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
Carlos Rodon, Giants ($11,100)
Rodon is the top option on this slate. He's salaried like it -- $1,100 more than anyone else -- and he'll surely be rostered like it.
Through his first 29 frames of this season, he's more than carried over his numbers from his breakout 2021 campaign, sporting a 2.40 SIERA, 36.9% strikeout rate and 14.2% swinging-strike rate. Prior to posting 25 FanDuel points last time out in a tough matchup with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Rodon had scored at least 45 FanDuel points in all four of his outings this year. He's also tossed at least 95 pitches in three straight appearances.
The matchup is a great one, as Rodon gets the Colorado Rockies in San Fran. The Rox are almost never the same away from Coors, and their slate-low 2.59 implied total tells you how much Rodon should dominate tonight.
We project Rodon for 38.5 FanDuel points -- 9.6 more than any other pitcher. His floor/ceiling combination is unmatched on this slate, and there is enough offensive value out there for Rodon to be fairly easy to get to. Even though he'll be mega chalk, Rodon is worth it on this slate.
MacKenzie Gore, Padres ($10,000)
Outside of Rodon, the pitching options are a big shrug emoji. You could talk yourself into a few guys, but there aren't any top-shelf choices -- which is why you should probably just fork over the salary for Rodon.
But if you want to dodge the chalk, Gore is a viable play.
He's got a tasty matchup at home against a Chicago Cubs team that just had to fly out late Sunday after playing a night game. The Cubs' offense sits 20th in wOBA (.304) with the 10th-highest strikeout rate (24.0%). Their 3.36 implied total is a number we can attack.
As for Gore, the former top prospect has pitched just 21 MLB innings. The fact he's salaried at $10,000 tells you how well those innings have gone as he owns a 3.67 SIERA and 25.9% strikeout rate. He's got outings of 42 and 48 FanDuel points to his name this year, so the ceiling is nice. He's also gone 100 and 102 pitches in his last two starts, meaning workload shouldn't be an issue at all.
Our model has Gore pegged for 28.9 FanDuel points, second-most on the night.
Michael Kopech, White Sox ($9,200)
Kopech makes for an enticing tourney dart throw most of the time. He's got the swing-and-miss stuff to put up a huge score, but he's volatile enough that he's rarely going to be a chalky play.
All that holds true tonight, and with only one surefire stud on this slate, it might not be a bad day to roll the dice on Kopech.
Kopech was lights out across 69 1/3 innings in 2021, sporting a dazzling 2.70 SIERA and 36.1% strikeout rate. He hasn't lived up to those numbers so far in 2022, but his 25.3% strikeout rate and 4.11 SIERA aren't bad marks.
The big issue with Kopech is his workload and lack of efficiency. He hasn't recorded more than 15 outs in a game this year, and he's thrown more than 83 pitches only once.
A home matchup with the Cleveland Guardians -- who have the second-lowest implied total (3.29) -- is a pretty soft spot, though, and we forecast Kopech to total 25.7 FanDuel points. He's got upside for more if he's on.
Ranger Suarez, Phillies ($7,700)
Suarez profiles as a quality value target if there are some high-salary bats you have to have.
While his first 23 1/3 innings of the year have been bad (14.0% strikeout rate and 4.78 SIERA), Suarez is coming off a 2021 campaign in which he thrived en route to a 3.51 SIERA and 25.6% strikeout rate over 106 innings. His average fastball velocity this year (93.7 MPH) is nearly identical to what it was a year ago (93.8), so it's justifiable to have some hope that he turns things around.
The Seattle Mariners are a fairly neutral matchup and have swung it as a roughly league-average offense thus far. Their 3.86 implied total shouldn't scare us away.
Our model has Suarez finishing with 26.4 FanDuel points, the third-most of the slate.
Quick Mound Visits:
Noah Syndergaard ($9,000): His 11.6% swinging-strike rate hints at an impending boost to his 14.6% strikeout rate. Just hard to know what he is now with only 26 MLB frames under his belt since the start of 2020.
Paul Blackburn ($8,600): A decent option if you buy his fast start. The average fastball velocity is up 1.5 MPH, and he's got a 25.0% strikeout rate thus far. The matchup against the Tigers is a superb one.
Michael Pineda ($7,400): Gets the struggling offense of the Athletics. But with a 14.0% strikeout rate this year, Pineda might not be able to take advantage.