FanDuel Pitching Primer: Friday 4/22/22
Pitchers lay the foundation for daily fantasy baseball teams. So it's not coincidental they have the highest salaries in FanDuel contests. Of course, it's possible to overcome a bad outing from a starter, but it's markedly easier to cash in contests with a good or excellent start.
Simply nailing your pitcher can cover up for a miss or two among your hitter selections. Thankfully, pitchers are less volatile to project than their hitting counterparts. First, pitcher skills such as walk rate and strikeout rate help separate the genuinely talented pitchers from their lesser peers. In addition, park factors and the offensive strength of the opponent are integral considerations for picking your FanDuel pitchers.
Weighing the importance of a pitcher's skill, park factors, opponent, and accounting for their salary is the game within the game on FanDuel. This piece is your home for my favorite pitcher picks for FanDuel's main slate every day. So, let's get to today's top hurlers.
Kyle Wright, Atlanta Braves
Vs. Miami Marlins
FanDuel Salary: $9,000
I admit I didn't see the Kyle Wright breakout coming. However, it's been a joy to watch through two starts.
The fifth pick in the 2017 MLB draft has dazzled, holding the Cincinnati Reds scoreless through six innings and allowing just two runs to the San Diego Padres in five frames. Along the way, he's piled up 15 strikeouts versus only 7 hits and 1 walk.
Wright's elite 1.64 ERA has been validated by his 1.38 Expected ERA (xERA), 2.09 Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP), and 1.76 Skill-Interactive ERA (SIERA), per FanGraphs.
Moreover, the strikeouts he has been piling up also look valid. Wright has had a 33.9 Called Strike Plus Whiff Rate (CSW), and his strikeouts and outstanding CSW coincide with Wright using his electrifying curve more often. Wright has had a staggering 25.0 percent swinging-strike rate on his curve, and he's thrown the breaker at a 33.3 percent clip.
FanDuel Sportsbook lists the Atlanta Braves as -154 favorites. Further, the game's over/under isn't scary at 8.5 runs.
As a result, I'll gladly ride Wright's heater tonight at a salary that awards ample space to stack some of my favorite offenses on the slate, such as the Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Seattle Mariners.
High-Salaried GPP Play
Freddy Peralta, Milwaukee Brewers
At Philadelphia Phillies
FanDuel Salary: $9,900
It hasn't been pretty through two starts for Freddy Peralta. And guys like Bryce Harper, Nick Castellanos, and Kyle Schwarber will provide Peralta challenges from the Philadelphia Phillies tonight. However, the two checkmarks against Peralta are part of the appeal for using him in GPPs because he should be contrarian and avoided by risk-averse gamers.
Peralta's control has been his most significant issue in the early going, walking six hitters and hitting a batter through seven innings. However, he's also struck out 10 hitters, and his plate discipline rates, save for his poor percentage of pitches thrown in the strike zone, have been approximately in line with last year's marks.
Peralta hasn't suffered a considerable velocity loss on his heater, either. Thus, I'm inclined to give him a pass for his messy start with expectations of a turnaround in the offing.
Additionally, as scary as Philadelphia's lineup is on paper, they have been tied for 14th in Weighted Runs Created Plus (99 wRC+) against righties in 2022. Finally, the Milwaukee Brewers are slight underdogs (+108), and the game's over/under is pitcher-friendly at eight runs.
I don't suggest going overboard on using Peralta, but he's worth firing a few bullets on in GPPs.
Low-Salaried GPP Dart
Ranger Suarez, Philadelphia Phillies
Vs. Milwaukee Brewers
FanDuel Salary: $7,300
Ranger Suarez squares off with Peralta, and he's the bigger beneficiary of the game's pitcher-friendly over/under of eight runs with the Phillies -126 favorites.
Suarez has been shaky through two starts, but he did a masterful job working around traffic in his most recent turn.
The lefty wasn't fully stretched out entering the regular season. However, according to ESPN, he's climbed from 63 pitches in his first start to 78 pitches in his second. As a result, Suarez shouldn't face a significant pitch restriction this time out.
I'm primarily suggesting Suarez because his total body of work since transitioning from a reliever to a starter during the summer of 2021 has been excellent.
According to FanGraphs, in 14 starts spanning 73 1/3 innings, Suarez has had a 1.96 ERA, 3.52 xFIP, 3.78 SIERA, 1.17 WHIP, 23.5 percent strikeout rate, and 57.8 percent ground-ball rate. Obviously, Suarez has been lucky, as his ERA estimators indicate.
Still, he's been good, and his salary is so low you can jam a ton of elite hitters into your lineup around him.
Suarez has a low bar to clear to provide value at his modest salary. But, if he goes a step further and the top-flight hitters you use with him deliver the goods, that's a recipe for climbing to the top of a GPP.
Joshua Shepardson is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Joshua Shepardson also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username bchad50. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.