FanDuel Pitching Primer: Wednesday 9/26/18
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?
Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
vs Atlanta Braves
FanDuel Price: $12,300
For the no-brainer of tonight's slate, future NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom will be taking on a solid Atlanta Braves team that, having clinched the NL East, doesn't have a ton left to play for other than home field advantage in the divisional round. But stuff like that doesn't even matter when you're talking about the New York Mets' ace, who has blitzed through everyone in the National League this season.
Jacob deGrom has held opponents to three runs or less in 28 straight starts. Nobody in MLB history has ever done that.
Jacob deGrom has thrown 23 consecutive quality starts. Nobody in MLB history has ever done that.
The 2018 NL Cy Young is really still an argument?
— Steve Gelbs (@SteveGelbs) September 22, 2018
deGrom is insane. He leads all pitchers in fWAR (8.3) -- and by a wide margin (next closest is Max Scherzer at 6.8) -- and he has the lowest ERA i(1.77) and FIP (2.03) in baseball. Plus he's fourth in strikeout rate (32.0%) and seventh in opponents batting average (.198). He also leads all pitchers by rate of softly-hit balls against, with a 24.8%, according to Fangraphs.
There's not a lot of need for further analysis, here. It doesn't really matter that the Braves have a good offense (10th-best team wOBA). Against deGrom, everyone stinks, which is why he has the lowest implied total (3.10) on tonight's slate and is the high-priced option on the board.
Andrew Heaney, Los Angeles Angels
vs Texas Rangers
FanDuel Price: $8,500
Texas enters the game with a team wOBA of .316, which is middle-of-the-pack in baseball ranking16th out of 30 teams. However, over the last 30 days, that wOBA is just .296, 24th in the Majors. Texas also hasn't done much against left-handed pitching this year, with a .310 wOBA that places them 19th in MLB.
Heaney, meanwhile, comes into tonight with a 4.21 ERA and 3.97 FIP in 29 starts, and it's the first time in his career he's made it through a season in one piece. And even though he doesn't have a big strikeout rate (23.6%), he's facing a Rangers team that has the fourth-highest strikeout rate of any team in baseball, at 23.9%. His implied total of 3.70 is the best of the mid-range bunch, and the oddsmakers have the Angels as solid favorites (-176) tonight, making him a good play for a win, too.
Ross Stripling, Los Angeles Dodgers
at Arizona Diamondbacks
FanDuel Price: $6,300
There's no doubt about the fact that Ross Stripling has struggled since rejoining the Los Angeles Dodgers' rotation. In his last three starts, he's failed to go at least four innings and has a 5.40 ERA with three homers allowed over that stretch. However, that recent streak is one of the reasons why he's coming on the cheap tonight, and why he should be a good play against a struggling Arizona Diamondbacks team that's collapsed down the stretch and no longer has anything left to play for.
It's important to note that even though Stripling has had his issues recently he does have a 13:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 10 innings in those 3 starts, and on the season has a 2.84 ERA and 3.29 FIP to go along with a strikeout rate 27.3% and a minuscule walk rate of 4.1%. The D-Backs, meanwhile, have the second-worst wOBA (.274) of any team in baseball over the last 30 days, hitting just .209 (last) with a .356 slugging percentage that is also second-worst.
Take all that into consideration and Stripling has the third-best implied total (3.70) on tonight's slate, which makes him a terrific bargain at just over $6K.
Nick Pivetta, Philadelphia Phillies
at Colorado Rockies
FanDuel Price: $6,200
A look at Nick Pivetta's ERA (4.58) and you see a pitcher that has had trouble keeping teams off the scoreboard this season. But the peripherals tell a different story. His 3.71 FIP indicates he's been betrayed by his defense, and his .326 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) tells us he's suffered a fair amount of bad luck this season, too. But Pivetta has also proven to be one of the game's better strikeout pitchers.
Pivetta's 10.45 strikeouts per 9 innings (K/9) is 10th-highest in baseball, and his 27.5% strikeout rate ranks 11th. He owns a 3.44 SIERA that is 13th in the Majors, with a 3.37 xFIP that is slightly behind that of his Cy Young contender teammate Aaron Nola (3.21). He hasn't gone more than five innings in any of his last five starts, but most of that has been because he's been pulled for offense by manager Gabe Kapler. In his last 5 starts, he has a 3.47 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 23.1 innings (to go along with 10 walks, however).
Yes, it's always dangerous to pick a starter in Coors Field, and Pivetta gets a Colorado Rockies team that has put up 20 runs on the Philadelphia Phillies in the first 2 games of the series, and with a wOBA of .317 over the last 30 days that ranks 12th in baseball. But Pivetta has the potential to get a ton of strikeouts and has performed well as of late, making him an intriguing off-the-radar play tonight.
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.