FanDuel Pitching Primer: Friday 4/27/18

Corey Kluber is the most expensive pitcher on tonight's main slate. But are there better options at the top?

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

Jacob deGrom, New York Mets

at San Diego Padres
FanDuel Price: $10,600

Corey Kluber is the highest-priced pitcher on the slate at $11,200, but it's a good idea to take the savings and drop down to Jacob deGrom at a $600 discount.

While Kluber faces Seattle, deGrom gets the money matchup of facing the Padres in Petco Park. Not only is San Diego's offense averaging only 3.8 runs per game, they also lead the Majors in strikeouts. On top of that, Petco is the best pitcher's park in all of baseball, only adding to the intrigue of deGrom's hot streak.

The Mets' right-hander comes into this game in good form, registering 40 strikeouts and a 2.53 ERA over 32 innings this season. His last 2 starts have been especially dominant, as he racked up 22 punchouts in 14.1 innings despite not getting the win in either contest.

Given his recent performances, the matchup and the ballpark, deGrom beats out Kluber as the high-priced stud on tonight's slate.

Mid-Range Play

Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies

vs. Atlanta Braves
FanDuel Price: $8,400

The Atlanta Braves' offense has been surprisingly decent over the first month of the season, and they have most recently added phenom Ronald Acuna to the mix. That said, Phillies' right-hander Aaron Nola is off to a very hot start himself and could prove to be a strong mid-tier play tonight.

Nola has a pristine 0.94 WHIP through 31.1 innings pitched and he has already made two starts against the Braves this season. His strikeout totals have been low in those outings (just 5 in 11.1 combined innings) but he has only allowed three earned runs at the end of the day. Nola whiffed nine batters in his last outing versus the Pittsburgh Pirates, so perhaps his 20.2% strikeout rate is catching up to his 26.6% mark he had in 2017.

Chances are you are looking to deGrom or Kluber in cash games tonight, but Nola profiles as a nice GPP pivot.

Value Option

Miles Mikolas, St. Louis Cardinals

at Pittsburgh Pirates
FanDuel Price: $6,700

Miles Mikolas is a solid value option tonight if lineup construction leads you to the lower pricing tier at pitcher.

The Cardinals' righty has been reliable so far in 2018, posting a 3-0 record with a crisp 1.00 WHIP to go along with a 19.1% strikeout percentage. His 20:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio is very impressive, ranking 4th in the National League.

The Pirates rank 6th in the majors in runs scored versus right-handed pitching, but they are just 16th in OPS. Some of that run production may be negated due to the run-suppressing nature of Pittsburgh's PNC Park.

Consider Mikolas a high-floor play tonight with the potential to pitch deep into the contest and rack up points for a quality start.

Contrarian Play

Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals

vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
FanDuel Price: $10,100

On a night where most ownership will preside with the aces at the top, Stephen Strasburg could be someone that goes overlooked.

Strasburg has been steady through his first five starts of the season, pitching at least six innings and recording at least five strikeouts in each. He's actually pitched better on the road so far this season, but historically has much better home splits. At Nationals Park, he has a 2.89 ERA in his career compared to 3.28 away from home, and the same goes for his xFIP (2.80 at home to 2.98 on the road).

His opponent, the Diamondbacks, have scored the ninth-most runs in the majors on the road this season, but have also struck out the ninth-most times away from Chase Field.

Strasburg has flashed consistency over his last few seasons for the Nationals, but he is always capable of exploding for a double-digit strikeout performance. If he does that tonight at low ownership, you want to have some of him in tournaments.

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.