FanDuel Pitching Primer: Monday 7/22/19

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

Mike Clevinger, Cleveland Indians

at Toronto Blue Jays
FanDuel Price: $10,200

It's hard to figure out what the Cleveland Indians are going to be at the trade deadline. It's weird to think of a team being a seller when you are 3.0 games back at the deadline, but the rumors are swirling around players like Trevor Bauer.

So far though, they are still in place to compete, and as part of their stacked rotation, Mike Clevinger takes the ball for Cleveland tonight. And he's in a prime spot for a big evening. Since returning from injury in June, the right-hander, outside of a poor second start, he's racked up six or more strikeouts in every single outing, including 12 his last time out against the Detroit Tigers.

And while that total may seem inflated because the Tigers are prone to strikeouts -- they rank second in the league as a team at a 26.3% clip -- the Toronto Blue Jays rank 10th in the league at 24.2%, providing another big opportunity.

If you are looking to pay up, Clev is your man.

Mid-Priced Option

Marco Gonzales, Seattle Mariners

vs. Texas Rangers
FanDuel Price: $7,400

Tonight's pitching tier is a bit of a tricky one -- there's the top-end arms like Robbie Ray, Clevinger, and Gerrit Cole, and then a pile of low priced options. One middling option that we should think about is Marco Gonzales.

Now to be very transparent, the southpaw will not be at the top of the list because of his fantastic strikeout prowess -- his 16.7% mark clocks him in at the very bottom of pitching options today. But looking only at his low strikeout total only paints part of the picture.

We can also see from our heat map that his park ranks as the slate's best today -- and Gonzales has been strong in Seattle. Over 56 innings pitched, he's limited batters to just a .311 wOBA and 31.4% hard-hit rate.

Also, consider that Gonzales may not need any help in terms of strikeouts -- the Texas Rangers, his opponent, lead the league with a 26.4% team strikeout rate. This all adds up to the affordable lefty being a solid play.

Low-Priced/Contrarian Play

Trevor Richards, Miami Marlins

vs. Chicago White Sox
FanDuel Price: $6,200

After a pretty strong stretch from May through about mid-June, Trevor Richards was part of a Miami Marlins rotation that was blossoming before our eyes. His recent ugly run -- an average of only 15 FanDuel points over his last four starts -- has left fantasy players searching for more.

Tonight, against the Chicago White Sox, he may be able to find that old form. The Sox rank fourth-worst in team strikeout rate (25.5%), and they rank pretty poorly in a lot of other metrics, such as isolated power (.150, second-worst), walk rate (6.6%, second-worst), and fly-ball rate (32.2%, third-worst).

Richards, by his own merit, has struggled this season -- and it's due to his poor command. Richards has posted a career-worst mark with a 10.7% walk rate, and his 57.6% first-pitch strike rate is holding him back. When he does find the zone, his 11.6% swinging-strike rate is among the league's best, and against the change-up, Richards bread-and-butter offering, the Sox clock in only 18th.

Dial in the game is in Miami, which ranks as the league's worst in park factor over the last three seasons, and Richards makes for a great, cheap 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.