MLB Sim Sports Picks for 4/2/20 on FanDuel

FanDuel is offering simulated MLB DFS slates to help fill our sports-less void. Which players should we target for the opening slate?

Shall we baseball, ladies and gents?

Although the regular season has been pushed back indefinitely by COVID-19, we can finally get our daily fantasy fix in. Starting Thursday, FanDuel will be offering simulated slates with bonus cash on the line. It's free to enter, so why not?

FanDuel was kind enough to provide a full explainer on how the sims work, but here are the basics:

1. Starting pitchers and batting orders have already been set.

2. Each plate appearance is simulated by numberFire and accounts for things such as park factors, platoon splits, and the abilities of the individual players.

3. There is no pinch hitting. Rejoice, those of you who lost money on Kyle Schwarber in 2018.

4. A pitcher's volume will be based on dynamic pitch counts, meaning we won't know beforehand how deep they'll go into the game, but it'll likely skew pretty close to a player's performance in 2019.

Simple enough. So let's check out the options for Thursday's slate.

Because it's not like a normal offering where you can find a list of starters on any DFS site, I've listed them out below, sorted by their salaries for the slate. The skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) data comes via FanGraphs. All pitcher stats are exclusively from games they started, which is why Jesus Luzardo's rows are blank. The opposing strikeout rate data is versus that pitcher's handedness and based on current active rosters, again courtesy of FanGraphs.

Pitcher Salary Opponent SIERA Strikeout % Walk % Opp. K%
Stephen Strasburg $10,600 NYM 3.49 29.8% 6.7% 21.5%
Shane Bieber $10,300 DET 3.36 30.2% 4.7% 25.6%
Trevor Bauer $9,700 PIT 4.14 27.8% 9.0% 20.1%
Matthew Boyd $9,100 CLE 3.61 30.2% 6.4% 20.8%
Zack Wheeler $8,900 MIL 4.20 23.6% 6.0% 22.8%
Masahiro Tanaka $8,400 TOR 4.44 19.8% 5.2% 25.2%
Marcus Stroman $7,800 WAS 4.41 20.5% 7.5% 21.5%
Kenta Maeda $7,700 OAK 4.22 26.2% 8.4% 22.8%
Dallas Keuchel $7,500 BOS 4.39 18.7% 8.0% 19.7%
Dakota Hudson $7,400 BAL 5.06 18.0% 11.3% 21.5%
Danny Duffy $7,200 SEA 4.89 20.7% 8.3% 23.4%
Jesus Luzardo $7,000 MIN -- -- -- 20.4%
Adrian Houser $6,800 PHI 4.08 24.2% 7.5% 24.5%
Joe Musgrove $6,600 CIN 4.32 21.9% 5.5% 24.3%
John Means $6,400 STL 5.19 17.9% 5.8% 22.4%
Martin Perez $6,300 CWS 5.01 17.8% 8.4% 23.8%
Justus Sheffield $6,000 KAN 4.57 22.1% 9.1% 21.7%
Chase Anderson $5,800 NYY 5.00 20.2% 8.4% 23.4%

With this data being the driving force, here are some routes for attacking the slate.


Given his tasty matchup and elite individual numbers, Shane Bieber ($10,300) is the clear priority at pitcher for this slate.

Bieber finished 2019 with a 30.2% strikeout rate and 4.7% walk rate, helping push him toward a 3.28 ERA. Whether the simulation relies on the straight-up results or the peripherals, Bieber graded out well enough to stand out in a matchup with the high-strikeout Detroit Tigers. We should lock him in and build our stacks from there.

If you want to dip more into the mid-range, Kenta Maeda ($7,700) doesn't have as fun of a matchup, but he brings lower-cost strikeout juice to the table. Maeda had a 26.2% strikeout rate as a starter last year along with an acceptable 4.14 ERA.

The Oakland Athletics have some good pop in their bats, but their active roster also had a 22.8% strikeout rate against righties last year. Maeda brings more risk than Bieber and others, but he would allow you extra flexibility for your hitters.


Rather than looking at individual hitters, we should focus on stacking, even in sim sports. If you're new to MLB DFS or need a refresher on the value of stacking, numberFire's Kenyatta Storin wrote a full breakdown of the benefits last month.

If you're trying to get up to Bieber (which, again, is recommended), the stand-out value stack on the slate is the St. Louis Cardinals. They're facing a lefty in John Means who had just a 17.9% strikeout rate as a starter in 2019. Means did have good results despite that (a 3.60 ERA), but he's going to allow a lot of balls in play. That's valuable if we're looking for upside.

The two most expensive hitters here are Paul Goldschmidt ($3,300) and Paul DeJong ($2,900). They're must-haves in a Cardinals stack and easy to get to even when you're targeting Bieber. Tommy Edman ($2,800) had just a 15.2% strikeout rate against lefties and is slated for the leadoff spot, and you can dip down to Yadier Molina ($2,400) in the five hole if you're really looking to save some salary.

Edwin Encarnacion's ($3,600) virtual debut with the Chicago White Sox includes a date with a lefty in Martin Perez, which puts them on the map, as well. Perez is similar to Means: decent batted-ball data but balls in play aplenty. It doesn't hurt that Perez's full-season ERA was 5.12, which means he'll probably look a bit shakier in the eyes of the simulation.

The White Sox are more expensive than the Cardinals, but you can still get high-quality players here without breaking the bank. Tim Anderson ($3,000) is a bargain-bin leadoff hitter with upside, and Eloy Jimenez ($3,200) should benefit from facing a lower-strikeout arm. They're tough to pair with the Cardinals because both teams are so infielder-heavy, but these are good options when trying to get up to Bieber.

The virtual New York Yankees are a whole heck of a lot healthier than the real ones, which allows us to splurge on them if you decide to spend down at pitcher. Chase Anderson's SIERA as a starter was 5.00 last year, and it came with a middling 20.2% strikeout rate. That's something the Bronx Bombers can blast.

Here, all the big names are in play, and you should gravitate toward them first. But it's also noteworthy that Aaron Hicks $2,800 is batting fifth. Hicks had a .261 isolated slugging percentage against righties last year and will have plenty of ducks on the pond if things go as planned. If you can afford them, guys like Hicks, Aaron Judge ($4,200), and Giancarlo Stanton ($3,700) go well with Cardinals and White Sox stacks as they can help litter the outfield.

The author of this article has no involvement with the MLB Sim Sports simulations powered by numberFire and has no knowledge of the results of tonight’s contest.