FanDuel Pitching Primer: Friday 7/27/18

Zack Greinke might just have the best matchup on the board as he takes on the Padres in San Diego. Which other arms should you roster 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

Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox

vs. Minnesota Twins
FanDuel Price: $12,800

Chris Sale's numbers have been just stupid recently. The southpaw has been a beast all season, but he has been especially untouchable. Over his last 8 starts, covering 54 innings, he has allowed only five earned runs (0.83 ERA), 29 hits and has recorded a staggering 87 strikeouts (14.5 K/9).

Sale gets a great matchup tonight against the Twins, who have been awful against left-handed pitching this season. Minnesota has the fifth-highest strikeout rate (23.4%), and is near the bottom in ISO (28th) and wOBA (24th) against lefties. Vegas isn't giving the Twins much of a chance tonight, as Minnesota is projected for just 3.05 runs, and the Red Sox are massive -355 favorites.

Sale is the top play on the board, but he does cost a pretty penny. I'd try to find the funds to roll him out in cash games, although Max Scherzer -- at $11,500 -- is at least worth a look. Regardless, do everything you can to squeeze Sale and his exorbitant salary into your lineups, as he will likely be worth it once again.

Mid-Range Play

Zack Greinke, Arizona Diamondbacks

at San Diego Padres
FanDuel Price: $11,000

You know it's a loaded slate for pitching when a $11,000 price tag qualifies as a mid-tier option. Zack Greinke is putting together a very strong season in a rather quiet fashion, posting a 26.2% strikeout rate with a 3.33 SIERA over 129.2 innings. Greinke is coming off a dominant outing in which he recorded 13 punchouts over eight innings on his way to a whopping 70 FanDuel points against the Colorado Rockies.

The matchup against the Padres tonight in the pitcher's paradise known as Petco Park literally could not get any better. San Diego is last or bottom-five in nearly every offensive category against right-handed pitching. The Diamondbacks are also solid -171 favorites on the road, and San Diego's implied run total currently sits at just 3.28 -- third-best on the slate.

Greinke is a fantastic tournament play tonight, as the presence of Sale and Scherzer at the top should limit his ownership. His cash-game appeal is also strong, as the $1,800 in savings from Sale is certainly palatable given the number of high-end hitters in great spots tonight.

Value Option

Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays

at Baltimore Orioles
FanDuel Price: $9,000

As mentioned above, every slate is relative in terms of pricing and what qualifies as a true "value" play. Tonight, Chris Archer comes at big discount relative to where most of the ownership will flock --- the $10,000-$13,000 range --- despite being priced up a bit.

Archer was dominant his last time out, striking out 13 Marlins over 6 innings of work. He had been rather rusty in his previous two starts since returning from injury, but has another great matchup tonight against the struggling Baltimore Orioles.

The Orioles have the 6th-highest strikeout rate against righties (24.5%) and are just 17th in ISO, and that was with Manny Machado in the lineup. Of course, Machado is now in Los Angeles, and this lineup is much, much worse. The venue certainly favors hitters, but if Archer is racking up strikeouts the friendly confines of Camden Yards are minimized.

With the Rays checking in as -150 favorites, Archer should find himself in line for a victory if he can keep the ball in the yard. He definitely profiles as a tournament-only option given the nature of the slate, but he has considerable upside in this spot. The weather does look a bit dicey again in Baltimore, too, so be sure to check back on the forecast before lock.

Contrarian Play

Marcus Stroman, Toronto Blue jays

at Chicago White Sox
FanDuel Price: $8,000

We are used to getting minimal strikeouts and a lot of groundballs from Jays' righty Marcus Stroman, but he has actually flashed some upside recently, making him an intriguing contrarian target tonight.

While Carlos Carrasco ($10,000) is sure to go overlooked and possesses a much higher ceiling, Stroman allows you to spend up for a few extra bats on a night where there is plenty of offense in addition to the plethora of aces.

Stroman has eclipsed 40 FanDuel points in 3 of his last 5 outings, a mark that he failed to reach in his previous eight starts. The big draw here is the matchup with a White Sox offense that has struggled with right-handed pitching. Chicago has the third-highest strikeout rate (25.3%) and just a .308 wOBA (23rd) against righties thus far.

The Jays are a fairly sizable road favorite (-127) in this one, but let's be honest --- the real reason you are playing Stroman is to fit some of the stud hitters littered throughout this slate. The Red Sox, Yankees, Athletics (in Coors), Rockies and Indians are all projected for over five runs. Their hitters are understandably expensive, however, and playing them is going to be really tough if you are spending up for Sale, Scherzer or Greinke. If Stroman can get past 40 FanDuel points again, and your expensive stacks light it up, you will climb the GPP leaderboards in a hurry.

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.