcher in the major leagues through two starts. His numbers jump off the page: a 0.64 ERA, 0.71 WHIP and 22 strikeouts in 14 innings. Cole is relying more on his slider this season, inducing more swing-and-misses and decreasing his hard-hit percentage.

His matchup with the Texas Rangers is not the greatest, but the Rangers will be without one of their offensive stars, Elvis Andrus, who suffered an elbow injury just a few days ago. Cole wasn't fooling around with the Rangers in their first go-round back on April 1st. He was dominate to the tune 11 strikeouts and only 1 earned run in 7 innings.

The Astros are currently listed at -230 on the moneyline, which makes them the largest favorites of all teams tonight. Cole has a good chance of approaching double-digit strikeouts once more, and his win probability is the highest on the slate. It's basically a no-brainer.

Mid-Range Play

Mike Clevinger, Cleveland Indians

vs. Toronto Blue Jays
FanDuel Price: $8,300

The Indians' Mike Clevinger is a guy we can usually count on to strike out a bunch of batters despite having very plain splits. He also typically pitches better away from home, but he's off to a good start at Progressive Field in 2018.

Surprisingly, Clevinger has only fanned 9 batters in 12.2 innings of work to this point in the campaign, but his pristine 0.71 ERA suggests that, even though he isn't missing as many bats, he is inducing soft contact. His 27.3% strikeout percentage reigned supreme last season, and he should start to move closer to that number starting tonight versus the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Jays have scored the fifth-most runs in the majors, but they have also struck out the fifth-most times as a team. If Clevinger can continue to limit baserunners and increase his swinging-strike rate, he has a good chance to turn in a dominant outing tonight.

Value Option

Eduardo Rodriguez, Boston Red Sox

vs. Baltimore Orioles
FanDuel Price: $6,600

Nothing like a good narrative to give further credence to an already juicy value option.

Eduardo Rodriguez was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles and, after mowing through their farm system, was a centerpiece of the trade that brought Andrew Miller to Baltimore. After landing in Boston, E-Rod made three starts against the O's last season, and, while he gave up 12 earned runs over those three starts, he also struck out at least six batters in each.

This Boston Red Sox offense is on fire to start the season, and they're projected to score well over five runs again tonight. The Orioles' offense, on the other hand, continues to lead the majors in strikeouts, which has made them a team to target early on this season.

Rodriguez projects as a potential bargain tonight, given his upside in the matchup, and his expected run support could return an easy win to boot.

Contrarian Play

Zack Grienke, Arizona Diamondbacks

at Los Angeles Dodgers
FanDuel Price: $9,000

Anytime we can get Zack Greinke at low ownership he is worth a look. That is true again tonight for his matchup with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Dodgers have the sixth-lowest strikeout percentage (20.1%) on the slate, but Greinke's 30.4% strikeout rate should help to neutralize that. Greinke typically pitches better at home, but at Dodger Stadium, the right-hander compiled a 2.04 ERA in over 300 innings while pitching for the Dodgers from 2013 to 2015.

Outside of Corey Seager, who has owned Grienke in 16 career appearances, the projected Dodgers lineup is hitting only .225 lifetime against the Arizona Diamondbacks ace. Also working in Greinke's favor is the fact that Dodger Stadium has the third-lowest park factor in all of baseball.

Whenever he takes the mound, Greinke is capable of spinning a masterful outing. Hoping for one of those tonight, this is a good spot to deploy him as 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.