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 on FanDuel's main slate that begins at 12:20 PM ET.
Framber Valdez, Houston Astros
At Arizona Diamondbacks
FanDuel Salary: $10,000
Short of throwing a complete game, Framber Valdez couldn't have gotten off to a better start. He held the Los Angeles Angels scoreless on two hits, one walk, and six strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings in his first turn through the rotation.
The 28-year-old lefty was excellent, and he has been dating back to his breakout in 2020. According to FanGraphs, in 212 innings since 2020, Valdez has had a 3.18 ERA, 3.32 Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP), 3.55 Skill-Interactive ERA (SIERA), 1.18 WHIP, 8.5% walk rate, 23.5% strikeout rate, and an eye-popping 67.0% ground-ball rate.
Valdez has also been a reliable source of quality starts. Per ESPN, the ground-ball machine had 13 quality starts in 22 starts in 2021 after tallying six in 10 turns in 2020. I also love Valdez's odds of earning a win today. According to FanDuel sportsbook, the Houston Astros are -154 favorites. I endorse embracing Valdez's high floor and ceiling in cash games.
Nathan Eovaldi, Boston Red Sox
At Detroit Tigers
FanDuel Salary: $8,500
At an easier-to-stomach cap hit, Nathan Eovaldi is an elite alternative to Valdez in all game types.
First, the Boston Red Sox are -120 favorites, and the game's over/under is a pitcher-friendly 8.0 runs. Second, Eovaldi was pumping premium cheddar in his first start of the year after an outstanding 2021 campaign.
Sure, Eovaldi ceded three runs (two homers) on five hits, one walk, and one hit batter in five innings against the New York Yankees in his 2022 debut. Nevertheless, he also struck out seven batters, coaxed hitters out of the strike zone at a high rate, and had a 38.2% called strikes plus whiffs rate (CSW).
According to FanGraphs, since 2020, Eovaldi has had a 3.78 ERA, 3.42 xFIP, 3.54 SIERA, 1.19 WHIP, 4.4% walk rate, 25.8% strikeout rate, and 29.8% CSW.
Finally, the Detroit Tigers are a favorable matchup. Per FanGraphs, only two hitters on their active roster have had a Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) over 110, and only four hitters have been above average against righties since 2019. Moreover, they have struck out at a high rate, boosting Eovaldi's floor and ceiling.
Kyle Hendricks, Chicago Cubs
At Pittsburgh Pirates
FanDuel Salary: $8,100
Kyle Hendricks' salary is $400 less than Eovaldi's. So, gamers who are multi-entering GPPs can run identical hitter lineups with Eovaldi and Hendricks. Honestly, I prefer Eovaldi to Hendricks. However, Hendricks was sharp in his debut, and he has a cakewalk matchup with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The crafty righty struck out seven hitters in 5 1/3 innings in his first start this year, allowing one run on five hits, three walks, and one hit batter. So, he wasn't flawless. Yet, the strikeouts were good, and his changeup was dominant. According to FanGraphs, Hendricks had a tantalizing 39.4% swinging-strike rate on 33 changeups. For his career, he's had an 18.9% swinging-strike rate on his money pitch, but it cratered to a 13.8% swinging-strike rate in Hendricks' career-worst 2021.
One start doesn't erase his 4.77 ERA in 2021. Still, last year's poor showing is the outlier season in Hendricks' career. While there's always a risk with using Hendricks since he lacks a high-octane arsenal to pick up the slack when he doesn't have a feel for his changeup, he's worth firing some GPP bullets on for games entering multiple lineups.
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.