FanDuel Pitching Primer: Friday 4/12/19

Trevor Williams is in a sneaky spot tonight despite being a heavy underdog against the Nationals. What other pitching options should we consider?

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

Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland Indians

at Kansas City Royals
FanDuel Price: $10,500

When paying up for pitching, typically targeting an ace facing a high strikeout team is your jam. With Carlos Carrasco of the Cleveland Indians, that's not really the route here, as he faces a Kansas City Royals team that has struck out the fourth-least in baseball this season (20.0%).

Focused solely on the opposing strikeout rate would likely be a mistake in this case, as the anemic Royals offense is one to target. They rank 10th-worst with a .296 wOBA, and against right-handed pitching specifically, they rank fifth-worst in isolated power (ISO, .129).

Carrasco can provide plenty of punchout juice on his own. So far this year, he's rocking a 34.8% strikeout rate, including an 11.6% swinging-strike rate. We have Carrasco as our highest-projected pitcher on the slate, so pay up for the ace and enjoy the results.

Mid-Priced Option

Brad Keller, Kansas City Royals

vs Cleveland Indians
FanDuel Price: $7,800

Dropping their last 10 games, targeting Kansas City Royals could seem like an exercise in futility, especially on the pitching side. Brad Keller could go against that trend, however, with a juicy matchup on tap tonight.

Keller faces an Indians team that strikes out a TON -- leading the league in strikeout rate this season at a whopping 28.7%. To add to those offensive woes, they rank third-worst in batting average (.198), fourth-worst in slugging percentage (.324), and fifth-worst in ISO (.126).

While Keller has posted middling strikeout rates during his major league career -- a 16.5% strikeout rate in 2018, and a 17.1% mark so far in 2019 -- he could make for a sneaky, cheaper option on Friday's main slate.

Low-Priced Option

Luke Weaver, Arizona Diamondbacks

vs San Diego Padres
FanDuel Price: $6,100

Using platoon splits can sometimes be both to our advantage and disadvantage. They certainly are not an end-all-be-all type of statistic, but they can provide some interesting context, and peering in at the San Diego Padres against right-handed pitching makes for a tantalizing play.

Luke Weaver gets the ball tonight for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and he could be in line for a very nice evening. The Padres are striking out at a robust 25.4% clip against righties, while posting a very poor .299 wOBA in this split (21st).

With an over/under currently at only 8.5 runs (one of the lowest on the day), if you're looking to spend up on bats and pivot down at the pitching spot, Weaver may be your man.

Contrarian Play

Trevor Williams, Pittsburgh Pirates

at Washington Nationals
FanDuel Price: $8,000

Currently slated as underdogs against the Washington Nationals (+158), Trevor Williams of the Pittsburgh Pirates makes for an intriguing play that could be a low-owned option.

As a major league pitcher, Williams has never posted a strikeout rate greater than 20% -- currently, his 19.6% strikeout rate in 2019 is the best of his career -- so it may seem like a pile of whiffs isn't up his ally. What is noticeable, though, is Williams 11.4% swinging-strike rate so far in 2019, which also is the best for his career.

The Nats provide some helium to this matchup for Williams -- they are striking out at a 25.4% clip so far this year, making Williams an interesting play tonight.

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.