FanDuel Pitching Primer: Monday 8/15/22

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

Gerrit Cole, Yankees ($11,000)

We have some stellar pitching options from which to choose tonight. In my eyes, there's a clear top three, and I've put all three of them in this initial section. The presence of so many quality choices should help spread out draft percentages, but if there's a chalk play, Cole will likely be the guy.

Cole generated 49 points last time out, rebounding from a stretch of three straight meh starts (24, 30 and 31 FanDuel points). He should post another big score today in a home matchup with the Tampa Bay Rays. Tampa Bay is 22nd in wOBA (.300) over the last 30 days with the 5th-highest strikeout rate (25.4%). The Rays' 2.97 implied total is the night's lowest.

For the year, Cole owns a 32.5% strikeout rate and 14.0% swinging-strike rate. His strikeout prop on FanDuel Sportsbook is way up at 9.5 (-136 on the under). He has a huge ceiling in this spot, and Cole tops our projections with a clip of 39.5 FanDuel points.

Shohei Ohtani, Angels ($10,000)

After Cole, the battle for the night's number-two pitcher is a tough call between Ohtani and Luis Castillo -- who happen to be facing each other.

I side with Ohtani due to the strikeout upside. Ohtani has punched out at least 10 in a game nine times this year, including a run of six straight outings not that long ago. Castillo has reached double-digit strikeouts just twice this season. Both of their strikeout props are at 7.5, but Ohtani's is priced at -116 on the over while Castillo's is -148 on the under.

Ohtani shouldn't have much trouble with a Seattle Mariners offense that checks in 26th in wOBA (.290) across the last 30 days. Seattle's 3.47 implied total is a number we can feel good about.

The lone blemish with Ohtani right now is that he's coming off back-to-back dream matchups versus the Oakland Athletics in which he failed to produce a huge fantasy output (43 and 32 FanDuel points) due to only 12 strikeouts in 11 2/3 frames. But before those two starts, Ohtani ripped off the aforementioned six-start run of double-digit strikeouts.

Our model has Ohtani scoring 38.9 FanDuel points, and the two-way superstar comes at a nice discount from Cole and Castillo, rating as our top point-per-dollar arm.

Luis Castillo, Mariners ($11,200)

Castillo is taking on the punchless Los Angeles Angels, and while he's listed third, he's fully capable of going nuts.

In two starts since coming to Seattle, Castillo has fanned 15 in 14 2/3 innings -- and both of the starts came against the New York Yankees. Castillo should plow through a Halos offense that is fourth-worst in wOBA (.281) in the past 30 days while also sporting the ninth-highest strikeout rate (23.9%). LA is holding a 3.53 implied total.

Castillo has struck out 29.6% of hitters over his previous seven starts, and everything points to him delivering the goods once more. With a salary $200 above Cole's, Castillo might not be very popular, making him a fun pivot off Cole.

We have Castillo scoring 35.3 FanDuel points.

Tournament Option

Spencer Strider, Braves ($10,200)

If you're going to fade the slate's big three, you need to find an alternative who at least has a fairly reasonable path to upside since it's unlikely all three of Cole, Ohtani and Castillo underwhelm. Strider definitely has said upside.

The Atlanta Braves' righty has exploded onto the scene this year with a silly 38.0% strikeout rate, 15.4% swinging-strike rate and 2.49 SIERA. He absolutely has the ceiling to lead the slate in scoring.

The drawbacks for Strider are a 9.4% walk rate, a difficult matchup with the New York Mets -- a team he lasted just 2 2/3 innings against last time out -- and the fact he's broken the 90-pitch threshold only once in his last four starts. His strikeout prop is just 6.5, and there is -134 juice on the under.

Those things are enough to keep Strider out of the top tier tonight; the other three profile as flat-out better plays. But that will likely keep Strider's draft percentage pretty low, and he has as much swing-and-miss ability as just about any pitcher in baseball if he's dialed in.

Strider edges Julio Urias ($10,500) -- more on him shortly -- as my favorite GPP play tonight.

Low-Salary Play

Alex Cobb, Giants ($9,300)

Honestly, it's not a good slate to take a shot on a value pitcher. There are too many high-ceiling guys going, and there's enough value offensively that you shouldn't feel like you need to risk rolling the dice on a low-salary arm.

With that said, I can somewhat get behind Cobb in this spot if you're dying to load up on bats.

Cobb has out-pitched his bottom-line results for most of the season. The results have been catching up lately, though. He's struck out 26 in 17 1/3 innings across his past three starts and has a 3.05 xFIP over his last 11 outings. With a 3.09 SIERA and 25.3% strikeout rate this year, Cobb is clearly a good pitcher.

What he lacks, however, is something we can find in several other pitchers tonight -- top-notch strikeout upside. Cobb's strikeout prop for his date with the Arizona Diamondbacks (3.23 implied total) is only 5.5, and the under is priced at -138. On a worse pitching slate, maybe I could talk myself into it. I can't tonight.

Our model is more of a fan than I am, projecting Cobb for 34.1 FanDuel points and rating him as the second-best point-per-dollar pitcher.

Quick Mound Visits:
Julio Urias ($10,500): Will surely slip through the cracks and is capable of a big score. Taking on the Brewers, who carry the night's second-lowest implied total (3.35) and whose active roster has the fourth-highest strikeout rate (25.5%) versus southpaws. Has 52 and 46 FanDuel points in his last two starts. Could argue for him over Strider as the best GPP play.
Josiah Gray ($8,900): Can miss bats (26.3% strikeout rate and 12.5% swinging-strike rate) but gets hammered when he doesn't (51.3% fly-ball rate and 2.32 homers per nine). Taking on the Cubs and probably has more strikeout upside than Cobb if you're looking for a low-salary dart.
Joe Ryan ($9,000): Nice matchup versus the Royals but has a single-game strikeout rate of 16.0% of lower in three of his past six starts. Not sure why you'd gamble on him on this slate.