FanDuel Pitching Primer: Friday 4/26/19

It's a full main slate tonight, providing plenty of pitching options. James Paxton seems to be the best play, but who else should we consider?

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

James Paxton, New York Yankees

at San Francisco Giants
FanDuel Price: $11,000

When you are blessed with a full 15-game main slate, there's a pile of pitching options to comb through. In fact, 30 are on the table in total. And tonight, seven of them (yes, seven) are priced at $9,000 or above, making this a true ace day.

So, how do we . work through these options? Jacob deGrom returns to the bump ($10,800), but it's always hard to trust a pitcher coming off an injury in that first turn. The same goes for Max Scherzer ($12,300), who is also a bit risky for the sky-high price.

Corey Kluber ($9,600) has struggled early to start the year, and he faces a potent Houston Astros offense that leads the league with a .357 wOBA and is tough to strike out (18.6%).

For my money, I'm paying up for New York Yankees' James Paxton. Not only was he brilliant in his last turn (3 hits and 12 strikeouts over 6 scoreless innings), he faces a pathetic San Francisco Giants offense that's last in wOBA (.267) and strikes out 23.6% of the time.

If you're willing to spend up at pitcher, Paxton is your man.

Mid-Priced Option

Jerad Eickhoff, Philadelphia Phillies

vs Miami Marlins
FanDuel Price: $7,800

Jerad Eickhoff has only made one start in 2019, but it was so good that you almost have to consider investing in him tonight.

Before diving into the Philadelphia Phillies right-hander, let's start with his opponent, the lowly Miami Marlins, who rank second-worst in team wOBA (.269) and strike out plenty at a 25.9% clip.

Now, let's analyze Eickhoff, who has recorded 14 strikeouts in 10 innings pitched this year. He's flashed a 33.3% strikeout rate, 29.2% hard-hit rate, and he made his lone start in Coors Field. His lack of innings pitched won't place him among the league-leaders, but his 13.3% swinging-strike rate would rank him inside the top-20 (17th). It's a large improvement over previous seasons, and he's not doing much different, but the Marlins should help him maintain that tonight.

Sleep on Eickhoff at your own risk, but a gorgeous matchup and a strong start make him a viable option.

Low-Priced Option

Martin Perez, Minnesota Twins

vs Baltimore Orioles
FanDuel Price: $7,000

The Minnesota Twins' Martin Perez has some ugly numbers so far, at least in a traditional sense. The southpaw has recorded a 5.31 ERA over 20 1/3 innings, and that's likely to scare some folks away.

That would be a mistake. He's posted a juicy 11.8% swinging-strike rate in 2019, and his 20.2% strikeout rate shows that could be a sustainable number. The batted-ball profile is solid, too, as he owns a 33.3% hard-hit rate and 32.3% fly-ball rate this year.

Perez's opponent, the Baltimore Orioles, are a weak offensive attack so far, sporting a .307 team wOBA (21st), .163 isolated power (ISO, 21st), and a 30.4% hard-hit rate (second-worst).

If you want to spend down for your pitcher, Perez makes for a tempting choice against a struggling Orioles squad.

Contrarian Play

Collin McHugh, Houston Astros

vs Cleveland Indians
FanDuel Price: $9,300

It seems kind of odd to mention a player being contrarian when they are part of that elite tier, but hold the phone. After getting torched for 10 runs in his last start, as well as a single strikeout over 3 1/3 innings pitched, Collin McHugh could go a bit overlooked.

While the return of Francisco Lindor certainly makes the Cleveland Indians a more potent offensive attack, this still isn't a strong batting lineup. Over the last seven days (Lindor returned last Sunday), the Indians have still struggled, ranking 20th in team wOBA (.308) and striking out 25.1% of the time.

The silver lining in McHugh's last atrocious start is that he still managed a 12.3% swinging-strike rate, so the whiff rate was still tasty. Consider McHugh against a still-struggling lineup.

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.