FanDuel Pitching Primer: Friday 8/24/18
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?
Mike Foltynewicz, Atlanta Braves
at Miami Marlins
FanDuel Price: $10,500
Mike Foltynewicz checks in as the clear play at the top end of the salary spectrum tonight, although he is certainly priced up to a point where he is anything but a must-play.
Folty just dominated this Miami Marlins squad over a week ago, posting seven punchouts over eight innings, en route to 52 FanDuel points. He also racked up 52 FanDuel points in his last outing against the Colorado Rockies, as he picked up nine strikeouts over seven shutout innings in that one. The 28.2% strikeout rate for the season certainly should play well in this spot, and Foltynewicz has been nearly as good on the road (2.82 ERA) as he has been at home (2.63 ERA).
The Marlins are such a puzzling offense to dissect at this point in the season. Their metrics suggest we should be targeting them heavily with opposing pitchers, as they are bottom-three in ISO, wOBA and OPS. One of the reasons they seem to constantly be "pesky" is their low strikeout rate (22.3%), which is right in the middle in terms of their rank major league rank (15th). We've seen recently with Masahiro Tanaka and Lance Lynn (in the past week), that the Fish have a habit of limiting the ceiling of opposing pitchers due to their lower strikeout rate and tendency to extend at-bats, subsequently raising pitch counts in a hurry. If you are looking to attack them here, the floor is significant, but the ceiling is capped.
All that said, Foltynewicz is a sizable -187 road favorite in this one, and he certainly offers the most safety if that is what you are looking for. In tournaments, I would look to the cheaper options who can provide a similar ceiling at a much lower cost.
Rich Hill, Los Angeles Dodgers
vs. San Diego Padres
FanDuel Price: $8,800
Rich Hill is going to be very popular tonight due to his recent form, and a relatively cheap price tag considering the favorable matchup.
While the Padres are certainly more exploitable with right-handed pitching, they are still not a team to avoid with a southpaw on the mound. Oddsmakers agree, as the Dodgers are a massive -240 favorite here, and San Diego is projected for only 3.20 runs. The Padres have a lot more pop when facing lefties --- they are 10th in ISO compared to 29th against righties --- but they still strikeout at a 24.0% clip (third-highest in the majors).
Hill hasn't been as sharp recently in terms of run prevention, but he has consistently posted quality fantasy outings. Following two starts where he eclipsed 50 FanDuel points, he has been between 28 and 31 points in each of his last four appearances. That may be all we need tonight, with a Coors Field game and many offenses in great spots.
With the strikeout upside pushing his projection close to that of Foltynewicz at a much lower cost, Hill is the easy cash play tonight if you are landing in the mid-tier. He has a good bit of ceiling, also, and that could pay dividends in tournament contests as well.
CC Sabathia, New York Yankees
at Baltimore Orioles
FanDuel Price: $7,800
The value tier is rather barren tonight, as CC Sabathia stands out as one of the only viable options below $8,000.
Sabathia has been especially impressive his last two times out, as he has hit 49 and 50 FanDuel points against the Rangers and White Sox, respectively. He gets a matchup tonight against a similar opponent in terms of strikeout upside, as the Orioles have the seventh-highest overall strikeout rate for the year (23.3%). Sabathia just spent a 10-day stint on the disabled list for knee inflammation, but the issue seemed minor to begin with, and the Yankees typically like to give their veterans a few extra days this time of year anyway.
While Sabathia has pretty pronounced home/road splits, and Camden Yards doesn't do him any favors in terms of park factor, the matchup against a struggling offense is too good to ignore. Baltimore is 25th in ISO (.134) over the last two weeks, and they have whiffed at a 24.0% rate during that stretch. Despite the favorable hitting conditions, the O's are only projected for 3.70 runs here, so Vegas doesn't seem too concerned about the friendly confines of the ballpark, or Sabathia having any lingering effects with his knee.
The big lefty doesn't quite make the cut for cash tonight, but he is an intriguing pivot from Hill for GPP's in the mid-tier. He's shown some surprising upside in his last two starts, and it wouldn't be a shock to see it happen again tonight.
Mike Clevinger, Cleveland Indians
at Kansas City Royals
FanDuel Price: $9,500
There seems to be quite a theme emerging here over the last few weeks: Target the Padres, Orioles, White Sox, Marlins and Royals. We have a large enough sample size at this juncture to keep going after these terrible offenses with regularity. Scroll through the four pitchers included in this piece and check their opponent -- it's no coincidence.
As for the Royals, they are 29th in ISO (.133), 28th in wOBA (.294), and have scored the fewest runs of any team in the major leagues. Their strikeout rate sits at just 20.2% against righties (seventh-lowest), but that number has jumped up to 25.1% over the last two weeks (fifth-highest). Vegas isn't giving them much of a chance in this one, as they are +180 underdogs and only projected for an 3.82 runs.
Mike Clevinger falls in that awkward salary tier between Foltynewicz and Hill, which should cause him to go overlooked. The guy seems to get little attention, but he just keeps churning out quality start after quality start. He's allowed 3 earned runs or less in 11 of his last 13 starts, and he has maintained a solid 24.0% strikeout rate for the season.
Clevinger has averaged 38.5 FanDuel points across his two starts against Kansas City this season, so he's no stranger to success in this spot. On a night where dominant pitching options are missing, Clevinger's mix of safety and upside might be enough to get the job done in tournaments at low ownership.
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.