FanDuel Pitching Primer: Opening Day

In daily fantasy baseball, success starts with nailing the starting pitcher spot in your lineup.

When compared to hitters, pitching performance tends to be much more predictable and stable throughout the course of the season. You know what you're getting from a top-level ace when you roster him: probably a dominant effort with only one or two implosions per season. In contrast, even the game's best hitters have days at the plate when they go 0-for-4.

As a result, lineup construction should begin with the starting pitcher. Which pitchers should you consider on today's main slate?

High-Salaried Option

Shane Bieber, Cleveland Indians

At Detroit Tigers
FanDuel Salary: $11,500

Coming off an absolutely brilliant season, Shane Bieber will man the bump for the Cleveland Indians and look to attack the Detroit Tigers, who were a darling of a target for DFS purposes a season ago.

The Tigers really struggled as an offense a season ago, and while it's hard to exactly predict what this new-look team will do -- especially with the additions and subtractions -- we can clearly see this team was whiff-happy last year. They struck out at a 27.3% clip, showcased very little pop with a .152 isolated power (ISO), and ranked as one of the worst offenses in the league with a .303 wOBA.

Bieber averaged nearly 54 FanDuel points per game a season, and he should be ready to crush right away.

Mid-Salaried Play

Luis Castillo, Cincinnati Reds

Vs. St. Louis Cardinals
FanDuel Salary: $8,900

The St. Louis Cardinals' offense enters this year with several question marks.

Now, to be fair, a monster acquisition of Nolan Arenado certainly provides that shot-in-the-arm that this team desperately needed. But backstop Yadier Molina is yet another year older, Tommy Edman better improve on a woeful finish, and Marcell Ozuna ain't donning Cardinal red any time soon.

All of that bodes well for rocket-armed Luis Castillo of the Cincinnati Reds, who started a mini breakout with an outstanding 2020 campaign. Over 70 innings pitched, he smoked the field with 89 strikeouts and a sparkling 3.21 ERA.

Expect Castillo to blast off in game one.

Low-Salaried Play

Brad Keller, Kansas City Royals

Vs. Texas Rangers
FanDuel Salary: $7,600

The Texas Rangers went neck-and-neck with the Pittsburgh Pirates last season to earn the coveted honor of being the league's worst offense.

Without any monster offseason additions, this could be an offense that struggled yet again. In 2020, they posted a team .283 wOBA (second-worst), .147 ISO (second-worst ), and hefty 25.5% strikeout rate.

Those are all smashable figures for Brad Keller of the Kansas City Royals, who have quietly rebuilt their offense to make Keller quite the target.

But let's look under the hood a bit on Keller's arm, and we can see that the right-hander sparkled with a 1.04 WHIP in 54 2/3 innings pitched. If you need a cheap arm to pair with some monster bats, peep Keller.

Matt Kupferle is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Matt Kupferle also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username MKupferle. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.