FanDuel Pitching Primer: Wednesday 9/19/18
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?
Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland Indians
vs Chicago White Sox
FanDuel Price: $11,200
Cleveland Indians stud Carlos Carrasco is one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball. Once again this season, he's piling up the stats and is far and away the best high-priced option on tonight's slate. He enters his game against the weak-hitting Chicago White Sox with a 3.43 ERA, 3.00 FIP and a Skill Interactive ERA (SIERA) of 3.05. He enters play tonight with 206 strikeouts, the third time in the last four years he's K'd more than 200 batters in a season, with a strikeout rate of 28.8% that ranks eighth in baseball among qualified starters. He also ranks 20th in ground-ball rate (46.3%), which means he keeps the ball on the ground most of the time.
Carrasco is facing a White Sox team that has struggled offensively all year, with a wOBA of .307 that ranks 22nd in the Majors and a strikeout rate of 26.0% that is the highest. He should be able to pile up the Ks against this free-swinging White Sox unit, a team that swings at the second-highest number of pitches outside of the strike zone (34.2%).
Carrasco has one of the lowest implied totals on the evening slate (3.21), and is projected to score the most FanDuel points of any pitcher going (40.8). He is your best high-priced option on the mound this evening.
Walker Buehler, Los Angeles Dodgers
vs Colorado Rockies
FanDuel Price: $9,400
In his rookie season, Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Walker Buehler has been outstanding when healthy. In 20 starts (118 2/3 innings), he has a 2.88 ERA, a 3.14 FIP and a SIERA of 3.27, and averages more than a strikeout per inning (9.94 K/9), with a strikeout rate of 27.9%. Opponents are hitting a meager .200 against him thanks in large part to a ground ball rate of 49.5%, 13th-highest out of 118 starters with at least 110 innings pitched this year.
He'll be facing a Colorado Rockies team that will be without one of its best players, Trevor Story, who is out of the lineup with an elbow injury. Colorado has struggled to mash away from their hitter-friendly home of Coors, with a wOBA of .291 on the road that is tied for 25th in the Majors this season. The Rockies also strike out a ton, 22.7% of the time, tied for ninth-most in baseball.
Buehler has one of the lowest implied totals on the evening slate (3.08) and one of the highest FanDuel projections (39.9), making him a terrific value for the money.
Chris Archer, Pittsburgh Pirates
vs Kansas City Royals
FanDuel Price: $7,800
As we all know, Pittsburgh Pirates starter Chris Archer is the king of peripherals. His FIP (3.87) and SIERA (3.82) almost always are in direct conflict with his ERA (a career-high 4.66 in 2018). In fact, this is the third straight year in which Archer will finish with an ERA above 4.00 and a FIP below that number. His strikeout rate has taken a tumble this year, from 29.2% in 2017 to 24.6%, and his walk rate has increased from 7.0% last season to 7.8% in 2018. That being said, 24.6% is still a good whiff rate, and he has gotten hitters to chase 32.7% of his pitches that are outside the strike zone, a career high.
What truly makes Archer a smart play tonight is the opponent. The Kansas City Royals are simply not very good, with a team wOBA of .302 that is 25th in baseball and an isolated power of .147 that is 4th-worst. They're about middle of the pack when it comes to their ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio, but when they do hit fly balls, they rarely leave the yard, with a 10.0% home-run-to-fly-ball rate (HR/FB) that is second-worst in baseball.
Archer also has one of the lowest implied totals on the evening slate (3.29) and is projected to have the third-most FanDuel fantasy points this evening (36.2), making him easily the best low-cost option going tonight.
Robbie Ray, Arizona Diamondbacks
vs Chicago Cubs
FanDuel Price: $8,700
Robbie Ray has had a very interesting season for the Arizona Diamondbacks, piling up the strikeouts (11.76 K/9, 30.9% strikeout rate), while also issuing way too many walks (12.8% walk rate) with a high ERA (4.14) and FIP (4.34). His SIERA of 3.86 means he was probably a bit unlucky this season, and he has been especially prone to the home run ball, with a 17.2% HR/FB rate that is 17th-highest out of 126 starters with at least 100 innings pitched this season.
He'll be facing a Chicago Cubs team that is obviously loaded with good hitters and MVP candidates. Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and others have helped Chicago put up a .323 wOBA this season, seventh-highest in baseball. However, the Cubs are only middle of the pack when it comes to isolated power (.155, 20th in baseball), and their 159 home runs are 22nd-most in the league.
The Diamondbacks are favored to win this game (-116), and in his last eight starts, Ray has been hot, with a 2.74 ERA and a FIP of 3.76, striking out 11.76 batters per game (albeit with 5.48 walks per nine). He's also facing a club that has some trouble hitting the ball out of the yard, so Ray makes for an interesting contrarian play this evening.
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.