FanDuel Pitching Primer: Tuesday 5/22/18

Gerrit Cole has been superb this season and has a sweet matchup with the Giants. Which other pitchers should you target on tonight's main slate?

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

Gerrit Cole, Houston Astros

vs. San Francisco Giants
FanDuel Price: $11,800

Gerrit Cole gets the ever-so-slight nod over Chris Sale as the high-priced stud to play on tonight's slate. While Sale has been awesome in 2018, Cole has been completely dominant.

Besides two starts against the strong offense of the Los Angeles Angels, here are Cole's FanDuel point totals by outing: 61, 58, 61, 46, 43, 51, 85 and 52. He is in the top three in the majors in most major statistical categories, including ERA (1.75), strikeout rate (40.8%) and WHIP (0.79).

Today, Cole gets to face the San Francisco Giants, who have the majors' fifth-highest strikeout rate (24.7%) and seventh-lowest ISO (.151). The Astros check in as a massive -259 favorite, which is the highest on the board, and the Giants' implied run total of 2.9 trails only the mark of Sale's opposition, the Tampa Bay Rays.

Cole and Sale are so far ahead of the field in terms of safety and upside at the pitcher spot that you are definitely playing one of them in cash games. Cole has flashed a bit more upside in the early going, but you really can't go wrong here between the two.

Mid-Range Play

Garrett Richards

at Toronto Blue Jays
FanDuel Price: $8,500

Garrett Richards has been far from consistent this season, but he has had some big performances through nine starts for the Angels.

Richards has bumped up his strikeout rate (27.0%) for the third consecutive year, but his 10.7% walk rate has caused him some trouble. His 3.72 SIERA is due in large part to a 55.4% ground-ball rate that has enabled him to escape damage.

Richards has to face the Toronto Blue Jays in a hitter's park, but the matchup is ripe for punchouts. Toronto has whiffed at a 23.5% clip, which is the fourth-highest mark in the American League. The Jays do have the league's second-highest walk rate (10.1%), so Richards' command will be key for him to have success in this matchup.

Richards profiles as a tournament option given the high-priced arms at the top. If you want to venture to the middle-tier and spend up on some bats, he provides some appealing upside.

Value Option

Luke Weaver

vs. Kansas City Royals
FanDuel Price: $6,400

Luke Weaver is a solid source of salary relief tonight in a matchup against the struggling offense of the Kansas City Royals.

Weaver's 21.7% strikeout rate coupled with the Royals' ability to put the ball in play (league-low 17% strikeout rate) definitely cap his upside tonight. However, given that KC ranks 28th in ISO (.122) versus right-handed pitching and 23rd in wOBA (.302), his floor puts him into the conversation as someone to at least consider as a value play.

Weaver has held opposing batters to a .190 average and .258 wOBA at home this season, and his ERA is more than a half-run better at Busch Stadium. Kansas City also loses the luxury of having a designated hitter as they travel to a National League park.

If you want to stack up hitters on this 15-game slate and need a cheap option, the Cardinals' righty is a viable alternative.

Contrarian Play

Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians

at Chicago Cubs
FanDuel Price: $9,600

Trevor Bauer figures to be an under-the-radar play tonight due to the nature of the slate being top-heavy with pitching options. While most will play up for Cole or Sale, Bauer's middling salary should lead to him being substantially under-owned.

Bauer comes into this start carrying a stellar 2.59 ERA and career-best 27.2% strikeout rate. He's pitched slightly better on the road this year, allowing only a .174 opponent batting average and a 2.42 ERA away from Progressive Field. He also gets to face the opposing pitcher as he moves to a National League Park in Wrigley Field.

Bauer has recorded a quality start and struck out at least seven batters in seven of his nine starts in 2018. Look for that trend to continue tonight against a relatively middle-of-the pack lineup in the Chicago Cubs. Bauer is likely going to be an afterthought on a slate featuring top-notch aces. Fire him up as a solid contrarian play.

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.