FanDuel Pitching Primer: Friday 4/20/18

Pitching options are really top-heavy with quite a few aces on the bump. Who are the best plays on tonight's 15-game 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?

High-Priced Stud

Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals

at Los Angeles Dodgers
FanDuel Price: $11,400

An argument could be made for Clayton Kershaw on the other side of this matchup, but the potential for upside favors Max Scherzer.

The reigning National League player of the week has been his usual dominant self through four starts, posting a 1.33 ERA, 0.67 WHIP and 38.4% strikeout rate. The Dodgers' projected lineup is only 13-for-84 lifetime against Scherzer (.155) with only 8 extra-base hits, so you see the appeal.

The Nationals' ace actually had reverse home/road splits last season, as he had a 1.82 ERA on the road versus a 3.25 ERA at Nationals Park. In fact, Scherzer made one start last season at Dodger Stadium and whiffed 14 batters across 7 scoreless innings.

You could go either way with the elite aces in this matchup, but Scherzer provides a higher ceiling and could potentially be lower-owned with Kershaw at just a bill more.

Mid-Range Play

Dylan Bundy, Baltimore Orioles

vs. Cleveland Indians
FanDuel Price: $9,400

Dylan Bundy has been the lone bright spot for a Baltimore Orioles pitching staff with the fifth-worst ERA in all of baseball.

The former highly-touted prospect showed signs of a breakout last season for the O's, and he has continued that trend in his first four starts of 2018. Though winless in those starts, Bundy has compiled a 1.40 ERA and a 29.8% strikeout rate, which is up from 21.8% in 2016 and 21.9% in 2017. His increased reliance on the slider, which he is throwing 26.8% of the time now, has greatly increased his swinging-strike rate.

Despite pitching in hitter-friendly Camden Yards tonight, Bundy has typically fared better at home than on the road. His career ERA is about 0.8 runs higher away from Baltimore. On the downside, the Indians don't strike out a ton, however, they have scored the fifth-fewest runs in the majors to this point.

It's probably smart to stick to the aces at the top in cash games, but Bundy could provide some upside at a much lower cost tonight.

Value Option

Drew Pomeranz, Boston Red Sox

at Oakland Athletics
FanDuel Price: $7,200

Venturing to the value tier is not recommended for tonight's cash games, but it could be a nice way to differentiate your lineups in GPPs.

Drew Pomeranz is making his season debut after a breakthrough 2017 campaign that saw him set career highs in wins (17) and innings pitched (173.2) for the Boston Red Sox.

On Friday, the lefty faces off with an Oakland offense that ranks 13th in wOBA versus left-handed pitching but has struck out the fourth-most in the American League. Also working in his favor is that Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum ranks as the second friendliest pitchers' park in the AL.

If Pomeranz can regain his 2017 form in his season debut, he could be an excellent source of salary relief on tonight's massive 15-game slate.

Contrarian Play

Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays

at Minnesota Twins
FanDuel Price: $8,000

Chris Archer has had a tumultuous start to 2018, as he has pitched to an uncharacteristically high 7.84 ERA and 1.69 WHIP over his first 20.2 innings. His 3.82 SIERA suggests that his tough start may be more bad luck than anything else, though. Archer's 10.5 strikeouts per 9 innings are right in line with his career mark of 9.7, so his stuff is still there.

His opponent, the Minnesota Twins, have scored the fourth-fewest runs in all of baseball, making this all the more juicy. Last season, Archer made one start at Target Field and dominated with 11 strikeouts and a win over 7.2 innings.

The Tampa Bay Rays right-hander figures to be virtually un-owned, coupling his rough start with the high-end options (and other value guys) that are available. If he is able to get back on track, he is a potential GPP-winning play. It could pay to be too early rather than too late to the Archer breakout tonight.

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.