FanDuel Pitching Primer: Friday 6/3/22

Nathan Eovaldi has a tremendous matchup in baseball's friendliest park to pitchers. Which other options should you consider?

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

vs. Detroit Tigers
FanDuel Salary: $10,800

The New York Yankees are the biggest betting favorites on FanDuel's main slate. According to FanDuel Sportsbook, the Bronx Bombers are -360 favorites. Obviously, that's an excellent starting point for selecting a pitcher.

However, that's only a piece of the puzzle. Gerrit Cole has been outstanding lately, which is a much more important consideration. According to FanGraphs, in his previous seven starts spanning 46 and 1/3 innings, he's had a 2.33 ERA, 2.26 Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP), 2.42 Skill-Interactive ERA (SIERA), 0.95 WHIP, 4.3 percent walk rate, 32.6 percent strikeout rate, and 33.3 percent Called Strike Plus Whiff Rate (CSW).

In addition, the matchup is perfect. This year, the Detroit Tigers are tied for last in Weighted Runs Created Plus (75 wRC+) with an exploitable 24.2 percent strikeout rate versus righties. Considering all factors, Cole is the slam-dunk top pitcher tonight.

He's an excellent option in all game types.

Mid-Salaried GPP Play

Nathan Eovaldi, Boston Red Sox

at Oakland Athletics
FanDuel Salary: $8,800

Gamers looking to devote significant cap space to a high-salary stack or two in GPPs should consider spinning down to Nathan Eovaldi.

Unfortunately, Eovaldi has had one nightmare start that drags down his full-season stats. On May 17, the Houston Astros lit up Eovaldi for nine runs (six earned), including five homers in just 1 and 2/3 innings.

Thankfully, he's bounced back, and Eovaldi has been lights out in his other nine starts. In those turns, he's twirled a 2.91 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 4.1 percent walk rate, and 26.7 percent strikeout rate. Additionally, Eovaldi has had five quality starts in his last seven.

Like Cole, Eovaldi has favorable context on his side. The Oakland Athletics are tied for last in wRC+ (75) against right-handed pitchers. Finally, the Boston Red Sox are -162 favorites, and the game's total is a pitcher-friendly 7.5 runs.

Lower Mid-Salaried GPP Play

Yusei Kikuchi, Toronto Blue Jays

vs. Minnesota Twins
FanDuel Salary: $8,000

Thankfully, Eovaldi isn't the only GPP option with a modest salary. In fact, Yusei Kikuchi's salary is even lower. The fact he's a DFS consideration is a testament to his quick turnaround from a dreadful start.

In Kikuchi's first five starts lasting only 14 and 2/3 innings for the Toronto Blue Jays, he had an ugly 5.52 ERA with equally disgusting ERA estimators. Wisely, the veteran lefty went back to the drawing board, using his fastball and slider more often while throwing his cutter significantly less. As a result, in his most recent five starts totaling 26 and 2/3 innings, he's had a 2.36 ERA, 3.55 xFIP, 3.51 SIERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 28.7 percent strikeout rate.

Kikuchi is on a roll now. Moreover, the matchup isn't too shabby. Only three hitters on the Minnesota Twins' active roster have been above-average against lefties since 2019. Finally, while the game's over/under (9.5 runs) provides pause, the Blue Jays are commanding -220 favorites.

Kikuchi is a high-upside GPP pick who also creates valuable salary-cap space to devote to high-priced stacks and hitters in great matchups tonight. That makes him a great gamble.

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.