FanDuel Pitching Primer: Tuesday 8/14/18

With James Paxton and Justin Verlander pitching, Patrick Corbin could go overlooked, making him an intriguing tourney play. How should you handle the pitchers on tonight's main slate?

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

Justin Verlander, Houston Astros

vs. Colorado Rockies
FanDuel Price: $11,200

Coming off a rough start against the Seattle Mariners his last time out, Justin Verlander's ownership may be impacted some by recency bias, but we should feel good about going right back to the well tonight.

For the year, Verlander has posted an impressive 2.79 SIERA to go along with a 33.3% strikeout rate while allowing hard contact at just a 29.1% clip. The Astros' righty is holding opposing batters to just a .199 batting average, and while his 52.7% fly-ball rate makes him susceptible to the long ball, not pitching in Coors Field should help in that regard.

The Rockies are like Jekyll and Hyde when they are at home versus on the road, as they are a team we avoid going after at Coors but target when they're playing elsewhere. Colorado is top-five in wOBA (3rd), ISO (4th) and OPS (4th) at home, but they drop to 15th in ISO, 23rd in wOBA and 21st in OPS on the road. Those are some pretty drastic splits. Even with those inflated home numbers, the Rockies still have the ninth-highest strikeout rate, at 23.2%.

Verlander is the top overall play tonight, and despite the presence of some darn good pitchers on the slate, he has the most upside. The $11,200 is doable even in cash games with some cheap hitters also in good matchups.

Mid-Range Play

James Paxton, Seattle Mariners

at Oakland Athletics
FanDuel Price: $9,800

James Paxton, like Verlander, is also coming off of a subpar start in which he allowed four earned runs over just 5.2 innings against the Astros. Similar to Verlander, we should be willing to forgive Paxton for this minor blip and go right back to him in a good spot tonight.

The Mariners' southpaw has great numbers on the year, as he has maintained a 31.4% strikeout rate with a solid 3.05 SIERA. Strangely enough, Paxton has some serious reverse splits, as he has held righties to a .198 average while lefties have hit .326 versus him. Fortunately for Paxton, the A's lineup projects to have seven or eight righties tonight (counting switch-hitting Jed Lowrie as a righty).

Oakland has had moderate success against lefties this year, as they rank fifth in ISO (.185), but they strike out the eighth-most in the American League. Also, the A's have not fared well against this Paxton this year. Back in May, Paxton punched out 16 Oakland batters over seven scoreless innings on his way to a whopping 73 FanDuel points. While that game was in Seattle, Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is also known to suppress offense.

Paxton and the Mariners are surprisingly just a -122 favorite in this one, while Oakland is projected for 3.61 runs. The lefty could go somewhat overlooked and is a great way to save some salary while also capturing some upside in the middle tier.

Value Option

Jaime Barria, Los Angeles Angels

at San Diego Padres
FanDuel Price: $6,500

The value tier is rather barren tonight, but we do have a right-hander facing the Padres, so Jaime Barria is at least worth a thought.

Barria has been nothing special for the Los Angeles Angels this year, but he is coming off one of his best efforts of the campaign, a game in which he struck out five Tigers over 5.2 scoreless innings. He's shown some drastic reverse splits, allowing a staggering .398 wOBA to right-handed batters, while holding lefties to just .235 mark. San Diego's projected lineup has three lefties along with a pitcher hitting, so we shouldn't put too much stock into that data, all things considered.

The reason Barria's mediocrity -- including a 17.6% strikeout rate and 4.63 SIERA -- is appealing here is due to the ballpark and the matchup. Petco Park is the top park for pitchers in all of baseball, and the Padres are a bottom-five offense against righties in nearly every offensive metric. Vegas has an interesting lean on this game, however, as the Angels are only -107 favorites, and San Diego is projected for a lofty (for them) 4.19 runs.

Nonetheless, Barria is in play in GPPs at this cheap price tag. You don't need much for him to meet value, and paying down at pitcher while loading up on expensive bats will be a great way to differentiate yourself from the field tonight in tournaments.

Contrarian Play

Patrick Corbin, Arizona Diamondbacks

at Texas Rangers
FanDuel Price: $10,400

Patrick Corbin finds himself in no-man's-land due to his awkward salary and the presence of Justin Verlander at just $800 more. As a result, he may not get much traction in terms of ownership in both cash games and tournaments.

Corbin checks into this one in good form, as he has registered at least eight whiffs in four consecutive starts. For the year, he has a strikeout rate of 31.0% to go along with a pristine 2.89 SIERA. His hard-contact (41.8%) is a little higher than we would like, especially with the Texas heat looming in Arlington tonight. But he's still allowed only 11 homers in his 148.2 innings, good for a minuscule mark of 0.67 homers per nine.

The Rangers as an offense have the eighth-highest ISO against lefties (.173), but it helps that Corbin will hold the platoon advantage against three of their biggest sluggers (Shin-Soo Choo, Rougned Odor and Joey Gallo). Texas does have a propensity for strikeouts up and down their lineup, evidenced by their sixth-highest strikeout rate against southpaws (23.3%). Corbin will miss out on the comfort of facing the opposing pitcher, but the strikeout upside is still there.

The Diamondbacks are a solid -174 favorite tonight, as their offense is projected for a slate-high 5.71 runs. Corbin could be pitching with a lead pretty early in this one, but the context of the negative league shift along with his awkward price point and the favorable hitting conditions should leave him largely overlooked. He's a great way to be contrarian in tournaments, although it's probably best to try to find the extra $800 to lock in Verlander for cash games.

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.