FanDuel Pitching Primer: Wednesday 9/12/18
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?
Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies
vs Washington Nationals
FanDuel Price: $11,200
There are a number of good options among the high-priced arms on tonight's slate, but the surest one is Philadelphia Phillies' Cy Young candidate Aaron Nola, who is going up against his division rivals, the Washington Nationals. Nola is having a career year, with 16 wins and an ERA of 2.29 that is second-best in the National League. His 2.87 FIP is the seventh-lowest in baseball, and only two pitchers have given up fewer home runs per nine innings this year (0.62). His 25.2% hard-hit rate is the lowest among qualified MLB pitchers, and he has a strikeout rate of 26.6% that is 16th out of 69 big league starters.
In short, he's good.
He'll be going up against a Nats team that has a number of solid hitters in their lineup, but none of whom have had good success against Nola this season. In four starts against Washington, Nola has a 1.26 ERA with a 30-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 28 2/3 innings, allowing an OPS of just .491 against them. Sure, the Nats have the 11th-best wOBA (.321) in baseball, with an isolated power (.163) that is tied for 13th, and the quartet of Bryce Harper, Juan Soto, Trea Turner and Anthony Rendon can create problems for any pitcher, but they have been unable to figure out Nola in four attempts this season.
David Price, Boston Red Sox
vs Toronto Blue Jays
FanDuel Price: $9,700
There's not a lot to choose from among the mid-range options on tonight's slate, with so many of the intriguing arms playing day games today. However, David Price has a favorable matchup against the Toronto Blue Jays this evening that will be worth taking advantage of. His implied total of 3.57 is among the best numbers of any pitcher going tonight, and is projected to score 34.5 FanDuel fantasy points, fifth-best on the slate.
He comes into the game with a respectable 3.57 ERA and 3.76 FIP, striking out 9.19 batters per nine (K/9) and a strikeout rate of 25.0%. Hitters also have trouble squaring the ball up on Price, with a hard-hit rate of 31.3%, 15th among qualified starters. Toronto enters with just a .306 wOBA against left-handed pitchers, tied for 19th in baseball, and Price has also pitched decently against Toronto in three outings this year, with a 3.71 ERA and an 18-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 17 innings.
Boston is also a heavy favorite to win tonight's game (-260), the heaviest favorites on tonight's docket, in fact.
Felix Pena, Los Angeles Angels
vs. Texas Rangers
FanDuel Price: $7,100
Pena has been half-decent in 75.2 innings (14 starts) with the Angels this season, putting up a 4.04 ERA and a 4.10 FIP. He has struck out 8.68 batters per nine, with a strikeout rate of 22.8%, and a SIERA of 4.05. However, in seven starts since the beginning of August, he has a 3.14 ERA and a 4.18 FIP, going at least six innings in each of his last five outings, and seven innings in each of his last two. There was even a 12-strikeout game in there against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Rangers are also a middling offensive club, with a team wOBA of .318 that is 15th in baseball this year. That wOBA plummets to 25th (.293) away from home, which certainly plays into Pena's favor. The Rangers' implied total of 3.94 is among the lowest on the evening slate among the cheaper pitching options, and the Angels are pretty big favorites (-178) to win tonight, making Pena a pretty good play.
Patrick Corbin, Arizona Diamondbacks
at Colorado Rockies
FanDuel Price: $9,100
He enters tonight's matchup against the Colorado Rockies with an fWAR of 6.0 that is fourth-best among starting pitchers in all of baseball, and while his ERA is a solid 3.01, his FIP of 2.38 and Skill Interactive ERA (SIERA) of 2.86 are also both fourth-best in the Majors. His 31.3% strikeout rate, which ranks eighth-best among qualified starters, should play up in Coors Field.
There's no doubt the Rockies have a good-hitting lineup, with a team wOBA of .323 that is fifth-best in baseball. And yes, their .350 wOBA at home, third-best in the Majors, indicates they kill the ball at Coors. But the Arizona Diamondbacks are a slight favorite to win this ballgame (-102) and Corbin's projected FanDuel points for tonight (36.3) are third-best on the slate.
If you're looking to go against the grain, you might as well use one of the best pitchers in baseball to do it.
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.