3 FanDuel Pitching Studs to Target on 4/4/16
Baseball is back!
Sunday was a little three-game teaser, but the season really takes off today with a 12-game slate.
With some of today’s pitching matchups, it’s like the MLB schedule makers wanted to see a no-no on Opening Day. A few of the game’s premier arms square off against offenses which figure to rank near the bottom of the league. It’s unlikely we see a no-hitter, but there’s a good chance we’re in for some dominant pitching performances.
When building your FanDuel lineup, it’s imperative to get production from your pitcher. After all, you only start one, so you can’t afford to swing and miss (baseball puns in midseason form).
Let’s take a look at three pitchers who have a good chance to fill the scoreboard with a whole mess of zeros.
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
The best pitcher in the game gets to face one of baseball’s worst offenses in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks.
Where do I sign?
Clayton Kershaw -- the day’s most expensive pitcher -- opens his 2016 season by battling the San Diego Padres in Petco Park. In 2014, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ megastar won his third Cy Young and first MVP. Despite coming home empty-handed in the hardware department, all Kershaw did for an encore last season was lead all qualified starters in xFIP (2.09), SIERA (2.24), FIP (1.99), Wins Above Replacement (8.6), Strikeout Rate (33.8), Swinging Strike Rate (15.9), Strikeout Minus Walk Rate (29.1) and strikeouts (301).
Is that good?
Since the fences were moved in back in 2012, Petco hasn’t been quite the offensive graveyard it used to be, but it’s not going to be confused with Coors Field anytime soon. In 2015, Petco ranked 20th with a 0.931 runs factor, according to ESPN's Park Factors.
In 10 career starts at Petco, Kershaw owns a 2.13 ERA, his third-best clip for any ballpark in which he’s made at least 10 appearances. A year ago, San Diego ranked next to last in wOBA with a .298 clip.
Best of luck, Padres.
Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants
Somehow, Madison Bumgarner is only 26 years old. (Well, I know how, but you know what I’m saying.) The San Francisco Giants’ ace is already entering his seventh full season in the bigs, and he has a postseason resume which would impress Tom Brady.
Bumgarner just keeps getting better, too, compiling career-best numbers in Strikeout Rate (26.9), Walk Rate (4.5) and Wins Above Replacement (5.1) with a sizzling 3.00 SIERA last season.
For his 2016 debut, Bumgarner hits the road to take on the Milwaukee Brewers, a team which ended 2015 ranked 25th in wOBA (.304). Gone from that squad is the 20 jacks and .351 wOBA produced by slugger Adam Lind. Bumgarner will need to watch out for Ryan Braun, who eats lefties for breakfast to the tune of a career .434 wOBA against southpaws.
Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
The fact that Zack Greinke, who posted a hard-to-believe 1.66 ERA last season, isn’t even one of the day’s five most expensive pitchers tells you how many big-time arms are toeing the rubber Monday.
Greinke’s ERA, Jake Arrieta’s historic second half and Kershaw being Kershaw turned the 2015 National League Cy Young race into a three-man heat, but Max Scherzer had a superb campaign in his own right. Among all pitchers, he ranked third in both SIERA (2.63) and Strikeout Rate (30.7) while finishing fourth in WHIP (0.92) and sixth in xFIP (2.88). Amazingly, every one of Scherzer’s pitches induced a swinging strike rate of at least 11 percent, according to FanGraphs’ PITCHf/x data.
His first start of 2016 comes on the road against the Atlanta Braves, who figure to have as good of a shot as anyone at landing the top pick in the next draft. Atlanta ranked dead last in wOBA a year ago with a -- warning: Braves’ fans may want to skip to the next sentence -- .296 mark.
Unsurprisingly, Scherzer fared well in his one start against the Braves in 2015, allowing two runs and fanning nine over an 8 1/3-inning complete-game loss. Well, getting to face Scherzer outside of his home park should bode well for Atlanta, right? Wrong! The hurler with two different colored eyes actually posted better numbers on the road, as Scherzer limited home teams to a meager .247 wOBA last season.