FanDuel Pitching Primer: Tuesday 8/21/18

Blake Snell has a solid matchup with the Royals, putting him in play tonight despite a possible pitch limit. Which other pitchers should be on your radar?

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

Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees

at Miami Marlins
FanDuel Price: $10,200

It's a tough call at the top today between the Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka and the Diamondbacks' Patrick Corbin, but Tanaka gets the nod due to the slightly better price tag and more enticing matchup.

Tanaka has struggled with the home run this season ---his mark of 1.74 homer per nine trails only Dylan Bundy on tonight's slate --- but the pitcher-friendly nature of Marlins' Park coupled with the opportunity to face the opposing pitcher boosts his floor considerably. Miami has an implied run total of 2.91, suggesting that Tanaka should have little issue navigating this watered-down Marlins' lineup.

Miami's offense continues to be very exploitable from a pitcher's perspective, as they rank last in ISO (.123) and 28th in wOBA (.294) against right-handers. They've jumped up to 11th in strikeout rate at 22.5%, and they've scored the 5th-fewest runs in the last three weeks (since dealing Justin Bour).

There really is no clear-cut strategy tonight in cash games. Tanaka is certainly the safest play in the best pitching environment, but with a Coors Field game and several other offenses in great spots, he is not necessarily a must-play.

Mid-Range Play

Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays

vs. Kansas City Royals
FanDuel Price: $9,600

Blake Snell would be a smash play tonight if we knew he wasn't going to be limited once again by a pitch count. In his three starts since returning from injury, Snell has thrown 59, 47 and 76 pitches. The logical progression would take him close to the 90-pitch mark tonight, but we just don't know for sure.

Snell has been just as remarkable since returning from the disabled list as he was before his injury, as he has allowed just one earned run over 14 innings, while striking out 15. He can do a lot of damage in just five innings, as he has shown his last few times out, but with at least some restriction all but guaranteed, he is a risky play. His 28.5% strikeout rate for the season should certainly boost his floor in this spot, as he hit 39 FanDuel points in each of his last two appearances, despite the limited workload.

The Royals are certainly an intriguing matchup for opposing pitchers, as they rank 29th in ISO (.118) and 28th in wOBA (.287) against southpaws, to go along with the 5th-highest strikeout rate in the majors (23.5%). Kansas City is implied for a slate-low 2.64 runs in this one, as well, as the Rays are a huge -240 favorite.

If we get word that Snell has free reign tonight, we should be all-in. At this point, however, he is just a low-ceiling option who should cruise for however long he is out there.

Value Option

Michael Kopech, Chicago White Sox

vs. Minnesota Twins
FanDuel Price: $6,000

Finally, the moment we have all been waiting for --- Michael Kopech is making his major league debut tonight.

If you're not familiar with the legend of Kopech, he throws serious smoke.

The range of outcomes here is rather wide, as Kopech has struggled throwing strikes in his minor league career. His 11.1% walk rate at Triple-A this year is rather unsightly, but he also didn't walk a single batter in his last three outings and issued only four free passes over his last seven starts. With a fastball that reaches triple digits, it should be of no surprise that Kopech can rack up strikeouts pretty quickly. His strikeout rate sits at 31.3% in the minors this season, and he has whiffed at least 8 batters in 8 of his last 10 starts in Triple-A.

The matchup for his debut is a decent one, as the Minnesota Twins are just a middle-of-the-pack lineup in terms of walk rate (13th), and they have the 10th-highest strikeout rate over the last two weeks (22.2%). It is important to have realistic expectations here, though, as we have seen very poor debuts from hyped pitchers in the last week or so (Sean Reid-Foley and Stephen Gonsalves).

At $6,000, we don't need Kopech to do much in his White Sox debut to pay off this price tag. He's likely going to be the most popular cheap option, however, so if you fire him up in tournaments, make sure you are differentiating your lineups elsewhere.

Contrarian Play

Jose Berrios, Minnesota Twins

at Chicago White Sox
FanDuel Price: $9,100

Game log-watchers are going to breeze right past Jose Berrios tonight due to duds his last time two times out against the Pirates and Indians. Even with his poor recent form, Berrios and the Minnesota Twins have one of the best matchups on the board.

The White Sox have been a disaster since the break, striking out a league-high 27.1% clip, which is almost two percentage points higher than the second-place Colorado Rockies (25.3%). They are fifth in ISO during that span (.195), however, and Berrios has been touched up for a long ball in each of last two starts after not allowing a homer in his previous five outings (spanning 31.2 innings). Berrios has also been much worse on the road (4.59 ERA) compared to at Target Field (3.13 ERA), but all these factors should help to suppress his ownership.

With the total set at nine runs and Chicago projected for a healthy 4.41 of that, a lot of people will ignore the young right-hander tonight. He's shown a huge ceiling this year ---recording more than 50 FanDuel points a whopping eight times --- and he has exceeded 60 FanDuel points twice against these White Sox already this season. There's risk here, but there's also a huge ceiling.

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.