FanDuel Pitching Primer: Friday 6/24/22

Aaron Nola is a high-upside hurler many should flock towards tonight. Which lower-salaried pitchers are also appealing in tournaments?

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

Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies

at San Diego Padres
FanDuel Salary: $10,300

No matter the span you choose to look at for Aaron Nola this year, he's been dominant. The veteran righty has been dialed in lately, but his full-season marks are sparkling, too.

According to FanGraphs, in 14 starts spanning 89 and 2/3 innings, he's had a 3.11 ERA, 2.72 Expected ERA (xERA), 2.89 xFIP, 2.79 SIERA, 0.87 WHIP, and 28.7 percent strikeout rate. But, remarkably, he's spun an even more impressive 1.93 ERA in his last five starts. Moreover, the ace for the Philadelphia Phillies has twirled a quality start in eight of his last 11 turns.

The San Diego Padres are hovering around average against right-handed pitchers this year. Thus, they're not an offense to avoid with a stud like Nola. Finally, the Phillies are -130 favorites, and the game's total is just 7.0 runs, per FanDuel Sportsbook. So, Nola is the top pitcher across all game types tonight.

Mid-Salaried GPP Play

Merrill Kelly, Arizona Diamondbacks

vs. Detroit Tigers
FanDuel Salary: $8,900

Merrill Kelly is pitching well this year. He's had a 3.46 ERA, supported mainly by his 3.58 xERA. Those marks won't generate excitement, but they're rock steady. Additionally, Kelly's 20.3 percent strikeout rate has been acceptable if underwhelming.

However, he's had a recent development that could point to untapped potential. Kelly has tapped into previously unseen velocity lately. According to FanGraphs, in his first nine starts, he had an average fastball velocity of 92.5 mph and an average cutter velocity of 90.9 mph. Yet, in his previous five starts, he's kicked those averages up to 93.2 mph and 92.0 mph, respectively.

Kelly has also thrown his curve more recently. As a result, his swinging-strike rate has ballooned from 8.4 percent to 10.9 percent. The righty's improved bat-missing ability should come in handy in a desirable matchup with the Detroit Tigers tonight. Beyond ranking last in wRC+ (68) versus righties this year, the Tigers have struck out at the sixth-highest rate (24.1 percent) against them.

So, there's an appeal to pivoting from Nola to the Diamondbacks' ace in GPPs.

Low-Salaried GPP Play

Jeffrey Springs, Tampa Bay Rays

vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
FanDuel Salary: $8,300

Jeffrey Springs is less likely to fly under the radar than Kelly, but he's still an excellent GPP pick. After opening the year in the bullpen for Tampa Bay, he's converted to a stellar starter. Specifically, in his last six starts, he's struck out at least five batters six times, pitched at least five innings five times, and allowed two runs or fewer five times.

In addition, two of his last five turns have been quality starts. Obviously, it would have been nice if he produced quality starts at a higher rate. Nonetheless, Springs' salary and strikeout rate make uncertainty about spinning a quality start easier to accept.

Further, facing the Pittsburgh Pirates is ideal for his outlook.

The Buccos are 29th in wRC+ (83) against lefties this year, and their 24.1 percent strikeout rate against them is tied for the fourth-highest mark. Rounding out Springs' desirable layout is sweet betting info. The Tampa Bay Rays are -215, and the game's total is only 7.5 runs.

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.