FanDuel Pitching Primer: Wednesday 6/13/18
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?
Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians
at Chicago White Sox
FanDuel Price: $10,200
Yes, Gerrit Cole is pitching tonight, and while he is a great play anytime he toes the rubber, well documented Cole critic Trevor Bauer gets the nod as the top point-per-dollar play on the slate. Cole has been just awesome rather than legendary lately, as he has failed to surpass 50 FanDuel points in any of his last 5 outings. For perspective, Cole topped 50 points in 6 of first 8 starts before that. While Cole has settled back into mortal status, Bauer has been rolling, racking up double-digit strikeouts in four of his last five starts.
The Chicago White Sox are prone to allowing huge games to opposing pitchers, as we saw with Carlos Carrasco two days ago. On the year, they have the fourth-highest strikeout percentage in the majors, at 25.3%, while posting the eighth-lowest team wOBA (.307).
With Bauer's 30.3% strikeout rate and Chicago's susceptibility to punching out in bunches, he possesses a similar ceiling to Cole tonight. At a savings of $1,600 between the two, Bauer is the top stud for DFS.
Jose Berrios, Minnesota Twins
at Detroit Tigers
FanDuel Price: $9,800
Jose Berrios has had an up-and-down season in 2018. He started off blistering hot, scoring at least 40 FanDuel points in 3 of his first 4 appearances. That was followed up by 4 consecutive starts where he failed to reach 20 FanDuel points. Now, Berrios has managed at least 44 FanDuel points in 4 of his last 5 starts (he tallied 33 in the other).
A few weeks ago, Berrios dominated this Tigers' offense to the tune of nine strikeouts over eight solid innings. Detroit's already lackluster offense now has to deal with losing Miguel Cabrera for the rest of the season, too. On the season, Detroit ranks 23rd overall in wOBA (.307), but that number drops to .297 (26th) against right-handed pitching. Though Miggy has been in a steep decline, his .360 wOBA will be sorely missed tonight and as the season goes on.
With the Twins checking in as -155 favorites in this one, Berrios offers a solid combination of safety and upside as a pivot off the more popular Bauer and Cole.
Luke Weaver, St. Louis Cardinals
vs. San Diego Padres
FanDuel Price: $6,700
Luke Weaver seems to always pop up as a great value play when he takes the mound, but he has had mixed results despite finding himself in plus matchups. With a 4.32 SIERA and a modest 20.6% strikeout rate, nothing about Weaver's peripherals jump off the page.
What does jump off the page, however, is the Vegas lean in this game. The Cardinals are installed as the biggest favorites (-200) on the main slate. Additionally, San Diego's 3.57 implied run total is the third-lowest on the board. Anytime Vegas thinks this strongly about the outcome of a game, we should pay attention.
The Padres' offense, of course, provides one of the best draws for opposing pitchers in the entire major leagues. They are bottom-five in terms of strikeout rate (third-highest), team wOBA (second-lowest) and ISO (second-lowest) versus right-handed pitching. The only thing going against Weaver is that he doesn't get the luxury of facing the Padres at Petco Park, the best pitching park in all of baseball.
Either way, Weaver's low salary provides an intriguing source of salary relief. With ownership flocking to the higher-priced hurlers, this strategy could be a direct way of differentiating from the field.
Kenta Maeda, Los Angeles Dodgers
vs. Texas Rangers
FanDuel Price: $9,100
Kenta Maeda was rolling before a hip injury landed him on the disabled list at the end of May. In his two previous healthy starts, the Dodgers' righty had thrown 14.2 scoreless innings with 20 strikeouts and 2 victories. Most importantly, manager Dave Roberts had allowed Maeda to throw 96 and 111 pitches, respectively, in those 2 outings (and 104 the previous start), after really restricting his pitch count the first month and a half of the season.
Coming off the DL (and with the "DL" icon still next to his name on FanDuel), Maeda is going to be a forgotten man in the middle-tier tonight. We are talking likely single-digit ownership.
If -- and it's a big if -- Roberts gives him some leash in his first start back, he could certainly rack up some strikeouts against the Rangers. Texas has the majors' second-highest strikeout rate against right-handed pitching (25.9%), and while they have some pop in their lineup, they also lose the designated hitter traveling to a national league ballpark.
As a true contrarian play, sprinkling Maeda into some tournament lineups could pay off in a big way if he regains his pre-injury form.
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.