MLB Sim Sports Picks for 4/23/20 on FanDuel

Do you miss baseball? Yeah, we do, too.

Maybe you can't quite fill that sports void in your heart, but FanDuel has been coming up with new contests to keep us entertained during these strange times.

Enter MLB Sim Sports, a new free-to-play format that simulates the baseball games that were originally scheduled for play each day. Starting pitchers and batting orders are announced in advance, and then games will play out through numberFire's custom simulator.

Starting pitchers will have a simulated pitch count that we won't know beforehand but should be roughly based on their performance last season. Hitters will play the whole game, so there's no fear of pinch hitters and the like.

Best of all, the simulation is meant to replicate real life, so all the usual things you typically analyze in MLB DFS -- player skills, matchups, park factors, and platoon splits -- are in play here, so you can approach this in much the same way you would on a real baseball slate.

Below are the starting pitchers for Thursday's slate, which locks at 7:30pm ET. Stats are from 2019 and limited to just games started, so you may see slight changes in the overall numbers of some players who made appearances out of the bullpen. Opposing strikeout rate and wRC+ are last year's numbers against a given pitcher's handedness using updated active rosters, per FanGraphs.

Note: Josh James only pitched one inning as a starter in 2019, so his numbers aren't listed. Michael Fulmer missed the entire past season recovering from Tommy John surgery.

PitcherSalaryOpp.SIERAK%BB%Opp. K%Opp. wRC+
Gerrit Cole (R)$12,000@DET2.6239.9 %5.9 %25.6%82
Lucas Giolito (R)$9,000@LAA3.5732.3 %8.1 %20.3%109
Jose Berrios (R)$8,700SEA4.2823.2 %6.1 %25.9%88
Charlie Morton (R)$8,500@HOU3.5430.4 %7.2 %16.3%129
Andrew Heaney (L)$8,200CWS3.8728.9 %7.3 %23.8%119
Josh James (R)$8,000TAM------24.3%99
Michael Wacha (R)$7,600MIA5.1918.3 %10.1 %24.4%95
Nathan Eovaldi (R)$7,300TOR5.3321.6 %12.9 %25.2%85
Garrett Richards (R)$7,000@CHC4.9326.8 %14.6 %23.5%108
Antonio Senzatela (R)$6,800@SFG5.5013.1 %9.8 %24.0%89
Tyler Chatwood (R)$6,700SDP5.1021.4 %12.2 %25.0%88
Jose Urena (R)$6,500@NYM4.9815.8 %7.1 %21.5%109
Michael Fulmer (R)$6,400NYY------23.4%119
Andrew Suarez (L)$5,900COL6.4714.3 %14.3 %24.1%98
Trent Thornton (R)$5,800@BOS4.9421.7 %9.5 %19.9%105
Yusei Kikuchi (L)$5,500@MIN5.1716.1 %6.9 %20.4%123

To help get you started, let's go through some of the top pitchers and stacks on tonight's eight-game slate.


Gerrit Cole ($12,000) is the most expensive player on the board by a mile, but it's with good reason. Not only does he easily have the top peripherals of the bunch, but he also draws a pristine matchup against the whiff-happy Tigers. No one comes close to his punchout upside tonight, and he's well worth that sky-high price tag.

On the value side, Josh James ($8,000) is worth a look against Tampa Bay. Considering James pitched out of the bullpen last year, it's difficult to say what sort of pitch count the sims will allot him, but it should credit him for the 3.33 SIERA and 37.6% strikeout rate he posted over 61.1 innings. Those marks also came with a 13.2% walk rate -- another hurdle for pitching deep into the game -- but among the cheaper arms, he's the most likely to rack up some Ks. Steamer projects him for a 29.1% strikeout rate this season.


Virtual Yusei Kikuchi gets the unenviable task of facing the Minnesota Twins, and chances are it won't be pretty. Not only does he have one of the evening's lowest strikeout rates, but the southpaw was obliterated by the long ball last year, giving up 2.00 homers per nine innings.

Nelson Cruz ($3,300) goes without saying against the left-hander, along with Miguel Sano ($3,400), Josh Donaldson ($3,500), Mitch Garver ($3,200), and Jorge Polanco ($3,100). Kikuchi wasn't effective against either side of the plate, so a pricier Eddie Rosario ($3,800) remains in play as a possible lower-owned option.

Trent Thornton is another potential stacking victim, as he didn't do anything particularly well in his debut MLB campaign. Given his low 32.4% ground-ball rate, it isn't surprising to see projection models expecting him to give up his share of dingers, too.

The Boston Red Sox have Rafael Devers ($3,700) and J.D. Martinez ($3,400) as the clear headliners, followed by the rest of the lineup coming in on the cheap at $3k or less. Xander Bogaerts ($3,000), Andrew Benintendi ($2,900), and Mitch Moreland ($2,800) are good values, and don't forget about Michael Chavis ($2,600), too. Chavis posted a solid .190 ISO in his rookie campaign and projects to exceed that in 2020.

Finally, the New York Yankees take on Michael Fulmer, who missed 2019 following Tommy John surgery. He was pretty average in 2018, posting a 4.45 SIERA, 19.7% strikeout rate, and 8.2% walk rate -- not enough to sway us away from using the Bronx Bombers.

Aaron Judge ($3,700) and Giancarlo Stanton ($3,600) lead the way, of course, along with Gleyber Torres ($3,300) and Gary Sanchez ($3,100).

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.