FanDuel Pitching Primer: Tuesday 7/31/18

Not far removed from a demotion to the minors, Jon Gray profiles as an intriguing contrarian play versus the Cards. Which other pitchers should be on your 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

Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians

at Minnesota Twins
FanDuel Price: $11,800

Trevor Bauer continues to roll along and throw gem after gem for the Cleveland Indians. The right-hander is coming off of another dominate outing, this one against the Pirates in which he fanned 10 over seven shutout innings. For the year, Bauer has a 2.32 ERA with a 31.6% strikeout rate and 1.12 WHIP in 147.1 innings.

He whiffed 11 but did give up 3 earned runs in his only previous start against the Twins back in June. Speaking of Minnesota, they recently shipped away Eduardo Escobar to the Diamondbacks, and Brian Dozier is another name that continues to pop up in trade rumors. If Dozier would happen to be dealt sometime today, that would obviously increase Bauer's appeal even more in this matchup.

Overall, the Twins rank 21st in both ISO and wOBA, so Bauer shouldn't have much trouble navigating this weaker lineup. Minnesota is surprisingly projected by Vegas for almost four runs (3.85), but the Tribe are a solid -148 moneyline road favorite.

Bauer is the safest bet for the most raw points in the slate, but we do have a very enticing middle tier tonight. If you can find the money, play Bauer in cash games, but he's not quite a must-play.

Mid-Range Play

Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees

vs. Baltimore Orioles
FanDuel Price: $9,400

Masahiro Tanaka figures to be very popular tonight in both cash games and GPPs, and for good reason. The Yankees' righty dealt his last time out, punching out nine in a complete-game shutout against the Rays. Tanaka has made only three starts since missing a month due to injury, and his last start was the only one of the three in which he was given some freedom with his pitch count, but he should have free reign again tonight.

The Orioles are pegged for a slate-low 3.25 runs despite playing in the homer-friendly Yankee Stadium. This O's offense has not been good all year, and they are much worse now that Manny Machado was shipped out of town. They have the sixth-highest strikeout rate against right-handed pitching (24.1%), and their .300 wOBA checks in way down at 27th. They do have a hot Jonathan Schoop that Tanaka will have to contend with, as the O's second-baseman has launched six homers in his last seven games.

Tanaka is the preferred play in cash games with his major discount from Bauer at the top. The $2,400 in savings will go a long way when trying to fit in hitters against gas cans like Bartolo Colon, Homer Bailey and Wade Miley.

Value Option

Walker Buehler, Los Angeles Dodgers

vs. Milwaukee Brewers
FanDuel Price: $7,400

If you are looking for some upside in the value tier, Walker Buehler finds himself in an interesting matchup at home with the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brew Crew are an intriguing target because they strike out a ton (fifth-most against right-handers), but they have a tremendous amount of pop in their lineup. With the addition of Mike Moustakas to the fold (acquired via trade), Milwaukee's offense is even better.

Milwaukee is prone to blowing up opposing pitchers at times (see: Kenta Maeda last night), but they also mix in huge ceiling games to the opposing pitcher -- like a 67-point outing for Tanner Roark last week. Buehler and his 25.3% strikeout rate could certainly go off tonight.

As always with this Dodgers staff, starting pitchers are limited in terms of how deep they pitch into games. Buehler, of course, has been no different, as he has eclipsed six innings in only 2 of his 12 starts. While his ceiling is capped a bit due to the restrictive nature of manager Dave Roberts, he can still do a lot of damage in six innings.

Buehler has been much better at home (2.97 ERA, versus 5.26 on the road), and the Brewers get a pretty substantial park downgrade going to Dodgers Stadium. Fire up Buehler as a likely low-owned tournament play who will allow you to spend up on some expensive hitters.

Contrarian Play

Jon Gray, Colorado Rockies

at St. Louis Cardinals
FanDuel Price: $8,300

The middle tier may go completely overlooked tonight, but Jon Gray, Danny Duffy and even James Shields have outstanding matchups. A lot of people completely ignore Gray because he pitches for the Rockies, and we have it embedded in our brain to avoid these guys for fantasy purposes. Add in the fact that Gray was recently demoted to the minors, and his ownership is going to be depressed even further.

Gray does have a lot going for him in this spot, however. For one, he obviously gets a huge park upgrade going away from Coors Field and into Busch Stadium. Gray also owns a stellar 28.2% strikeout rate and is going to have the platoon edge against most of the Cardinals' lineup, which is predominantly right-handed. The Cards also just traded Tommy Pham to the Rays, so their lineup may be a little short-handed tonight, as well.

St. Louis is middle of the pack in most offensive categories against righties, but Vegas has them projected for a meager 3.6 runs in this one. The total on this game has already dropped from 7.5 down to 7.0, so the under seems to be getting hit with sharp money. All things considered, Gray will likely be in the single digits in terms of ownership, and he has arguably as much upside as anyone not named Trevor Bauer. We've seen him hit 40 FanDuel points in three of his last four outings, with a 64-spot coming against the Marlins a month ago. Don't be shocked to see him come close to that number again tonight.

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.