FanDuel Pitching Primer on 3/29/19

Gerrit Cole looks to build off a stellar 2018 campaign and could be primed for a big day against the Rays. What other pitchers make for our top plays?

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 today's main slate?

High-Priced Stud

Gerrit Cole, Houston Astros

vs Tampa Bay Rays
FanDuel Price: $11,300

After ace Justin Verlander sizzled in a 5-1 win over Blake Snell and the Tampa Bay Rays a day ago, Gerrit Cole will try to follow his lead and take the second game of the series for the Houston Astros.

If Cole can simply be the Cole from 2018, he will be in fine shape. A year ago, the righty posted career-best marks across the board, including a 34.5% strikeout rate (third among qualified starters) paired with a 14.1% swinging-strike rate (seventh).

Cole's propensity to work deep into a ballgame helps inflate his chances not only for a win, but also for a quality start. His 6.25 innings pitched per start (IPS) a season ago ranked 11th, and he blistered his way at the start of the year with five straight starts of seven innings.

Verlander showed that the Rays aren't adverse to swinging and missing a ton -- he generated a 20.6% swinging-strike rate yesterday, which topped all starters on Opening Day. Look for Cole to make it worth the ace price tag again today.

Mid-Range Play

Ross Stripling, Los Angeles Dodgers

vs Arizona Diamondbacks
FanDuel Price: $8,200

A cheaper option that may be worth considering, and one that we have projected for the highest FanDuel point total of the day, is Ross Stripling of the Los Angeles Dodgers. While Stripling's spot in the starting rotation seemed a bit up in the air, injuries to teammates Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill have the righty's role entrenched, at least for now.

Last year, Stripling showcased ace-like stuff over 122 innings pitched, racking up a 27.0% strikeout against a 4.4% walk rate, 3.13 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA), and an 11.2% swinging-strike rate. As if that weren't enough, he faces a Arizona Diamondbacks lineup absent Paul Goldschmidt (traded to the St. Louis Cardinals), A.J. Pollock (signed a free agent deal with the Dodgers), and Steven Souza (injury).

Even with those bats, the Diamondbacks struggled to a .302 team wOBA a season ago (22nd), and struck out 23.7% of the time (6th-most). Stripling's only drawback is his 5.1 IPS mark a season ago, which could leave a quality start in jeopardy. However, there should be plenty of juice here to fill out that $8,200 price tag.

Value Option

Trevor Richards, Miami Marlins

vs Colorado Rockies
FanDuel Price: $7,200

It's no secret at this point -- Coors Field is fantastic to consider for home hitters and fading pitchers, but when the Colorado Rockies have to leave town, they are a bit of a different ball club. Just check out their home-road splits from 2018:

Home .287.36211921.0%.215.503

It's clear as day -- this group often doesn't chug along as efficiently on the road as they do at home. And they aren't just leaving Denver -- they go from a park ranked second in park factor to one in Miami ranked second-worst.

That still doesn't factor in Miami Marlins starter Trevor Richards, who was brilliant at home in his rookie season in 2018. Over 62 2/3 innings, the righty posted a 3.27 FIP, .294 wOBA, and 24.0% strikeout rate based off of a devastating changeup that recorded a 52.5% chase rate in 2018.

If there's a salary-saving option you are looking for to spend up on bats, Richards may be your guy.

Contrarian Play

Freddy Peralta, Milwaukee Brewers

vs St. Louis Cardinals
FanDuel Price: $7,900

As a rookie, like many others, Freddy Peralta of the Milwaukee Brewers was a bit of an enigma. He flashed ace upside with a 29.9% strikeout rate, but he logged a 4.25 ERA over 78 1/3 innings pitched. His 10.8% swinging-strike rate was more than healthy, but a 41.4% hard-hit rate and 52.5% fly-ball rate don't exactly pair well with Miller Park, which ranked 10th in home run factor last year.

It's all about that strikeout upside, baby. As the St. Louis Cardinals showed yesterday, they haven't exactly hit mid-season form, as they smacked only 5 hits to pair with 11 strikeouts in a 5-4 loss to Milwaukee. Even Jhoulys Chacin, who took the ball yesterday for the Brewers, had no problem generating swings-and-misses, recording a 10.4% swinging-strike rate, despite a career-average that was two ticks below this mark (8.4%).

A season ago, the Cardinals weren't exactly stellar in this spot, either. Against right-handed pitching, they ranked 18th in team wOBA (.313), 19th in fly-ball rate (35.0%), and struck out at a reasonable 22.3% clip.

Currently tied for the highest over/under of the day (8.5 runs), this game likely won't see high ownership from a pitching perspective, making Peralta an interesting play.

Matt Kupferle is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Matt Kupferle also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username MKupferle. 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.