FanDuel Pitching Primer: Monday 6/6/22

Blake Snell projects well in a matchup with the Mets and comes at a low salary. Should you take a shot on him or look elsewhere on what is a blah pitching slate?

Nailing the pitcher slot is the first step to having success in MLB DFS on FanDuel.

While it's possible to cash if you get a bad outing from a starter, it's markedly easier to do so when you get a good or excellent showing from your pitcher.

Weighing the importance of a pitcher's skill, salary, matchup and park factors is the game within the game in MLB DFS. This piece is your home for a breakdown of the top pitching options each and every day. Let's dig in.

Top of the Heap

Cristian Javier, Astros ($9,000)

Robbie Ray is the highest-salaried pitcher on this slate, which tells you what kind of pitching slate this is. It's hard to feel all that great about any of the starters on Monday, but the pitcher I'm most into is Javier, the guy going against Ray.

Javier brings a 3.18 SIERA, 31.5% strikeout rate and 12.9% swinging-strike rate into a matchup with the Seattle Mariners. Those are really nice numbers. He also punched out nine guys in each of his last two home starts.

The issues with Javier are a 55.4% fly-ball rate and 9.1% walk rate, and he's usually kept on a short leash, although he's tossed at least 91 pitches in two of his past three starts.

While Seattle is mostly a neutral matchup, they do have the 10th-highest strikeout rate over the last 30 days (23.0%). Seattle's 3.61 implied total is a slate-low clip.

I don't have much conviction with anyone on this slate -- which makes it a fun slate (or a miserable slate, I'm not sure) -- but of the options available to us, Javier is the guy who is the easiest for me to get behind. With that said, I will be more hesitant about loading up on Javier if it looks like he'll be chalk.

Jon Gray, Rangers ($8,100)

Gray is another guy who I like but don't love.

This feels point-chasey after Gray went off for 58 FanDuel points in his last turn, striking out 12 in a dominant showing against the Tampa Bay Rays. It was just the second time in 2022 that Gray went for more than 28 FanDuel points, so maybe I am point chasing.

But Gray's overall numbers are pretty dope, as he's pitched to a 3.63 SIERA and 26.0% strikeout rate in his first season out of Coors. He also has a good workload with 90-plus pitches in three straight outings.

He can have some success in a date with the Cleveland Guardians. However, there are positives and negatives to this matchup. Cleveland's offense was red-hot to start the year, but they've predictably cooled, checking in just 25th in wOBA (.299) over the past 30 days. But the Guardians have the lowest strikeout rate (16.1%) in that time.

Admittedly, I wouldn't be on Gray in this spot if this was a normal pitching slate. But given what kind of pitching slate it is, Gray is someone worth considering.

Tournament Option

Robbie Ray, Mariners ($9,500)

Ray has a tough matchup with the Houston Astros. Not only does Houston have the fourth-lowest strikeout rate (18.3%) against lefties, but they have the fifth-highest walk rate (10.5%), as well.

But Houston isn't packing as much of a punch in the split as they usually do, ranking just 20th in wOBA (.297), and Ray has the swing-and-miss stuff to produce a spike outing in any matchup.

For the season, Ray has generated a 27.1% strikeout rate and 16.2% swinging-strike rate. The swinging-strike rate is actually a career-best mark despite the strikeout rate tying for his worst clip since 2015. In short, Ray still has gobs of upside even if this year isn't going quite as well as 2021 did.

Earlier this year, Ray struck out eight in 6 innings versus the Boston Red Sox and fanned 10 in 5 2/3 innings versus the Philadelphia Phillies, so he can deliver against good offenses.

Likely to go overlooked due to the combination of a slate-high salary and bad matchup, Ray profiles as a fun tourney play.

Low-Salary Options

Blake Snell, Padres ($7,500)

Snell has been very Snell-ish since coming back, and his matchup with the high-octane New York Mets could go super poorly.

He also might be the best play of the day.

Snell has registered 17, 28 and 34 FanDuel points in his three starts since coming off the shelf. Encouragingly, he's gone 104 and 98 pitches in his last two starts. Because he's Snell, he went just 5 1/3 and 6 innings in those two outings.

In his small sample this campaign, he's got a 30.0% strikeout rate, 14.0% swinging-strike rate and 13.3% walk rate. He's wasted no time finding his usual form.

For all their prowess, the Mets boast a 3.66 implied total, the second-lowest. New York has just a .310 wOBA against lefties, compared to a .335 wOBA versus right-handers. While this is undoubtedly a difficult matchup, the Mets are only 16th in walk rate (8.3%), and that's a big deal for Snell, who can be extremely inefficient.

With a lowly salary, a big name and projection systems across the industry loving him -- including ours, which has him as the number-one guy tonight -- Snell might wind up as the most popular pitcher. I don't love the idea of eating chalk with someone as inconsistent as Snell, so if it's looking like he'll be the most popular arm, I'll find the salary for Javier or pivot to this next guy.

Hunter Greene, Reds ($7,300)

This game might get washed out, but if the rain holds, Greene is an enticing value arm who has as much upside as anyone on the slate.

Greene can miss bats. He's recorded a 29.1% strikeout rate and 13.4% swinging-strike rate this season. He's flashed a solid ceiling in DFS with single-game outputs of 50 and 37 FanDuel points over his past four appearances.

The matchup is there, too, as the Arizona Diamondbacks have the second-highest strikeout rate over the last 30 days (24.7%), so Greene should be able to rack up strikeouts tonight.

The big issue with Greene is that he gets tattooed when hitters make contact. He's permitted a 51.5% fly-ball rate and 2.81 jacks per nine. His past two starts encapsulate the Greene Experience, as he fanned 14 over 8 2/3 innings but gave up 9 earned runs and 3 dingers.

Heck, you can make a legit case for stacking Arizona today. But if Greene can keep the ball in the yard -- a big if -- he could post a slate-high score. On a pitching slate this meh, I'm willing to roll the dice on him. Just make sure to check the weather for this game.

Quick Mound Visits:
Carlos Carrasco ($8,500): At pitcher-friendly Petco and owns a 3.65 SIERA and 12.8% swinging-strike rate this year. Went 95 pitches last outing. Needs to be on our radar.
Cal Quantrill ($7,700): Normally wouldn't touch a dude with a 15.1% strikeout rate. This isn't a normal slate. Quantrill has been reliable, going at least six innings in seven straight starts. Matchup with Texas is nothing to shy away from.