FanDuel Pitching Primer: Wednesday 6/6/18
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?
Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels
vs. Kansas City Royals
FanDuel Price: $8,600
Shohei Ohtani has been an awesome story in his first year in the big leagues, as he has made a huge impact with both his arm and his bat. Tonight he gets to toe the rubber against the Kansas City Royals in what looks to be a favorable matchup.
Ohtani checks into this contest with a solid 31.3% strikeout rate over 45.1 innings, and he is holding opponent batters to a .195 average. The Angels have been somewhat cautious with the rookies' innings, however, as he has only pitched into the seventh inning twice in eight starts. Ohtani has been more comfortable pitching at home, where his 2.35 ERA outpaces his 4.03 mark on the road.
The Royals and their .307 team wOBA (ranked 23rd) provide a stable floor for Ohtani, but their MLB-low 18.7% strikeout rate caps the right-hander's ceiling a bit here. In any case, he provides the most safety for cash games and is worth a look in tournaments as well.
Eduardo Rodriguez, Boston Red Sox
vs. Detroit Tigers
FanDuel Price: $8,100
Eduardo Rodriguez is finally starting to live up to his potential, as the southpaw has been able to harness his wildness and decrease his walk rate (8.6% a year ago) to 7.8%. His strikeout upside has always been apparent, and this year he owns a career-best 28.6% mark. In terms of batted-ball metrics, Rodriguez's 28.1% hard-hit is the fourth-best in the American League among pitchers with at least 30 innings.
As for the matchup, E-Rod gets to take on the Tigers, who own the league's best wOBA versus lefties (.354) and the sixth-lowest strikeout rate (18.8%). You are taking the chance that Detroit's numbers are a product of a relatively small sample and banking on Rodriguez's upside in this spot. Vegas seems to think the Red Sox will roll in this one, as Boston is a huge -205 favorite.
With no sure things at the pitcher spot tonight, you will be hunting for hidden upside throughout this tier. Rodriguez, despite what looks like a tough matchup, tops that list on FanDuel.
Jack Flaherty, St. Louis Cardinals
vs. Miami Marlins
FanDuel Price: $7,800
Flaherty has been impressive so far in 2018, as he has registered a solid 26.7% strikeout rate with a 3.46 SIERA in six starts. He has yet to allow more than 3 earned runs in any start, and flashed upside with a 13-strikeout (69.1 FanDuel points) performance against the Phillies on May 20th.
The Marlins have a decent team wOBA (.325), but they lack power (.163 ISO) and strikeout a decent clip away from home (20.8% strikeout rate). The Cards are established as large favorites (-188) in this one, and Miami is only projected for 3.63 runs, which is currently the third-lowest on the slate.
Flaherty is another guy who offers a stable floor as a large favorite in a good matchup. It would be wise to mix-and-match guys like Flaherty and Eduardo Rodriguez in tournaments in hopes of capturing one of their ceilings tonight.
at Chicago Cubs
FanDuel Price: $9,600
Not many people are going to play Aaron Nola tonight, just because of the at Chicago Cubs label that causes even the most bullish DFS players to scroll past him in the pitching pool.
Nola has been nothing short of fantastic for the Philadelphia Phillies this year, posting a stellar 2.18 ERA and 2.61 FIP. The strikeouts ideally would be a little higher than his current 24.9% rate, but he has posted two double-digit strikeout games in his last five starts.
The matchup isn't great, of course, against a Cubs offense that ranks 5th in wOBA (.331) and 10th in ISO (.182), but they are projected for only 4 runs in this one. I would consider the under there, as Nola has not allowed more than 4 earned runs in any of his previous 13 starts.
While he probably isn't the safest cash-game play, Nola deserves consideration in GPPs. He has shown the ability to dominate regardless of the opponent, and as a contrarian option, he could be the deciding factor in who climbs the leaderboards tonight.
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.