FanDuel Pitching Primer: Monday 4/11/22

Nailing the pitcher slot is the first step to having success in MLB DFS on FanDuel.

While it's possible to cash if you get a bad outing from a starter, it's markedly easier to do so when you get a good or excellent showing from your pitcher.

Weighing the importance of a pitcher's skill, salary, matchup and park factors is the game within the game in MLB DFS. This piece is your home for a breakdown of the top pitching options each and every day. Let's dig in.

Today's main slate starts at 6:40 p.m. EST.

Top of the Heap

Huascar Ynoa, Braves ($8,600)

We're at the back end of rotations, and that makes this a blah pitching slate. You're going to have to overlook some things no matter who you lock in on the bump. Between the lack of top-shelf studs and early-season pitch counts, there's not a lot of strikeout upside to be found.

Huascar Ynoa ($8,600) and Alex Wood ($9,200) stand out as the slate's two best options.

If he's on, Ynoa can give us the strikeouts we crave -- even in what is likely to be a shorter outing and despite a matchup with a Washington Nationals offense that holds a meager 20.0% strikeout rate versus right-handers since the start of 2021.

I'm really just betting on Ynoa's talent.

Across 91 innings last year, Ynoa racked up a 26.9% strikeout rate and 13.1% swinging-strike rate while posting a 6.7% walk rate. He also allowed just a 32.5% hard-hit rate and 31.8% fly-ball rate.

Ynoa saw a lot of the Nats last year, facing them three times. He fanned 16 over 17 innings against Washington while giving up just two earned runs. The Atlanta Braves are -162 moneyline favorites, the second-largest of the night.

Our projections have Ynoa and Wood -- more on the latter in a second -- as the top two arms, and I agree. I think you can make a solid case for either as the slate's premier pitcher, but I'm siding with Ynoa, who we project for 27.3 FanDuel points.

Alex Wood, Giants ($9,200)

If you want to rank Wood at the top of tonight's pitching options -- like our algorithm does -- you won't get much pushback from me. Wood is in a similar spot to Ynoa as he will do battle with the San Diego Padres, another low-strikeout team.

Wood is a quality pitcher whose leash shouldn't be super short, which makes him one of the best hurlers on this slate. Wood complied a 3.60 SIERA, 26.0% strikeout rate and 12.5% swinging-strike rate a year ago. He also did a swell job keeping the ball out of the air by allowing just a 26.7% fly-ball rate.

The issue with Wood is that this isn't a fun matchup. The Padres recorded the fifth-lowest strikeout rate in 2021 (21.6%), including a 21.4% mark against southpaws. But San Diego isn't quite as scary against lefties without Fernando Tatis Jr., and FanGraphs' rest-of-season projections have the Padres as a below-average offense overall. San Diego's 3.68 implied total is a number we can attack.

Another feather in Wood's cap tonight is that this game is in San Francisco, where the temperature is expected to be in the 40s.

Wood has the stuff to get a solid number of punchouts, and our projections have him generating a slate-leading 33.3 FanDuel points.

Low-Salary Option

Michael Lorenzen, Braves ($6,200)

I rarely use a low-salary pitcher, but if I'm going to do it, it'll be on this kind of slate -- one where I'm not forgoing multiple high-ceiling aces who will be popular plays.

While Michael Lorenzen is a wild card and this could go extremely poorly, I'm somewhat intrigued by his move to the rotation, and he's got a really dope matchup against the Miami Marlins.

FanGraphs projects Miami to have the fifth-worst offense, and they ended 2021 with the second-worst wOBA (.291) and the second-highest strikeout rate (26.2%). The Marlins are about as good as matchup gets, and Lorenzen can do some damage in this spot.

Lorenzen has mostly been a reliever in his career and is coming off an injury-plagued 2021, but he owns some solid numbers. In 146 innings since the start of 2019, the Los Angeles Angels' right-hander has pitched to a 4.24 SIERA with a 13.8% swinging-strike rate. He's also given up a mere 30.2% hard-hit rate in that span.

Lorenzen tossed 80 pitches in his last spring start, so the leash should be decently long. It also helps that it's a little colder than usual in Anaheim, with temperatures expected to be in the mid-60s.

Our model is a big fan of Lorenzen, ranking him as the slate's number-three arm and projecting him as the top point-per-dollar play by a mile. He and Nick Martinez ($5,700) are both viable dart throws who give you the salary to go nuts with your bats.

Quick Mound Visits:
Alek Manoah ($8,800): Could be a GPP dart throw against the high-strikeout Yankees, but we project him to throw only 4.4 innings.
Ranger Suarez ($9,600): Pitch count should be an issue after a late start to camp. Did have a 25.6% strikeout rate in 2021.
Nick Martinez ($5,700): Coming over from Japan. Reasons to be bullish on his season-long outlook. Tough matchup at San Fran.
Luis Patino ($6,800): Normally would be a guy to target at this salary but pitch count should be low. We project for only 3.4 innings.