FanDuel Pitching Primer: Tuesday 5/8/18

There are plenty of high-upside pitching options on tonight's main slate. Should we pay up for Corey Kluber or find some salary relief in the middle tier?

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

Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians

at Milwaukee Brewers
FanDuel Price: $11,400

Corey Kluber checks in as the top stud on tonight's slate, and by a pretty wide margin. Although the Indians' ace has seen a decline in his strikeout rate (27.5% from 34.1% in 2017) and an increase in his hard-hit rate (33.6% from 28.9% in 2017), he hasn't seen a dip in his surface numbers. His 5-1 record and 2.41 ERA are both among the league leaders in the AL, and he has registered a quality start in each of his seven outings.

Kluber's opponent, the Milwaukee Brewers, have the fifth-highest strikeout rate in the National League versus right-handed pitching, as well as the sixth-lowest wOBA (.306).

Kluber gets a park downgrade traveling to Miller Park, but gets to dodge the designated hitter, giving him the potential to rack up more strikeouts with the opposing pitcher at the plate.

While the peripherals aren't yet where we want them to be for this price tag, expect Kluber to rediscover his dominance tonight against the Brew Crew.

Mid-Range Play

James Paxton, Seattle Mariners

at Toronto Blue Jays
FanDuel Price: $9,500

If you believe that Kluber's decline in strikeouts and increase in hard contact are legit (and therefore worthy of fading), James Paxton is a viable alternative in the mid-range.

Paxton is actually the second-most expensive pitcher on the slate, but comes in at an almost $2,000 discount from Kluber.

Fresh off a dominant 16-strikeout outing against the A's, the Mariners' lefty has recorded a slate-high 35.7% strikeout rate so far in 2018. He has gotten himself into trouble at times, with a 9.5% walk rate (up from 6.7% in 2017), but his 2.95 SIERA shows he has been able to limit damage to a large degree.

While their strikeout and walk rates are around league average, the Blue Jays' offense has the third-lowest wOBA against left-handers (.312) in the American League. Fire up Paxton with confidence in all formats, as he has a tremendous amount of upside tonight.

Value Option

Sean Newcomb, Atlanta Braves

at Tampa Bay Rays
FanDuel Price: $7,900

The Braves' Sean Newcomb has made the jump from a serviceable youngster with potential to one of the best arms in the NL East this season. He has seen his strikeout rate increase from 23.7% last season to 29% this year, and while his walk rate is still in double-digits (10.3%), it is an improvement from where it was a year ago(12.5%).

The Rays have struggled to score runs and possess the American League's seventh-highest strikeout rate versus left-handed pitching. They have actually fared better against southpaws in terms of team wOBA and OPS (2nd in the AL in both), but have been mediocre in those numbers at home (7th in both).

Although Newcomb will have to deal with the DH -- something he is not use to doing in NL parks -- Tropicana Field is one of the better pitchers' parks in the American League.

On a 14-game slate with a ton of pitchers to pick on with high-priced bats, deploying Newcomb and his cheap salary could be a way to load up on offense.

Contrarian Play

Luis Severino

vs. Boston Red Sox
FanDuel Price: $10,100

Typically we don't want to pick on the offense of the Boston Red Sox, but Yankees fireballer Luis Severino showed in his last start that he is as matchup-proof as they come.

Severino tossed a gem last Wednesday against the Astros, firing a complete-game shutout with 10 strikeouts while scattering only 5 hits. On the season, he has had only one start in which he has failed to record at least 40 FanDuel points, while registering a 5-1 record with a 2.11 ERA and dominant 0.85 WHIP.

The Red Sox are tied for the lowest strikeout rate as a team in the majors (19%), but the Astros had only the sixth-lowest strikeout rate before being mowed down by Severino.

The right-hander also gets to pitch at home, where he has a 1.33 ERA and a minuscule .134 batting average against this season.

Given the price gaps between Severino, Kluber and Paxton, most will shy away from the Yankees' starter. The matchup could also serve as a deterrent, keeping him at low ownership tonight. Severino provides GPP-winning upside as the top contrarian play on the board.

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.