FanDuel Pitching Primer: Friday 5/13/22

A pair of aces headline tonight's picks with Clayton Kershaw leading the way. Who else should you roster?

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.

High-Salaried Cash Game Pick

Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

vs. Philadelphia Phillies
FanDuel Salary: $10,200

Editor's note: Since publication, Kershaw has been placed on the IL, and Walker Buehler is starting in his place.

According to FanDuel Sportsbook, the Los Angeles Dodgers are tied for the biggest betting favorite honors of the night (-230). So, that's an excellent foundation for selecting Clayton Kershaw in cash games.

However, gamers shouldn't sell Kershaw's excellence in 2022 short, either. According to FanGraphs, the 34-year-old lefty has had a 1.80 ERA, 2.34 Expected ERA (xERA), 0.73 WHIP, 29.4% strikeout rate, and 29.4% Called Strike Plus Whiff Rate (CSW).

Additionally, Kershaw has been a model of consistency. He has pitched at least five innings in all five of his starts in 2022, allowing one run or less in four, and striking out seven or more in three.

Add everything up, and Kershaw has the ideal blend of floor and ceiling that plays perfectly in cash games.

High-Salaried GPP Pick

Kevin Gausman, Toronto Blue Jays

at Tampa Bay Rays
FanDuel Salary: $9.800

Kevin Gausman has dispelled any misplaced concerns he'd struggle to maintain his success with a new club. Instead, he's pitched better than ever for the Toronto Blue Jays.

By modern standards, he's been a workhorse, pitching six or more innings in four straight and five or more innings in all six starts. Gausman hasn't merely piled up innings, either. He's dominated. Gausman has had a 2.13 ERA, 2.12 Skill-Interactive ERA (SIERA), 1.00 WHIP, 0.7% walk rate, 31.3% strikeout rate, and 33.3% CSW in his half-dozen starts.

Gausman's elite bat-missing ability and a matchup with the Tampa Bay Rays award him a higher strikeout ceiling than Kershaw. The Rays have struck out in 25.8% of their plate appearances against righties this year. As a result, Gausman is the top GPP hurler on Friday's main slate.

Mid-Salaried GPP Pick

Framber Valdez, Houston Astros

at Washington Nationals
FanDuel Salary: $8,300

Framber Valdez doesn't compare favorably to Kershaw and Gausman in the strikeout department. Nevertheless, his 18.8% strikeout rate in 2022 isn't horrible -- albeit it's markedly below average. In addition, his high ground-ball rate (72.0%) is optimal for avoiding damaging contact.

The 28-year-old lefty, like Gausman, has been a workhorse. He has had a quality start in his previous three turns and four of six starts. The matchup is right for him to make it a fourth straight quality start.

The Washington Nationals are 25th in Weighted Runs Created Plus (84 wRC+) against southpaws this year. Valdez is also a good bet for a win; the Houston Astros -158 favorites. Thus, Valdez is a great target in GPPs for hitter-heavy lineup builds.

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.