FanDuel Pitching Primer: Friday 5/25/18

Max Scherzer looks to continue his torrid start as the biggest ace on tonight's slate. Should you lock him in for cash games, and where should you look 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

Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals

at Miami Marlins
FanDuel Price: $12,000

The upper tier is loaded with great options tonight, but Max Scherzer is once again the clear-cut play. Corey Kluber has to face the Astros' powerful offense, Noah Syndergaard is throwing in a hitter's park in Milwaukee and Luis Severino gets a matchup with the low-strikeout Angels.

Scherzer gets the best matchup on the board, is the biggest favorite (-230) and gets the best ballpark of the bunch for pitchers. Only to add to the appeal more, the Marlins' offense continues to struggle against right-handed pitching, as their .279 team wOBA ranks as the second-worst in all of baseball.

Scherzer himself is on a tear, with 7 double-digit strikeout games in his 10 starts, and no start with less than 7 strikeouts. His 40.9% strikeout rate is astronomical even for his own standards, as it is a career-best by 6.5%.

With the matchup, his recent form and the large moneyline in his favor, Max Scherzer is yet again the ace you want in your lineups tonight.

Mid-Range Play

James Paxton, Seattle Mariners

vs. Minnesota Twins
FanDuel Price: $9,700

James Paxton has flashed upside recently, as two of his last three starts have been complete games with a minimum of seven punchouts (including a no-hitter). His one start in-between was a struggle against the Detroit Tigers, but he was still able to record a quality start. Over the last 30 days, Paxton's 1.70 ERA trails only Andrew Heaney (1.45) and Justin Verlander (1.07) in the American League.

The Minnesota Twins have the fourth-highest strikeout rate against southpaws in the American League at 24.7%, while they are middle-of-the-pack in ISO (14th) and wOBA (17th). They struck out seven times against Paxton over five innings way back on April 5th, and were only able to muster two runs.

Minnesota hasn't been as powerful at home as they sport a .139 ISO at Target Field (22nd in the majors) versus .178 on the road (5th in the majors).

Paxton is a premier mid-tier play if you want to pivot from Scherzer at the top of the salary scale. I wouldn't do it in cash games, but there is upside here in tournaments.

Value Option

Ross Stripling, Los Angeles Dodgers

vs. San Diego Padres
FanDuel Price: $6,700

Ross Stripling is the answer to the usual question "Who is pitching against the Padres", which is followed by "He is a good play tonight.". His numbers jump off the page as he has flourished since joining the Dodgers' rotation. Manager Dave Roberts continues to infuriate fantasy players by limiting the innings of his starters, as Stripling has maxed out at six innings in his four starts, not making it past four innings in two of those.

The good news for Stripling, along with a matchup against the hapless Padres, is that his strikeout rate sits at a very respectable 27.8%. The Padres as a unit have the third-highest strikeout rate in all of baseball at 26.1%, and that number jumps a bit against righties to 26.4%. San Diego also has the second-lowest ISO (.121) versus righties.

Stripling doesn't need to do much to pay off his cheap salary. If he can go six innings and continue his pace in the strikeout department, he could return serious value tonight in this matchup. If you want to stack up some high-cost hitters, he's the way to go at the lower-tier.

Contrarian Play

Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets

at Milwaukee Brewers
FanDuel Price: $10,600

With so much ownership likely headed Max Scherzer's way -- and deservedly so -- Noah Syndergaard could be the forgotten man among the several aces on Friday's slate.

The Brewers' implied run total is surprisingly set at 3.83 for this one, but Syndergaard's metrics indicate that there may be some value on the under here. Sure, Miller Park is conducive to run scoring, but Thor's 2.91 ERA, 2.55 FIP and 3.00 SIERA don't want to hear about park factor. Syndergaard has been much better on the road, posting a 2.33 ERA compared to a 3.20 ERA at Citi Field.

Milwaukee strikes out a ton against righties, as their 24.8% strikeout rate ranks as the sixth-highest within the split. Case in point: Syndergaard faced the Brew Crew on April 15th and whiffed 11 in 5.1 innings while not allowing a single earned run.

If the masses check on the Vegas lines and see that Syndergaard and the Mets are very small favorites (-124) while being projected to allow nearly four runs, Thor is going to be very low-owned. This presents us with an opportunity to buy-in on the Mets' ace as a fine 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.