FanDuel Pitching Primer: Wednesday 8/1/18
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?
Rich Hill, Los Angeles Dodgers
vs. Milwaukee Brewers
FanDuel Price: $10,000
There's no question that Rich Hill is the favorite to lead the slate in fantasy points at the pitcher position tonight. The only debate is whether we lock in his production at this high price tag, or if we look at cheaper options, especially for cash games.
The Dodgers' southpaw seems to have regained his form, especially over his last two starts, where he has topped 50 FanDuel points against both the Braves and these same Brewers that he faces tonight. Hill's strikeouts have really ramped up of late, as he has whiffed at least seven batters in four of his last six outings. On the year Hill has maintained a 3.79 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) and has been much better on the road (3.09 ERA) versus at home (4.59 ERA).
Milwaukee has made some big additions to their lineup in the last week, acquiring Mike Moustakas and Jonathan Schoop, but the Brew Crew do have the fifth-highest strikeout rate against lefties (24.1%), and are just 18th in wOBA (3.14). Hill has been especially tough on left-handed bats, so it will be interesting to see which lefties among Christian Yelich, Travis Shaw and Moustakas make the lineup tonight.
Hill is definitely the safest play on the board, and he showed his upside in this spot just two weeks ago in the same matchup. If you can make his salary work, by all means play the man.
Anibal Sanchez, Atlanta Braves
vs. Miami Marlins
FanDuel Price: $8,500
Anibal Sanchez has had a surprising resurgence this year with the Atlanta Braves, and he carries a 3.00 ERA with a 1.09 WHIP and 23.4% strikeout rate through 13 starts. The veteran right-hander checks in as a sizable -173 home favorite tonight against the Miami Marlins, an offense that has struggled to produce for the duration of the season.
Miami has been a team who we have targeted often through the first four months of the season, and with good reason. They are 26th in wOBA (.300), 29th in ISO (.126) and strike out at a 22.9% clip (12th-most) against right-handed pitching. Vegas has the Fish projected for just 3.71 runs in this one, which is the second-lowest on the main slate, behind only the Brewers.
On any other slate, paying $8,500 for Anibal Sanchez would hardly be a sharp play. Tonight, however, he lines up as the best mid-tier play on the board. Give him a look in cash games and feel free to fire away in tournaments as well.
Luke Weaver, St. Louis Cardinals
vs. Colorado Rockies
FanDuel Price: $7,000
Luke Weaver will be a popular salary saver for the same reasons Jack Flaherty was last night --- he's facing an offense who is brutal away from home and lacks left-handed power outside of Charlie Blackmon (who went yard last night).
Weaver has had a very up-and-down 2018 campaign, but his "stuff" has never been in question. His numbers look scary on the surface --- especially the 4.70 ERA and 1.38 WHIP --- but he's had two blowups where gave up eight and six earned runs earlier in the season that has really ballooned those numbers. In fact, Weaver hasn't allowed more than four earned runs in any of his other 19 starts.
Weaver's main bugaboo has been the 10 home runs and .358 wOBA he has allowed to lefties, but this Rockies lineup is not as scary in a pitcher's park like Busch Stadium. Outside of Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez isn't the hitter he once was, Gerardo Parra has a ground ball lean, and youngster Ryan McMahon is still getting his feet wet in the big leagues. Flaherty was cruising through four innings before running into traffic in the fifth, and I'd expect something similar tonight from Weaver. If he can navigate through Blackmon, he should be able to pitch deeper and have more success than his teammate did yesterday.
If you want to spend up on hitters, Weaver gives you an avenue to do just that in cash games and tournaments alike. There's potential for some trouble here if he's not sharp, but his upside in this spot more than makes up for it.
Nick Tropeano, Los Angeles Angels
at Tampa Bay Rays
FanDuel Price: $7,500
There aren't going to be too many ways to be contrarian tonight with only six games on the slate, but an intriguing off-the-board pitcher in a great spot is the Angels' Nick Tropeano. This is much more of an indictment against the Rays offense than it is being high on Tropeano's skills, as he has been very average (4.60 SIERA) through 12 starts. His 20.7% strikeout rate is middling, but he has flashed against weaker offenses like the White Sox (7 strikeouts) and the Royals (6 strikeouts).
The Rays' lineup took a hit yesterday when Wilson Ramos was shipped to the Phillies, but they did acquire Tommy Pham and Austin Meadows in separate deals. It remains to be seen if the new acquisitions will be in the lineup tonight, but if they are not, their offense weakens even more. Against right-handers, Tampa Bay is just 27th in ISO (.137), and Ramos provided a lot of that pop.
Their strikeout rate is just 22.4% (and only around 20% over the last two weeks), but their lack of power really enhances the opposing pitchers' ability to pitch deep into the game.
If you want a low-owned play on this slate, you are going to have to dig deep. Most tournament lineups will have Hill, Sanchez or Weaver, so the remaining options are all going to go under-the-radar. If Tropeano can tap into some of the upside he has shown against similarly weak offenses, he has a chance to outpace the more popular options.
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.