FanDuel Pitching Primer: Wednesday 5/18/22

Gerrit Cole is the top pitcher on a slate with many aces. Who else should you look to roster when building lineups?

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 Play

Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees

at Baltimore Orioles
FanDuel Salary: $10,600

Gerrit Cole started the year slowly for the New York Yankees. Fortunately, he's turned it around. According to FanGraphs, in his most recent four starts, he's had a 1.42 ERA, 1.98 Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP), 0.99 WHIP, a 33.3% strikeout rate, and 33.5% called strike plus whiff rate (CSW). Moreover, all four starts were quality starts.

There's no reason to think the Baltimore Orioles can cool his heater. First, the Orioles are 16th in Weighted Runs Created Plus (98 wRC+) this year. Second, the hitters on Baltimore's active roster have mostly been mediocre or worse against righties since 2019.

Finally, Cole should enjoy ample run support from his offense. So, FanDuel Sportsbook lists the Yankees as -260 favorites. Thus, Cole has a great chance at twirling a quality start and earning a win.

High-Salaried GPP Pivot

Lucas Giolito, Chicago White Sox

at Kansas City Royals
FanDuel Salary: $10,300

Lucas Giolito should be on a significantly lower percentage of rosters than Cole, making him an outstanding pivot in GPPs. The righty has pitched well this year. Sadly, he's had only two quality starts in five turns. However, Giolito has also struck out six or more hitters in four starts.

In all, he's had a sterling 2.70 ERA, 2.59 Skill-Interactive ERA (SIERA), 1.13 WHIP, 35.2% strikeout rate, and 35.0% CSW. Perhaps some folks will worry about this being GIolito's first start since landing on the COVID IL, but thankfully, he's said he's feeling 100%.

Therefore, Giolito should pick up where he left off in a fabulous matchup. This season, the Kansas City Royals are 28th in wRC+ (80) against righties. In addition, their active roster has only three hitters who've been above average against righties since 2019 in terms of wRC+.

Finally, the betting info supports using Giolito. The Chicago White Sox are -164 favorites, and the game's total is only 7.5 runs.

Upper Mid-Tier Salaried GPP Pivot

Zack Wheeler, Philadelphia Phillies

vs. San Diego Padres
FanDuel Salary: $9,500

Tonight's medium-sized slate is stuffed with aces. As a result, the pickings are slim for a value option. Still, Zack Wheeler offers you substantial cap relief from Cole or Giolito. Nevertheless, he also has a ceiling that rivals Cole's and Giolito's, too.

Wheeler was building up his arm strength and rounding into form through his first three starts this year. Thus, his full-season totals have been mediocre. He's cruising now.

He's had two quality starts in his last three turns, striking out precisely seven hitters in each game. In that stretch, Wheeler has had a 1.42 ERA, 3.06 xFIP, 3.13 SIERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 29.2% strikeout rate.

Tonight, Wheeler has a favorable matchup against the San Diego Padres. They're 20th in wRC+ (93) against righties. Additionally, only four of their hitters have been above average against righties since last year.

Lastly, Wheeler and the Philadelphia Phillies are -154 favorites, and the game's total is a pitcher-friendly 7.5 runs. So, Wheeler can score in the same vicinity as Cole, Giolito, and the other top-shelf pitchers tonight while opening up valuable cap space for star hitters and top-notch stacks.

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.