MLB Sim Sports Picks for 5/19/20 on FanDuel

Luke Weaver is cheap for Tuesday's simulated MLB DFS slate, allowing us to splurge on our hitters. Who else stands out on FanDuel?

The reason we generally want to pay up at pitcher in MLB DFS is pretty simple: it's hard to find pitchers with upside in the lower salary range.

In order to truly pop off at pitcher, you need a whole lotta strikeouts. Generally, pitchers who get those are expensive, making it tough to justify spending down if you want the kind of lineup that can take down a tournament.

Tuesday's simulated slate on FanDuel changes that equation a bit.

Yes, Walker Buehler ($10,800) is the pitcher with the highest projected ceiling on the slate, and there's a gap behind him. But there are also a couple of pitchers with the ability to generate strikeouts who are in at least acceptable matchups, which makes our calculus different.

Here's the full list of starters for Tuesday's main slate. The individual numbers are from starts they made in 2019, and opposing numbers are based on current active rosters against that pitcher's handedness last year.

Pitcher Salary Opponent SIERA Strikeout % Walk % Opp. K% Opp. wRC+
Walker Buehler $10,800 PHI 3.50 29.2% 5.0% 24.5% 90
Lance Lynn $9,700 OAK 3.83 28.1% 6.7% 22.8% 109
Zack Wheeler $9,000 LOS 4.20 23.6% 6.0% 20.2% 122
James Paxton $8,700 MIL 3.93 29.4% 8.7% 20.7% 102
Jon Gray $8,400 CWS 4.28 23.7% 8.4% 25.6% 107
Dylan Bundy $8,000 KAN 4.54 23.1% 8.3% 22.1% 93
Carlos Martinez $7,900 ATL -- -- -- 22.4% 100
Max Fried $7,700 STL 3.83 24.6% 6.4% 22.4% 96
Rick Porcello $7,500 ARI 4.86 18.6% 5.9% 21.8% 96
Kevin Gausman $7,400 DET 4.41 23.6% 7.3% 25.6% 82
Jordan Zimmermann $7,000 SFG 4.93 16.9% 5.1% 24.0% 89
Homer Bailey $6,900 BAL 4.60 21.4% 7.6% 21.5% 86
Luke Weaver $6,700 NYM 3.84 26.5% 5.4% 21.5% 109
Reynaldo Lopez $6,500 COL 4.88 20.9% 8.0% 22.5% 86
Eric Lauer $6,400 NYY 4.74 21.2% 7.9% 23.6% 126
Mike Fiers $6,300 TEX 5.19 16.7% 7.0% 25.5% 89
Brad Keller $6,100 LAA 5.23 17.2% 9.9% 20.3% 109
Ryan Yarbrough $6,000 BOS 4.21 20.9% 3.2% 19.7% 112
Wade LeBlanc $5,700 MIN 5.01 16.9% 5.1% 20.4% 123
Brian Johnson $5,500 TAM 5.92 13.9% 10.2% 27.1% 99

As you can see, even some really cheap pitchers here have the strikeout juice we need. Once we weigh that versus Buehler, how should we tackle Tuesday's simulated slate? Let's check it out.


Just to start things off, let's discuss why Buehler is a worthy consideration even when we have cheap alternatives at our disposal. It's because he's rullllll good.

The virtual Buehler is at home against the Philadelphia Phillies, who sneakily had a 24.5% strikeout rate against righties last year. That's a plus for Buehler, whose 29.2% strikeout rate ranks second among starters on the slate. He also had the best SIERA at 3.50, and his 3.29 ERA was best among pitchers with at least 15 starts. When you get a matchup and talent mesh like this, you should be willing to shell out $10,800 to get it.

The reason we're even debating whether Buehler is the optimal route is because both Kevin Gausman ($7,400) and Luke Weaver ($6,700) have clear paths to big games.

We'll start with Weaver, who should sit higher on our list between the two. His matchup with the New York Mets is decently tough as their active roster did have a 109 wRC+ against righties last year. But Weaver, himself, was solid before his injury with a 26.5% strikeout rate and 5.4% walk rate. He's the only starter on the slate who had a strikeout rate higher than 25.0% whose salary is lower than $8,700, and he's $2,000 cheaper than that mark. With that being the case, the matchup is less concerning.

Gausman's results last year were pure butt, but his peripherals were better, and he has an elite situation. Gausman is in the black hole of offensive despair known as San Francisco to face a Detroit Tigers team that struck out 25.6% of the time against righties last year. It doesn't get much better than that. Plus, his 23.6% strikeout rate and 7.3% walk rate are good enough to lead us to think he could come through in such a favorable spot.

The way we can decide the ranking here is by taking a look at the top stacks on the slate. There are times we'll want to spend up there (SPOILER ALERT!), which increases the incentive to save at pitcher. As such, at least for this one evening, it's okay to boogie down to guys like Weaver and Gausman rather than breaking the bank on Buehler.


The reason we wanted to spend down at pitcher is because the Minnesota Twins are in a finger-lickin' good spot against Wade LeBlanc.

Not only did LeBlanc have a 5.01 SIERA and 8.35 ERA as a starter last year, but he finished with just a 16.9% strikeout rate. That's bad news bears when you're facing a team that makes as much loud contact as the Twins. The Twins' sticks aren't easy to afford if you lock in Buehler, which pushes Weaver and Gausman up our list.

The upside in this team against lefties is pretty silly. All three of Nelson Cruz ($3,700), Miguel Sano ($3,500), and Mitch Garver ($3,500) had an isolated slugging percentage of at least .367 when they had the platoon advantage last year. Using Weaver should allow you to jam in all three plus another stick of your choosing, so that looks like our optimal plan of attack.

If the Twins are the team you stack when using Weaver, the Tampa Bay Rays are where you turn when you want to get at either Gausman or Buehler.

The Rays are facing Brian Johnson, who had a slate-worst 5.92 SIERA and 13.9% strikeout rate as a starter last year. That strikeout rate is the big concern. The Rays' one weakness as an offense is whiffing, and when you take that off the table, their bangers can do some damage.

Thankfully, all the big righties in this lineup have salaries between $3,100 and $2,700. The one guy you'll want to get in there is Hunter Renfroe ($3,100). Renfroe is bringing his lefty-smacking ways to Tampa, and his .336 isolated slugging percentage versus southpaws gives us cheap access to double-dong upside. When stacking the Rays, start with Renfroe and build from there.

For those of you who decide to pay up for Buehler, the Arizona Diamondbacks are your saving grace.

They're facing Rick Porcello, who struggled broadly last year. But he especially got worked by left-handed batters, who had a .346 wOBA against him. That's daunting when four of the top six batters in the Diamondbacks' order will swing from that side of the dish.

Nobody here is especially expensive, but the two big value draws are David Peralta ($2,700) and Kole Calhoun ($2,600). Both flashed pop against righties with at least a .200 isolated slugging percentage last year, and they're slated to bat fourth and sixth, respectively. Pairing the Diamondbacks with the mid-tier Rays should make affording Buehler relatively easy.

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.