FanDuel Pitching Primer: Tuesday 5/21/19

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 Option

Caleb Smith, Miami Marlins

at Detroit Tigers
FanDuel Price: $10,100

This is Caleb Smith's world, and we are just living in it.

There's a four-pack of options at $10,000 above, but Smith stands way out as a top-flight option amongst that crew. He leads the main slate in terms of strikeout rate (35.2%), albeit he is followed closely by Justin Verlander ($12,000, 31.0%). Zack Greinke (25.4%) and Domingo German (26.0%) are solid options as well, but they are definitely a notch back.

In terms of opponent, this is what sets Smith apart. The Detroit Tigers rank second-worst in team strikeout rate (26.2%) they rank fourth-worst in team wOBA (.283), and fifth-worst in isolated power (ISO, .146).

Pairing Smith's own performance with his opponent makes him a very viable option in the expensive tier of arms.

Mid-Priced Option

German Marquez, Colorado Rockies

at Pittsburgh Pirates
FanDuel Price: $8,200

Squaring off in his last outing with a very challenging Boston Red Sox lineup, German Marquez posted a decent strikeout total in his last start with six but struggled by allowing 10 hits and five runs. Possibly lost in translation was the Red Sox don't swing and miss much -- they actually strike out the fifth-least in baseball (20.0%).

What Marquez does have going for him -- which is nice -- is that he has made six straight starts either at Coors Field or against some challenging opponents. Tonight, he locks horns with another opponent in the Pittsburgh Pirates who don't strike out a ton. They rank 22nd (22.3%) in strikeout rate, but they are far worse with a team wOBA mark of only .297 (22nd).

With a reduced salary and a decent floor (he's whiffed six or more in each of his last five starts), pivoting down to the Colorado Rockies hurler is certainly not your worst move.

Low-Priced Option

Sonny Gray, Cincinnati Reds

at Milwaukee Brewers
FanDuel Price: $6,700

Make no bones about it -- tonight's game certainly could feature some runs being scored. Miller Park clocks in eighth in home run factor over the last three years, and that's certainly reflected in Sonny Gray's implied 4.51 runs this evening.

Now, here's where Gray has some juice. The Brewers strike out at a high clip (24.5%, 12th), and Gray actually ranks fourth on the main slate in strikeout rate (26.2%).

Gray can also combat that home run rate of Miller Park as he's ratcheted up his ground-ball rate significantly -- with a career average of 53.3%, Gray currently sits at 54.8%, which could keep the ball in the yard.

Gray is certain to see low ownership, so consider him if you want to punt on the expensive arms.

Contrarian Play

Julio Teheran, Atlanta Braves

at San Francisco Giants
FanDuel Price: $8,400

Quietly, Julio Teheran of the Atlanta Braves has been putting together a pretty monster stretch. Spanning his last three starts, Teheran has fired 17 innings with only a single earned run and 12 strikeouts, including shutting down solid offenses in the St. Louis Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks.

But Teheran makes for an even better when mixing his opponent, the dreadful offense of the putrid San Francisco Giants. They rank third-worst in team wOBA (.282), they whiff plenty at 24.3% (13th) and fifth-worst in fly-ball rate (32.8%).

The Braves are only slight favorites (moneyline -110), but Teheran makes for a sneaky 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.