FanDuel Pitching Primer: Tuesday 6/26/18

Despite the presence of Corey Kluber, Luis Severino is the top arm on Tuesday's slate. Who else is worth a look tonight?

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

Luis Severino, New York Yankees

at Philadelphia Phillies
FanDuel Price: $10,600

Luis Severino checks in as the top high-end play tonight, despite the presence of Corey Kluber on the slate.

Severino possesses just as much safety and perhaps more upside than the Kluber, and the $1,200 savings is huge on a 14-game slate. On the season, the Yankees' ace has a sterling 11-2 record, a 2.24 ERA and a 30.2% strikeout rate. He's touched at least 58 FanDuel points in three of his last five starts, which shows you the kind of upside he possesses.

The Phillies also present a beautiful matchup for opposing pitchers, as their 25.6% strikeout rate is the highest in the major leagues. They do hit righties a little better (.314 wOBA) but still find themselves in the middle of the pack in isolated power (ISO) and on-base plus slugging (OPS). Any concern about Citizens Bank Park being one of the better hitting environments on the slate is alleviated by Severino being able to face the opposing pitcher in an NL venue.

Take the savings and fire up Severino in cash games. I'd also give him a strong look in tournaments as well, as he possesses arguably the highest ceiling on the slate.

Mid-Range Play

James Paxton, Seattle Mariners

at Baltimore Orioles
FanDuel Price: $9,600

We have some depth on tonight's slate, as James Paxton headlines the middle tier against the struggling Baltimore Orioles. It's no secret the O's have been a dumpster fire offensively, and while they strike out far less against southpaws (25th-lowest versus 6th-highest against righties), they also struggle to do much with their contact (.160 ISO vs. righties, .137 ISO vs. lefties).

Paxton has been great this season but has struggled recently, and his drop in velocity is certainly of concern. After scoring at least 48 FanDuel points in four of five starts, he has posted subpar point totals of 30 and 1 in his last 2 appearances, respectively. He did face the Red Sox and Yankees in those two recent matchups, so I think it's safe to jump back aboard here. With a 3.04 SIERA and a 31.4% strikeout rate on the year, he has given us enough of a sample to trust his track record.

Vegas does seem to buy into Paxton's recently velocity dip, as the Mariners are surprisingly only -132 favorites tonight. I don't think you even consider him cash games until he proves he's over his recent struggles, but he is one of my favorite tournament plays on the board.

Value Option

Freddy Peralta, Milwaukee Brewers

vs. Kansas City Royals
FanDuel Price: $7,700

With so many excellent higher-priced options on the slate tonight, it's a little riskier than usual to pay down at pitcher. If you do find yourself venturing into the value tier, though, look no further than Brewers' rookie Freddy Peralta.

Peralta has really turned some heads in his first 3 starts, as he has posted 62, 15 and 49 FanDuel points against the Rockies (in Coors), Twins and Pirates respectively. All 3 starts have come on the road and he has struck out 25 over 15.2 innings.

He gets to take on a Royals offense that doesn't strike out much (18.9% K rate against righties is tied for lowest in the majors), but they really just can't hit. Their .290 wOBA ranks 29th, they are tied for 29th in ISO and are also 29th in OPS. Kansas City does get a substantial park upgrade, but they too lose their designated hitter playing in a National League stadium. The oddsmakers seem to agree as well, as Milwaukee is a huge -230 favorite in this one.

Peralta is getting a lot of traction around the industry so I don't think you're going to sneak up on anyone if you are using him tonight. However, he has shown a high ceiling and the matchup is certainly in his favor. He's right up there as one of the top tournament plays of the slate, and he allows you to spend up on some quality bats in the upper echelon of pricing.

Contrarian Play

Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians

at St. Louis Cardinals
FanDuel Price: $11,800

It really caught my eye last Friday night when Sean Newcomb was highlighted as the top high-priced option on the slate despite Patrick Corbin pitching against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Newcomb had a much better matchup against the Orioles at home, and Corbin didn't appear to have much upside against the contact-heavy Bucs. Corbin ended up tossing a gem and racked up 61 FanDuel points at close to single-digit ownership, thus breaking the slate. He was completely overlooked despite having the talent to beat the matchup.

We have a similar situation tonight with Corey Kluber, in that we can use the contrarian strategy of paying for pure talent over matchup. Kluber has been a very good real-life pitcher and a very solid fantasy pitcher this season. The guy, after all, is 11-3 with a 2.10 ERA. Why is he not the top play? It's that pesky 7% drop in strikeout rate (27.2%) from 2017 to 2018. His floor has been unbelievable (94% of his starts have been quality starts), but at almost $12k there better be a ton of upside built into the price.

With Severino essentially matching his projection tonight, Kluber is going to be overlooked. We have an opportunity to play Corey Kluber at low ownership in a really good matchup? Sign me up.

Speaking of the matchup, the right-handed heavy Cardinals are just 19th in team wOBA against right-handed pitching and have the 13th highest strikeout rate (23.3%). They also provide Kluber with the advantage of facing the opposing pitcher, which should further boost his strikeout projection. Considering Kluber has only allowed more than 3 earned runs once in 16 starts, the Cards' implied run total of 3.29 seems a bit high here, which should further suppress his ownership.

The concern, of course, is if you play Kluber you are going to have to save virtually everywhere with your hitters. Luckily, we have some value in the San Diego Padres, who are projected for 4.9 runs in Texas, and are cheap one-through-nine in their order. But as we have seen in recent slates, sometimes paying up to be different can send you to the top in GPPs.

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.