FanDuel Pitching Primer: Tuesday 4/17/18
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?
Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians
at Minnesota Twins
FanDuel Price: $11,400
We have one ace at the top who is very much worth the price. Anytime Corey Kluber takes the mound for the Cleveland Indians, he is going to be one of the top arms on the slate, and tonight is no different.
Kluber has been his usual dominant-self through three starts, posting a 1.57 ERA along with a staggering 33.3% strikeout rate. Kluber has historically had strong strikeout performances against the Twins. Over the last three seasons versus Minnesota, he has struck out 68 batters in 55.1 innings across 8 starts. The Indians are also the biggest favorite on the main slate, according to Vegas (-187 moneyline), boosting Kluber's win probability.
Don't overthink this one, especially in cash games.
Patrick Corbin, Arizona Diamondbacks
vs. San Francisco Giants
FanDuel Price: $9,500
Corbin's astronomical 40.9% strikeout rate is sure to regress back to his 20.4% career mark, but his current strikeout rate is a testament to how good he has been. The Giants have a few guys who notoriously handle lefties well, notably Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria, but they have scored the third-fewest runs in all of baseball as a team thus far in 2018.
Corbin's ERA was nearly two runs lower at home last season, and the introduction of the humidor in Arizona could help his home performance even more.
The left-hander may come down to earth a bit in the strikeout department, but expect another strong outing from him tonight at an affordable price tag.
Nick Pivetta, Philadelphia Phillies
at Atlanta Braves
FanDuel Price: $7,800
If you look at Nick Pivetta's numbers so far this season, you will see a pitcher who would normally fall in the $9,000-$10,000 salary range. Because he is "Nick Pivetta," and not a well-known commodity in fantasy circles (yet), we have the opportunity to pounce on the value.
The Phillies' hurler has increased his strikeout rate from 24% in 2017 to 29.2% so far this season. Through three starts, he is throwing his curveball almost twice as often as he did last year. Pivetta's 3.1% walk rate has undoubtedly been a huge part of his early-season success after he put up a 9.8% walk rate in 133 innings in 2017.
Atlanta's SunTrust Park, although it is 25th in our park factor metric, is conducive to left-handed power. So Pivetta will have his hands full with left-handed swingers Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Nick Markakis and Ender Inciarte if they are in the lineup. The good news for Pivetta, albeit in a small sample size, is that these big four for the Braves are a combined 6 for 26 lifetime against the Philly starter with zero extra-base hits.
Pivetta certainly projects for upside, and he could come at low ownership to boot, making him an enticing GPP play. If he continues his hot start and you hit on the right bats, you could be sitting nicely.
Alex Wood, Los Angeles Dodgers
at San Diego Padres
FanDuel Price: $8,400
The last time Alex Wood made a start, he was one of the most popular options on the board against the Oakland Athletics. He promptly got lit up, and recency bias should lead to lesser ownership for the Dodgers' left-hander.
Wood gets the preeminent matchup on the board as he's facing off against the sluggish offense of the San Diego Padres at Petco Park, the best environment for pitchers.
Wood looks like a prime bounce-back candidate given that his SIERA (2.80) is significantly lower than his ERA (5.09). He has yet to walk a batter across three starts, and a glance at his peripherals shows that he is essentially on par with the numbers he posted in a breakout 2017. The Padres are projected to score only 3.43 runs tonight, the third-lowest on the slate.
Given that he has matchup, ballpark and low-ownership all working in his favor, Wood is a legit contrarian play. If he is able to be efficient with his pitch count, he has a chance at mowing down the Padres' offense.
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.