FanDuel Pitching Primer: Wednesday 5/9/18
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?
Patrick Corbin, Arizona Diamondbacks
at Los Angeles Dodgers
FanDuel Price: $10,000
If looking at the numbers from 2018, it's pretty clear that Patrick Corbin is the top play on tonight's slate. He has posted a 4-0 record with a 2.15 ERA and a staggering 34.7% strikeout rate through his first 7 starts. The D'Backs' hurler also has a slate-best 0.76 WHIP, and he is to this point setting career-bests in most statistical categories and showing no signs of slowing down.
Corbin faced the Dodgers last week at home and, while he recorded a season-low five strikeouts, only allowed just one earned run over six innings. The Dodgers have performed poorly against left-handed pitching this season, as their wOBA (.292) ranks as the fourth-lowest in all of baseball. Though their strikeout rate (21.9%) is so-so against southpaws, their offense has sputtered a bit without Justin Turner and with Corey Seager now on the shelf.
Oddly enough, the Dodgers are favored in this game (-119), which may create a situation in which Corbin is lower-owned than he should be. He certainly possesses the most safety on the board tonight, and he might have the highest ceiling with his potential to go for double-digit punchouts. Fire him up in cash games and tournaments with confidence.
Gio Gonzalez, Washington Nationals
at San Diego Padres
FanDuel Price: $9,000
Gio Gonzalez is a guy that typically provides more appeal as a tournament option rather than a cash-game play due to his volatile nature and high walk rate. However, it's hard to argue against using him in cash tonight, especially if you need the $1,000 savings from Corbin.
Gonzalez draws the premier DFS matchup -- facing the Padres at Petco Park. It's the same ol' song and dance with San Diego --- they have the highest strikeout rate in the major leagues (27.1%), the third-lowest team wOBA (.292) and Petco Park is known as the single best pitchers' park in all of baseball. There is no better matchup to target, and when we have the opportunity to deploy a pitcher with a high strikeout-rate against the Padres, it's hard to say no.
Gonzalez's biggest issue is his control, but the Padres bottom-ten walk rate should help to offset this weakness. Gio's current 25% strikeout rate is pretty consistent with his career averages, but is the highest it's been since 2012. The 9.5% walk rate is not ideal, but with the Nationals being decent favorites (-128), expect Gonzalez to pound the zone and work ahead all night long.
He should be pretty popular tonight, and with good reason.
Julio Teheran, Atlanta Braves
at Tampa Bay Rays
FanDuel Price: $7,400
Julio Teheran is a guy that is usually very targetable with left-handed batters and not someone we go out of our way to roster in DFS. That changes tonight, though, as the right-hander gets to face the struggling offense of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Sean Newcomb demonstrated last night that the Rays are an exploitable offense, even with the National League Braves coming over to face an American League team and facing the added element of a designated hitter. Newcomb fanned six over six scoreless innings yesterday, and Teheran has the potential to do the same against a right-handed-heavy Rays team.
Teheran has always been a heavy-splits pitcher, allowing a .341 wOBA to lefties and only a .268 wOBA to righties. This year he has been able to bridge that gap a bit, as lefties (.325) haven't had a ton more success than righties (.305). He also has pitched much better away for home this year, registering a 2.81 ERA on the road versus 4.29 at home.
Teheran has seen a modest jump in his strikeout rate --- up to 23% in 2018 from 18.6% last season --- and Tampa Bay profiles as a decent matchup for strikeouts (eighth-highest K% in AL). Teheran checks in as more of a GPP play due to the safety of the arms at the top, but with the matchup and his recent form, he could turn in a big score against the woeful Rays' offense.
Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees
vs. Boston Red Sox
FanDuel Price: $8,600
Last night, Luis Severino went under-owned against the Boston Red Sox and promptly struck out 11 batters in only 6 innings. Expect the same thing to happen with Masahiro Tanaka and his ownership tonight, making him a top contrarian option.
There's no denying that the Red Sox are a tough matchup, as they don't strikeout a ton and have the highest wOBA in the entire major leagues (.339). But as we saw last night, most daily fantasy players breeze past the pitching options when they see versus Red Sox and ignore the upside that is cloaked in low ownership.
Tanaka's 2018 numbers are right in line with his career stats, in terms strikeout rate, walk rate, and opponent batting average. What you are looking for with the right-hander is upside through his strikeout ability, which has been there this season. He has whiffed more than a batter per inning (42 K's in 41 innings pitched), and he already has two outings with at least eight punchouts this year.
While Severino is a better pitcher than Tanaka, he showed that this Boston lineup isn't bulletproof. If you want to differentiate yourself from the field at pitcher, consider Tanaka for a few of your tournament lineups.
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.