FanDuel Pitching Primer: Friday 7/31/20

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

Luis Castillo, Cincinnati Reds

at Detroit Tigers

FanDuel Price: $10,100

Given the unique slates we have seen lately and with multiple (six) teams out today due to COVID-19 concerns, it is refreshing to see not one, not two, but five pitchers priced in the top tier at $9,000 or higher.

And ironically, we can make this choice pretty simply, as the highest-priced option on the day is the juiciest. Luis Castillo of the Cincinnati Reds faces the Detroit Tigers, and the matchup alone is great. But factor in that Mike Clevinger faces the potent Minnesota Twins and Blake Snell is likely limited to four or fewer innings, and Castillo looks even better.

Castillo rocked a 28.9% strikeout rate a season ago, and he is coming off an 11-strikeout, six-inning performance against these same Tigers. I am definitely spending up for Castillo tonight.

Mid-Priced Option

Mike Minor, Texas Rangers

at San Francisco Giants

FanDuel Price: $8,700

At the top of the next tier of arms is Mike Minor of the Texas Rangers, and if I want to pivot down from the expensive options but still roster someone with upside, Minor is my guy.

Minor tucks in nicely from an implied team total perspective, ranking with the third-lowest run total (3.88) on the board for Friday's main slate. Minor posted the second-best strikeout rate of his career in 2019 (23.2%), and he was absolutely dominant in his first turn this season, allowing just one earned run in five frames against the Colorado Rockies.

The San Francisco Giants, Minor's opponent, sit 20th in team wOBA (.298), and they have struck out at a healthy 24.5% clip so far on the young season. Look at Minor for a tantalizing mid-tier option who might go under-owned if the masses get their hurler from the top tier.

Low-Priced Play

Taijuan Walker, Seattle Mariners

vs. Oakland Athletics

FanDuel Price: $5,700

This one is a bit of a risk-reward pick, but the stars are aligning for Taijuan Walker of the Seattle Mariners to make for a sneaky-good option.

While the Oakland Athletics were lined up to be a monster offense in 2020, so far they have yet to hit their stride. They rank fourth-worst in team wOBA (.279), and they are whiffing at a prodigious rate (25.6%). In terms of raw strikeout output, Oakland has reached double-digit in strikeouts in three of their six games this year.

Walker was battered in his first start for Seattle against the powerful Houston Astros, but he is said to be free of pitch count restrictions as he works his way back from injury. If you are willing to take some risk, Walker's matchup versus a struggling Athletics offense makes for a tempting opportunity.

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.