FanDuel Pitching Primer: Tuesday 6/28/22

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

Carlos Rodon, Giants ($10,600)

Rodon is at home against the Detroit Tigers, and this is about as can't miss as a can't-miss spot can be.

The owner of a 3.15 SIERA and 31.3% strikeout rate, Rodon has the ability to go nuclear on the Tigers, a team that is next to last in wOBA (.272) with the sixth-highest strikeout rate (23.7%).

Over his last five starts, Rodon has been red-hot, posting a 2.78 xFIP and allowing just four earned runs over 30 innings while striking out 37.

We have an elite pitcher against one of the game's worst offenses. Like I said at the jump, this is about as good as it gets. We just need to avoid something random and something #baseball happening, but all signs point to Rodon being the night's top option.

Detroit has a slate-low 2.98 implied total, and we project Rodon for 37.5 FanDuel points. While his high salary makes stacking the Los Angeles Dodgers (6.27 implied total) tricky and he'll surely be chalk, Rodon should be worth it.

Tournament Options

Zack Wheeler, Phillies ($10,400)

On a 14-game slate, we have several other options, which makes pivoting off Rodon enticing -- even if I really like Rodon tonight.

Wheeler is one of the other top pitchers on the slate, and a tough matchup with the Atlanta Braves could keep the masses away. He can deliver, though, and if he has a big night, it'll likely come at a lower draft percentage -- maybe by a lot -- than what Rodon sees.

Although the Braves have some high-upside sticks, they also bring plenty of swing and miss to the table, boasting the third-highest strikeout rate (25.1%). That gives Wheeler a boost, and with a 3.03 SIERA and 28.3% strikeout rate, he can take advantage.

Wheeler projects for a slate-best 37.7 FanDuel points, according to our algorithm. Personally, I don't have him over Rodon, but if it looks like Rodon will be super popular, Wheeler profiles as a sweet pivot.

Robbie Ray, Mariners ($10,200)

Ray is another high-salary pivot option, and early draft percentage projections around the industry have him slipping through the cracks. If things still project that way closer to lock, I'll be overweight on Ray.

The Seattle Mariners' southpaw is up against the Baltimore Orioles, an offense that wrecked last night for a lot of people when they roughed up George Kirby, Monday's chalk hurler. The O's have some quality right-handed hitters, but Ray can light up any offense when he's clicking. And the Orioles' 24.1% strikeout rate is the fourth-highest, so there's a lofty ceiling here for Ray.

For the year, Ray has pitched to a 3.67 SIERA and 26.0% strikeout rate. Those numbers are really good, but Ray's 15.0% swinging-strike rate tells us his strikeout rate could be even higher. He has three outings of 10 strikeouts over his past nine starts and is capable of a huge score tonight.

Our model forecasts Ray for 34.6 FanDuel points, putting him right alongside Wheeler and Rodon. I'm pretty into him, particularly if it looks like he'll be a lot less popular than those other two.

Low-Salary Option

Luis Castillo, Reds ($8,600)

I don't think I'll roll the dice on any value pitchers today. Rodon, Wheeler, and Ray have too much upside.

It is, however, a Coors slate, so if you can get a big output from a lower-salary pitcher, it can make a huge difference -- assuming the Dodgers' offense doesn't flop again.

Castillo is capable of an upside outing in a matchup with the Chicago Cubs. He has a long track record of success, and while Castillo has underwhelmed so far this season en route to a 22.9% strikeout rate and 10.5% swinging-strike rate, he's flashed his ceiling at times -- with a 10-strikeout showing at Fenway the most notable effort.

We project Castillo for 29.5 FanDuel points, a decent number for his $8,600 salary.

Quick Mound Visits:
Sean Manaea ($9,800): Would be one of the premier options most nights in a nice spot against the Diamondbacks. Isn't going to be popular and could have a good outing versus the team with the fifth-highest strikeout rate (24.0%).
Charlie Morton ($9,500): On fire of late -- 40.0% strikeout rate across his last four starts. Hard to prefer him over the top-shelf options, and Manaea is just $300 more.
Frankie Montas ($9,200): Stud pitcher at a nice salary, but a matchup with the Yankees is a brutal spot. Will hardly be rostered, though, and we've seen the Yanks' offense go missing in some games lately.
Jon Gray ($8,800): Could argue for him over Castillo as the best value play. Friendly matchup with the Royals and has a 29.3% strikeout rate over his past five starts.
Tarik Skubal ($9,000): Hasn't fanned more than five in three straight starts. Meh matchup against the Giants. Would prefer Gray over him if shopping in this range.