FanDuel Pitching Primer: Tuesday 8/7/18
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?
Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
vs. Atlanta Braves
FanDuel Price: $11,900
We've reached the point in the 2018 campaign where you don't need me to tell you why Max Scherzer is a great play. It's just a matter of whether spending all the way up at pitcher is the sharp move when there are a bevy of mid-tier options with upside. This sets up very similarly to last night, where Trevor Bauer was the clear-cut top play but was minimally owned due to his high price tag.
If you needed persuasion as to why Scherzer is the top play in all formats tonight, let's break down his numbers: He's 15-5 with a 2.33 ERA, a 0.91 WHIP, a 34.7% strikeout rate and a .182 opposing batting average. Mad Max has been especially lights out in his last two starts, posting 67 and 52 FanDuel points, respectively, against the Marlins and Reds.
The matchup with the Braves isn't the best one on the board, as Atlanta has the 6th-lowest strikeout rate in the majors (20.5%), but they are just 22nd in ISO against righties (.154). Vegas has installed the Nationals as -209 favorites and has Atlanta projected for a slate-low 3.11 runs. Scherzer is as matchup-proof as they come.
Fire up Scherzer in cash games if you can find the cheap bats to make it work. There are some intriguing options at a lesser cost that at least make you think, but there are also some salary-saving hitters in good spots tonight.
Zack Greinke, Arizona Diamondbacks
vs. Philadelphia Phillies
FanDuel Price: $10,200
Greinke has been very sharp lately, tossing quality starts in eight of his last nine outings while picking up seven victories in that span. On the year, he has a solid 3.31 SIERA and a 25.9% strikeout rate, which is on the low side for the right-hander when you look at his historical marks. The good news is that the Phillies are a great matchup for strikeouts, as they are second in all of baseball with a 25.8% strikeout rate against righties.
Greinke has been on another level at home, where his 2.44 ERA far eclipses his 3.52 ERA on the road. He's also allowed only six long balls in his home park, backing up the premise that the newly-installed humidor at Chase Field is decreasing offensive output.
As a -167 favorite in this spot, Greinke is a great cash play if you are looking to save the $1,700 down from Scherzer. His ceiling is nowhere near Max's, however, preventing him from being a GPP target tonight.
Chase Anderson, Milwaukee Brewers
vs. San Diego Padres
FanDuel Price: $7,600
Chase Anderson should gain some traction due to his matchup and his recent form. The Brewers' righty hasn't allowed more than two earned runs over his last eight consecutive starts, although he has hit 40 FanDuel points only once during that span. If you are looking Anderson's way tonight, especially in cash games, you are willing to accept his lack of upside and lock in his likely quality start with a handful of strikeouts.
Anderson's 19.7% strikeout rate has dropped considerably from the 23.4% mark he recorded last year, but the punchouts should be in for a boost against the Padres. San Diego has a league-worst strikeout rate against righties (25.9%), and they're also last in ISO, wOBA and OPS. The punchless Padres have faced Anderson only once this year --- way back on opening day --- and the righty held them scoreless with six strikeouts over six innings.
The only thing missing from this matchup is that it's not being played in the pitcher's paradise known as Petco Park. Miller Park is much more friendly to run production, and Anderson has massive home/road splits that show an ERA two runs higher at home. That said, it's tough to see Anderson not posting a solid outing in this spot, and I wouldn't blame you for locking him in as a cheap play in cash games. As a -188 favorite, Vegas sure seems to agree.
Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland Indians
vs. Minnesota Twins
FanDuel Price: $10,600
Carlos Carrasco has been all over the map in his four starts against the Minnesota Twins this season. It's been a tale of two extremes for the right-hander, as he has posted a combined -3 points in his two poor starts and a combined 108 points in his two great starts.
Carrasco seemed to be hitting the wall after returning from injury in early-July, but he has responded with 26 strikeouts and a 1.33 ERA over his last three starts. The strikeout rate has been increasing throughout the season, as early on we were avoiding Carrasco due to his confusing inability to put hitters away. Now he's back up to 27.8% in the strikeout rate department, though his 39.0% hard-hit rate is the worst of his career.
Following the departures of Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar via trade, Carrasco posted 62 FanDuel points against these Twins just last Wednesday. Minnesota has just a 21.4% strikeout rate against righties for the year, but that number has jumped up to 25.6% (fourth-highest) since the trade deadline. The Twins are also 25th in runs scored since July 31, so the subtractions of two of their best hitters have definitely taken a toll, as you'd expect.
The Indians are actually the biggest favorites on the board (-240), but Carrasco will likely go overlooked due to his awkward price point. Most will find a way to get up to Scherzer at $11,900 or take the savings with Greinke at $10,200. That leaves Carrasco as a likely contrarian play, with a decent shot at posting the highest score of the slate.
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.