FanDuel Pitching Primer: Friday 8/9/19
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?
Walker Buehler, Los Angeles Dodgers
vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
FanDuel Price: $11,400
With Shane Bieber mowing everyone down in sight lately, he seems like a good play -- on the surface. But with a matchup against the juggernaut Minnesota Twins offense, and Walker Buehler rolling as of late, it's an easy pivot to the Los Angeles Dodgers righty.
First, let's talk about Buehler's dominance this season. He owns a 29.0% strikeout rate, a 3.8% walk rate, and a juicy 12.2% swinging-strike rate. It's a big reason his 3.38 skill-interactive ERA (seventh among qualified starters) is so tantalizing to consider rostering.
We have Buehler pegged for the top score on the slate, and that's also driven by a strong park factor playing at home tonight in Los Angeles. If you can afford the expensive ace, who has the lowest implied team total at 3.26 runs, Buehler is your man.
Brad Keller, Kansas City Royals
at Detroit Tigers
FanDuel Price: $8,800
The pricing for Brad Keller of the Kansas City Royals may surprise a few casual players to DFS -- and his season-long numbers don't blow you off the page, either. Over 146 frames, the right has clocked in with a 17.0% strikeout rate (fourth-worst), 9.5% walk rate, leading to a 5.15 SIERA.
That's the danger in only analyzing season-long numbers -- the dude has been an absolute boss recently. In his last five turns, spanning 35 1/3 innings, Keller owns 29 strikeouts and four quality starts, including a sparkling effort against these same Tigers to start this run (eight innings, one earned run, seven whiffs).
The good news is that the Tigers have been bad in nearly any time frame, and it's an even more punchless offense with Nick Castellanos traded to the Chicago Cubs. They rank third-worst in strikeout rate (25.8%) and isolated power (.151, ISO), and they nearly bring up the rear in team wOBA (.289).
To afford some more expensive bats, Keller makes for a great mid-priced option.
Marco Gonzales, Seattle Mariners
vs. Tampa Bay Rays
FanDuel Price: $7,500
Unlike the above-mentioned arms, who have gaudy strikeouts we need to consider rostering, Marco Gonzales is not one of those dudes. He has the third-lowest strikeout rate on the main slate (16.8%), which is normally not something we should target.
However, that low strikeout rate can be tamed by the poor Tampa Bay Rays offense, which is absolutely dreadful against left-handed pitching in 2019. They rank 19th in team wOBA (.318), and that might be their strongest metric -- they are the worst team in terms of strikeout rate (26.6%), and they are fourth-worst in fly-ball rate (31.8%).
Gonzales has enjoyed that Seattle home-cookin', too -- he has allowed only a .295 wOBA, versus a .335 mark on the road, including a 29.5% hard-hit rate at home and 39.6% hard-hit rate on the road. Combining together his improvements in the state of Washington against a struggling offense, he's worth a long look at a cheap price.
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.