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
Freddy Peralta, Brewers ($8,800)
Peralta and Lucas Giolito -- more on the latter in a second -- are in their own tier tonight, and with Peralta's salary $1,200 less than Giolito's, Peralta is a really good play.
He's at home versus the Cincinnati Reds. Cincy's offense sits dead last in wOBA (.267) with the highest strikeout rate (26.1%). You can't find a better matchup. After helping Brandon Woodruff get back on track last night, the Reds' offense could get bulldozed by Peralta. That's what oddsmakers expect, as Cincinnati's 2.89 implied total is a slate-low mark.
The Milwaukee Brewers' right-hander has registered a 3.23 SIERA, 29.5% strikeout rate and 13.0% swinging-strike rate this year. Since the start of 2020, he's got a 3.29 SIERA, 33.8% strikeout rate and 14.5% swinging-strike rate. Dude is a baller, and with pitch counts of 89 and 92 in his past two outings, he should be fully stretched out.
Our model projects Peralta for 37.1 FanDuel points -- 5.4 more than any other hurler. I'm higher on Giolito than our algorithm is, but with the salaries where they are, Peralta is unquestionably a fantastic play and might wind up being the slate's most popular arm.
Lucas Giolito, White Sox ($10,000)
I want to be careful because we're dealing with very small samples, but in 14 innings this year, Giolito has been unreal -- dominating to the tune of a 2.43 SIERA, 37.9% strikeout rate and 18.3% swinging-strike rate. He's had at least a 15.2% swinging-strike rate in all three of his starts.
In his last outing, he punched out seven in six innings against a Los Angeles Angels offense that's been superb in the early going. He got up to 99 pitches in that one.
Giolito is capable of a huge showing versus the Chicago Cubs. While the Cubbies' offense has been better than expected this season (10th in wOBA), it's unlikely to last. FanGraphs' rest-of-season projections slot the Cubs as the 11th-worst offense, and even in the midst of a hot start, the Cubs own an elevated strikeout rate (23.7%). The Cubs -- who boast a blah 3.25 implied total today -- finished 2021 with MLB's highest strikeout rate (26.7%).
Our projection of 31.7 FanDuel points for Giolito feels a touch low, and I don't think it would surprise anyone if he ended up as the night's top-scoring arm. Even at a salary $1,200 more than Peralta's, Giolito is going to be very popular, and I'll have a bunch of him.
Dylan Bundy, Twins ($8,900)
The pitching options get worrisome quickly once we move past Giolito and Peralta. Everyone else has at least one big red flag -- whether it be matchup or their ability.
But I don't mind me some Bundy today at the Baltimore Orioles, and using any pitcher other than the two we've already broken down will be contrarian, as Peralta and Giolito could combine for a draft percentage above 70%.
Bundy's Minnesota Twins tenure is off to a nice start, with the righty sporting a 3.11 SIERA, 22.6% strikeout rate and 12.2% swinging-strike rate across his initial 21 1/3 innings of the campaign. Since the start of 2020, Bundy has a 23.4% strikeout rate and 11.0% swinging-strike rate, so he's got enough strikeout juice to be a viable pivot away from this slate's two high-upside studs.
The matchup is there, too. The O's are 28th in wOBA (.280) this season with the 3rd-highest strikeout rate (25.5%). Baltimore's 3.48 implied total is the third-lowest of the night.
If I deviate away from Giolito and Peralta, which I won't do much, it'll be to take a shot on Bundy.
Kyle Hendricks, Cubs ($7,100)
Going to be real with you -- I almost never use Hendricks in DFS, and I probably won't tonight. But in terms of this slate's low-salary plays, he's probably the best of the bunch.
The reason I'm rarely on Hendricks is that he just doesn't offer much strikeout upside. The Cubs' righty had a putrid 16.7% strikeout rate last year in what was a career-worst campaign across the board.
He has, however, shown a little more life in the early part of 2022, with an 11.4% swinging-strike rate -- although he's twice allowed at least six runs in a start.
The matchup with the Chicago White Sox isn't a bad one. The Pale Hose have been dinged by injuries and just haven't been a very good offense, as they rank 24th in wOBA (.281). The White Sox carry a measly 3.75 implied total.
Again, Hendricks isn't a great pick, but if you want to load up on Coors bats or have some other high-salary hitters you just can't go without, he's likely the best dart among the bargain arms.
Quick Mound Visits:
Nestor Cortes ($10,100): Has been excellent so far in 2021 but hard to love when Giolito and Peralta are in much better spots and at lower salaries. Due for negative regression in the homer department (just one allowed despite a 42.6% fly-ball rate), and the Blue Jays have some quality right-handed sticks.
Alex Wood ($8,600): The matchup against the Dodgers is a rough one. Tough to justify with Peralta just $200 more unless you really want to be unique.