FanDuel Pitching Primer: Wednesday 8/5/20

With some day baseball and a few teams out of action, pitching can be a bit challenging. Can Yu Darvish lead your squad to new heights?

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.

Some baseline assumptions we want to use for the pitching primer are teams that meet one or more of the following criteria in terms of advanced metrics:

  1. .310 woBA or worse (.312 was league average in 2019)
  2. 23.5% strikeout rate or worse (league average: 23.0%)
  3. .180 isolated power (ISO) or worse (league average: .183)

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

Yu Darvish, Chicago Cubs

At Kansas City Royals

FanDuel Price: $9,500

While Mike Clevinger is the most expensive and highest-projected hurler on tonight's main slate, I'm going against the grain here and picking Yu Darvish of the Chicago Cubs as my top-flight arm.

Not only does Clevinger's poor start have me a little worried, but it also appears that Darvish has by far the better matchup with the Kansas City Royals. KC ranks fourth-worst in terms of team wOBA (.291), they walk at a league-worst 4.1% clip, and their 23.6% strikeout rate is at the bottom of the league.

Still missing middle of the order bat Hunter Dozier due to COVID-19, this is an offense we want to target for pitchers.

Mid-Priced Option

Kyle Gibson, Texas Rangers

At Oakland Athletics

FanDuel Price: $7,800

At some point, this Oakland Athletics offense is going to wake up, and when it does, it's going to be scary. For the time being, I am going to continue to target this offense as it works to awaken in 2020.

After finishing 2019 as one of the league's best offenses, Oakland has started off as one of the worst -- they clock in 22nd in team wOBA (.294), and that 26.2% strikeout rate is such a beautiful site for opposing pitchers.

Gibson had a rocky first inning in his 2020 debut but settled down nicely thereafter. Assuming he can reclaim last season's form, which saw him post a career-best 13.1% swinging-strike rate, Gibson makes for a sneaky play.

Low-Priced Play

Randy Dobnak, Minnesota Twins

At Pittsburgh Pirates

FanDuel Price: $7,100

This recommendation is all about that win, and Randy Dobnak and the heavily-favored twins (Moneyline -174) are in prime position to do just that.

Dobnak sports a very solid 3.98 implied run total, largely due to an inept Pittsburgh Pirates lineup that ranks embarrassingly low in team wOBA (.258, third-worst) and ISO (.119, third-worst).

Now, to be fair, Dobnak will not generate a ton of strikeouts for you. In his first nine innings, he has only seven strikeouts, which is eerily consistent with his 19.5% strikeout rate a season ago. This is likely more to be a high-floor play.

Assuming he can pitch deep into the game and the juggernaut Minnesota Twins offense can batter Trevor Williams, he makes for a very fine 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.