FanDuel Pitching Primer: Tuesday 9/4/18
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?
Rich Hill, Los Angeles Dodgers
vs. New York Mets
FanDuel Price: $9,200
The top option on tonight's slate is left-handed starter Rich Hill, who gets a sweet match-up against a subpar New York Mets offense in a game in which his Los Angeles Dodgers are big favorites (-240 moneyline).
Hill has been solid, if unspectacular of late, posting a 3.15 ERA and a 3.79 FIP over his last six starts. He has struck out 26.1% of batters over that time, which is almost exactly in line with his season average of 26.2%. Hill is holding opponents to a team batting average of just .229 on the season, and has been murder on left-handed hitters, holding them to a measly .289 wOBA. Hill is the fifth-most expensive pitcher on tonight's slate but is projected to score the second-most FanDuel points (38.8), and his implied total (3.00) is among the lowest of any starter going tonight.
He'll be facing a Mets team that has been scoring a bit more as of late, but is far from an elite offensive unit. On the season, their .303 wOBA is 24th out of 30 MLB clubs, and their .224 team batting average against left-handers is second-worst in baseball. Most of New York's hottest hitters are left-handed, which should pose a problem for them. Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto make up the heart of the New York order right now, but all will have trouble breaking through against the southpaw Hill in this one.
Robbie Ray, Arizona Diamondbacks
vs. San Diego Padres
FanDuel Price: $8,700
Arizona Diamondbacks left-hander Robbie Ray hasn't had the 2018 season he was hoping for, and certainly not the one most analysts expected, but the strikeout artist does have a very nice match-up in front of him tonight at home against the San Diego Padres. Arizona is a solid favorite to beat the Friars (-167), with an implied total (3.53) that, like Hill's, is also among the best among tonight's slate of hurlers.
Ray's 4.55 ERA and 4.58 FIP in 18 starts come due in large part to his high walk-rate (12.7%), however, his strikeout rate (30.4%) ranks 9th among 136 pitchers with at least 90 innings so far this season. He's also suffered from a higher-than-normal batting average on balls in play (BABIP) of .317, which hasn't helped. Despite all that, he's expected to score 35.4 FanDuel points tonight, fifth-most of any arm on the slate.
It helps that the Padres are perhaps the worst-hitting team in baseball, tied with the Miami Marlins for an MLB-low wOBA of .292. Their .142 isolated power (ISO) is fifth-worst, they have the fourth-fewest runs scored this season, and against left-handed pitchers, their .305 wOBA is tied for 19th.
Wade LeBlanc, Seattle Mariners
vs. Baltimore Orioles
FanDuel Price: $6,800
If you're going to look for a low-cost option, then picking the pitcher that is facing the woeful Baltimore Orioles is probably the wisest choice. Not only that, Seattle Mariners lefty Wade LeBlanc is a decent hurler.
In 22 starts (27 appearances) LeBlanc has put up a 3.71 ERA and a 4.32 FIP, and he comes into tonight's slate with an implied total of 3.62 with his team a big favorite to beat the lowly O's (-190). He doesn't blow anyone away, with just a 19.6% strikeout rate, and his ground ball-to-fly ball rate isn't terrific (0.86), but he's pitching in one of the friendliest ballpark for pitchers, Safeco Field, which has been the fourth-best environment for run prevention so far this year.
More than anything else, he gets the Orioles, who are bereft of anything one would consider "good." Their team wOBA of .300 is fifth-lowest in baseball, their .298 on-base percentage is second-to-last, and in keeping with tonight's theme, their .286 wOBA against southpaws, of which LeBlanc is one, is tied for second-worst in baseball. If you're gonna go the cheap option, always seek out the pitcher facing the O's, especially if they're slinging in a pitcher's park.
Trevor Richards, Miami Marlins
vs. Philadelphia Phillies
FanDuel Price: $6,600
Richards' 4.26 ERA doesn't exactly scream "Pick me!", and his 10.3% walk-rate could be a problem against a patient Phils lineup, but he does strike out 23.6% of hitters. The Phillies are one of the whiffiest teams in baseball, with a strikeout rate of 24.7%, which is the third-highest in the Majors.
The Phils have also scored just one run in each of its last three games and has five runs total in its last four. Over the last seven days, the Phillies are hitting .209 as a team, fifth-lowest in baseball, and are striking out 27.9% of the time, fifth-highest in the league. Richards is not favored to win this match-up (+128), but the Phils have been terribly punchless of late, and there's no reason to believe the struggles won't continue tonight in Miami as their team wOBA away from home (.302) ranks 22nd out of 30 teams. Just three NL teams have fewer wins on the road than the Phillies (29-39).
John Stolnis is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, John Stolnis also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username JStolnis. 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.