FanDuel Pitching Primer: Friday 5/27/22

Justin Verlander is rolling and has a matchup against Seattle, a team he's dominated this year. Is there any reason to look elsewhere on Friday's slate?

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

Justin Verlander, Houston Astros

At Seattle Mariners
FanDuel Salary: $10,800

Justin Verlander hasn't skipped a beat in his return from Tommy John surgery. The 39-year-old righty has had a remarkable 1.22 ERA in 51 and 2/3 innings pitched across eight starts. In addition, he's had a quality start in six of those eight turns.

Verlander has done a rock-solid job punching out hitters, striking out five or more in seven starts and fanning seven or more in half of his starts. A matchup against the Seattle Mariners isn't especially good. However, they haven't provided Verlander any resistance in two starts already this season. He's had a quality start and earned a win in both, holding them to just two runs across 14 and 2/3 innings.

Tonight, Verlander and the Houston Astros are -196 favorites, and the game's total is a pitcher-friendly 7.0 runs, per FanDuel Sportsbook. So, the betting info supports starting a cash-game roster with Verlander.

Mid-Salaried Play

Shane Bieber, Cleveland Guardians

At Detroit Tigers
FanDuel Salary: $8,600

Shane Bieber is an excellent alternative to Verlander in all game types. The 26-year-old righty is also staked to ideal betting data. The Cleveland Guardians are -174 favorites, and the game's total is precisely the same as Verlander's (7.0).

Unfortunately, no, Bieber hasn't matched Verlander's excellence. Still, his 3.55 ERA is rock-solid. Additionally, if you remove a seven-run dud on May 7 from Bieber's game log, he's had a 2.34 ERA in his other seven starts. He's also struck out 27.1 percent of the batters he faced in those seven outings. Bieber is responsible for five quality starts in his last six turns.

His previous start was a gem against tonight's opponent, the Detroit Tigers. Bieber held the Tigers to three runs (two earned) on six hits, two walks, and 10 strikeouts across seven frames. As a result, Bieber has demonstrated his high ceiling for tonight's matchup in his last start against his American League Central rival.

Bieber's ceiling makes him a top-shelf GPP pick. However, the salary-cap space he provides relative to Verlander makes him a defensible cash-game selection, too.

GPP Dart Throw

Jon Gray, Texas Rangers

At Oakland Athletics
FanDuel Salary: $7,100

Jon Gray's first season with the Texas Rangers hasn't gone according to plan. He was on the IL briefly with a blister, and he exited a start early with a knee issue. Still, he's flashed promise in his four starts since returning from the IL, especially in two of his last three times on the bump.

He spun his first quality start of the year in his most recent appearance, holding the loaded Houston Astros to two runs on six hits, two walks, and four strikeouts in six innings. Gray will look to build on that start in a Charmin-soft matchup.

According to FanGraphs, the Oakland Athletics have had the second-lowest Weighted Runs Created Plus (75 wRC+) against righties while striking out at an exploitable 24.5 percent rate. Oakland's ineptitude helps explain Gray's favorable betting info. The Rangers are -142 favorites, and the game's total is only 7.0 runs.

Gamers building hitter-heavy lineups should consider using Gray as their pitcher.

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.