FanDuel Pitching Primer: Tuesday 6/14/22

Sean Manaea's talent and matchup are worth a dart despite the hitter-friendly weather in Chicago. Who else should we consider on the bump?

In daily fantasy baseball, success starts with nailing the starting pitcher spot in your lineup.

When compared to hitters, pitching performance tends to be much more predictable and stable throughout the course of the season. You know what you're getting from a top-level ace when you roster him: probably a dominant effort with only one or two implosions per season. In contrast, even the game's best hitters have days at the plate where they go 0-for-4.

As a result, lineup construction should begin with the starting pitcher. Which pitchers should you consider on today's main slate?

High-Salary Play #1

Dylan Cease, Chicago White Sox

at Detroit Tigers
FanDuel Salary: $9,600

The top end of the pitching slate, in my humble opinion, is littered with absolute land mines. While Max Fried has been sensational, he faces a surging Washington Nationals that's been spicy at the plate. Gerrit Cole ($10,400) is normally an auto-start but against a lefty-heavy Tampa Bay Rays offense? No thanks. Same with Shane Bieber ($9,700) at Coors Field, and Logan Gilbert ($10,200) facing a surging Minnesota Twins team.

But one I'm not scared of in the least is right-hander Dylan Cease, who's been a bad man as of late. Cease is starting to push himself into that breakout ace mode, recording a 32.7% strikeout rate and 45.9% ground-ball rate this season. Hitters seem to really be having a hard time squaring him up (27.9% hard-hit rate), too.

We know the Detroit Tigers, Cease's opponent, stink at the plate; they rank as the third-worst in team wOBA and are a bottom feeder nearly everywhere.

With him projected for 34.4 FanDuel points at a slightly depressed price point, the Chicago ace is my pick to click.

High-Salary Play #2

Sean Manaea, SP, San Diego Padres

at Chicago Cubs
FanDuel Salary: $10,000

We highlighted warts on multiple high-priced options, but I'd be remiss if I didn't highlight one pricey arm that could be a very solid option, and that's Sean Manaea of the San Diego Padres.

First, the matchup which is tasty as hell -- the Chicago Cubs clock in as about as mediocre as an offensive attack that we could ask for. They rank 15th in team wOBA (.313), middle of the road in ISO (.150), and they strike out at a reasonable clip (22.9%).

And Manaea? Yeah, he's been a boss. In 69 innings pitched, he's recorded a 25.6% strikeout rate, an 8.7% walk rate, and a very robust 41.3% ground-ball rate. Hitters have logged only a 30.2% hard-hit rate, so it's clear they are having a hard time squaring him up.

We project Manaea for 33.3 FanDuel points -- just behind the aforementioned Cease -- making him a very solid investment plan.

Value Play

Jose Urquidy, Houston Astros

at Texas Rangers
FanDuel Salary: $7,200

If the pricey options are too rich for your blood, how about a side dish of Jose Urquidy to go along with your main course of some expensive hitters?

The value options on this slate are thin, but the Rangers are a dream matchup for a right-hander. They are a bottom-10 squad in wRC+ against righties (89), and they're a top-10 team in terms of strikeout rate (23.6%).

That bodes well for Urquidy. He's been a bit unlucky this year; his 5.04 ERA is higher than his skill-interactive ERA (4.40), and he's gotten a lower strikeout rate than you'd expect (17.0%) for someone with a double-digit swinging-strike rate (10.6%).

Perhaps regression finds the Astros' hurler in earnest this evening.

Matt Kupferle is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Matt Kupferle also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username MKupferle. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.