FanDuel Pitching Primer: Friday 6/22/18
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?
Sean Newcomb, Atlanta Braves
vs. Baltimore Orioles
FanDuel Price: $8,900
It says a lot about the slate when the "high-priced stud" is only $8,900. We have a weird one tonight, folks, and the upper-tier is pretty clearcut. You are either playing Sean Newcomb or Patrick Corbin at the top, and, due to a better matchup, Newcomb gets the nod.
Newcomb has been very good for the Braves this season, as he enters this one with an 8-2 record and a minuscule 2.70 ERA. His strikeout rate sits at a very respectable 24.9% and his hard-hit rate is way down at 28.7%.
The matchup with the Baltimore Orioles is what separates the Atlanta lefty from the pack. The O's strikeout is the sixth-highest clip in the majors (24%), and they are bottom-eight in wOBA, ISO and OPS against left-handers. Chris Davis is expected back in the lineup after a brief hiatus, and Baltimore also loses the designated hitter in Atlanta. Newcomb should approach double-digit strikeouts tonight.
It's weird to say, but Newcomb is pretty much the smash play of the night. Patrick Corbin is an interesting pivot in the upper-tier in tournaments, but his strikeout upside is capped against the Pirates. Fire up Newcomb in all formats.
Jack Flaherty, St. Louis Cardinals
at Milwaukee Brewers
FanDuel Price: $8,300
Flaherty checks in with a 2.66 ERA, a 1.09 WHIP and a pristine 55:14 strikeout to walk ratio across 50.2 innings for the Cardinals. He has only allowed more than three earned runs once in nine starts. He started against these Milwaukee Brewers way back on April 3, and he struck out nine batters in only five innings. He does get a move to more of a hitter's park in Milwaukee, but he's had a lot of success on the road this year (2.49 ERA).
The Brewers are typically a feast-or-famine offense. They pack some punch (.163 ISO), but they will also strike out a good deal (eighth-highest strikeout rate). They lit up Carlos Martinez and the Cards bullpen for 11 runs last night, so there's no doubt they can put up some runs. With Flaherty, however, he has been able to limit damage consistently, as evidenced by his .218 opponent batting average and 36.8% hard-hit rate against.
Flaherty is a good way to save a few bucks if you are looking to spend down a bit at pitcher tonight. In cash, it would be worth it to find the $600 to get up to Newcomb, but in tournaments anything goes tonight.
Steven Wright, Boston Red Sox
vs. Seattle Mariners
FanDuel Price: $7,000
Wow, it sure is ugly down here, with 21 of the 28 pitchers on tonight's slate priced at $8,000 or below. While there are plenty of options to choose from, you will be hard-pressed to find a pitcher that you are totally comfortable with rostering.
Steven Wright stands out because of his recent form and the success he had against this same Mariners team in his last appearance. The Red Sox' knuckleballer held Seattle to one run over seven innings while picking up four strikeouts. On the season, Wright has registered a fantastic 1.23 ERA in 36.2 innings, though that only includes three starts.
The matchup isn't terrific from macro standpoint, as the Mariners rank ninth in the majors in both wOBA and OPS. However, Seattle is struggling offensively over the last week, as they rank 25th in both wOBA and OPS in that span. If you believe in cold streaks, Wright could be facing this offense at the "wright" time (had to do it).
With so many underwhelming options in this value tier, I think you have to lean on Vegas a little bit and settle on a few options that are favored in decent matchups. With Boston being pretty sizable favorites here (-136) at home, Wright could be the low-cost play that allows you to fit the Coors bats this evening.
Jon Gray, Colorado Rockies
vs. Miami Marlins
FanDuel Price: $6,800
This play is not for the faint of heart, but hear me out. Jon Gray has not been good this season, as his 5.89 ERA indicates, but his xFIP is 3.03 and his SIERA is only 3.33. So maybe he hasn't been as bad as he seems. He's always a guy worth plugging into tournament lineups at Coors Field because he goes virtually unowned, and he always has double-digit strikeout upside.
In addition to his appealing peripheral numbers, Gray has still maintained a 27.6% strikeout rate while limiting hard contact to just 34.3%. He has fallen victim to the BABIP monster, but his .375 number there screams for positive regression. I think we see Gray start to turn things around, if he could just find the right matchup...
...Enter the Miami Marlins. The Fish are dead last in the major leagues in team wOBA (.290) and ISO (.121), and they strikeout at a 23.5% clip against righties. There has maybe never been an offense less suited to take advantage of Coors Field's conditions. Add in the fact that the Rockies are projected for a massive 6.56 runs, and Gray should be comfortable pitching with a lead from the outset.
Gray profiles as a tourney-only option, and one-off play at that. With so many mediocre pitchers going tonight there are going to be huge run totals produced, and expensive hitters are going to be very palatable. Gray's upside and contrarian nature make him stand out in a group of pitching options who really lack appeal 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.