FanDuel Pitching Primer: Friday 9/14/18
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?
Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees
vs Toronto Blue Jays
FanDuel Price: $10,200
Some of you may be asking why not Max Scherzer at $12,000? Well, while Scherzer has been great this year and is one of the leading contenders for the National League Cy Young Award, he's facing an Atlanta Braves lineup that is one of the best in baseball. As a result, it is the New York Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka who enters tonight's slate with the lowest implied total of the bunch (3.43), better than Scherzer's (3.49).
In 24 starts this year, Tanaka has quietly put together a nice season, with a 3.61 ERA and a 4.04 FIP, plus a SIERA of 3.48. He's striking out 25.2% of hitters this season and generates a decent number of ground balls generally (47.6%). He's also been red-hot in the second half, with a 2.30 ERA in 58.2 innings, compared to a first half ERA of 4.54.
The Toronto Blue Jays have a decent offense, with a team wOBA of .325 over the last 30 days that ranks 11th in baseball, but on the road they're a bit worse, with a .312 wOBA that is 16th.
Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros
vs Arizona Diamondbacks
FanDuel Price: $8,700
Houston Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel is having another solid season for the defending world champs and is the best mid-range play on tonight's slate. He has one of the lowest implied totals (3.50) going tonight, and has decent peripherals as well, with a 3.59 ERA, 3.67 FIP and 4.04 SIERA. He's not a big swing-and-miss guy, with a strikeout rate of only 17.5%, but he's a ground ball machine, with a grounder rate of 54.0% that ranks second-highest among qualified starters. Keuchel has also had a good second half, with a 3.27 ERA as opposed to a 3.75 ERA before the All-Star break.
He's going up against a Arizona Diamondbacks team with a collective wOBA of just .308, a surprisingly low total for a squad that features Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock and David Peralta, among others. They also fare worse away from Chase Field, with a .302 wOBA away from home that is 21st in baseball, so this should be a good matchup for the Houston southpaw.
Tyler Anderson, Colorado Rockies
at San Francisco Giants
FanDuel Price: $6,300
Colorado Rockies starter Tyler Anderson has a very nice matchup in a pitcher's park against one of the worst offenses in baseball, the San Francisco Giants, which is the biggest reason he's the best low-cost option on tonight's slate. Anderson's implied total of 3.55 is among the lowest of all starters going this evening, propped up by the Giants' team wOBA of .293 that is tied for second-to-last among all MLB teams. And over the last 30 days, San Francisco's offense has bottomed out, with a .241 wOBA that is far and away the worst in baseball.
Anderson, meanwhile, hasn't been lights out for the Rockies this season, although he has made 29 starts and totaled 156.1 innings. His 4.89 ERA and 4.21 SIERA are a bit pedestrian, and the left-hander is coming off a string of subpar-to-disastrous outings (11.64 ERA in his last five starts). However, sometimes this game is all about matchups, and tonight, Anderson is not pitching in Coors Field and gets an offense that has rolled over and died over the last month of the season.
As a result, Anderson should be a quality low-budget play tonight.
Wei-Yin Chen, Miami Marlins
at Philadelphia Phillies
FanDuel Price: $7,600
Miami Marlins left-hander Wei-Yin Chen hasn't been great this year, with a 4.72 ERA and 4.66 FIP in 11 starts this year, but he's taking on a Philadelphia Phillies team that is struggling as much as any team in baseball right now. In his last outing against the Phils, Chen dominated, going six innings and giving up one run on five hits with eight strikeouts and just one walk.
The Phillies' team wOBA of .309 this year is tied for 20th in baseball, and the Phils have struggled to hit left-handers this season, with a .295 wOBA that ranks 24th. They're also in the midst of a stretch where they have gone 11-23 in their last 34 games as a team, and are out of the NL East race entirely, which means regulars could be getting rest in favor of young players.
If you're looking for an outside-the-box play tonight, Chen is a pretty good bet to hold down a struggling Phillies offense.
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.