FanDuel Pitching Primer: Wednesday 8/8/18
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?
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
at Oakland Athletics
FanDuel Price: $11,000
We've waited in anxious anticipation for Clayton Kershaw to finally be "back", and while he may never be as dominant as he once was, he has certainly looked more like his old self recently.
The Dodgers' lefty has struck out at least seven in three of his last four starts after posting pedestrian strikeout totals over the previous month. On the year, Kershaw has recorded a 3.27 SIERA (his highest since 2012) and a 25.1% strikeout rate (also his lowest since 2012). His 33.6% hard-hit rate is easily the worst of his career, as he has certainly begun to look mortal in the descent of his prime. That said, this is still a very good pitcher, and if he has truly turned a corner health-wise we could see him finish the year in dominant fashion.
On the other side of the matchup, the Athletics are middle-of-the-pack in terms of strikeouts against southpaws (22.1%) and are sixth in ISO at .182. Kershaw will also miss out on facing the opposing pitcher due to this game being played in an American League park, although Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum skews pretty heavily in favor of pitchers. Current A's hitters with at-bats against Kershaw are just 6-53 (.113) lifetime, so he certainly has the upper-hand historically, too.
If safety is your goal tonight, Kershaw provides the safest floor among the high-end pitchers. His upside is a bit capped due to the matchup, but he is certainly in play in cash if you have the funds to make it work.
Luis Severino, New York Yankees
at Chicago White Sox
FanDuel Price: $9,400
Luis Severino has quite simply not been the same pitcher over his last five starts, as his strikeout numbers are way down and he has allowed at least four earned runs in four of those outings.
Severino's numbers for the year still look amazing, as he has a 3.33 SIERA and a 27.6% strikeout rate. He had to be really good prior to July to balance out the 6.58 ERA and 21.6% strikeout rate he had last month. When digging deeper to try to find a cause for his recent struggles, it's interesting to note that his velocity has remained relatively stable, but his hard-hit rate jumped way up to almost 40%. While the hard contact is a red flag, his opponents' batting average on balls (BABIP) was over .388 in three of those July starts, with two starts having a BABIP over .500. There's certainly a case to be made that Severino has just hit a rough patch with command while also being a bit unlucky at the same time.
So why he is even in consideration despite the recent struggles? The Chicago White Sox offense. Chicago has been taken to school the last two nights by middling hurlers Lance Lynn and CC Sabathia, striking out a total of 21 times in 13 innings while only scoring 1 run against the two starters. The anemic production is nothing new for the White Sox, as they lead the American League with a 25.6% strikeout rate against righties, while also owning the fourth-lowest wOBA, at .307. Their 3.24 projected run total for tonight is also the lowest on the board.
As a massive -254 favorite, the Yankees' righty certainly has a believer in Vegas. I'd buy into a resurgence here and play him in all formats if you can handle a little risk.
Trevor Richards, Miami Marlins
vs. St. Louis Cardinals
FanDuel Price: $7,700
Trevor Richards is putting together a solid 2018 campaign, and not many people seem to have noticed. He's put together a 3.92 ERA with a respectable 22.5% strikeout rate for the lowly Marlins, and tonight, he has the advantage of pitching in the spacious Marlins Park tonight, where his ERA drops to 3.06.
The right-handed nature of the Cardinals lineup makes them susceptible to struggles against right-handed pitching, as they are a bottom-10 offense in ISO (23rd), wOBA (21st) and OPS (20th). Unfortunately for Richards, he has drastic reverse-splits numbers, holding lefties to a .247 wOBA while being touched up for a .379 clip against righties. He had a similar pattern throughout his minor league career, so the relatively small sample size doesn't seem to be the issue. Something has to give, though, and I'd lean toward Richards before the Cards offense in this one.
If you want to access some of the pricier bats on tonight's slate, Richards is one of the few cheaper options that invoke confidence. He's certainly a risky cash play, but could hold some value in tournaments given the solid matchup in a pitcher's park.
vs. San Diego Padres
FanDuel Price: $8,000
Chase Anderson was fairly popular last night for the same reasons Jhoulys Chacin should be popular tonight. The problem is, Anderson got lit up and many will avoid Chacin due to recency bias. The Padres are also a right-handed-heavy lineup and Anderson is a notorious reverse-splits pitcher, as well. San Diego certainly took advantage in the much friendlier confines of Miller Park, taking Anderson deep twice while also coaxing 4 free passes in just 4.2 innings.
Luckily for Chacin, he dominates right-handed hitters to the tune of a .248 wOBA, while his struggles come against lefties (.348 wOBA). The only lefties he really has to contend with are Eric Hosmer and a struggling Travis Jankowski (if he finds his way into the leadoff spot). As a result, San Diego is only projected for 3.65 runs and Milwaukee is a large -185 favorite here. Of course, the Padres are easily the worst offense in the majors, especially against right-handed pitching, so the macro matchup is certainly a good one for Chacin.
Due to the success San Diego had last night, I'd expect Chacin to go largely ignored tonight. Even though he is a much different pitcher from Anderson, most will let Anderson's failure last night sway them in another direction. If you are looking for a low-owned play to fit in the high-octane offenses, Chacin is your guy.
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.