FanDuel MLB DFS Pitching Primer for Monday 4/1/24

Nicholas Vazquez
Nicholas Vazquez@nickvaz
FanDuel MLB DFS Pitching Primer for Monday 4/1/24

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 Options

Triston McKenzie, Cleveland Guardians ($9,200)

There aren't any true aces on this slate. The highest salary pitcher on the slate is Triston McKenzie ($9,200).

McKenzie isn't the most inspiring option for a top pitcher, but there are a few interesting data points that make him usable tonight. He only started four games in 2023 but was a very effective pitcher in 2022.

In that 2022 season, McKenzie had a 25.6% strikeout rate and a 26.7% rate for his career. He also has a 12.6% career swinging-strike rate.

The matchup tonight against the Seattle Mariners seems to be a good one. Seattle has struggled to hit against right-handed pitching in this season's very limited sample. They've struck out 35% of the time with a dismal 35 wRC+.

Obviously, it's tough to draw conclusions from the four games that they've played, but the Mariners also had the sixth-highest strikeout rate against righties last season.

McKenzie might get overlooked because his salary is the highest and he's not a true ace, but I'm definitely intrigued by him tonight.

Reese Olson, Detroit Tigers, ($8,700)

Like McKenzie, Reese Olson ($8,700) isn't the typical pitcher we'd like to allocate a lot of salary on, but we have to get creative on this slate.

Olson showed a lot of promise in 2022 and 2023 in the upper levels of the minor leagues. He carried that over to the bigs in 2023 with an impressive 24.4% strikeout rate in 103.2 MLB innings. He also did a fairly good job of limiting runs with a 3.91 expected FIP (xFIP).

He'll get a matchup tonight against the New York Mets, who were a bottom-five offense against righties last season in both weighted on-base average (wOBA) and wRC+. Olson will also benefit from pitching at Citi Field, which has the third-lowest park factor of the 30 MLB stadiums.

Olson is another pitcher that daily fantasy players may ignore, but he's one to consider with the options we have.

Value Picks

Sean Manaea, New York Mets ($7,600)

On the other side of that game at Citi Field, Sean Manaea ($7,600) could be the best option tonight.

Manaea joined the Mets after a good season with the San Francisco Giants last year. He had a 25.7% strikeout rate and a 40.9% groundball rate.

He'll face a Detroit Tigers lineup that is projected to be in the bottom five of runs per game this season. They also have the lowest implied team total on this slate at just 3.54 runs.

Manaea carries the highest projection on this slate, despite having a salary $1600 lower than the top option. He'll allow you to fit in a ton of top bats and not sacrifice any projection at pitcher.

Ronel Blanco, Houston Astros ($6,500)

If you need even more savings from Manaea, Ronel Blanco ($6,500) could be your guy.

Blanco mixed between the starting rotation and bullpen last season. He had some interesting underlying numbers in 2023. With an impressive 15.7% swinging-strike rate in 2023, Blanco has upside to improve on his 23.0% strikeout rate from a year ago.

Blue Jays-Astros odds at FanDuel show Houston as a -146 favorite tonight, so I don't mind taking a chance on Blanco for this salary.

Quick Mound Visits

Tanner Houck ($8,300) has a good matchup against the Oakland Athletics tonight. Houck had a tough-luck season last year, allowing 16.1% home run to fly ball ratio in 2023 despite only allowing a 6.6% barrel rate.

Emerson Hancock ($7,600) and Matt Waldron ($7,100) are other arms with low salaries that pitches in good parks for pitchers.

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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.