FanDuel Pitching Primer: Tuesday 6/5/18

Max Scherzer is the premier play on FanDuel tonight. Where can we look to differentiate from the field at the pitcher spot?

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

vs. Tampa Bay Rays
FanDuel Price: $12,000

Max Scherzer is yet again the top play on the board tonight, as he takes the hill against the Tampa Bay Rays. Fresh off 8 scoreless innings with 12 strikeouts against the Orioles, Scherzer has posted at least 52 FanDuel points in 9 of his 12 starts this season. That. Is. Ridiculous.

It's gotten to the point where Scherzer is so bored with being awesome that he is more interested in hockey.

If you needed actual numbers to support the notion of playing Scherzer tonight, there are plenty of those. He's first in strikeout rate (38.7%), SIERA (2.26), and wins (9), as well as second in opponent batting average (.171) and fourth in WHIP (0.85).

The Rays' 2.77 implied run total is up from where it was this morning (2.29), but it's still low and you should still go with the under when Scherzer pitches. He is going to dominate tonight, so play him everywhere.

Mid-Range Play

Sean Newcomb, Atlanta Braves

at San Diego Padres
FanDuel Price: $8,900

Since salary cap is a thing on FanDuel, and Scherzer is so expensive, we can look to the mid-range for a few cheaper options in tournaments.Two lefties in this middle-tier are neck-and-neck to be the number-one choice, but, while Patrick Corbin is a solid play, Sean Newcomb gets the nod as the top preference.

The Braves' southpaw is having a very nice sophomore season, registering a 2.73 ERA with a 24.6% strikeout rate to this point. His 11.5% walk rate is still a little too high, but the Padres are 22nd in the majors with an 8% walk rate as a team. San Diego, of course, has one of the worst offenses in all of baseball, and Petco Park is the top venue in all of baseball in terms of run suppression. The Padres are tied for the second-lowest wOBA (.294) and have the third-highest strikeout rate (25.4%) in all of baseball.

If you want to spend up a bit for some bats, at the expense of playing Scherzer, Newcomb provides some necessary salary relief while possessing a ton of upside in this matchup.

Value Option

Joe Musgrove, Pittsburgh Pirates

vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
FanDuel Price: $7,200

This is not a slate to try to save too much at the pitcher spot, but the most comfortable salary relief option is Joe Musgrove of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Musgrove has been great in his two starts this season, racking up 52 FanDuel points against the Cardinals and then 43 FanDuel points versus the Cubs. His salary did jump from the minimum ($5,500), but this price tag is still a bargain.

The matchup against the Los Angeles Dodgers isn't the best, as LA has the 11th-lowest strikeout rate (21.7%) and the 12th-highest wOBA (.314). If you are looking to Musgrove, though, you are banking on him sustaining his 21.4% strikeout rate and 25.0% hard-hit rate. The worry here is that this is only a two-game sample, but Musgrove may be worth the risk as a low-owned value option.

Contrarian Play

Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians

vs. Milwaukee Brewers
FanDuel Price: $11,500

This one seems too easy, but by the definition of the word Corey Kluber should be contrarian on tonight's slate. Max Scherzer should dominate ownership with his pristine matchup and the fact that he is, well, Max Scherzer.

Kluber went through a bit of a dry spell in the strikeout department at the beginning of May, but has responded with double-digit punchouts in two of his last three starts. For the season, his 27.6% strikeout rate is a significant drop from his 34.1% mark last season, but his SIERA still sits at an elite 2.85. He is pitching well, and the Brewers are a great opponent for strikeouts, as their 24.3% K rate is the seventh-highest in the majors.

Given that most will find the extra $500 to just pay up for Scherzer tonight, Kluber should be relatively under-owned. In the rare occurrence the Mad Max lays an egg, playing Kluber could pay dividends in GPP formats.

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.