FanDuel Pitching Primer: Tuesday 5/7/19

We have a few high-priced aces from which to choose tonight. Does a road matchup with the Padres put Noah Syndergaard at the top of the pecking order?

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

Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets

at San Diego Padres
FanDuel Price: $10,400

A 13-game main slate with four aces priced at or above $10,000? Yes, please.

Let's run through some of the other top-flight options first. Avoiding Caleb Smith of the Miami Marlins seems like a prudent move. He faces a white-hot Chicago Cubs offense that leads the league in team wOBA over the last two weeks (.363), and for the season, they own a solid .331 wOBA against lefties.

Stephen Strasburg is the most expensive pitcher on the slate at $11,300, but he also may face the toughest matchup. He heads to Miller Park, which clocks in eighth in home run factor over the last three seasons, to see a Milwaukee Brewers offense that has plenty of heavy hitters despite their lowly .299 wOBA over the past 14 days.

A close second to tonight's recommendation, Jose Berrios makes for a strong play in the ace group. He faces a dreadful Toronto Blue Jays offense that has the second-worst team wOBA (.266) in the last two weeks, but the Jays are whiffing at a slightly lower rate than Noah Syndergaard's opponent, the San Diego Padres, who carry a 27.5% strikeout rate in the last 14 days.

PetCo Park also has been extremely friendly to pitchers, as you know. Our models have Thor pegged for 38.7 FanDuel points, and while that's just the third-best clip on the slate, Syndergaard offers a huge ceiling in this matchup.

Mid-Priced Option

Collin McHugh, Houston Astros

vs Kansas City Royals
FanDuel Price: $8,800

In the last five games, the Kansas City Royals have smacked around the likes of Blake Snell and Gerrit Cole. Could lightning strike again tonight for the third time?

Let's not get too crazy. While the team from KC does rank 12th in the last two weeks in team wOBA (.322), they also rank 23rd in that same span in fly-ball rate (32.7%) and 22nd in hard-hit rate (34.4%).

Collin McHugh, meanwhile, has been pretty darn good in 2019. Despite getting torched by two of the league's best offenses (the Minnesota Twins and the Texas Rangers have combined for 13 earned runs over 9 1/3 innings versus him), McHugh still owns a 25.0% strikeout rate on the year along with an 11.3% swinging-strike rate. That's led to a 3.97 SIERA that is far better than his 4.97 ERA.

For a middling option with some tantalizing upside, check out McHugh, and if you go with anyone outside of the ace tier tonight, you'll likely be rostering a low-owned arm.

Low-Priced Option

Tyler Mahle, Cincinnati Reds

at Oakland Athletics
FanDuel Price: $7,100

With the Oakland Athletics carrying an implied total of 4.30 runs, Tyler Mahle of the Cincinnati Reds may not stick out as our best pitching option. In fact, a look at traditional metrics shows a hurler that's 0-4 with a 4.09 ERA in six starts.

So why do we want to consider rostering him? Because the right-hander has been sneaky good in his underlying numbers. Spanning those 33 innings, he owns a 24.4% strikeout rate paired with a solid 5.2% walk rate and a 28.4% fly-ball rate.

As of late, the Athletics have slumped pretty hard, too. They check in only 21st in fly-ball rate (36.1%) and 19th in team wOBA (.303) over the last 14 days. Tonight's contest will be held at pitcher-friendly Oakland (23rd in park factor over the last three years), so consider Mahle as a cheap starter.

Contrarian Play

Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants

at Colorado Rockies
FanDuel Price: $7,300

I'm going to give you 200 or so words on why Madison Bumgarner deserves your attention inside of Denver tonight, despite a slate-worst 5.36 implied team total. Let's dig in.

Thus far, 2019 MadBum isn't the version we saw in 2018, and it's really not all that close. He may never again return to vintage Bumgarner, but he's been palatable, to say the least. He owns a 24.3% strikeout rate (up from a gross 19.8% clip a year ago), he's ratcheted up his swinging-strike rate to 11.1% (from 9.2%), and he's pounding the strike zone with a 71.8% first-pitch strike rate.

The Colorado Rockies' lineup is strong, but it also features a litany of lefty bats -- dudes like Daniel Murphy, Charlie Blackmon, Ryan McMahon, David Dahl, and Raimel Tapia. At worst, they are getting swapped out for lesser hitters tonight. At best, a guy like Murphy, who owns a .717 career OPS against lefties, stays in the lineup with a decent shot at significantly reduced production.

For an option surely to see low ownership, the San Francisco Giants' ace may not be such a crazy idea.

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.