FanDuel Pitching Primer: Wednesday 9/5/18
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?
Jameson Taillon, Pittsburgh Pirates
vs. Cincinnati Reds
FanDuel Price: $9,300
With some of the best high-priced options playing in the early slate of games, Pittsburgh Pirates hurler Jameson Taillon is the best of the bunch on the main slate. The Pirates are a strong favorite (-193) to beat the Cincinnati Reds this evening, and Taillon's performance this season plays no small role in that.
Taillon has been a metronome for the Pirates, incredibly consistent virtually every time out. He has not given up more than 3 earned runs in any of his last 17 starts, with a 2.93 ERA and 3.26 FIP since May 27. Over that span, he hasn't been a big strikeout guy (22.4% rate), but hitters haven't squared him up that much, with a hard-hit rate of 32.8% and a ground-ball rate of 47.4%.
The Reds, meanwhile, have a decent lineup, although they have cooled a bit over the last month, with a team wOBA of .318 that ranks 15th in the Majors. Cincinnati also performs much better offensively at home (.329 wOBA, 8th in MLB) than on the road (.313 wOBA, tied for 14th). Taillon's implied total (3.60) is among the better numbers on the slate, although many of the big-money arms aren't terribly enticing for this evening.
Hyun-jin Ryu, Los Angeles Dodgers
vs. New York Mets
FanDuel Price: $8,500
The options among the mid-tier starters, however, are more enticing, with the Los Angeles Dodgers' Hyun-jin Ryu looking the most attractive. Ryu is taking on a weak-hitting New York Mets team that projects for the most FanDuel points of any starter on the evening slate (39.1).
Ryu has made just 10 starts this season, but he's been extremely impressive in those outings, with a strikeout rate of 28.6% and a walk-rate of just 5.8%. He has a 2.24 ERA (3.13 FIP), holding opponents to a meager .197 batting average, while forcing a ton of ground balls (50.8% rate) and allowing a hard-hit rate of just 35.1%.
On the other hand, New York struggles against left-handed pitching, with a .284 wOBA that ranks dead last in baseball, and a 33.8% hard-hit rate that is 21st. Thus, Ryu's implied total is tops among pitchers this evening (3.00).
Michael Kopech, Chicago White Sox
vs. Detroit Tigers
FanDuel Price: $8,000
Chicago White Sox right-hander Michael Kopech is one of the best young prospects in baseball, capable of throwing triple digits when he ramps it up, and he gets a Detroit Tigers offense that is among the most punchless in baseball.
Kopech has made just three starts, but has an 0.82 ERA and 3.15 FIP over the small sample size. In the minors, he pitched to a 3.70 ERA and a 3.30 FIP, with a 31.1% strikeout rate, and a high walk rate of 11.1%. But Kopech features dominant stuff, and he'll be facing a Tigers lineup that simply struggles to hit the ball.
Detroit's .296 team wOBA is fourth-worst in baseball this season, having hit the second-fewest homers in the Majors and the third-worst isolated power (.140). They struggle against everybody, and now tackle a pitcher that has come out firing in his first few outings. Their punchless bats are the big reason why Kopech has the night's second-best implied total (3.33).
Miles Mikolas, St. Louis Cardinals
at Washington Nationals
FanDuel Price: $7,200
Miles Mikolas isn't likely to be owned by many people, mainly because he sports a rather low 6.31 strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) and has a low strikeout rate of 17.3%. He's also going up against a Washington Nationals team that has a collection of solid hitters in Juan Soto, Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Anthony Rendon.
However, Washington is playing out the string here in the final month of the season, and Mikolas has been one of the best starting pitchers in the National League all year. This evening's slate is not teeming with high strikeout guys at a good value, so why not take a chance on a starter that doesn't walk anybody (4.0%), has a high ground ball rate (50.3%), and has allowed just a .245 batting average to opposing hitters this season?
Mikolas isn't going to pile up eight strikeouts in five or six innings of work, but he should give you innings and low run totals against an offense that can oftentimes go very cold. He might be worth an add in some tournaments, where his ownership should be rather low.
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.