The Top 8 FanDuel Pitching Performances of the First Half
When you've got time to kill during the MLB All-Star break, it's a'ight if you're feeling a bit nostalgic. There's a half season of sweet, sweet DFS performances to recall, and what better time to reminisce than when you're just sitting on your thumbs, waiting for Friday's slate to start?
With this in mind, let's take a trip back through the first half of the season to gaze upon the pitching performances that made our toes all tingly and our bankrolls giddy.
There have been eight times this season in which a pitcher has recorded at least 75 points on FanDuel. Let's go through each of those to see how they got there and just bask in their Gucciness. All prices referenced come from the individual's player page, where you can divide the FanDuel points by the value and multiply by 1,000 to find the player's price for that given slate.
1. Max Scherzer, May 11th
FanDuel Points: 93
FanDuel Price: $9,100
We're really starting things off with a big-time stunner here. Who would have thought that the first 20-strikeout performance since 2001 would make the list?
El lanzador Max Scherzer de los @Nationals ponchó ayer a 20 en el juego frente a los @TigresdeDetroit pic.twitter.com/iJ1Zc0N2Je
— Naranjeros (@ClubNaranjeros) May 12, 2016
Max Scherzer's masterpiece against the Detroit Tigers was dominant even beyond just the raw strikeouts. The Tigers made contact on just 55.1% of their swings on the night, giving Scherzer a swinging-strike rate of 26.1%. It set him off on a wicked tear that has seen him hold a 2.52 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) over his past 12 outings.
The most baffling thing about this 93-point beatdown is that it could have been even bigger. Scherzer allowed a pair of home runs in the game, taking six points away from his final tally. That means -- if it weren't for the dingers -- he would have netted 99 points. Hot momma. He has notched 60 points on FanDuel six times in 17 starts this year, so even if he doesn't hit 93 again, don't expect the domination to stop.
2. Vincent Velasquez, April 14th
FanDuel Points: 87
FanDuel Price: $7,400
Vincent Velasquez was certainly impressive in his Philadelphia Phillies debut, striking out nine New York Mets batters over six innings en route to a victory. His second start, though, may have overshadowed that just a wee bit.
That's a casual 16 strikeouts in a complete-game, three-hit shutout. Decent.
Velasquez's average fastball velocity in that outing was a scorching 94.7 miles per hour, a mark that surely appeared even higher with his 78.7-mile-per-hour curveball.
Velasquez has struggled to stay healthy since that game, and he hasn't thrown more than six innings in any of his past 13 starts. But that one electric afternoon against the San Diego Padres was enough to lock down a sweet spot in the hearts of DFS players everywhere.
3. Madison Bumgarner, July 10th
FanDuel Points: 81
FanDuel Price: $11,400
Despite their silliness, neither Max Scherzer nor Vincent Velasquez has posted the highest game score this season. That honor belongs to Madison Bumgarner for his 14-strikeout performance right before the All-Star break.
That Madison Bumgarner performance was so good, you just HAVE to watch it again! #SFGiantshttps://t.co/1YAoKuG1SU
— #WeAreSF (@SFGiants) July 11, 2016
Bumgarner finished the complete-game shutout having allowed only one walk and one hit, an eighth-inning single by Jake Lamb. The 14 strikeouts tied a career high for Bumgarner, a plateau he has reached three times in the past two seasons.
Bumgarner -- like Scherzer -- is no stranger to big-time DFS outputs. He has posted three of the top 17 pitching DFS performances this year, all of which have come since the middle of May. He's been good for a long time now, but he seems like he's getting even better, which should keep him high on your radar for the second half.
4. Clayton Kershaw, May 1st
FanDuel Points: 81
FanDuel Price: $12,900
The Padres are 23rd in the league in wRC+, and they aided Velasquez on his way to his 16-strikeout game. Obviously, a matchup with Clayton Kershaw -- one of the greatest pitchers of all time -- would go swimmingly.
Those whiffs were just the Padres trying to provide wind energy to lower the nation's dependence on fossil fuels. How thoughtful.
Kershaw sat 14 San Diego hitters down on strikes that day while allowing only three hits. Perhaps the most impressive part, though, was his efficiency, as Kershaw needed only 101 pitches to cap off the game. That was the lowest total of any pitcher on this list who threw all nine innings, exactly what you'd expect from a player of Kershaw's ilk.
You'd also expect him to post stupid fantasy totals with great regularity, but we had to go all the way down to the fourth-best DFS performance to find him. Is Kershaw slipping from the ranks of the elite?
Maybe we should chill on the panic for just a hot second.
5. Clayton Kershaw, May 12th
FanDuel Points: 78
FanDuel Price: $12,500
I think we can all admit that this Clayton Kershaw fella is pretty good at baseball.
Kershaw followed up his 81-point outing bt fanning 13 Mets batters over nine shutout innings just two starts later. It was his fifth consecutive start with double-digit strikeouts, and he did the same his next time out to make it six in a row. He's not human.
There was one blemish in this outing for Kershaw, though. When he wasn't dismissing dudes with ease, he did manage to issue a walk. That's not noteworthy for most pitchers, but for Kershaw, it was the first time he had walked a batter since April 21st. In his three starts since then, he had struck out 34 hitters without walking any of them. Clearly, Kershaw was off his game in this pedestrian 78-point start, and we should demand better of the greatest once he's back off the disabled list.
6. Tanner Roark, April 23rd
FanDuel Points: 78
FanDuel Price: $6,800
When Tanner Roark woke up on April 23rd, his career high for strikeouts in a game was 11, a mark he set back in 2014. It had inched up just a smidge by the end of the day.
The formerly-low-strikeout hurler ended the day with 15 strikeouts, allowing just three hits over seven shutout innings. Totally and absolutely predictable.
Even though Roark hasn't hit double-digit strikeouts since then, he is excelling in one other key area. Roark has induced soft contact 27.2% of the time this year, the highest mark in the league for any qualified starter. When you can do that, you don't need to bathe in strikeouts to succeed. But if Roark can ever re-channel that nastiness he ripped open on the Minnesota Twins, that'll be a showing of utter domination.
7. Jaime Garcia, April 14th
FanDuel Points: 78
FanDuel Price: $8,600
On the same day that Velasquez struck out 16 batters, another pitcher was off dropping illitude on his opponents. Jaime Garcia showed no regard for the feelings of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Garcia struck out 13 batters as part of a one-hit shutout, surpassing his previous career high of 10 strikeouts, which he set in 2012 and 2013. Garcia hasn't duplicated that performance since, maxing out at eight strikeouts in his past 15 starts.
This game illustrated the importance of an opponent's strikeout rate. The Brewers have dudes who can straight up murk left-handed pitching, but their 23.8% strikeout rate is also well above average. This gives the opposing pitcher a ton of extra upside, even if they are -- like Garcia -- not traditionally a high-strikeout arm. The Padres -- who made this list twice -- have the third-highest strikeout rate in the league. The Mets were on the list twice already with their fifth-ranked strikeout rate, and we're about to add a third tally to that column.
8. Jose Fernandez, June 5th
FanDuel Points: 75
FanDuel Price: $11,300
You knew Kid K had to make this list at least once, right? Thus are the expectations for a guy with Jose Fernandez's 36.6% strikeout rate, a mark he fluffed by striking out 14 Mets batters in early June.
The insane thing about Fernandez is how quickly he can rack up points. He only needed seven innings for this 75-point performance, and even though he hasn't thrown more than seven innings the entire year, he has still had at least 60 points five separate times. That'll happen when you're on a near record-setting pace.
Fernandez's 36.6% strikeout rate is the third best in the history of baseball for a starter. Pedro Martinez's 1999 season leads the way at 37.5%, and Randy Johnson in 2001 is second at 37.4%. That's it. The only thing blocking Fernandez from the record books is a pair of all-time greats. You think a high-strikeout offense like the Mets' is going to stop him? Heck to the naw.