FanDuel Pitching Primer: Monday 4/8/19

Justin Verlander looks to rebound in a matchup of two of the MLB's heavyweights. Is he Monday's top pitching option?

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

Justin Verlander, Houston Astros

vs New York Yankees
FanDuel Price: $10,700

Ignore the last outing for Justin Verlander -- while it got a bit rocky at times, the Houston Astros ace still has plenty of upside we want to take advantage of.

To start, on the young 2019, season Verlander has actually taken his swinging-strike rate up a tick (15.3%), and he's done a nice job limiting fly-balls to a 20.7% mark. In the right-hander's last outing, which wasn't pretty, he still managed to post a 9.6% swinging-strike rate.

Now, that comes with a bit of a challenge tonight against a New York Yankees squad that hasn't stuck out a lot in this spot in 2019 -- they hold only an 18.7% strikeout rate, and they've posted the third-best wOBA against righties (.400).

So why Verlander? He was brilliant in 2018 at home, logging a .258 wOBA, 37.6% strikeout rate, and 2.62 xFIP in 117 1/3 innings pitched. This game also has the second-lowest over/under (7.0 runs) on the day, so if you want to spend up, Verlander is your man.

Mid-Priced Option

Kyle Freeland, Colorado Rockies

vs Atlanta Braves
FanDuel Price: $8,500

A pitcher in Coors Field as a viable option isn't something we see often, but that's the case tonight with Kyle Freeland, who was sensational in his last outing.

Freeland's critics have long vocalized a problem with his strikeouts, or lack thereof. In 2018, the southpaw recorded a 20.5% strikeout rate and a 9.0% swinging-strike rate supported a 4.35 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) that screamed loudly for some 2019 regression.

But in his last outing, the lefty provided a ton of strikeout goodness, fanning 10 batters over 4 2/3 innings pitched. While the Atlanta Braves have held their own this year against lefties (.368 wOBA), they've also struck out at a 23.2% clip.

Freeland was fantastic in 2018, with a 2.40 ERA and .300 wOBA allowed over 93 2/3 frames. If the strikeout potential he showed in his last outing can hold up, he offers some big upside with what will likely be low ownership on Monday.

Low-Priced Option/Contrarian Play

Vince Velasquez, Philadelphia Phillies

vs Washington Nationals
FanDuel Price: $6,800

There's only five pitching options under the $7,000 mark on tonight's main slate, and righty Vincent Velasquez will be making his 2019 starting debut after working out of the 'pen in the first 10 days.

A glimpse into Velasquez's 2019 showed the ups and downs endured with rostering the volatile arm. He posted a strong 25.6% strikeout rate and 11.4% swinging-strike rate, but a 40.8% fly-ball was a large contributor to his 4.85 ERA over 146 2/3 innings pitched.

What makes the Phillies starter even juicier is a matchup with a Washington Nationals offense that has struck out fifth-most in the league this season against right-handed pitching (28.1%), while posting a middling 94 wRC+. Velasquez can be a boom-or-bust option (he allowed four earned runs or more nine times in 2018), but his upside makes him an attractive, low-priced play worth considering.

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.