FanDuel Pitching Primer: Friday 9/7/18
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?
Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays
vs. Baltimore Orioles
FanDuel Price: $10,700
There are a number of intriguing high-priced options on tonight's slate, including NL Cy Young candidate Aaron Nola going up against a New York Mets team that he has owned so far this year, but the best option among the big-money starting pitchers is Tampa Bay Rays left-hander Blake Snell taking on the woeful Baltimore Orioles, a game in which the Rays are massive favorites (-260).
Snell enters the game with a 2.02 ERA that is third-best in the Majors, with a 29.9% strikeout rate that is ninth and a .184 batting average against that is third. Hitters simply swing and miss a ton against him, with a swinging strike percentage (14.4%) that is sixth-highest among qualified starters. He's particularly brutal against left-handed hitters, allowing a wOBA of just .196 against them, to the point where teams avoid using lefty hitters altogether when he's on the mound -- only 130 out of the 592 batters he's faced this year have been left-handed.
He also gets an Orioles team that is cover-your-eyes bad. Their .300 team wOBA is tied for 25th in baseball, they're second-to-last in team on-base percentage (.299), and their 12.1% swinging strike percentage is 2nd-highest in the Majors. They struggle against everyone, but are particularly vulnerable against southpaws, with a .287 team wOBA that is third-worst. Snell's implied total of 2.78 is the lowest on tonight's slate, and he's projected to score 40.3 FanDuel points, third-most among tonight's starters.
Chris Archer, Pittsburgh Pirates
vs. Miami Marlins
FanDuel Price: $7,400
Pittsburgh Pirates hurler Chris Archer has not had the best season here in 2018. He enters his matchup against the Miami Marlins with a 4.56 ERA, among the worst marks of any qualified starter this season. However, his 3.72 FIP indicates he's been a little better than that, and tonight he faces a Marlins team that struggles to do much on offense. His implied total of 3.16 is 2nd-best among tonight's hurlers, and he carries a 13.0% swinging strike percentage that is tied with Trevor Bauer for 15th-best among 93 pitchers with at least 120 innings this season.
Archer does give up a lot of hits and has a high WHIP, but his inclusion on tonight's slate is more about the opponent he's facing than him. The Marlins' team wOBA of .292 is tied for the worst mark in baseball, their .121 isolated power (ISO) is dead last, and they make more weak contact (19.2%) than all but four teams. Things get particularly rough when they leave Miami, with 66 home runs hit away from Marlins Park, tied for the second-fewest.
Archer is not generally a great option given the amount of hits he allows, but against what may be the worst offense in the league, he is a terrific mid-range play.
Steven Matz, New York Mets
vs. Philadelphia Phillies
FanDuel Price: $7,100
For the first time since 2015, Mets lefty Steven Matz is pitching in September, and tonight he gets a Philadelphia Phillies offense that has been just brutal lately. Matz's 3.76 implied total is among the best on tonight's slate, and he's coming off three straight solid outings in which he's put up a 1.89 ERA and struck out 10.89 batters per nine innings (K/9). He's especially good against left-handed hitters, allowing a lowly .305 wOBA against them this season.