FanDuel Pitching Primer: Monday 8/22/22

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

Max Scherzer, Mets ($11,500)

Our model has Scherzer as the slate's clear number-one arm, projecting him for 40.5 FanDuel points -- 6.9 clear of anyone else.

A matchup in the Bronx against the New York Yankees is a tough spot, even with the Yanks' recent struggles, but the Yankees' 3.40 implied total is a number we can feel good about. And it's worth pointing out just how much the Yankees' bats have been misfiring. Over the last 14 days, they sit dead last in wOBA (.255) with the third-highest strikeout rate (27.9%). The Yankees will hop off the struggle bus at some point, but Scherzer could overpower them tonight.

When I initially started researching for this slate, I thought it was a lock-in-Max-and-go-from-there slate. While that still might be the route I take in most lineups, some of the night's other hurlers -- a few of whom offer significant salary savings off Scherzer -- are looking more and more appealing to me. However, Scherzer is deserving of the SP1 label, and his strikeout ability gives him the best floor/ceiling combination.

Julio Urias, Dodgers ($10,400)

Urias has been really good lately, scoring between 37 and 52 FanDuel points in six straight starts. He's put up at least 43 FanDuel points four times in that span. Last time out, he finished with 39 FanDuel points in a five-inning outing against the Milwaukee Brewers, and he gets those same Brewers tonight, this time in LA.

Milwaukee has been in a rut offensively. Their 28.6% strikeout rate over the last 14 days is the second-highest, and their .266 wOBA is the 4th-lowest. Their 2.97 implied total is the second-worst of the night.

Across his previous 12 starts, Urias is showing a 28.6% strikeout rate and 3.01 xFIP. He's been dealing, and we project him to total 33.6 FanDuel points, the second-most.

How much Urias I'll have depends on how popular it looks like he'll be. As of now, draft percentage projections across the industry have Urias being about as popular as Scherzer. If things look that way closer to lock, I'd rather find the extra $1,100 for Scherzer or drop down in salary to this next hurler. But if it looks like Urias might be markedly less popular than Scherzer, it'll increase my interest in the Los Angeles Dodgers' lefty.

Low-Salary Play

Jeffrey Springs, Rays ($8,000)

Once you factor in salary, Springs might be the night's top play.

Just like the two aforementioned pitchers, Springs has a to-die-for matchup against an offense that is struggling. He'll see the Los Angeles Angels, who rank next to last in wOBA (.261) over the past 14 days with the sixth-highest strikeout rate (25.5%). And LA might be without Shohei Ohtani, who left Sunday's game early due to an illness. The Halos' 2.90 implied total is the lowest of the night.

Springs has a 3.22 SIERA, 26.5% strikeout rate and 13.3% swinging-strike rate. The only reason for hesitation is Springs' workload as he's gone past 85 pitches only once over his last six outings. but outside of that, he's easy to love at this salary and in this dreamy matchup.

We project Springs for 31.2 FanDuel points, the third-most, and he's our top point-per-dollar arm. The salary savings he offers off Urias and Scherzer are very handy on a night when the high-salary stud bats from the St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves are in money spots.

Tournament Option

Edward Cabrera, Marlins ($9,400)

Springs, Urias and Scherzer will eat up a huge chunk of the popularity at pitcher, so going anywhere else will be contrarian.

Cabrera has a fantastic matchup and the swing-and-miss stuff to post a huge score.

In three starts since coming off the IL, Cabrera has punched out 21 in 14 2/3 innings while permitting exactly zero earned runs. He recorded a 33.6% strikeout rate and 15.7% swinging-strike rate in 28 2/3 innings in Triple-A this campaign, and he's got a 3.79 SIERA and 28.8% strikeout rate over 30 1/3 MLB frames in 2022. The guy can pitch.

He faces the Oakland Athletics tonight. Oakland has been respectable in the second half, but for the year, they're 29th in wOBA (.277) with the 11th-highest strikeout rate (23.2%).

Cabrera has thrown 91 pitches in each of his past two starts and got up to 99 earlier this year before getting hurt. He can do a lot of damage today with that kind of workload, and Cabrera is going to slip through the cracks.

Quick Mound Visits:
Jordan Montgomery ($9,200): Best of the rest for me. Has a 27.0% strikeout rate through 16 2/3 frames with the Cardinals. Should have a nice night in a matchup with the Cubs.
Sonny Gray ($9,500): Owns a 2.95 xFIP and 32 strikeouts over his previous five starts (26 2/3 innings). A matchup with Texas is nothing to shy away from.
Noah Syndergaard ($8,500): The Reds' 3.47 implied total is an appealing clip. I just can't, though. Thor has an 18.3% strikeout rate on the year. Springs is a much, much better value choice.