FanDuel Pitching Primer: Tuesday 4/24/18
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?
Charlie Morton, Houston Astros
vs. Los Angeles Angels
FanDuel Price: $9,900
Make no mistake -- on another slate Charlie Morton would be an intriguing fade candidate. With Robbie Ray, Shohei Ohtani and Robbie Ray also pitching tonight, but in negative matchups or ballparks, it makes sense to plug in Morton once again, especially in cash games.
Morton has been lights out in his four appearances for the Astros this season, registering a 0.72 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 33.3% strikeout rate. Morton's SIERA is over a run-and-a half higher than his ERA, and his career strikeout rate hovers around 20%, so regression is undoubtedly in his future. Exactly how much regression, however, remains to be seen.
The case for a fade resides in the matchup with the Angels, as they have scored the fifth-most runs and struck out the sixth-fewest times in all of baseball. The additions of Justin Upton, Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart, along with the presence of Mike Trout, make this offense one we do not typically want to target.
Given the question marks the other options have tonight, it is safe to deploy Morton as a high-end spend. He is in similar territory to teammate Gerrit Cole -- you can keep plugging him in until he proves he has finished his run of dominant outings.
Luke Weaver, St. Louis Cardinals
vs. New York Mets
FanDuel Price: $8,500
This slate is tricky in the middle-tier for pitching options as several arms appear to be decent spots but no one stands above the rest. If looking for upside from this tier, consider Luke Weaver of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Weaver was rocked in his last start, allowing six earned runs over four innings against the Cubs. If you take away that one bad outing, however, he would be 2-0 with a 2.11 ERA and around a strikeout per inning. Even with his outlier versus the Cubs, Weaver still possesses a decent 22.2% strikeout rate. His SIERA is half a run better than his current ERA (4.22), which suggests a reversal of fortunes could be in his future.
Weaver showed reverse splits last season, albeit in a small sample size, holding left-handed batters to a .252 wOBA. If he can continue that trend tonight he may have success against some of the Mets biggest offensive threats in Michael Conforto, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jay Bruce.
There are a few middle-tier options who offer some safety tonight, but Weaver possesses the most upside of the group. Roll him out in any format if you land in this pricing tier at pitcher.
Jacob Faria, Tampa Bay Rays
at Baltimore Orioles
FanDuel Price: $5,900
Faria gets a matchup that has been one to exploit through the first month of the season: a date with the Baltimore Orioles. On top of the O's striking out more than any other team in the majors and getting minimal production from anyone not named Manny Machado, they now have also lost regulars Trey Mancini, Jonathan Schoop and Tim Beckham (Mancini did pinch-hit on Monday). This was not a very good lineup with everybody healthy, and it's only gotten worse.
Faria has posted two consecutive solid outings after getting blown up for 8 earned runs in 1 2/3 innings against the Red Sox back on April 7th. In his other 3 starts besides the dud versus Boston, he has allowed only one earned run in each. The ballpark (Camden Yards) can be a dangerous place for pitchers, but the Orioles haven't had much success at home or on the road.
Of the cheap options tonight, Faria possesses the best combination of safety and upside. At $5,900, he also gives you the luxury of plugging in some high-profile bats, as well, which comes in handy with a Coors game on the main slate.
Kenta Maeda, Los Angeles Dodgers
vs. Miami Marlins
FanDuel Price: $9,100
Kenta Maeda is like a box of chocolates; you never quite know what you are going to get. He could strike out at least 10 batters, which he has done in half of his starts, or he could not make it out of the third inning, something he has done in the other half of his starts.
Because the Dodgers typically limit Maeda to less than six innings of work, even when he is pitching well, he has to do a lot of damage in his limited amount of innings. Tonight he has the opportunity to do just that against a struggling Marlins offense.
The Dodgers are the biggest favorite on the board (-240) and the Marlins implied run total of 2.97 checks in as the lowest on the slate. Given the optimistic outlook from Vegas and Miami's offense being tied for the fewest runs scored in the National League, things line up nicely for the right-hander. If you needed another reason to play Maeda, his home ERA is over a run-and-a-half better than his road ERA throughout his career.
With no slam dunk play at the pitcher position tonight, ownership should be pretty spread out. Game log checkers may be scared away by Maeda's inconsistency and neglect the matchup and the ceiling he has tonight. Fire him up as a great contrarian option.
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.