FanDuel MLB DFS Pitching Primer for Monday 4/8/24

Nicholas Vazquez
Nicholas Vazquez@nickvaz

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

Blake Snell, San Francisco Giants ($10,500)

Last year's National League Cy Young winner will be making his first start of the season, and we'll want to target him in DFS lineups.

Blake Snell ($10,500) took a long time to sign a free agent contract, so he's just getting ramped up finally to make his debut. Snell had a 31.5% strikeout rate and a 15.3% swinging-strike rate last year. He also had his lowest fly-ball rate of any full season of his career.

It's hard to go to a better pitcher's park than where he was in San Diego, but Oracle Park is at least comparable. It has a park factor that was the fifth-lowest for home runs in MLB between 2021-2023.

Snell gets a nice matchup against the Washington Nationals tonight. Washington has not hit left-handed pitching well to start this season, with an abysmal 46 weighted runs created plus (wRC+) so far.

Our projections at FanDuel Research have Snell scoring the most fantasy points on the main slate, so he's the top option tonight.

Jose Berrios, Toronto Blue Jays ($9,600)

It's been a solid start to the year for Jose Berrios ($9,600). He's had two quality starts and averaged 32.5 FanDuel points.

His strikeout numbers weren't terribly impressive, as he had just eight in 12 innings. Last season, he was able to punch out 23.5% of batters. It's only been two starts, but his 3.80 expected FIP (xFIP) is impressive and would be the second-lowest mark of his career.

Berrios' should be able to get more strikeouts in this matchup. The Seattle Mariners were a high-strikeout team against right-handed pitching last season, and it's been even more true this year. They have struck out 32.3% of the time against righties and also have the second-worst wRC+ at just 63.

With this matchup, I like Berrios' upside tonight. His salary isn't a total bargain but also comes at $900 less than Snell's

Next Men Up

Yu Darvish, San Diego Padres ($9,200)

Yu Darvish ($9,200) has yet to pick up a win this season in three starts, but some of his numbers look promising.

Darvish has struck out 25.0% of batters so far. He's also got a 12.0% swinging-strike rate, which would be his best since 2021. He's sporting a solid 3.46 xFIP to start the year.

Another thing that is encouraging is that he's allowed just two barreled balls out of 43 put in play, meaning that he isn't too likely to allow the long ball.

On Monday, Darvish will face one of his former teams, the Chicago Cubs. Chicago has the second-lowest implied team total today at just 3.53 runs.

The projections have Yu as one of the best values and highest scorers on the slate, so he's definitely worth considering.

Zach Eflin, Tampa Bay Rays ($8,800)

Zach Eflin ($8,800) is perhaps a bit underrated as a pitcher, and he has the potential to go overlooked with some brand-name starters on today's slate.

Eflin is now the ace for the Tampa Bay Rays. He had career-best numbers in strikeout rate (26.5%), xFIP (3.12) and skill-interactive ERA (3.30) in 2023, and he will look to build on that this season.

His first start of the season was not a good one, but he seemed to get back on track in his second appearance. Last time out, he struck out five Texas Rangers over 6.1 innings and limited them to just one run.

He'll get a much easier matchup in his third start of the season against the Los Angeles Angels. They've struck out 25.6% of the time against righties and have a wRC+ of just 77.

Eflin offers some salary savings but doesn't totally sacrifice upside, so I like him in this spot.

Value of the Day

Spencer Turnbull, Philadelphia Phillies ($7,700)

If you're looking to really save salary at the pitcher spot, you can look at Spencer Turnbull ($7,700).

Turnbull had a great debut for the Philadelphia Phillies. He struck out seven batters in five innings and didn't allow a run. We can't expect him to be this good every start, especially considering how poor his season was last season, but his first outing was encouraging.

Despite last season's poor showing, Turnbull was respectable in 2022. That year, he had a 3.82 SIERA and 3.77 xFIP.

Tonight, he'll face the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cards have struck out 27.1% of the time against righties so far and have an 81 wRC+ in the split.

I don't mind Turnbull if you're looking below $8,000 for a pitcher.

Quick Mound Visits

Charlie Morton ($10,000) only slightly trails Snell for the top option tonight. He'll face a struggling New York Mets team that has the worst wRC+ against righties in the league. Morton didn't allow a run in his first start of the season and struck out six.

On the other side of Berrios, Luis Castillo ($9,500) is also a good option. He's been roughed up a bit to start the season, but his 3.25 xFIP suggests that he's mostly fine. He's also going up against a Jays lineup that has not been hitting well at all so far in 2024.

James Paxton ($8,600) struggled to find the zone consistently in his first start for the Los Angeles Dodgers but still struck out five in five innings. He will take on a Minnesota Twins lineup that is much worse against lefties than righties.

Andrew Heaney ($7,800) has a tough matchup, but our projections have him as the best point-per-dollar value pitcher on the slate. He struck out seven while throwing less than five innings in his first start this season.

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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.