FanDuel Pitching Primer: Friday 6/15/18
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?
Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians
vs. Minnesota Twins
FanDuel Price: $12,000
Corey Kluber has been a very effective real life pitcher this year, but his fantasy appeal has been somewhat diminished due to a decreased strikeout rate. His 10-2 record and 1.99 are obviously impeccable, but his 27.5 K% is quite a dropoff from the 34.1% mark he set last season. Kluber had been in the same auto-play tier as guys like Max Scherzer and Chris Sale, but this year that hasn't been the case. For tonight's slate, however, he is the high-priced stud to play.
After letting the air out of Kluber's balloon a bit, allow me to relay just how good as he has been. He has a .201 opposing batting average, a 0.83 WHIP, a 2.7% walk rate and a 2.77 SIERA on the year. And all of these metrics rank among the major league leaders.
The Minnesota Twins are middle-of-the-pack in terms of strikeout rate (16th) and team wOBA (17th), so the matchup isn't a concern. Kluber has also taken it to another level at home this year, where he has a 1.26 ERA compared to a 2.72 mark away from Progressive Field.
Kluber really is the only sure thing in the upper-tier of pricing tonight. Given his recent form and propensity to just rack up quality start after quality start, he is the premier play on the entire slate.
Ross Stripling, Los Angeles Dodgers
vs. San Francisco Giants
FanDuel Price: $9,100
If you haven't jumped aboard the Ross Stripling bandwagon yet, now's the time to start. The Dodgers' righty is 5-1 with a 1.65 ERA and a 30.1% strikeout rate through 8 starts. He has taken Clayton Kershaw's spot in the rotation and has essentially put up Kershaw-eque numbers. And no one seems to notice.
Call it west coast bias if you want, but it's time to take Stripling seriously. He gets to take on a San Francisco Giants offense that has the 7th-highest strikeout rate versus right-handed pitching (24.8%), and ranks just 20th in team ISO (.154). The Giants have a respectable .319 team wOBA, but that number drops to .305 on the road. Vegas seems to think this matchup favors Stripling as well, as the Dodgers are -204 favorites, in a tie for highest on the slate.
It's going to be tough to pass on Kluber in cash games, but Stripling is a viable pivot if you are looking to save some salary. In tournaments, Stripling is an elite option from the middle tier.
Jonathan Loaisiga, New York Yankees
vs. Tampa Bay Rays
FanDuel Price: $5,600
It's always interesting when a guy makes his major league debut, and we never really know what to expect. Jalen Beeks -- a successful minor league pitcher -- burned many as he allowed five earned runs in the first inning in his start last week. In the case of Jonathan Loaisiga, the young right-hander should generate some of the same optimism based on his numbers at the lower levels this year.
Loaisiga has racked up 58 strikeouts over 45 innings between single-A Tampa and double-A Trenton. Perhaps even more impressive is that the Nicaraguan native has walked only four batters in those 45 innings. As the Yankees' 12th best prospect, he's had success at every stop in the minors, going 15-3 with a 2.60 ERA over four professional seasons. The pedigree is certainly there, and he should get some run support tonight -- the Yanks have an implied total of 5.24 runs and are -204 favorites.
As for the matchup, the Rays are around league average in most statistical categories, but they have the fifth-highest strikeout rate and fourth-lowest wOBA in the American League over the last two weeks. Loaisiga may be getting them at the right time, and with his low salary he doesn't need to do much to reach value.
You should in no way go here in cash games, but Loaisiga is an awesome tournament play that allows you to load up on hitters on tonight's massive 15-game slate.
Charlie Morton, Houston Astros
at Kansas City Royals
FanDuel Price: $9,600
Charlie Morton has cooled down considerably, after a torrid start to 2018, but we have an opportunity to deploy him tonight as a contrarian option in GPPs.
His last two starts have been ugly, allowing six earned runs to Boston then walking six and failing to make it out of the fourth inning against the Rangers. Before that, Morton was racking up quality starts and posting huge strikeout games. As a result, his numbers still look good, as he has a 30.2% strikeout rate and a 3.23 SIERA.
Vegas loves Houston in this spot, as they check in as -196 favorites (fourth on the slate). The matchup with the Royals is a challenging one for upside, as they boast the lowest strikeout rate in the majors at 18.6%. The problem for Kansas City is that, while they make a lot of contact, they don't do a lot with it. Their .299 team wOBA ranks 26th and their .132 ISO is an even lower 29th.
If Morton can generate a lot of weak contact and approach the strikeout ceiling we've seen this season, he could pay off in a big way tonight. He is certainly going to go under the radar and is a fine low-owned option on this slate.
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.