MLB Sim Sports Picks for 5/1/20 on FanDuel

Friday's simulated daily fantasy baseball slate is just a minefield. We're going to have to tiptoe through these tulips if we want to avoid a big ol' mess.

The biggest issue we run into is that there aren't a ton of high-strikeout pitchers at our disposal, and strikeouts are a necessity if we want to take down a tournament with a boatload of entries. None of those strikeouts come with safety, though.

To illustrate the problem, here are the starters on tonight's 10-game slate. The pitchers' numbers are from starts they made in 2019, which means Taijuan Walker's ($5,900) are from a whopping sample of one game. Everybody else made at least 18 starts. The opposing numbers are based on what their current active rosters did against pitchers of that handedness last year.

Pitcher Salary Opponent SIERA Strikeout % Walk % Opp. K% Opp. wRC+
Clayton Kershaw $10,600 SDP 3.77 26.7% 5.8% 24.5% 107
Robbie Ray $9,300 CHC 4.02 31.5% 11.2% 24.5% 94
Zack Greinke $9,000 SEA 3.96 23.1% 3.7% 25.9% 88
Joe Musgrove $8,600 MIA 4.32 21.9% 5.5% 24.4% 95
Dallas Keuchel $8,100 BAL 4.39 18.7% 8.0% 21.0% 98
Max Fried $7,800 NYM 3.83 24.6% 6.4% 23.4% 114
Jakob Junis $7,500 DET 4.63 21.3% 7.5% 25.6% 82
Marcus Stroman $7,300 ATL 4.41 20.5% 7.5% 22.4% 100
Jon Lester $7,200 ARI 4.49 21.6% 6.8% 21.5% 112
Julio Teheran $6,900 MIN 5.11 21.5% 11.0% 20.9% 119
Adam Wainwright $6,700 MIL 4.70 20.5% 8.6% 22.8% 102
Jake Odorizzi $6,600 LAA 4.14 27.1% 8.1% 20.3% 109
Mike Fiers $6,500 TAM 5.19 16.7% 7.0% 24.3% 99
Yonny Chirinos $6,400 OAK 4.22 22.3% 5.6% 22.8% 109
Sandy Alcantara $6,300 PIT 5.28 18.0% 9.7% 20.1% 94
Adrian Houser $6,200 STL 4.08 24.2% 7.5% 23.6% 94
Ivan Nova $6,000 KAN 5.16 14.1% 5.8% 22.1% 93
Taijuan Walker $5,900 HOU 4.10 25.0% 0.0% 16.3% 129
John Means $5,700 CWS 5.19 17.9% 5.8% 23.8% 119
Zach Davies $5,500 LOS 5.43 15.2% 7.6% 20.2% 122

You might be able to see why this slate is daring us to do something dumb. Let's check it out and see where we should turn.


The clear-cut top two options at our disposal are Clayton Kershaw ($10,600) and Robbie Ray ($9,300). Both guys have significant red flags, though.

For Kershaw, it's the matchup. Although the San Diego Padres will strike out plenty, they sneakily bang lefties, especially now with Tommy Pham in the fold. The active roster drew walks in 11.1% of their plate appearances versus southpaws in 2019, and that can cause issues even for someone as precise as Kershaw.

Walks are the sore spot for Ray, too. Interestingly enough, though, his matchup with the Chicago Cubs is easier on paper with the Cubs' active roster sporting a 94 wRC+ against lefties compared to the Padres' mark of 107. It's just hard to know which version of Ray you'll get on a given night. Will he strike out 13 or walk 7? Maybe both?

Both of these guys are risky for different reasons. When that's the case, it's fine to take the savings and go with Ray, who is $1,300 cheaper than Kershaw. His true ceiling is also likely higher than Kershaw's, so we might as well lock him in and hold onto our butts.

Among the cheaper options, Max Fried ($7,800) stands out despite abundant risk in his matchup.

Fried's paired with the New York Mets, who had a similar profile to the Padres: they strike out a lot, but they can also put it in the seats. Still, Fried's 24.6% strikeout rate is second-best among any pitcher outside of Kershaw and Ray, and the only guy ahead of him -- Jake Odorizzi ($6,600) -- is facing a low-strikeout opponent. You can easily justify Fried with the uncertainty around the studs, though he does put a dent in your lineup's ceiling.


Another team that is sneaky good now against lefties is the Chicago White Sox. They kick off our stacking section thanks to a matchup with John Means.

Stacking against Means could come with a bit of risk thanks to his 3.73 ERA as a starter last year. If the simulations focus on that, they'll view him in a decent light. However, most projection systems will be down on Means thanks to his 5.19 SIERA and 17.9% strikeout rate. That's enough to allow us to load up on the South Siders.

The White Sox aren't cheap, meaning this stack might not work in Kershaw lineups unless you dumpster dive for your other stack. Still, you're not exactly breaking the bank for guys like Tim Anderson ($2,900) and Edwin Encarnacion ($3,200), both of whom bring big upside to the table. They project to beat up on southpaws this year, so we might as well get a head start and load up on them now.

The Los Angeles Dodgers don't have a great park factor in their favor as they head to San Diego, but their matchup with Zach Davies is enticing. Davies had just a 15.2% strikeout rate as a starter last year, which likely isn't enough to hold down an offense as spicy as the Dodgers'.

The Dodgers don't have true value plays we can pluck, but there are some high-quality mid-range plays that either help us afford the studs in a Fried lineup or give us a mini stack when we splurge for Kershaw. All three of Justin Turner, Corey Seager, and Will Smith are $3,000 and will have multiple chances to drive in runs. Even if you can't necessarily get to the upper-echelon stars, it's worthwhile to still give this team a sniff.

When you're looking for value, it may seem weird at first, but the Minnesota Twins actually give you an outlet.

They're facing Julio Teheran, who had a 5.11 SIERA and 11.0% walk rate last year, which would make you think the salaries on the Twins would be elevated. However, nobody on this team costs more than $3,300. No complaints here.

To make things even better, you can dabble in the double-dong dealers of Nelson Cruz ($3,000), Josh Donaldson ($2,800), and Miguel Sano ($2,700) while banking big savings. Stacking the Twins gets you salary relief and can allow you to be a bit lavish with your second stack, even if you do decide to pay up for Kershaw. They're the first place we should look when searching for value.

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.