FanDuel Pitching Primer: Wednesday 8/22/18
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?
Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets
vs. San Francisco Giants
FanDuel Price: $9,800
The top two aces on the slate in terms of salary (Carlos Carrasco and Stephen Strasburg) either have a terrible matchup or question marks regarding health and workload. Almost by default, Noah Syndergaard emerges as the top option if you are looking to spend up, despite having blemishes of his own.
Syndergaard has seen a dip in his velocity, which has led to a decrease in strikeouts over the last month. He's only surpassed six punchouts once since the end of May, and his current strikeout rate of 24.5% is decidedly the lowest of his career. He still owns a solid 3.40 ERA, as his performance has been buoyed by an excellent 21.5% hard-hit rate. And on the upside, Vegas certainly thinks the Mets cruise in this one (-158 favorites), so Syndergaard should be in good shape for a quality start and potential victory.
The matchup itself couldn't be much better for Syndergaard, and that's the big draw here. San Francisco has been dreadful recently, posting a league-worst 0.74 ISO and .242 wOBA over the last two weeks. Whether you are a believer in cold streaks or not, the Giants' season totals aren't much better, as they are 28th in ISO and 26th in wOBA.
Thor is the safest high-priced option for cash games if you want to go that route, but I'd look cheaper for tournaments. His lack of strikeout upside, even in this spot, somewhat caps his ceiling.
Jon Gray, Colorado Rockies
vs. San Diego Padres
FanDuel Price: $8,600
Baseball is such a unique sport in that the playing surfaces, dimensions, and weather vary from stadium to stadium. We know that Coors Field is the number one place for offense, according to our park factor metric, but the impact of the environment can be overstated at times. Tonight is one of those nights.
In the case of Jon Gray, when he is recording 75% of his outs via the strikeout or groundball, the thin air in Colorado is certainly not as impactful. Fortunately for us, most will skip right past Gray tonight after they see that the game is being played in Coors. Gray would be close to 100% owned if he was $8,600 and facing this Padres' offense in San Diego. Still, overlooking him tonight would be a mistake, and you should plan to have heavy exposure to him relative to the field.
On the season, Gray has a 27.4% strikeout rate with a stellar 3.32 SIERA. He has been lights out since his demotion to the minors at the beginning of July, eclipsing 40 FanDuel points in five of those six starts. His one blip in that span was against the Dodgers at home, but he also had great outings in Coors against the Astros and Mariners during that stretch.
The Padres, of course, are the most targetable offense in all of baseball, ranking bottom-five in nearly every offensive category. They do get the park boost here, but their league-high 25.8% strikeout rate against righties should help to neutralize its effects. San Diego also has a 4.17 implied run total, which is the lowest I can remember this season for a Coors Field game. Fire up Gray confidently in all formats tonight.
Lance Lynn, New York Yankees
at Miami Marlins
FanDuel Price: $7,500
Lynn gets to face the inept Marlins in a major pitcher's park, and he even looks to be getting one of the best pitcher's umpires in the game (Bill Miller). Like the Padres, Miami is a bottom-five offense in nearly every offensive category and, at this point in the season, is a team we want to be targeting on a daily basis.
Lynn is striking out over a batter per inning and his 23.1% strikeout rate is his best mark since the 2013 season. With the high-powered Yankees offense offering him support, he is a solid -178 favorite in this one.
If you want to jam in some hitters at Coors or from one of the other teams projected for around five runs, Lynn is certainly viable in cash games and tournaments alike. He's underpriced for the matchup and his recent form, and should have little trouble hooking the Fish tonight.
Clay Buchholz, Arizona Diamondbacks
vs. Los Angeles Angels
FanDuel Price: $8,900
The Angels will be without Mike Trout and Justin Upton due to injury, and they lose their designated hitter Shohei Ohtani by traveling to a National League ballpark. I probably don't need to include much analysis here for you to realize that missing those three bats is a substantial downgrade to this offense. The Angels' 3.63 implied run total is the fifth-lowest on the board, and their strikeout rate over the last week (23.7%) has jumped from their season mark of 20.6% without their big sluggers.
Buchholz has experienced a career renaissance in Arizona, posting a 2.47 ERA and a 6-2 record with a modest 20.7% strikeout rate. His ceiling isn't huge in this spot, but it's not inconceivable for him to put up a performance similar to his last time out against the Padres, where he allowed one earned run while striking out six in a complete game victory (good for 52 FanDuel points). For that reason, he is a sneaky tournament option that shouldn't get much attention despite a very favorable matchup. Look his way if you want to be contrarian in GPPs 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.