FanDuel Pitching Primer: Wednesday 5/23/18

Jacob deGrom stands alone at the top of the pitching pool Wednesday night. But who can we pivot to in tournaments?

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

vs. Miami Marlins
FanDuel Price: $10,400

Jacob deGrom is the clear-cut top play on the slate in both cash games and tournaments. The New York Mets' ace is so far ahead of the field that it wouldn't be crazy to plug him into cash lineups but also being overweight in GPPs as well.

The right-hander comes into this contest sporting a career-best 34.3% strikeout rate, and he is coming off a masterpiece where he whiffed 13 Diamondbacks over 7 innings. His 1.75 ERA is second in the National League, while his 2.35 xFIP is the best in the senior circuit.

The Mets check in as the largest favorites on the board at -200, and a look at the matchup with the Miami Marlins explains why. The Marlins' 23.9% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching is the 11th-highest in the majors and their .279 wOBA versus righties is 29th, trailing only the D'Backs.

This one is about as easy as it gets, folks. Without anyone to challenge his supremacy on tonight's slate, deGrom is the top option.

Mid-Range Play

Kyle Freeland, Colorado Rockies

at Los Angeles Dodgers
FanDuel Price: $8,300

Kyle Freeland was highlighted last week as a guy we should be buying with some breakout upside His last five starts -- 42, 47, 49, 31 and 55 FanDuel points -- have done a lot to confirm that. Freeland's 1.59 ERA over the last month is fifth-best in all of baseball, and he has averaged over six strikeouts per start in this span.

The Dodgers have the 11th-lowest strikeout rate against left-handed pitching (22.3%), but their .295 wOBA is the fourth-worst in all of baseball. Historically, moving from Coors Field to Dodger Stadium has hurt Freeland, but the difference in park factor is substantially in his favor.

If you need some price savings in the middle tier, look no further than the red-hot Rockies' hurler tonight.

Value Option

Chad Kuhl, Pittsburgh Pirates

at Cincinnati Reds
FanDuel Price: $7,200

Disclaimer: The recommendation ahead needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

The only way you are playing Chad Kuhl tonight is if you want to be very different from the field or load up entirely on expensive bats. Expectations need to be tempered either way, as you would just be hoping for a quality start and a handful of strikeouts from Kuhl.

Kuhl's splits are notoriously drastic, as he allows a .396 wOBA to left-handers compared to a .317 mark to righties. And he is going to have to dodge damage from Reds lefties Joey Votto, Scooter Gennett, and Jesse Winker if he is going to have success here.

The silver lining with Kuhl is in the form of his career-best 22.2% strikeout rate. If he can miss some bats and rack up some whiffs --- like he did last time out against the Reds (seven K's on April 7) --- he has a chance to return value. Just tread carefully.

Contrarian Play

David Price, Boston Red Sox

at Tampa Bay Rays
FanDuel Price: $7,900

David Price returns to familiar territory tonight, and, while it's true Tampa Bay was once his home, the familiarity comes from somewhere else. Price is already making his fourth start of the season against these Rays, and in less than two months. In those previous three starts, Price was able to secure only one victory, but he posted seven shutout innings in two of them. Furthermore, he is coming off a complete-game gem in his last start versus the Orioles, where he racked up eight punchouts while allowing only two earned runs.

It's been an up-and-down campaign overall for the southpaw, but he has maintained a modest 21.6% strikeout rate. The good news for Price is that the Rays have posted a 23.5% strikeout rate against lefties to date, so his strikeout expectation gets a boost. The Red Sox are -128 road favorites here, so Price also gets a boost to his win probability in this matchup.

Given that Price is capable of hitting his high ceiling at any time, it would be smart to get some exposure to him in tournaments, and at relatively low ownership at that.

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.