FanDuel Pitching Primer: Friday 7/13/18
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?
Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants
vs. Oakland Athletics
FanDuel Price: $9,400
I must divulge that I spent an hour staring at my screen trying to figure out who to write up today. This slate is much different than what we have had lately -- especially after Thursday's ace-fest, so naturally we should be attacking things a bit differently as well. The pitching options tonight are not good. There is a huge lack of upside and the safer arms are not really that safe, especially for a 15-game slate.
That brings us to Madison Bumgarner, who, by default, is one of the top projected plays on the board tonight (avoid a capped Noah Syndergaard for now). MadBum has been decent since returning from injury, and if you want stability tonight, just lock in his 2.05 ERA and 25.0% strikeout over his last four and move on. The problem is you are paying a premium at $9,400 for a guy who is priced up because of his name more than anything.
There are things working in Bumgarner's favor tonight, though, as the A's have the second-lowest implied run total (3.47), and they also get a negative park shift while losing the DH traveling to San Francisco. The Giants are also healthy -140 favorites in this one, so Bumgarner could find himself in line for a victory.
Oakland hits for power against southpaws (.178 ISO), but the spacious AT&T Park should help Bumgarner in that regard. The A's are middle of the pack in terms of strikeouts, but having their pitcher in the lineup should boost their strikeout projection (we have MadBum at 4.9 tonight).
With another Coors Field game on the slate and several gas cans to attack, saving at pitcher will be a popular strategy. I'm not entirely sold on MadBum for cash, but he does offer the most security. In tournaments, however, play the fade and look to hit on one of the cheaper arms while paying up for bats.
Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals
vs. Cincinnati Reds
FanDuel Price: $8,800
The long-awaited revival of Carlos Martinez appears to be finally coming to fruition as the Cardinals fireballer has strung together three consecutive quality starts after a very rough stretch. Martinez's season-long numbers look pretty good on the surface, as he has pitched to a 3.05 ERA with a decent 22% strikeout rate. The problem has been his control, as evidenced by a 11.9% walk rate.
The good news is that CarMart has issued only three free passes over those last 3 outings, spanning a total of 19 innings. The Reds do have the Majors' third-highest walk rate (9.9%), so Martinez will certainly have to be careful here. Cincinnati usually isn't a team we like to pick on with their meager 21.9% strikeout rate, but the nature of this slate certainly causes us to go out of our comfort zone.
Vegas likes the Cards quite a bit tonight, as St. Louis is a -145 favorite. Despite some favorable hitting weather, the Reds are also projected for only 3.90 runs in Vegas.
Martinez is not the safest play on the board, but he is one of the few arms that possess elite upside. He tallied 64 FanDuel points against these same Reds way back in April, so if he can capture some of that magic again tonight, he's going to pay off in a huge way.
Tyler Chatwood, Chicago Cubs
at San Diego Padres
FanDuel Price: $6,500
I find myself continuing to glance down at this value tier trying to justify playing one of these guys. There are so many attractive bats tonight (and the Coors' hitters are relatively affordable) that paying down at pitcher -- even in cash games -- looks like a very attractive option.
The problem is, of course, these guys are all cheap for a reason. While some of them have some things going for them, they all have warts. Tanner Roark pops due to a favorable matchup with the New York Mets, but Tyler Chatwood gets the best possible matchup on the board. Yes, you've heard this before; the San Diego Padres at Petco Park are a match made in pitcher heaven.
Chatwood hasn't even been mediocre for the Cubs this year -- he's been downright terrible. His 5.01 ERA is buoyed by a ridiculous 18.9% walk rate. And 5.82 SIERA suggests he's actually been fortunate.
There has to be something attractive here, right? Well, his strikeout rate is up to a career-high 20.0% while his 55.1% ground-ball rate is above league-average. And, oh, did I mention he has a good matchup? Yes, Petco Park is a pitcher's paradise, and the Padres are last or close to it in virtually every major offensive category against righties.
Chatwood's walk rate is a no-go in cash games. On the other hand, he is a dynamic tournament play on this slate, as a 35-point performance could very well be one of the tops of the night. If he can throw strikes and keep the ball on the ground, he could be the value option that wins a tournament tonight.
Jake Odorizzi, Minnesota Twins
vs. Tampa Bay Rays
FanDuel Price: $7,200
Odorizzi has seen a nice jump in punchouts this year, posting a respectable 24.2% strikeout rate thus far. He's been especially good lately, as he has whiffed 22 batters and allowed only 2 earned runs over his last 3 starts (17 innings). Odorizzi is notorious for being a reverse-splits righty with a fly-ball lean, but a matchup with the Tampa Bay Rays is one he can certainly take advantage of.
The Rays are way down at 27th in the majors in team ISO against right-handed pitching (.130), and their 22.9% strikeout rate is the sixth-highest in the American League. The Rays are actually favored by 1.5 runs in this one, which should really help to suppress Odorizzi's ownership.
With so many question marks on the slate, guys like Odorizzi are firmly in play in tournaments. One of these guys is going to throw a gem, and exposing yourself to several of them is probably the sharp move. At $7,200, Odorizzi is one of the better contrarian plays.
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.