FanDuel MLB DFS Pitching Primer for Friday 4/12/24

Nicholas Vazquez
Nicholas Vazquez@nickvaz
FanDuel MLB DFS Pitching Primer for Friday 4/12/24

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, and it's darn near impossible to take down a contest without a big score from your hurler.

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 on today's main slate.

All betting references come from the MLB odds at FanDuel Sportsbook. All stats come from FanGraphs and Baseball Savant unless noted otherwise.

MLB DFS Pitcher Picks

Top of the Heap

Kevin Gausman, Toronto Blue Jays ($10,000)

Last time out was not pretty for Kevin Gausman ($10,000). He lasted just 1.1 innings and allowed five earned runs. That was in a tough matchup, and today's opposition will be a lot easier.

Gausman posted the second-best strikeout rate (31.1%) of his career in 2023. He also recorded his third-best SIERA (3.34) and third-best xFIP (3.22) of his career.

That bad start he had came against the New York Yankees, who have the seventh-best wRC+ against right-handed pitching. Tonight, Gausman will face the Colorado Rockies. Colorado has the sixth-lowest wRC+ against righties while also striking out at the fifth-highest rate (26.9%).

The Rockies have the lowest implied team total on tonight's slate (3.25 runs). Gausman is projected for the second-most points by our projections, so there are lots of reasons to want to roster him.

Tanner Houck, Boston Red Sox ($9,500)

Tanner Houck ($9,500) is off to a fantastic start to the season.

In two outings, Houck has not allowed an earned run. It gets better than that, though, as he's also struck out 37.8% of the batters he's faced. Both of the games have resulted in quality starts and wins. He's averaged 53.5 FanDuel points in the two starts.

Both of those games came on the road, and now he'll be at home. He will face the same Los Angeles Angels team that he shut down in his last start. The Angels strike out at the eighth-highest rate against righties while also having a below-average 91 wRC+.

Houck has not allowed an opponent to barrel the ball so far this season, and he also has a 64.8% ground-ball rate. It's a small sample, but if he continues to do stuff like that while also posting great strike out numbers, Houck could be in for a breakout season.

After Gausman, Houck would probably be the next pitcher I'd want to allocate a good chunk of salary on.

Next Men Up

Max Fried, Atlanta Braves ($8,800)

A pitcher averaging 1.5 FanDuel points is not someone we'd usually want to target. However, we can expect better from Max Fried ($8,800), especially considering his matchup tonight.

Fried couldn't get out of the first inning in his season debut. Then, he allowed seven earned runs in 4.1 innings in his next start.

His 2023 was cut short due to injury, but he had his best K rate as a starter (25.7%) a year ago. He also sported very respectable marks in SIERA (3.38) and xFIP (3.10).

Fried should be in for better days this season, and that starts tonight. He will face the Miami Marlins, who have an abysmal 31 wRC+ against lefties so far this campaign.

Fried has the third-highest projection for a pitcher on tonight's slate, and he's definitely an option below the top tier who we'll want to target.

Brandon Pfaadt, Arizona Diamondbacks ($8,500)

Brandon Pfaadt ($8,500) showed some promise last season in his first year in the majors, but you had to dig deep to really see it. The same can be said this season. So far, his 5.06 ERA looks ugly, but some of his other numbers give us a better outlook for his future.

Pfaadt has had one good start and one bad one. Even in the bad start against a great Atlanta Braves offense, he struck out seven batters in 5.2 innings. All in all, he's struck out 27.1% of batters this season with an impressive 15.5% swinging-strike rate.

We hope that Pfaadt's luck will turn around tonight. His BABIP so far this season is a whopping .387, and that should regress, especially since he hasn't allowed a lot of hard contact with just a 31.3% hard-hit rate.

Pfaadt's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals is a good one. St Louis ranks as one the 10 worst teams in both strikeout rate (24.7%) and wRC+ (81) against righties this season.

He may go overlooked tonight, but there are a few reasons Pfaadt makes sense for DFS lineups on Friday.

Value of the Day

Luis Severino, New York Mets ($8,000)

Switching to the other side of New York for 2024, Luis Severino ($8,000) has been off to a good start with the New York Mets.

In 10 innings, Severino has 13 strikeouts and allowed just four runs. He's battled injuries for a long time, but he once finished third in Cy Young voting. He's maintained a career 26.1% strikeout rate and is sitting at a 27.1% K rate so far this season.

What's nice to see for Severino is that his velocity is up. His 96.7 MPH average fastball velocity is the highest he's reached since 2018 -- before he really started dealing with injuries.

It's not the easiest matchup today against a hot Kansas City Royals' team. However, they were projected to be a middle-of-the-pack offense, so it remains to be seen if they can continue hitting this well or if this was just a 13-game blip.

For just $8,000 in salary, I like taking a shot on Severino in a favorable park for pitchers.

Quick Mound Visits

Yoshinobu Yamamoto ($10,200) isn't projecting well for us, but he has struck out 31.9% of batters and has a nice 2.89 xFIP. The matchup against the Padres isn't an easy one and makes me prefer Gausman, but Yoshi is still an option and might not be popular.

Reid Detmers ($9,400) is off to a fantastic start to the season. He's struck out a ridiculous 45.2% of batters. Facing the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park is a tough task, but they have struck out 27.8% of the time against lefties so far this season.

I normally love Freddy Peralta ($9,300) because of his high strikeout upside, but he is facing a Baltimore Orioles team that has mashed righties so far this season.

Andrew Abbott ($8,400) has seen his strikeout rate fall from 26.1% last season to 17.8% this season, but that's in just two starts. Now, he'll face the Chicago White Sox, who have struck out 31.0% of the time against southpaws this season. Abbott is a viable value.

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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.