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.
Carlos Rodon, San Francisco Giants
At Cleveland Guardians
FanDuel Salary: $10,100
In his first start, Carlos Rodon erased any concerns about lingering issues with the shoulder fatigue that ailed him late in 2021. The lefty was dominant in his debut outing for the San Francisco Giants, striking out 12 and holding the Miami Marlins to just one run on three hits and two walks. According to FanGraphs, his heater averaged 97.4 MPH, up two ticks from his career-high 95.4 MPH in 2021.
Further, according to ESPN, the ace lefty threw 61 of his 89 pitches for strikes, getting 13 called strikes and generating an eye-popping 24 swinging strikes. But, as brilliant as Rodon's first start was, it's essentially more of the same from last year's breakout campaign. According to FanGraphs, in Rodon's first 19 starts -- which totaled 109 and 2/3 innings -- before he was placed on the Injured List with shoulder fatigue, he had a 2.38 ERA, 2.81 Skill-interactive ERA (SIERA), 0.96 WHIP, 6.8 percent walk rate, 36.2 percent strikeout rate, and 30.4 percent Called Strike and Whiff Rate (CSW).
San Francisco's new frontline starter is the top option on Friday's main slate. Finally, the betting information is good for Rodon. According to FanDuel Sportsbook, the game's over/under is 8.0 runs, and the Giants are -154 favorites. Rodon's the no-doubt top cash-game pitcher, but his upside makes him an excellent GPP pick, as well. We project him for a slate-leading 38.7 FanDuel points.
High-Salaried GPP Play
Dylan Cease, Chicago White Sox
Vs. Tampa Bay Rays
FanDuel Salary: $9,700
Rodon wasn't the only pitcher who broke out for the Chicago White Sox in 2021. Dylan Cease also turned the corner. Cease's stuff has never come into question, but he used his electrifying arsenal to record a legitimate sub-4.00 ERA that was supported by his ERA estimators.
In 32 starts spanning 165 and 2/3 innings, Cease had a 3.91 ERA, 3.65 Expected ERA (xERA), and 3.57 SIERA. Additionally, the flamethrowing righty piled up a 31.9 percent strikeout rate with a 30.4 percent CSW. The 26-year-old pitcher started the year positively, earning a win by holding the Detroit Tigers to one run on two hits, three walks, and eight strikeouts in five innings.
Cease will look to keep things rolling as a favorite tonight. FanDuel Sportsbook lists the Pale Hose as -154 favorites. Moreover, the game's over/under is only a half-run higher than Rodon's, sporting a total of 8.5 runs. As a result, Cease is a high-upside pivot in GPPs off his former teammate.
Kyle Wright, Atlanta Braves
At San Diego Padres
FanDuel Salary: $8,000
If you're willing to take a bigger chance than rolling the dice on Cease, Kyle Wright is an attractive GPP dart. The San Diego Padres jumped on Charlie Morton early last night. Nevertheless, tonight's game's total is 8.5 runs, and it's nearly a pick'em with the Atlanta Braves at -102 and the Friars at -116.
Wright was the fifth pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. However, he's had hiccups along the way to the bigs, including an ugly 6.04 ERA through 76 innings in the majors. However, he reportedly gained confidence by pitching well in the World Series last year, and it has carried over to this year. The 26-year-old righty shoved it down the Cincinnati Reds' throat in his 2022 debut. He spun six scoreless innings, surrendering only two hits and one walk. Wright also struck out seven batters, with 15 called strikes and a dozen swinging strikes.
Notably, according to FanGraphs, Wright used his curve a whopping 40.8 percent of the time in his first start. Comparatively, he threw his slider only 6.6 percent of the time. Traditionally, his slider has been his most-used breaking pitch. I'm intrigued by Wright's World Series showing and first start success as well as his pitch-mix change out of the chute. I think something is cooking here.
Finally, at Wright's modest salary, you can fit a boatload of elite hitters alongside him, so that's a fringe benefit of using Wright. Finally, I trust Wright will be cut loose to pitch deep after throwing 76 pitches in his first start of the year.
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.