FanDuel Pitching Primer: Monday 5/2/22

Zac Gallen gets a delightful matchup versus the Marlins. Is he the top option on a slate full of quality pitching plays?

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.

Top of the Heap

Pablo Lopez, Marlins ($10,500)

This slate has just six games, and half of them have an over/under of only 6.5 runs. There is a whopping one offense with an implied total above 4.25 runs. As such, I think you can make a decent argument for several pitchers.

In my eyes, the top two are facing each other in Miami -- Lopez and Zac Gallen.

Lopez recorded a dazzling 3.67 SIERA across 2020 and 2021 (160 innings), and he's off to a blazing start this year, registering a 2.76 SIERA, 27.1% strikeout rate, 4.7% walk rate and 14.0% swinging-strike rate in a small sample of 23 1/3 innings. He's produced 46 and 58 FanDuel points in his last two appearances, and he's been up to 100 pitches in a start this year.

On top of all that, the matchup is a great one as the Arizona Diamondbacks are next to last in wOBA (.275) with the third-highest strikeout rate (25.2%). Arizona's 2.93 implied total is laughably low (and a slate-worst clip).

This is a smash spot for Lopez, and our model pegs him to score 33.2 FanDuel points, a slate-high mark. The salary is up there, but on a slate that is extremely blah for offense, prioritizing your pitcher slot is likely the way to go.

Zac Gallen, Diamondbacks ($9,100)

On the flip side of that game, Gallen is off to a stellar start, as well, sporting a 3.45 SIERA and 25.0% strikeout rate through his first 15 innings of the campaign. He's got a 26.4% strikeout rate and 3.98 SIERA since the start of 2021. He tossed 90 pitches in his last outing, so he should be full-go tonight.

A matchup with the Marlins is a great spot. Miami is tied with Arizona for the third-highest strikeout rate (25.2%) this year. Although they're a solid ninth in wOBA (.318), the Marlins' production probably won't last as FanGraphs' rest-of-season projections have Miami with the sixth-worst offense.

We project Gallen for 25.5 FanDuel points, which might be a touch low. I think he's nearly on par with Lopez, and while the salary discount isn't as meaningful on this slate due to the lack of good offensive spots, $1,400 is still $1,400.

Tournament Option

Chris Bassitt, Mets ($10,000)

In a difficult matchup and listed at a salary that isn't that far from Lopez's, Bassitt might not be all that popular today, but he's been excellent with the New York Mets

Through his first 24 innings, Bassitt has upped his game to a new level after last year's breakout. He owns a 3.07 SIERA, 28.0% strikeout rate and 12.0% swinging-strike rate. All of those clips would be career-best numbers, and this comes a year after he set career-bests across the board in 2021. Yes, it's a small sample, but he might have found another new gear.

A date with the Atlanta Braves isn't all that fun, and Bassitt has feasted on some poor offenses this season. But as long as he isn't expected to be chalk -- which I don't think he will be -- he's a fun tourney play who has tossed at least 93 pitches in all four starts this year.

Our algorithm has Bassitt scoring 31.1 FanDuel points, the second-most on the slate.

Low-Salary Option

Drew Rasmussen, Rays ($8,200)

Rasmussen and Chris Paddack are quality value plays in appealing matchups, but I side with Rasmussen as I think he's got more upside.

He's been excellent this year, holding a 3.22 SIERA, 24.3% strikeout rate and 14.6% swinging-strike rate in 14 2/3 innings. Dude looks legit.

The lone negative is that he hasn't tossed more than 84 pitches in any of his four appearances. He'll need to be super efficient to get the quality-start bonus, but he did just that last time out, torching the Seattle Mariners for 55 FanDuel points.

Seattle was a great matchup, and the Oakland Athletics fit that mold, too. The Athletics' 26.1% strikeout rate is the highest in the bigs, and their .279 wOBA is the fifth-lowest. Oakland has been handed a measly 2.96 implied total, the second-lowest of the night.

Quick Mound Visits:
Max Fried ($9,600): GPP viable for sure. Usually a better real-life hurler than a DFS one due to meh strikeout numbers. Has a tough matchup with the Mets, but his 55-point showing versus the Dodgers shows he's capable of big games against top foes.
Chris Paddack ($7,800): Matchup against Baltimore is a good one, but Camden Yards -- even this new-look version -- might not mesh well with Paddack's career mark of 1.45 jacks per nine.
Jordan Montgomery ($7,500): Talented and can hit as a value play, but he'll need to be locked in against a Blue Jays lineup with several potent right-handers.