FanDuel Pitching Primer: Tuesday 5/1/18

Tuesday's main slate is filled with aces. Who is the top priority, and who can we look to in other price ranges?

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

vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
FanDuel Price: $11,500

With aces like Chris Sale, Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander going tonight, you really can't go wrong if picking from the upper tier, but it may be a good idea to spend all the way up and find the cash for Max Scherzer at $11,500.

Scherzer has been otherworldly so far in 2018, even for his standards. His 38.0% strikeout rate leads the slate and is second in baseball. It also would be a career high for Mad Max. His dominance shows up in his FIP, as well, which at 1.79 leads all of baseball. He hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in any of his six starts thus far, and he has struck out at least seven batters in each, hitting double-digit punchouts four times.

The Pirates don't strike out much as a team (second-lowest strikeout rate), but Scherzer has faced low-strikeout teams like the Braves (twice) and hasn't missed a beat. Scherzer can sometimes struggle with the long ball, but the Pirates 20th-ranked ISO should help negate that.

With arguably the most safety of the aces on the bump tonight, Scherzer also features immense upside. The matchup with the Pirates isn't an intimidating one, and the Nationals (-231) are heavy favorites.

Mid-Range Play

Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays

at Detroit Tigers
FanDuel Price: $8,700

The Tampa Bay Rays are still waiting for the Chris Archer of old to appear in 2018. To say his first six starts have been underwhelming would be an understatement.

The good news with Archer is that his peripheral stats suggest a reversal of fortune may be closer than it appears. His 6.61 ERA is offset by his 3.80 xFIP. His strikeout rate and hard-hit rate are just slightly below his career averages. His average velocity is right in line with where it has been throughout his career. His run of bad luck has to end at some point.

The matchup with the Tigers in Comerica Park is not one that strikes fear into opposing pitchers. The Tigers rank in the middle of the pack in runs scored (18th) and wOBA (17th).

You should probably deploy one of the aces at the top in cash games tonight, but Archer provides upside at low-ownership if you want to venture to the middle-tier in GPPs.

Value Option

Andrew Suarez, San Francisco Giants

vs. San Diego Padres
FanDuel Price: $5,700

All the way down at $5,700, Andrew Suarez is an intriguing option in a great matchup. He is making his second start tonight, and it happens to be against one of the more targetable offenses in all of baseball, the San Diego Padres.

Suarez had a 24.0% strikeout rate in the Minors this season before being recalled, and in his first start with the Giants, he whiffed 7 batters in just 5.1 innings against the Diamondbacks.

The Padres' offense ranks first in the bigs in terms of highest strikeout rate (27.2%), and also has the third-lowest wOBA (.297). Suarez doesn't get to face the Padres in the best pitcher's park in the Majors (Petco Park), but the Giants' AT&T Park ranks 26th in park factor.

On a slate that is so top heavy with pitchers, choosing a value option like Suarez is an interesting way to differentiate your lineup in tourneys, and it would allow you to spend on some high-priced hitters.

Contrarian Play

Justin Verlander, Houston Astros

vs. New York Yankees
FanDuel Price: $10,800

With Scherzer, Sale and Kershaw all toeing the rubber tonight, Justin Verlander may go overlooked.

His opponent, the New York Yankees, typically isn't a team we want to target with opposing pitchers, but a closer look shows that the matchup is better than it looks on the surface.

As the Astros showed last night while racking up 14 strikeouts as a staff, the Yanks are prone to fanning in bunches. They possess the fourth-highest strikeout rate in the American League (23.9%) but also the highest walk rate (11.3%). New York's OPS ranks 1st in the Major Leagues at home (.859) but only 15th on the road (.713).

Verlander himself has been exceptionally good this year, posting a 4-0 record with a 1.36 ERA and 0.74 WHIP through six starts. His 48-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio is third on the slate behind Scherzer's and Noah Syndergaard's.

There are many good contrarian options with the plethora of high-end pitchers who are going tonight. Verlander is the one with the highest upside.

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.