FanDuel Pitching Primer: Wednesday 4/26/23

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

Bryce Elder ($10,900), Braves: When Elder is the top pitcher of the night, there really is no top pitcher of the night.

Still, Atlanta's young right-hander is off to an excellent start. His 1.14 ERA is supported by a 3.74 skill-interactive ERA, and he's struck out 24.0% of batters faced this year. While his hard-hit rate is concerning (51.6%), the opposition should help that tonight.

This Marlins squad punched out nine times against Charlie Morton last night, and they'll do that. Their 25.4% strikeout rate against righties is the sixth-highest in baseball.

Combined with a poor OPS in this split (.663), Miami is a toothless matchup, and Elder has shown enough to rightfully be the place everyone will start with at pitcher.

Kodai Senga ($10,400), Mets: Whether or not we can target the Nationals depends on our alternatives, and tonight, they aren't great.

Washington's 72 wRC+ against righties is the third-worst in baseball, but their 19.0% strikeout rate presents a tradeoff in daily fantasy. While they're not dangerous, there's not much upside for punchouts.

I'd take any type of quality start tonight, and Senga can get one in this matchup. The rookie's 4.68 SIERA is a bit elevated, but he's also shown some juice with a 26.8% strikeout rate. Plus, he touched 96 pitches two outings ago, so he'll have a decent leash to work deep into this game.

He'll be less popular than Elder with a modest floor for cash games.

Sandy Alcantara ($9,800), Marlins: A slate like this might best be approached by betting on talent.

That's the 2022 Cy Young winner, Alcantara, to a tee. Sandy's 5.47 ERA is ugly, but he's also yet to face a bottom-10 offense against righties -- which, admittedly, won't change tonight.

There's still reason to believe he's an elite guy. He's well underperformed a 13.7% swinging-strike rate in terms of strikeout rate (19.1%), and his 37.8% hard-hit rate allowed is the second-lowest of anyone above $9,500 on FanDuel.

This matchup is the issue -- or is it? With just a 101 wRC+ and 25.6% strikeout rate in this split, the Bravos grade out as a modest matchup for an orthodox hurler despite their name value.

He's my favorite pitcher of the night.

Tournament Options

Logan Gilbert ($10,000), Mariners: In addition to Alcantara, I'd like to stick in this mid-range in tournaments tonight.

Gilbert's 31.2% strikeout rate is why. He leads the slate in that department facing a Phillies lineup that absolutely comes with plenty of risk and reward. Philadelphia's 24.8% strikeout rate against righties is the eighth-highest in the league, but they're also fifth-best with an .803 OPS in the split.

There's also the concern that Gilbert was pushed to today due to a muscle issue despite throwing just fine on Monday. It doesn't sound overly serious, but it's there to consider.

With a 2.93 SIERA, I'd argue he's the best overall pitcher on the slate at the moment, and there is upside in this otherwise-potent matchup.

MacKenzie Gore ($9,700), Nationals: In daily fantasy, we want upside. A quality start with just a few strikeouts making the tournament-winning lineup would be a parlay of pitching disasters with insane odds.

Gore presents raw upside despite the fact it's far riskier than an Alcantara or Gilbert. His 29.7% strikeout rate trails only Gilbert on this slate, but he's not been nearly as effective as him. Gore's 4.60 SIERA and 40.2% hard-hit rate allowed -- without the strikeout juice -- would otherwise be numbers to target.

Plus, this matchup isn't good. The Mets have a 107 wRC+ versus southpaws with a strikeout rate below 20%.

At this salary, his risk is getting blown up, or his offense could sputter against Senga and keep him from a win bonus. He'll pile up a few strikeouts in just about any matchup, though, so he's on the table for a slate this uncertain.

Quick Mound Visits

Anthony DeSclafani ($10,200), Giants: Beyond the unseasonably warm weather in San Francisco, he's rocking a 50.7% hard-hit rate and generating a whiff on just 9.5% of his pitches. In a sublime matchup, I might roll the dice. Against the Cardinals? The juice doesn't appear worth the squeeze.

Patrick Sandoval ($9,200), Angels: He's suppressing hard contact, but otherwise, not much to like with a 5.43 SIERA and 17.6% strikeout rate. I imagine many will blindly target Oakland in this spot, but the A's have a top-10 OPS (.780) in this split. I might stack them.

Tony Gonsolin ($9,000), Dodgers: This is no discount. Gonsolin is only pegged for four innings in his return from injury. Even on a slate this poor, there's just no way Gonsolin puts up points in that short period of time. We'll watch for his form here.

Roansy Contreras ($7,400), Pirates: Three difficult matchups to start the year but did punch out eight Reds in his last start. His decreased hard-hit rate allowed (35.9%) is a huge reason to buy the top prospect moving forward -- but not against the Dodgers.

Steven Matz ($6,900), Cardinals: San Francisco has the worst OPS (.587) and second-highest strikeout rate (31.0%) of any team against a lefty. Matz's 4.15 SIERA and 24.7% strikeout rate aren't bad, either. You could do far, far worse with a bargain-bin plug.