FanDuel Pitching Primer: Friday 8/3/18
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?
Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
vs. Atlanta Braves
FanDuel Price: $11,500
We have a loaded pitching slate tonight, with several aces toeing the rubber and some solid mid-tier options in plus matchups. At the top, the choice is between Jacob deGrom and Justin Verlander, and deGrom gets the nod as the safest play in this tier.
While Verlander has the tough task of taming the Dodgers' revamped offense, deGrom gets a slightly better (though not great) matchup with the Atlanta Braves. Atlanta strikes out at only a 20.5% clip against righties, which is the eighth-lowest in the Majors, but they have a bottom-10 ISO at .154. Vegas has the Braves pegged for a slate-low 3.21 runs tonight, so there isn't much to fear in terms of the matchup.
The Mets' ace actually has a losing record (5-6), but he has been outstanding this year. He's posted a 1.82 SIERA with a 30.1% strikeout rate, and he's allowed just two earned runs in four starts against the Braves so far this season. deGrom profiles as the highest-floor cash play on the slate but is an interesting fade in tournaments given the plethora of pitching options we have available tonight. That said, expect another solid performance here against a team he's dominated four times already.
Patrick Corbin, Arizona Diamondbacks
vs. San Francisco Giants
FanDuel Price: $9,800
Patrick Corbin represents an interesting pivot in cash games from Jacob deGrom at the top, if you are willing to forego a bit of security and trade that for $1,700 in savings.
There's no question Corbin has a pretty solid matchup, but he failed to record a quality start last time out against the Padres, so there is some risk here. The Giants' lineups doesn't pack a lot of punch, but they just don't strike out very much against southpaws (sixth-lowest). As a result, I don't see a lot upside for Corbin tonight, despite San Francisco checking in at 19th in wOBA and 25th in ISO.
Corbin's 30.6% strikeout rate is one of the tops on the slate, and he's put some good numbers in four starts against the Giants so far this year. In those four outings, Corbin has struck out 29 and allowed just 5 earned runs over 26.2 innings. The Giants have just a 3.58 implied run total, and the Diamondbacks are one of the largest favorites on the board (-191).
If you want to fit an extra bat in cash games, I think paying down to Corbin from deGrom is a viable strategy. We saw last night in a crazy night for offense -- 200 points didn't cash in 50/50's -- that missing out on a huge offensive night can bury you. With several teams in similarly great spots tonight, the savings from deGrom could go a long way.
Vincent Velasquez, Philadelphia Phillies
vs. Miami Marlins
FanDuel Price: $8,100
The only way you are landing in this cheaper tier tonight in tournaments is if you can find a high-strikeout pitcher in a good spot. Although he hasn't been sharp recently, Vincent Velasquez has one of the better matchups of the slate and the strikeout upside to approach the upper-tier pitchers.
Velasquez labored through his last start in Cincinnati, allowing 10 baserunners in just 5 innings of work but had rattled off 3 quality starts before that. On the year, he has a solid 27.1% strikeout rate with a respectable 3.82 SIERA. He has had some troubles at home this season, but this isn't your typical matchup. In fact, outside of Justin Bour, there isn't much in this Marlins' attack to navigate.
A date with the Miami offense is certainly the biggest draw in this spot, as the Fish are last in ISO (.121), 28th in wOBA and 27th in total runs scored. They are league-average in strikeouts but are just 25th in walk-rate, which should aid the sometimes-wild Velasquez.
Velasquez and the Phillies are -169 favorites here, and if he can miss some bats he has the potential to be a massive bargain at just $8,100. It would be nice if this matchup was at Marlins Park, where pitchers tend to fare better than in Philly, but Velasquez still checks a lot of boxes. He's nowhere near safe enough to be a cash play on this slate, but he's an intriguing low-owned value play in tournaments.
Chris Archer, Pittsburgh Pirates
vs. St. Louis Cardinals
FanDuel Price: $9,000
I have to admit I initially typed "Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays" above. Chris Archer has been with the Rays so long it's certainly going to be weird seeing him in another uniform, but the change of scenery should be very positive for his fantasy outlook.
The right-hander gets to jump right in tonight against a Cardinals squad that features many right-handed bats, where his strikeout rate jumps to 27.0% compared to just 21.6% against lefties. Archer was victimized by some poor luck in the American League, as his 4.31 ERA was significantly higher than his 3.76 SIERA. Facing opposing pitchers should help to balance those numbers out, and Archer's Pirates are a solid -158 favorite in this one.
The Cards are a bottom-10 offense in ISO (23rd) and wOBA (also 23rd) against right-handed pitching, despite being middle-of-the pack in terms of strikeouts (15th). The projected St. Louis lineup is just 4-25 lifetime against Archer with 10 punchouts. It also helps Archer's cause that PNC Park is one of the more pitcher-friendly parks in the league.
While most will want to take a wait-and-see approach with Archer to see how he adjusts to the National League, we can fire him up tonight in a contrarian fashion with loads of upside. He struck out 13 just two starts ago and could flirt with double-digit whiffs 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.