FanDuel Pitching Primer: Friday 6/1/18

Nick Pivetta is much cheaper than the top two aces on Friday's slate, but he has enough strikeout upside to still be in consideration. Which other pitchers should we target on FanDuel?

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. Boston Red Sox
FanDuel Price: $11,400

The top tier is pretty straightforward today in that Gerrit Cole and Chris Sale are the two to consider, but the decision between the two aces is a difficult one. Both have looked mortal recently --- Cole has come back to earth a bit in his last three starts, and Sale struggled his last outing --- but I give Cole the slight edge.

The Astros' hurler is the slight favorite (-121), and that's really all he has going for him in terms of a matchup upgrade over Sale. The Red Sox have the second-lowest strikeout rate against right-handed pitching, and they lead all of baseball with a .354 wOBA. That said, Boston's road wOBA drops all the way to 14th, and their strikeout rate jumps from 29th overall to 20th away from Fenway.

Despite the three less-dominant starts recently, Cole still owns a 39.4% strikeout rate with a 2.26 SIERA and a .169 opponent batting average.

As far as Sale goes, I just cant recommend a pitcher going into Minute Maid Park to face this Astros' offense. That said, Sale represents the better tournament play if he is going to be lower-owned in this spot.

Mid-Range Play

Nick Pivetta, Philadelphia Phillies

at San Francisco Giants
FanDuel Price: $8,200

If you're venturing into the middle tier today (especially in tournaments), it's paramount to search for upside to match the ceilings that Cole, Sale and even Stephen Strasburg possess at the top. One guy who has flashed upside consistently this year is Phillies righty Nick Pivetta.

Pivetta has broken out a bit in his second Major League season, posting a solid 28.8% strikeout rate with a 3.16 SIERA and a .225 opponent batting average. He has struck out at least seven batters in each of his last four starts, and one of those starts was against this Giants offense.

Pivetta now gets to face San Fran at AT&T Park rather than Citizens' Bank, and AT&T is one of the top run-suppressing venues in the majors. His road splits are frightening (5.82 ERA compared to 2.20 at home), but the sample size is rather negligible (only 17 innings).

Given the Giants' 24.9% strikeout rate versus righties (sixth-highest), Pivetta has the strikeout upside necessary to compete with the aces in the upper tier.

Value Option

Frankie Montas, Oakland Athletics

at Kansas City Royals
FanDuel Price: $7,200

Continuing our quest for low-owned upside on tonight's slate leads us to Frankie Montas of the Oakland Athletics.

Montas is a bit of a wild card in that he has made only one start, but that start saw him punch out seven Diamondbacks while allowing only one earned run over six innings. The righty has always had good strikeout numbers through his minor league career, but the Royals strikeout at the lowest clip in all of baseball against right-handed pitching (17.7%).

The upside in this matchup lies in the fact that you don't need a ton from Montas to reach value. Even though Kansas City puts the ball in play, they don't do much with it. Their .303 wOBA against righties ranks just 23rd in the majors.

On a slate featuring several gas-can pitchers and a Coors Field game, winning GPP lineups are going to have a lot of offense. One way to afford that tonight is paying down to someone like Montas in the value tier.

Contrarian Play

Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland Indians

at Minnesota Twins
FanDuel Price: $9,400

Carlos Carrasco has had an up-and-down season, at least according to his standards, but he is always capable of a blow-up game. When he is going to be contrarian, and he certainly is tonight with ownership concentrated on Cole and Sale, he has the potential to be difference-maker in tournaments.

Carrasco maxed out with a 73 FanDuel point performance on May 9th versus the Brewers, and, while he's been hit around a bit lately, he still owns a 24.4% strikeout rate on the season. He shut down this Twins attack back in April to the tune of seven punchouts over seven scoreless innings.

The Twins are way down at 24th in the Majors in team wOBA, and Carrasco's 2.91 road ERA is way ahead of his 5.59 mark at home. Minnesota's projected lineup is just 24-112 lifetime against the right-hander (.214).

Look Carrasco's way as a low-owned option tonight in a matchup that is better than it appears as he could be the key to differentiating your lineup.

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.