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.
Nestor Cortes, New York Yankees
at Kansas City Royals
FanDuel Salary: $10,000
Nestor Cortes is blossoming into "Nasty Nestor" after successfully transitioning from the bullpen to starting last year. This year he's building on a breakout 2021 campaign with even more brilliant numbers for the New York Yankees. According to FanGraphs, in three starts totaling 15 and 2/3 innings, he has had a 1.15 ERA, 1.37 Expected ERA (xERA), 1.45 Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP), and 1.30 Skill-Interactive ERA (SIERA).
The most encouraging development in Cortes's game has been a surge in strikeouts. After striking out 27.5% of the batters he faced in 2021, he has struck out 44.6% of the hitters he's opposed this year. The uptick in punchouts has been accompanied by a rise in Called Strike Plus Whiff Rate (CSW) from 26.4% to 30.3%.
Cortes has a great chance at another superb start tonight against the Kansas City Royals. Kansas City has been terrible against southpaws this year, evidenced by ranking 28th in Weighted Runs Created Plus (62 wRC+). As a result, New York's lefty is my favorite hurler and the safest pitcher on FanDuel's main slate.
Dylan Bundy, Minnesota Twins
at Tampa Bay Rays
FanDuel Salary: $8,200
Dylan Bundy is a tad risky for cash games, but I wouldn't fight someone who values the salary-cap relief he provides from Cortes. Thus, Bundy is an excellent option in GPPs and a viable one in cash games.
After stumbling to a 6.06 ERA last year, it has been jarring to see Bundy rebound with the Minnesota Twins. Still, Bundy had a 3.29 ERA as recently as 2020. So, he isn't far removed from daily fantasy relevance.
In three starts spanning 15 and 1/3 innings this year, he has had a 0.59 ERA, 1.65 xERA, and 3.16 SIERA. Bundy has done a stellar job of coaxing hitters to chase out of the strike zone, getting ahead with first-pitch strikes, and confounding hitters through pitch mix to earn called strikes at an above-average rate. I'm encouraged by his offspeed and breaking pitch usage as well as the numbers generated by those pitches. So, I'm buying into the legitimacy of Bundy's resurgence.
Finally, I like the matchup. The Tampa Bay Rays are a dangerous offense, ranking 10th in wRC+ (110) against righties. However, they've struck out in 26.4% of their plate appearances against them. Therefore, the upside for strikeouts makes Bundy a volatile option worth embracing tonight.
Noah Syndergaard, Los Angeles Angels
at Chicago White Sox
FanDuel Salary: $8,900
It's always a joy when players can make their way back from a long battle with injuries. Noah Syndergaard is a perfect example of someone who has persevered through injuries. Through three starts, the Los Angeles Angels have to be delighted with Thor's early results.
He has twirled a 2.12 ERA in 17 innings that has been validated by his 2.13 xERA. Unfortunately, his 16.4 percent strikeout rate doesn't jump off the page. Still, his 13.0 percent swinging-strike rate has exceeded the 2022 league average of 11.4 percent. Thus, I expect Syndergaard's bat-missing ways to produce more strikeouts going forward.
The Chicago White Sox have a handful of hitters with success against righties in recent years. However, they're mired in an early-season funk against righties. The Pale Hose are 29th in wRC+ (73) against right-handed pitchers. Eventually, the White Sox will snap out of their funk.
Regardless, Thor has pitched well enough to merit usage, and facing a team that has been cold is a bonus.
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.