FanDuel Pitching Primer: Friday 4/19/19
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?
Justin Verlander, Houston Astros
at Texas Rangers
FanDuel Price: $10,800
In looking at the premium options, which could be challenging to roster if you want some exposure to bats in Denver, let's cross off Corey Kluber immediately. His walk rate has soared in 2019, his batted-ball profile is scary, and that's not a risk to ensure when spending up at the slot.
Madison Bumgarner also could be in play, but he faces a Pittsburgh Pirates offense that clocks in 21st in strikeout rate (22.6%). So let's examine Justin Verlander, the priciest ace, or Jose Berrios, who's cheaper by $400.
In terms of their own strikeout rates, Verlander (31.3%) clears Berrios (27.5%) by a decent margin. Verlander also faces a Texas Rangers team that strikes out 10th-most (25.0%), while Berrios's matchup against the Baltimore Orioles ranks only 20th (22.6%).
The Rangers offense has definitely been stronger -- their team wOBA of .336 dominates the Orioles mark of .292, but I'll give the lean to Verlander and the strikeout upside.
Carlos Rodon, Chicago White Sox
at Detroit Tigers
FanDuel Price: $8,800
On the season, Rodon owns a 30.2% strikeout rate spanning his first 22 innings pitched. He's quelled hard hits to the tune of a 29.8% rate, and this increased success could be due to his lean on his devastating slider, which he's using around 15% more than last season.
That makes Rodon even more appealing as he duels the Detroit Tigers, who strike out the fourth-most in baseball (25.6%) while also owning the fourth-worst wOBA (.271). If you can spend up for Rodon, he's worth the cost.
Caleb Smith, Miami Marlins
vs Washington Nationals
FanDuel Price: $7,600
In somewhat of an under-the-radar move in the 2018 offseason, the Miami Marlins acquired Caleb Smith in a trade with the New York Yankees that seemed pretty inconspicuous at the time. It could be paying off big time a few years later.
The lefty hurler has been very strong so far in 2019 -- he's recorded a 32.3% strikeout rate (second-best on the slate), and his batted-ball profile reveals a fairly low 31.6% hard-hit rate. A 14.3% swinging-strike rate shows that Smith, who's dropped his fastball usage down to 48.2% this season, has been a very effective hurler.
Now consider Smith's opponent, the Washington Nationals, who can simultaneously do some damage (team wOBA of .347), but can provide that strikeout upside (24.9%) we so desperately crave for DFS purposes.
It looks like Vegas might believe in Smith, too -- with an over/under of 7.5 runs, this bargain basement arm seems worthy of consideration.
Jordan Lyles, Pittsburgh Pirates
vs San Francisco Giants
FanDuel Price: $8,000
The San Francisco Giants offense stinks. Period. And there's no way around it. If there's a low-priced option that could be in play against San Francisco, he definitely deserves your attention. Jordan Lyles certainly fits the bill here tonight.
While he only has 11 innings pitched to his name so far in 2019, they've been some impressive innings. Lyles owns a 28.6% strikeout rate, including an 11.7% swinging-strike rate.
That's even tastier with a Giants squad that is last in team wOBA (.260), 20th in hard-hit rate (35.1%), and second-worst in fly-ball rate (31.4%). Peep Lyles who's in a very choice spot tonight.
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.