FanDuel Pitching Primer: Friday 6/29/18

With Jacob deGrom likely to be the most popular play on Friday's slate, Trevor Bauer may carry lower ownership than he should, incentivizing us to give him a look in tournaments. Which other pitchers are on the MLB DFS radar?

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

Jacob deGrom, New York Mets

at Miami Marlins
FanDuel Price: $11,700

We have quite the conundrum tonight in that there are several high-end pitchers to choose from but also several poor arms we want to pick on with expensive bats. Due to his matchup with the Miami Marlins and the park downgrade for offenses, Jacob deGrom gets the nod as the top stud on the slate tonight. (NOTE: deGrom's start has since been pushed back to tomorrow.)

On the year, deGrom has a pristine 1.69 ERA with a slightly higher 2.88 SIERA and a solid 31.4% strikeout rate. He has been the epitome of consistent, allowing no more than 3 earned runs in all but 1 of his 16 starts (which, incidentally, was against the Marlins).

Miami ranks near the bottom in nearly every statistical category as an offense, and they are projected for the second-lowest run total on the slate tonight (2.99 runs). The Marlins are 27th in team wOBA (.292), are dead last in ISO (.122) and strike out at the 10th-highest clip in the majors (23.2%).

deGrom profiles as the best cash play on the board due to the safety he possesses in this spot. It may be advantageous to skirt his high ownership and look for similar upside at a cheaper price in tournaments.

Mid-Range Play

Patrick Corbin, Arizona Diamondbacks

vs. San Francisco Giants
FanDuel Price: $9,600

Patrick Corbin checks in as the top play in the middle tier tonight as he and the Diamondbacks take on the San Francisco Giants.

Corbin's strikeout rate has jumped double digits from his two previous seasons and is all the way up to 32.5% in 2018. He is giving up some hard contact (42.4%), but his 2.81 SIERA shows that he has been able to punch his way out of jams frequently this season. He faced this Giants squad earlier in June and racked up 47 FanDuel points in a victory.

San Fran doesn't strike out a ton against southpaws (13th-most) due in large part to the right-handed-heavy nature of their lineup, but they are way down at 22nd in ISO (.152). They have been especially punchless on the road, however, as their strikeout rate jumps up to 24.8% compared to a 22.6% mark overall.

Arizona is a sizable -146 favorite in this one, so Corbin projects well and offers a solid floor if you want to drop down in price from deGrom in cash games.

Value Option

Joe Musgrove, Pittsburgh Pirates

at San Diego Padres
FanDuel Price: $7,200

The conundrum I alluded to in the opener reaches its apex in this section. Take a look at some of the gascans that are pitching tonight: Yovani Gallardo. Dylan Covey. David Hess. Paul Blackburn. Erick Fedde. Wilmer Font. Sal Romano. Translation: There will be runs tonight. Lots of runs.

How does this impact our strategy on tonight's slate? A decision has to be made with where you are going to spend your funds. You can't play a Jacob deGrom and load up on Angels' bats versus Hess, for instance. One way to go -- and this may sound familiar -- is to follow the flow chart to see who is facing the San Diego Padres and make sure they are right-handed.

Enter Joe Musgrove.

Musgrove is really nothing special despite striking out about a batter per inning (31 strikeouts in 33.1 innings). However, things line up for him to be at least serviceable tonight in the best matchup on the slate. The right-hander started strong with three quality starts in his first four outings but has since sputtered with two disastrous starts against the Dbacks and the Reds.

The cure, you see, lies in the matchup against the atrocious Padres. San Diego (against righties) has the second-highest strikeout rate (26%), the worst team wOBA (.286) and the worst ISO (tied with the Royals at .123). They can't hit right-handers. And this game is being played in the top pitcher's park in all of baseball.

It's rarely the sharp move to prioritize the volatility of hitters over the safety of top-tier pitchers in cash games, but in tournaments, it is certainly something to consider tonight.

Contrarian Play

Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians

at Oakland Athletics
FanDuel Price: $12,000

I never thought we'd live in a world where Trevor Bauer costs $12,000 on FanDuel, but here we are. We have another opportunity tonight to pay up to be contrarian as Jacob deGrom should double Bauer's ownership due to the savings and better matchup. As a result, we can definitely create some leverage on the field by deploying Bauer in tournaments.

Bauer has finally realized the potential many have been waiting for since he was a top pick of the Diamondbacks out of UCLA. His strikeout rate sits at a stellar 31.8%, and his 3.04 SIERA is currently a career best. He has been absolutely racking up strikeouts lately, as he's reached double-digit whiffs in a remarkable seven of his last nine appearances.

The Athletics present a somewhat troubling matchup as their flyball tendencies show up in their sixth-highest team ISO (.176) versus righties. They are also exactly middle of the pack in strikeouts (22.2%), so Bauer will have to work to reach double-digit punchouts again.

Despite the mediocre matchup, Bauer's upside is simply unmatched on this slate. He's also been surprisingly consistent, so the chances of his getting shelled appear to be minimal. The main attraction here, however, is the ownership aspect. Bauer will go vastly under owned due deGrom at $300 less and Corbin in the middle tier. If you can find some value bats later in the day when lineups are released, fitting Bauer into tournament lineups may not be as costly as it appears. If he twirls another gem as a contrarian play, you will be in great shape 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.