FanDuel Pitching Primer: Monday 6/27/22

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

George Kirby, Mariners ($9,000)

Kirby is probably the "safest" option on the board due to his ability and a dope matchup with the Baltimore Orioles. I worry about the strikeout upside, but with that said, I think you can poke holes in all of tonight's pitching options -- either due to matchup or recent performance.

In his initial 49 MLB innings, Kirby has pitched to a 3.35 SIERA and is walking only 3.0% of hitters. Yes, please. Although Kirby's strikeout rate is just 23.3% -- good, not great -- he's been great at everything else.

The O's are 24th in wOBA (.294) with the 4th-highest strikeout rate (24.2%). They hold a measly 3.41 implied total, the second-lowest.

Kirby profiles as the top cash-game option, and he might just be the top arm overall.

Lucas Giolito, White Sox ($8,000)

Giolito is super enticing on this slate.

Yes, he's been awful of late. But his $8,000 salary goes a long way on a Coors slate, and he has a nice matchup tonight with the Los Angeles Angels.

Despite a fearsome foursome of Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Taylor Ward and Jared Walsh, the Angels rank just 17th in wOBA (.310) with the highest strikeout rate (25.5%). It's a sweet bounce-back spot for Giolito, who hasn't been as bad lately as his results suggest, although he hasn't been good, either.

Over his last five outings (25 2/3 frames), Giolito has a comically bad 9.47 ERA. Big yikes. He's been especially brutal over the last two games, permitting 17 earned runs over 10 innings. It's not easy to dress up those numbers, and a drop in velocity last game -- down to an average fastball velocity of 92.4 MPH -- is concerning.

Giolito does, however, have a 4.87 xFIP over that five-game nightmare run, which isn't good but isn't 9.00-ERA bad. He's also faced the Toronto Blue Jays (twice) and Houston Astros in three of the five games in that span.

For the year, Giolito carries a 3.69 SIERA, 27.2% strikeout rate and 13.2% swinging-strike rate. We know he's a quality pitcher, and his awful recent run has dropped his salary to a great spot -- just in time for a Coors slate.

We project him for 29.4 FanDuel points and rank him as the number-two point-per-dollar hurler. As of early Monday, he's my top choice for GPPs, but if it looks like he's be real popular, he becomes a lot less appealing in my eyes.

Kevin Gausman, Blue Jays ($9,500)

Gausman is our model's number-one guy -- by a lot. Our algorithm has Gausman scoring 28.1 FanDuel points, 7.4 more than anyone else.

I like Gausman and certainly think he's capable of leading the slate in scoring; I don't think he's that far clear of the field, though.

A matchup with the Boston Red Sox is a really tough spot. Boston's offense has rebounded from a sluggish start to rank fifth in wOBA (.324) for the campaign. They own a .337 wOBA over the last 30 days and are striking out just 19.5% of the time in that stretch.

Gausman has had Boston's number, though. In two outings against the Red Sox, he has permitted one total earned run while fanning 17 across 14 innings. He's dominated this lineup, and our projections have him doing it again.

If you want to rank Gausman above Kirby and Giolito, you won't get much pushback from me. I don't think there is much separating several of the pitchers on this slate.

Tournament Options

Pablo Lopez, Marlins ($10,000)

With the night's top salary, Lopez might go totally overlooked, and he can be a fantastic pivot off Giolito, Gausman and Kirby -- a trio that might wind up accounting for a huge chunk of the draft percentage at pitcher.

In 82 2/3 innings this year, Lopez has been excellent, spinning a 3.51 SIERA, 25.1% strikeout rate, 13.8% swinging-strike rate and 6.9% walk rate. It's hard to find anything to dislike in his statistical profile.

Like Gausman, Lopez's bugaboo tonight is a difficult matchup as he'll meet up with the St. Louis Cardinals. The Red Birds are a solid 11th in wOBA (.319) with the 5th-lowest strikeout rate (20.1%). But the Cards are showing an attackable 3.91 implied total.

We have Lopez projected for 30.7 FanDuel points, the second-most of the night, and draft-percentage projections around the industry have him completely slipping through the cracks (as of early Monday afternoon).

Jordan Montgomery, Yankees ($9,200)

Montgomery gets a big lift tonight from a dreamy matchup with the Oakland Athletics.

Oakland is last in wOBA (.268) this season and strikes out at the ninth-highest clip (23.4%). They have a hard-to-believe .250 wOBA over the past 14 days. They're awful, and their 3.24 implied total is the slate's worst.

Montgomery is coming off his worst effort of the season as he gave up four earned runs to the Tampa Bay Rays last week. That was the first time all year he had allowed more than three earned runs in a start. Prior to that outing, Montgomery had been dealing, recording a 3.33 xFIP over his last five starts and conceding just seven earned runs in that time. He had tossed at least 90 pitches in three straight starts before the dud against the Rays.

With a salary that is $200 more than Kirby's, Montgomery isn't going to be popular, and he can get the job done in this soft matchup. Our algorithm projects him for 30.2 FanDuel points, the third-most.

Quick Mound Visits:
Adam Wainwright ($8,500): Best of the rest. Matchup with Miami puts him on the radar. His 6.2% swinging-strike rate is terrifying, though.
Martin Perez ($9,700): Not willing to spend a premium to roster Perez despite a welcoming matchup with Kansas City. Swinging-strike rate is 7.7% across his last six starts.
Sonny Gray ($8,300): If Giolito looks like he'll be chalk, Gray is a fun pivot in a decent spot against the Guardians.