MLB Pitching Primer: Thursday, August 9th

Everything in the sport of baseball comes down to the hitter-versus-pitcher matchup – which makes pitching the most important element of MLB DFS play. Without an understanding of the best pitching plays on the day, your DFS efforts will be sunk! Each day, the Pitching Primer will provide you with some of the top pitching plays on the day – taking a close look at the “why” behind these picks, and helping you to identify pitchers others might overlook.

Thursday, August 9th

Welcome to Thursday! We have a smaller six-game Main Slate tonight, but we have some major arms going, which should make things interesting. Let’s take a look at the pitchers taking the hill tonight and see if we can find an edge.

Arms To Trust

Justin Verlander vs Seattle Mariners
James Paxton at Houston Astros

We should have a pitching duel in Houston tonight, where Verlander and the Astros are taking on James Paxton and the Mariners. Houston is a solid -160 favorite as the home team, and Verlander has put up some of the best numbers in baseball this season with a 2.19 ERA (2.74 SIERA), a 0.88 WHIP, and a 11.74 K/9. Seattle has been middle-of-the road against right-handed pitching this season ranking 17th in wOBA, and has been difficult to strike out ranking 26th in K%, but Verlander has proven to be matchup-proof this season, dominating both good teams and bad.

The biggest issue with Verlander tonight (as he goes for his 200th career win) is his cost, as the most expensive pitcher on the board, priced at $11,800 on FanDuel, $12,400 on DraftKings, and $23,700 on FantasyDraft. Even at those prices, I would put Verlander in my cash game lineups given his strikeout upside and probability for a win, and I would aim to be overweight in tournaments as long as you can find some value bats.

James Paxton would be our top ace on most nights, and he has numbers that are just a notch below Verlander with a 3.51 ERA (2.94 SIERA), 1.07 WHIP, and 11.48 K/9. Paxton is a bit worse on the road, where he allows a .304 wOBA and has a 3.84 ERA compared to a .255 wOBA allowed and 3.21 ERA at home, and he is taking on an Astros team that is very tough on left-handed pitching ranking 4th in wOBA and 27th in K%. Paxton is an underdog tonight and priced below Verlander at $10,000 on FanDuel, $10,600 on DraftKings, and $20,400 on FantasyDraft, but I still lean towards Verlander in cash games. For tournaments, I think Paxton is an excellent pivot off Verlander as a pitcher that should be lower-owned but can still put up a tournament-winning score.

Upside Arms

J.A. Happ vs Texas Rangers

Happ was very good in his Yankees debut, going six innings and allowing only one run against Kansas City, before missing his next start with hand, foot, and mouth disease. There should be no complications with this non-baseball, rash-like illness, and Happ should be ready to go tonight with the Yankees strong -225 favorites facing the Rangers. Texas can be a dangerous offense against left-handers ranking 7th in wOBA, but they also can strikeout ranking 11th in K%.

Happ has ramped up his strikeouts this season with a 9.9 K/9, and his 3.58 SIERA is a notch better than his 4.05 ERA, so he offers both strikeout upside while also a strong probability for a win. Happ isn’t quite in the class of Verlander and Paxton, but at $8,400 on FanDuel, $9,300 on DraftKings, and $17,900 on FantasyDraft, he provides some salary relief and allows us to put in some more expensive bats in tournaments.

Overlooked Difference-Makers

Andrew Suarez vs Pittsburgh Pirates

Suarez is an interesting salary discrepancy tonight, ranking as the fifth-most expensive pitcher on FanDuel at $7,300 but the ninth-most expensive pitcher on DraftKings ($5,100) and FantasyDraft ($10,200). With a game at Coors Field tonight and a couple of pricey but talented arms that we would like to fit into our lineups as a SP1 if possible, Suarez’s salary is particularly appealing on the two-pitcher sites. Suarez has been solid-but-unspectacular for the Giants this season, with a 4.60 ERA but a lower 3.83 SIERA, a 1.32 WHIP, and a 7.84 K/9, and tonight he is facing a Pirates team that ranks 17th in both wOBA and K% against southpaws.

The left hander has been significantly better at home this season with a 3.64 home ERA compared to a 5.61 ERA mark in road games, and tonight San Francisco is a -135 favorite. Suarez likely won’t put up a huge number tonight and will make few if any of my teams on FanDuel, but as a favorite at home he definitely catches my eye on DraftKings and FantasyDraft.

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About the Author

  • John Breslin (squirrelpatrol)

  • John Breslin, aka squirrelpatrol , is a consistent top-ranked Grinder and RotoGrinders contributor. He is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and graduated with an M.B.A. from prestigious New York University. He followed that up studying abroad at the London School of Economics. He’s been playing fantasy sports since 1996 and is still scarred from being on the losing end of James Stewart’s 5-TD performance. John beat out the competition to take home first place in the 2018 FanDuel World Fantasy Baseball Championship and has numerous other six-figure finishes to his name.

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