FanDuel Pitching Primer: Monday 9/19/22

Despite pitch-count concerns, Clayton Kershaw isn't a bad option in cash games. Which pitchers should we target in tournaments, though?

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

Edward Cabrera, Marlins ($9,600)

This slate has plenty of "B" options, but none that stand clearly above the rest. I'd peg Cabrera at the top.

The Marlins' right-hander is at home to take on the Cubs, and that sentence alone is a good start. Since August 15th, the Cubbies have a .656 OPS against righties with a 24.8% strikeout rate. Both of those marks are bottom-10 in MLB for that span, and the park in Miami is always a plus.

As for Cabrera, his September "struggles" might be largely exaggerated. Considering he's faced the Phillies, Mets, Dodgers, and Braves, Cabrera's 3.38 ERA this month isn't shabby at all. He's also maintained a 23.6% strikeout rate against those low-whiff squads.

Chicago's 3.24 implied team total means that oddsmakers believe Cabrera has a solid night at the office, too.

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers ($9,700)

There is no mystery to Kershaw, so I'd even argue for him as the cash-game option over the Miami righty.

With the division already clinched, the Dodgers have very little to play for. Kershaw hasn't exceeded 95 pitches in any of his last seven turns, and that won't change Monday. However, there still should be a long enough leash for Kershaw to secure a quality start with a few punchouts.

Still, Kershaw is in sublime form entering a pristine matchup. He's allowed a disgustingly-low .365 OPS in September with a 28.8% strikeout rate, and the Diamondbacks aren't a good candidate to send that in the wrong direction. Their team wRC+ since August 15th against lefties (61) is the worst mark in baseball.

Kershaw would be the top option on the slate by a mile with a comparable leash, but his limited one can still result in plenty of FanDuel points.

Tournament Options

Corbin Burnes, Brewers ($10,800)

As the top-salaried pitcher, Burnes might still find a way to go overlooked. He certainly has a worse spot -- in worse form -- than either Cabrera or Kershaw.

Burnes' form is a larger concern than his matchup. He's ceded at least three earned runs in four of his past five outings, and he's only exceeded five strikeouts once in those same five outings. Other than a bludgeoning of the Giants, he's been a very average hurler to start September, and a real threat is headed to town.

The Mets will visit American Family Field on Monday, sporting the league's best wRC+ against right-handed pitching since August 15th (122). They've been a quality opponent, and their 19.2% strikeout rate in that same span is worryingly-low considering Burnes isn't getting a ton of strikeouts right now, either.

He's still Corbin Burnes at home, but I feel there are better spots on this slate.

Kyle Wright, Braves ($10,100)

Given there isn't a ton of name value left in Washington, Wright will likely be popular as a massive home favorite. That's not necessarily the right call.

This Nationals offense -- just as it was before the Juan Soto trade -- is still a sneaky-good one against righties. Their .756 OPS against righties since August 15th is the seventh-best mark in baseball, and they're tied with the Mets in strikeout rate during that period (19.2%).

Wright also boasts a mediocre 4.92 xFIP and 19.3% strikeout rate for the month of September. He's not been in his best form.

While I like the Bravos' offense to pile up enough runs for Wright to walk away with a huge divisional win, he isn't the best choice on the board.

Low-Salary Play

Wade Miley, Cubs ($8,000)

If you want to target the tippy-top end of Coors Field, the Braves, or the Dodgers, Miley is your guy.

Now, he's not a perfect package, but that's evident by the salary alone. Miley has topped out around 85 pitches for the Cubs this season, and they don't want him to go terribly deep into games.

Still, he's found a way to post at least five strikeouts in three of his past five outings. Miley has a 17.7% career-long strikeout rate, so he's never been a guy getting a ton of whiffs, but it's serviceable.

His matchup is really what gives him even this shred of viability. The Marlins have been dreadful against southpaws since August 15th, posting a 67 wRC+ and 27.5% strikeout rate. Those are both bottom-five marks in the league.

If pitcher is so unspectacular that you'd rather just load up on premium bats, the lefty can work.

Quick Mound Visits

Max Scherzer, Mets ($10,700): "Mad Max" returns from the IL tonight, but not sure the juice is worth the squeeze. He tossed just 59 pitches in his rehab outing in AAA, so he could be limited. Plus, the Brewers (100 wRC+ since August 15th) aren't a world-class matchup for righties at this point.

Jakob Junis, Giants ($7,700): Wanna get weird? The Rockies and Giants have been bottom-five offenses against righties in the past 30 days. The Coors Field total is at 11.0 and dropping. Considering Colorado's paltry 52 wRC+ against righties since August 15th, I'm not even sure Junis is actually risky despite the ballpark.