FanDuel MLB DFS Pitching Primer for Monday 5/6/24

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 Option

Luis Castillo, Seattle Mariners ($10,200)

Luis Castillo ($10,200) is the ace of this slate, as the only pitcher with a salary above $10,000. He's been on quite the roll, and it could continue tonight.

It wasn't the most amazing start to the season, but Castillo has definitely turned things around. He has four consecutive quality starts, with at least 40 FanDuel points in each. His strikeout rate is 28.7%, and his xFIP 3.02 -- both the best numbers he's posted since 2020.

Tonight, Castillo will face the Minnesota Twins. Minnesota is a fairly average matchup for right-handed pitchers, striking out 22.8% of the time in the split and possessing a 103 wRC+.

Castillo is our highest-projected pitcher on the slate and is a good option to use in all contest formats tonight.

Cole Ragans, Kansas City Royals ($9,500)

Cole Ragans ($9,500) really started to figure things out after being traded to the Kansas City Royals last season. That's carried over to this season, as well.

Ragans is coming off his best start of the season last time out. He struck out nine batters in 6.2 innings, allowing just one earned run. That pushed his strikeout rate on the season to 28.9% and his xFIP down to 3.16.

On Monday night, Ragans will face the Milwaukee Brewers. Milwaukee has not been good against left-handed pitching this season. Their wRC+ against lefties is a measly 76, well below the league average of 100.

With Ragans having the second-highest FanDuel projection tonight, he's a good option in lineups where I can't roster Castillo.

Next Guys Up

Yu Darvish, San Diego Padres ($8,500)

Yu Darvish ($8,500) has been good but unspectacular this season. He doesn't appear to be the same dominant pitcher he once was, but his salary also reflects that.

In his last start, Darvish was coming off of a brief stint on the injured list. That could have been what limited him to just five innings, because otherwise, things were going well. He allowed just three hits, no walks and no earned runs.

Even if his strikeout rate is down to 21.0%, Darvish can still be an effective pitcher. He'll face the Chicago Cubs, who are very average against righties. In the split, they have a 99 wRC+, which ranks 19th.

Pitching at Wrigley Field is extremely dependent on how the wind will behave. Luckily for Darvish, it's blowing in today. That should help limit the damage.

Walker Buehler, Los Angeles Dodgers ($8,300)

Making his return from Tommy John surgery to take the mound for the first time since August 2022, Walker Buehler ($8,300) is in consideration tonight.

Buehler was excellent in his last full season in 2021. He had a 26.0% strikeout rate to go with a 3.57 xFIP. In his career, he has a 27.0% and a 3.60 SIERA. If he's anything close to that level, the Los Angeles Dodgers are adding another ace to their rotation.

It's nice for Buehler to be eased in against the Miami Marlins. Miami has the third-worst wRC+ against righties this season. They also have the lowest implied team total (3.30) on tonight's slate.

There is some concern with how deep Buehler will go into the game, but the Dodgers likely wouldn't run him out there if he wasn't good to go. If this concern has fantasy players not wanting to roster him, it could keep his popularity low, making Buehler an interesting GPP play.

Quick Mound Visits

This section today will cover two similar value lefties.

We'll start with Andrew Heaney ($7,700), who is coming off his best start of the season. He went seven shutout innings in that one, which was his first quality of the year. He's facing the Oakland Athletics, who strike out 23.8% of the time against southpaws. It's a nice matchup, and the $7,700 salary is appealing.

Sean Manaea ($7,500) is also an option down at this salary range. He has been pretty solid this year, with a strikeout rate of 23.4%. He's facing the St. Louis Cardinals, who don't strike out as much as the A's do but carry a much worse 71 wRC+.

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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.