FanDuel Pitching Primer: Friday 7/8/22

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

Charlie Morton, Atlanta Braves

Vs. Washington Nationals
FanDuel Salary: $10,000

You couldn't ask for much more from Charlie Morton lately. According to FanGraphs, in his last five starts (32 and 2/3 innings), he's had a 2.20 ERA, 2.11 xFIP, 0.77 WHIP, and 13.3 percent swinging-strike rate. Morton has recorded double-digit strikeouts in three of those turns, punching out nine in one of the outlier starts.

The veteran righty has also pitched at least 5 and 2/3 innings in each of his last five outings, allowed two runs or fewer four times in that span and had a quality start three times. He's in fantastic form. Thankfully, the Washington Nationals are below-average against righties, ranking 19th in wRC+ (97). Morton should stay hot tonight.

The betting info aligns with my assertion. According to FanDuel Sportsbook, the Atlanta Braves are -275 favorites, and the Nats have a meager 3.49 implied total. Morton doubles as the best pick in cash games and a high-upside GPP selection. We project him for a slate-leading 36.6 FanDuel points.

Mid-Salaried Pivot

Zac Gallen, Arizona Diamondbacks

Vs. Colorado Rockies
FanDuel Salary: $$8,200

Zac Gallen is an excellent alternative to Morton in all game types. He doesn't have the strikeout potential of Morton, yet he has a high floor against the Colorado Rockies. The salary discount spinning down to him can help offset the punchout ceiling discrepancy.

Gallen has had a 3.40 ERA in 15 starts (82 innings), and that's not too far out of whack from his 3.57 expected ERA (xERA). The 26-year-old righty has also had an acceptable 22.8 percent strikeout rate, slightly exceeding the league average (22.2 percent).

The total package will play against Colorado's lackluster road offense. The Rockies are tied for 25th in wOBA (.280) in road contests. They've also struck out at a 22.3 percent clip in the split, giving Gallen a chance for some punchouts. Finally, he's had a quality start in three of his last four and four of his previous six games.

GPP Dart

Aaron Ashby, Milwaukee Brewers

Vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
FanDuel Salary: $6,800

There are quite a few intriguing high-powered stacks that require a significant portion of FanDuel's salary cap. Thankfully, gamers willing to take a risk in GPPs have an option. Aaron Ashby hasn't been perfect while transitioning from the bullpen to the rotation. However, the lefty's 5.64 ERA in his last six starts overstates his hiccups.

We can buy into his ERA estimators and underlying stats. Ashby owns a 2.51 xFIP, 2.89 SIERA, 7.3 percent walk rate, and 28.5 percent strikeout rate over his previous six starts.

The most significant concern for Ashby tonight is a potential pitch limit. He threw just 62 pitches in his most recent start, the first since he was reinstated from a short Injured List trip. But even if the Milwaukee Brewers limit Ashby, it shouldn't be too restrictive. Moreover, the organization has previously shown a willingness to jump his pitches a bunch from one appearance to the next. He's cleared the 100-pitch mark twice this season.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are so inept against lefties that Ashby can post a juicy FanDuel output even at a theoretical 80- or 85-pitch limit. The Pirates have struck out at the second-highest rate against lefties (25.7 percent) and are 28th in wRC+ (84) in the split.

Ashby isn't safe -- far from it -- but he's a high-upside pick who's worth the risk.

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.