FanDuel Pitching Primer: Tuesday 7/3/18
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?
Zack Greinke, Arizona Diamondbacks
vs. St. Louis Cardinals
FanDuel Price: $10,100
With Clayton Kershaw still working his way back from injury and being limited by manager Dave Roberts (55 and 68 pitches in his last two starts), Zack Greinke is the top high-priced arm on tonight's slate.
There's nothing sexy about Greinke, but he remains a very solid pitcher. On the year, the Diamondbacks' right-hander is 8-5 with a 3.33 SIERA and 25.7% strikeout rate. He's been sharp recently, tallying 49 FanDuel points in each of his last two outings. His home park -- Chase Field -- has been especially kind to him this year as he has a 2.40 ERA there, compared to a 4.31 ERA on the road.
The Cardinals check in with a 3.48 implied total and are pretty much a middle-of-the-pack squad in most offensive categories. They are 13th in strikeout rate (23.1%), 20th in wOBA (.309) and 19th in ISO (.156). They are mostly right-handed, however, and Greinke has slightly better splits against righties.
Greinke is the safest play at the top of the pricing spectrum tonight for cash games, but his lack of a huge ceiling at an expensive price makes him an intriguing fade for tournaments.
Shane Bieber, Cleveland Indians
at Kansas City Royals
FanDuel Price: $8,200
Shane Bieber continues to roll along. Four starts in, he is 3-0 with a 2.22 ERA and an impressive 26.2% strikeout rate. He gets a great matchup tonight, and the Indians are huge favorites (-193), making him a very interesting play in the middle tier.
The Royals are an offense we have been targeting all year, even though they are the third-hardest team to strike out on the season (20.0% strikeout rate). The upside in this spot for Bieber lies in the Royals' dead-last wOBA (.288) and second-worst ISO (.125).
With a game in Coors and the Houston Astros projected for more than six runs in Arlington, saving some money at pitcher tonight may be the sharp call, especially in GPPs. Bieber gives you the opportunity to save a few bucks but not lose out on any potential upside.
Ryan Yarbrough, Tampa Bay Rays
at Miami Marlins
FanDuel Price: $6,100
Admittedly, I went back and forth here between Ryan Yarbrough and Anthony DeSclafani as the salary-saving cheap play tonight, but I'll side with Yarbrough due to a better matchup and the better overall pitching environment (especially if the roof is closed in Miami).
Yarbrough has been decent for the Rays this season, compiling a 7-4 record with a 3.76 ERA and modest 21.0% strikeout rate. He doesn't possess much of a ceiling as he has crossed 40 FanDuel points only once due to starting only four games among his 19 appearances (he has frequently been coming in after the Rays' "opener"). He is, however, coming off a strong performance against Houston, a game in which he allowed only one earned run over 6.1 innings.
You aren't even considering Yarbrough when he is pitching against almost every other team in the big leagues, but the Marlins are one of the few offenses that tend to bring out the best in opposing pitchers. Miami is 29th in both OPS and wOBA against southpaws, and they're dead-last (30th) in ISO. Projected for only 3.53 runs, Miami isn't getting much confidence from Vegas, either.
Paying up for hitters and saving at pitching may be the way to go tonight in tournaments. Yarbrough allows you to do just that.
Zach Eflin, Philadelphia Phillies
vs. Baltimore Orioles
FanDuel Price: $9,100
Zach Eflin figures to go overlooked tonight as he finds himself lost in the shuffle of the Kershaw/Greinke tier at the top and the Bieber/Jack Flaherty tier in the middle. Most will likely save a few bucks for the latter or find the extra salary to play one of the former.
Eflin has seen a major jump in strikeouts this season for the Phillies-- from a 12.5% strikeout rate last year to a 24.5% clip this year -- and his 3.67 SIERA is a big improvement from last year's 5.08 mark. He gets to face the strikeout-prone Orioles without their designated hitter in Citizens Bank Park, where Eflin has been especially solid (2.59 ERA).
On the year, the O's have the sixth-highest strikeout rate against righties (24.7%) and are way down at 26th in wOBA (.293). Vegas has them pegged at 4.13 runs, most likely due to the solid hitting conditions in Philadelphia, but this should help suppress Eflin's ownership even further.
On a slate that has an array of pitchers who lack big-time upside, Eflin could be the hidden gem of the night that crushes as a contrarian play.
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.