FanDuel Pitching Primer: Wednesday 6/1/22

Robbie Ray has a friendly matchup with Baltimore. Is he someone you should prioritize on this 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

Nestor Cortes, New York Yankees

Vs. Los Angeles Angels
FanDuel Salary: $10,800

Nestor Cortes showed his ability last year when the New York Yankees moved him from the bullpen to the rotation. According to FanGraphs, in 14 starts across 73 and 1/3 innings, he had a rock-solid 3.07 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 5.8 percent walk rate, and 25.4 percent strikeout rate. However, the lefty had a 4.13 Skill-Interactive ERA (SIERA) and 4.50 Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP). Yet, Cortes hasn't regressed this season.

Instead, he's kicked it up a notch. Among qualified pitchers, Cortes has had the second-lowest ERA (1.70). New York's burgeoning stud has also had a sterling 0.85 WHIP, 5.9 percent walk rate, and 30.2 percent strikeout rate. Simply, Cortes has dominated.

Yes, he has a potentially challenging matchup tonight. The Los Angeles Angels' active roster is top-heavy with lefty-killers. Nonetheless, there are many soft spots in the lineup Cortes should work through easily. Thus, he's the top pitcher in all game types tonight. And, of course, it's great the Bronx Bombers are -172 favorites, per FanDuel Sportsbook.

High-Salaried GPP Play

Robbie Ray, Seattle Mariners

At Baltimore Orioles
FanDuel Salary: $9,700

Unfortunately, Robbie Ray hasn't resembled the 2021 pitcher who captured the American League Cy Young Award. However, there have been signs of life lately. No, his 5.32 ERA in his last four starts hasn't wowed anyone. Yet, his 2.53 xFIP, 2.41 SIERA, 37.8 percent strikeout rate, and 32.1 Called Strike Plus Whiff rate (CSW) have been excellent.

Ray's elite strikeout ability boosts his scoring upside, making him an intriguing GPP pick. Moreover, the Baltimore Orioles aren't a threatening opponent. According to FanGraphs, they are tied for 24th in Weighted Runs Created Plus (84 wRC+) with a jaw-dropping 26.2 percent strikeout rate versus southpaws this year.

As a result, Ray's ceiling is through the roof tonight. It's a wise move to take some shots on him in GPPs tonight.

Low-Salaried GPP Dart

Jeffrey Springs, Tampa Bay Rays

At Texas Rangers
FanDuel Salary: $8,000

Jeffrey Springs has been a pleasant surprise for the Tampa Bay Rays this year. The lefty began the year in the bullpen before successfully transitioning to starting.

Springs has made five starts (23 and 2/3 innings), holding opponents to a 2.35 ERA, 3.41 xFIP, 3.29 SIERA, and 0.87 WHIP. The lefty has also struck out a rock-solid 25.3 percent of hitters. It took him time to stretch out fully, but he's reached that point.

On May 21, he held the Orioles scoreless in 5 and 2/3 innings. Then, on May 27, he allowed only two runs to the Yankees in six innings. Further, Springs threw exactly 80 pitches in each turn. Springs has struck out 13 batters in his last 11 and 2/3 frames, providing the strikeout ability that plays perfectly in GPPs. He's an excellent dart at his modest salary.

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.