FanDuel Pitching Primer: Wednesday 8/29/18
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?
Zack Godley, Arizona Diamondbacks
at San Francisco Giants
FanDuel Price: $9,000
Pitching options are noticeably thin tonight after the plethora of solid arms who pitched last night. With the lack of a true ace to choose from, Zack Godley is the easy choice as the top high-end play on the board.
Godley has had some issues recently, in terms of run suppression (at least five earned runs in two straight), but his strikeout numbers have remained steady. The Arizona righty has racked up at least six punchouts in nine straight starts, despite the increase in runs allowed. He has some pretty worrisome home/road splits, but his road xFIP (4.11) is much better than his 5.45 ERA would indicate.
The big draw here for Godley is the matchup with the struggling Giants. San Francisco is last in all of baseball over the last two weeks in ISO, wOBA, wRC+ and total runs scored. Despite being much better at home, Godley gets to pitch in a very good park for pitchers.
The Diamondbacks are a small favorite in this one (-117), but the context and the matchup make Godley one of the more appealing options on the slate. He's not a lock for cash games, but he does project to have the highest floor.
CC Sabathia, New York Yankees
vs. Chicago White Sox
FanDuel Price: $8,200
The big southpaw has reached 40 FanDuel points in each of his last three starts following a short DL stint, and he should be in line for a victory tonight as the Yankees are massive -254 favorites here. Sabathia has struck out at least seven in three of his last four starts, ramping up a strikeout rate that sits at just 21.0% for the season. His hard-hit rate is way down at 28.5%, and for some context, that is even better than Max Scherzer.
The White Sox continue to be a team that we want to target with left-handed pitching, as their 26.5% strikeout rate is nearly two percentage points higher than the second-place Mets. They are around league-average in terms of power (16th in ISO) but drop to 21st in wOBA (.305). Their recent encounter with Sabathia didn't fare well, as they whiffed 12 times in 5.2 innings against CC just three weeks ago.
Sabathia is certainly in the cash discussion tonight, and he actually possesses some of the biggest upside on the slate. There's not a lot of ways he can get blown up here, which makes him a fine play in all formats.
Alex Cobb, Baltimore Orioles
vs. Toronto Blue Jays
FanDuel Price: $7,200
Cobb does have a 4-15 record on the year, but he has the third-best ERA (1.80) in the American League over the last month, trailing only Blake Snell and David Price. The consistency has led to eight consecutive starts allowing three earned runs or less, although his strikeout rate in this stretch (6.43 K/9 innings) doesn't show much improvement from his season mark of 6.10 K/9 innings. Regardless, he's one of the few reliable cheap options tonight, and he is actually a small favorite (-113).
The matchup and ballpark certainly don't do Cobb any favors, as Toronto has been heating up, and Camden Yards is known to encourage offense. Despite the favorable hitting conditions, Cobb has fared better at home (4.80 ERA) than on the road (5.12). The Jays are 10th in term of strikeouts against righties (22.7%), but their .185 ISO is the sixth-highest in the Majors. Cobb will have to navigate the white-hot Kendrys Morales along with a few other legit power threats (Justin Smoak, Randal Grichuk and Curtis Granderson), but we can be hopeful with his recent form.
Cobb profiles strictly as a tournament-only play, even though the options are few on tonight's slate. That said, he's a great way to save salary and load up on some expensive hitters.
Miles Mikolas, St. Louis Cardinals
vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
FanDuel Price: $7,700
Miles Mikolas is likely to go overlooked tonight due to his low strikeout numbers and the perception that he has a limited ceiling in this matchup. We did see last night with teammate Jack Flaherty (43 FanDuel points) that the Pittsburgh Pirates are not an imposing offense, and Mikolas has a good shot to take advantage tonight.
Mikolas' surface numbers look great -- 13-3 with a 2.94 ERA -- but he's only struck out more than 6 batters in a game 2 times in 26 starts, leading to the aforementioned capped ceiling at times. Pittsburgh doesn't pose much of a threat offensively, however, as they are just 23rd in ISO at .155. The concerning part of their profile is their third-lowest strikeout rate against righties (19.7%), which lowers Mikolas' ceiling even further.
The plus side here is that, without a true ace with a huge strikeout upside, Mikolas' propensity to rack up innings and soft contact may just be enough to put him in contention for one of the highest scores on the slate.
As a low-owned play in a great spot, fire up Mikolas in all formats. His floor parallels that of Godley and Sabathia, and he will be contrarian in tournaments and GPPs.
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.