MLB Sim Sports Picks for 5/4/20 on FanDuel

Do you miss Major League 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 Monday night's slate, which locks at 8:00pm 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 pretty much pitched entirely out the bullpen last season (one inning as a starter), so his numbers aren't listed. Michael Fulmer missed all of 2019 due to Tommy John surgery. Alex Wood and Andrew Suarez only made single-digit starts.

PitcherSalaryOpp.SIERAK%BB%Opp. K%Opp. wRC+
Jack Flaherty (R)$11,000SDP3.6829.9 %7.1 %25.0 %88
Dinelson Lamet (R)$9,700@STL3.6133.6 %9.6 %23.6 %94
Yu Darvish (R)$8,800@LOS3.5531.3 %7.7 %20.2 %122
Frankie Montas (R)$8,300SEA3.7626.1 %5.8 %25.9 %88
Josh James (R)$7,900@KAN------22.1 %93
Anthony DeSclafani (R)$7,700@NYM4.2924.0 %7.0 %21.5 %109
Alex Wood (L)$7,500CHC4.6719.6 %5.9 %24.5 %94
Michael Fulmer (R)$6,800COL------22.5 %86
Michael Wacha (R)$6,500CIN5.1918.3 %10.1 %24.3 %95
Kyle Freeland (L)$6,200@DET5.1916.7 %8.3 %24.9 %98
Jhoulys Chacin (R)$6,000SFG4.9121.7 %9.7 %24.0 %89
Yusei Kikuchi (L)$5,700@OAK5.1716.1 %6.9 %19.9 %114
Jorge Lopez (R)$5,600HOU5.0118.4 %8.0 %16.3 %129
Andrew Suarez (L)$5,500@MIN6.4714.3 %14.3 %20.4 %123

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


Jack Flaherty ($11,000) is tonight's most expensive hurler, but he's a no-brainer as one of the most talented arms in a plum spot against the whiff-happy Padres. If you're not too keen on that price, Dinelson Lamet ($9,700) offers up similar upside at a discount between a slate-best 33.6% strikeout rate and an unimposing matchup against the Cardinals.

In the value range, Frankie Montas ($8,300) initially stands out versus a weak Mariners lineup, but Steamer projects him for just a 22.5% strikeout rate, so he may not have as much punchout upside as we would like.

Instead, you can opt for Josh James ($7,900), who produced some compelling peripherals out of the bullpen in 2019, with a 3.33 SIERA, 37.6% strikeout rate, and 13.2% walk rate over 61.1 innings. Obviously, that last mark was an issue, but his projections are generally positive for this price range, including a 29.1% strikeout rate via Steamer. The only question is how deep he pitches into the game as a former reliever.


At the bottom of the chart, we see three cupcake matchups against strong offenses, giving us a clear set of stacks to target.

Andrew Suarez only made a pair of starts last season, but even if we expand out to his bullpen work, the overall results were a 4.96 SIERA, 16.9% strikeout rate, and 9.5% walk rate over 32.2 innings. He was more respectable as a starter the year prior, but public models aren't projecting a whole lot of improvement, so the Minnesota Twins should be in for a big night against the lefty. Load up on the right-handed sticks of Nelson Cruz ($3,800), Miguel Sano ($3,600), Josh Donaldson ($3,600), and Mitch Garver ($3,300).

Similarly, the Houston Astros should be able to smack around overmatched right-hander Jorge Lopez, another low-strikeout arm with a pretty sorry track record. You'll probably need to pay down at pitcher to stack the pricey Astros, but if you can make it work, George Springer ($4,000), Alex Bregman ($4,000), and Yordan Alvarez ($3,900) are at the top of the wish list.

Last but not least, the Oakland Athletics might be the most intriguing stack of all for their cheap salaries against southpaw Yusei Kikuchi. Matt Chapman ($3,000), Khris Davis ($2,600), and Stephen Piscotty are all inexpensive, and leadoff man Marcus Semien ($3,400) won't break the bank, either. Left-handed slugger Matt Olson ($2,700) can also be considered, as he posted a .255 ISO in same-sided matchups last year.

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.