FanDuel Pitching Primer: Wednesday 4/3/19

It's a smaller main slate tonight, but Ross Stripling gets to attack a struggling Giants offense. Which other arms should we target?

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

Ross Stripling, Los Angeles Dodgers

vs San Francisco Giants
FanDuel Price: $9,300

On a slate that's maybe a bit light with only five main slate contests, Ross Stripling is our highest projected score tonight. Only two pitchers crack the $9,000 barrier, and for my money, Stripling gets the slight nod over Houston Astros ace Gerrit Cole, and let's lay out the reasons why we should roll with Stripling.

It's a young season so far in 2019, but the San Francisco Giants, Stripling's opponent, have been one of the poorest offenses in the league so far, racking up a .259 wOBA (sixth-worst) and whiffing 26.3% of the time (eighth-highest). That bodes well for the Los Angeles Dodgers' starter, who is coming off a strong 2018 campaign and posted a 10.5% swinging-strike rate in his first outing of 2019.

Cole's matchup may be a bit tricky as well. The Texas Rangers have scored 30 runs over their first five games, so while he is still a fantastic pitching option, pivoting down to a cheaper option may make a lot of sense.

Mid-Priced Option

Jameson Taillon, Pittsburgh Pirates

vs St. Louis Cardinals
FanDuel Price: $8,900

Perhaps Jameson Taillon would be better served in the high-priced grouping, but at under $9,000, he may be a bit of a value play today.

A quick glimpse at Taillon's first start would perhaps look a bit ugly, compiling six innings, four earned runs, and only four strikeouts in the season opener. The reality is that Taillon was burned by late runs scored on him as he worked into the seventh inning of his last start, which was brilliant prior to a homer, walk, double and homer that ruined his line.

But Taillon still sported a 12.1% swinging-strike rate in that first contest in homer-friendly Cincinnati, and he now gets a St. Louis Cardinals outfit that has no problem striking out. The Birds are fifth-worst with a 31.2% strikeout rate this season, including 17 strikeouts in the series opener, which gives some helium to Taillon's matchup.

Low-Priced Option/Contrarian Play

Marco Estrada, Oakland Athletics

vs Boston Red Sox
FanDuel Price: $6,200

The 2018 Boston Red Sox offense was one for the ages -- they led the league in wOBA (.340), runs scored (876), and ranked fourth in isolated power (ISO, .185).

This year? It's been a ride on the struggle bus.

It's still early in the season, but the Sox have struggled to a team wOBA of .293 (21st) and rank only 16th in ISO (.144). They still don't strike out much (22.3%, 19th), but this is clearly an offense that hasn't reached its peak.

It makes Marco Estrada a cheap pitching option to consider. The extreme fly-baller (career mark of 49.4%) fits in well with his new park in Oakland, and he's recorded a 2.45 ERA over his first 11 innings in 2019. On a reduced pitching slate devoid of a ton of obvious options, rostering Estrada while the Red Sox are struggling could be a good punt 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.