MLB

FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Sunday 3/31/24

Austin Swaim
Austin SwaimASwaim3
FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Sunday 3/31/24

Sunday's main slate -- four days from Opening Day -- is extremely rough from a pitching perspective. Which arm reigns supreme, and which stacks could explode?

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Let's check out the top options on today's main slate.

Note: All MLB odds come from FanDuel Sportsbook. All stats come from FanGraphs and Baseball Savant unless noted otherwise.

MLB DFS Picks

Pitchers to Target

Kevin Gausman ($10,800)

The lone true "ace" on the slate is Kevin Gausman ($10,800), who missed his earned Opening Day role due to shoulder fatigue. That's definitely a concern, but no one can match his upside if things are totally correct with his body.

Gausman contended for the AL Cy Young with a 3.34 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) and 31.1% strikeout rate at the top of the Toronto Blue Jays' rotation in 2023. That campaign also marked four in a row with a strikeout rate of at least 28.0%, so his swing-and-miss upside is defined at this rate.

Early returns on the opposing Tampa Bay Rays are still quite strong against righties as they were a year ago, posting a 121 wRC+ and 21.1% K rate in the split thus far through 76 plate appearances. You're betting on Gausman's talent overcoming that iffy position.

FanDuel Research's MLB projections peg the Colorado native for 34.3 FanDuel points on Sunday. That's 5.0 clear of any other arm.

Trevor Rogers ($8,900)

Will luck on the diamond return to Trevor Rogers ($8,900) in 2024? Today could be the start.

Many would assume -- just by ERA -- that Rogers' pitching has been up and down in his four MLB seasons, but frankly, peripheral stats say he's largely been the same guy. His season-long SIERAs all range between 3.80 and 4.20. It's just been some of the associated luck that's varied the end result.

Rogers' 24.1% strikeout rate a year ago was still below his first two seasons, but it's not a bad mark -- especially with context to this slate. Early on, the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates have a 25.0% K rate against lefties, so there could be undetermined upside in this matchup against an offense we know isn't in baseball's top echelon.

Given Gausman's shoulder issue, I think I'd nervously load up Rogers in a cash-game setting. The Miami Marlins' park is one of the best in baseball for pitching, and Pittsburgh's 4.05 implied total is sixth-lowest of the main slate.

Per dollar of salary, FDR sees Rogers (29.2 expected FanDuel points) as the third-best value plug of the day.

Others to Consider

  • Chris Sale ($9,600)
    • Against a Philadelphia Phillies lineup loaded with quality righties, I'll pass until we see Sale's form with the Atlanta Braves. His inconsistency is nerve-wracking for the salary.
  • Jack Flaherty ($9,000)
  • Jon Gray ($8,500)
    • Seems to not be getting enough love in our projections. The Chicago Cubs' implied total (4.18) isn't high at all relative to the rest of the slate in their worse split. 2.20 SIERA and 34.4% strikeout rate in last year's postseason.

Stacks to Target

Cincinnati Reds

Much to the chagrin of daily players, the Cincinnati Reds have to be back on the menu.

The Reds have 14 runs in two games, but their top bats haven't particularly contributed to that. Right-hander Jake Irvin has led to a repeat lineup of Opening Day, but this is a far easier task for the Red Legs.

Irvin's 5.09 SIERA a year ago told no lies. It came with a 39.9% hard-hit rate and 10.3% barrel rate. In a top-five park for hitting today, those results -- without significant 2024 improvement -- are doomed.

Five of the Reds' top-six hitters had an OPS north of .780 against righties last year, including Elly De La Cruz ($3,700), Jonathan India ($3,100), Jake Fraley ($3,000), and Will Benson ($2,900). The average salary of them makes fitting in Gausman a piece of cake, too.

Cincy's 5.32-run implied team total destroys any other mark on the slate, so you'll want to at least consider them in all formats.

Minnesota Twins

Though chalky, higher-salaried options exist, I really like the Minnesota Twins' position today as they search for the series sweep.

Minnesota is matched up with Brady Singer of the Kansas City Royals, and the righty's 4.46 SIERA in 2023 might be underselling how gettable of a matchup this is. The sinkerballer did have an excellent groundball rate (49.5%), but his hard-hit rate (48.4%), strikeout rate (18.9%), and walk rate (7.0%) we'd otherwise drool about targeting. If the ball isn't down in the zone, Singer is likely getting shelled.

No Royce Lewis does hurt this attack quite a bit, but quality pieces like Byron Buxton ($3,400), Carlos Correa ($3,200), Edouard Julien ($2,900), and Alex Kirilloff ($2,700) still remain.

A curiously high 9.0-run total is why I avoided Bailey Ober in the pitching section. There's unexpected offense coming from one of these sides, and Singer's underlying metrics suggest it could be him that's in trouble.

Others to Consider

  • Baltimore Orioles
    • Should be enormously popular after clubbing lefties for a 155 wRC+ in their opening series, but it's baseball, and Reid Detmers (4.14 SIERA) wasn't awful last year. I tend to dodge this type of chalk.
  • Houston Astros
    • Clarke Schmidt's 41.0% hard-hit rate allowed last year was often playing with fire, and lineups don't come tougher on RHPs than the 'Stros. A good spot to spend salary if using Rogers -- or another value pitcher.
  • Texas Rangers
    • This lineup just mashes righties, and Jordan Wicks (4.83 SIERA in 2023) wasn't a great one last year. Texas' 1.168 OPS against orthodox pitchers thus far looks like a video game, and today's opponent might be the lowest difficulty setting so far.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.