MLB

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

Aidan Cotter
Aidan CotterAidanCotterFD
FanDuel MLB DFS Pitching Primer for Monday 6/24/24

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 odds come from the MLB odds at FanDuel Sportsbook. Advanced stats come from FanGraphs and Baseball Savant unless noted otherwise. Betting odds as well as our projections -- which are powered by numberFire -- may change after this article is published.

MLB DFS Pitcher Picks

Aces

Cole Ragans, Royals ($11,000)

I'm typically a bargain bin shopper when it comes to DFS pitchers, but I'll be hard-pressed to keep Cole Ragans out of lineups tonight -- even if he boasts the slate's highest salary.

The Kansas City Royals' lefty has rattled off eight quality starts in his last 10 appearances, dropping his season-long ERA to 3.13. That's backed up by stellar ERA indicators between a 3.27 xERA, 3.21 xFIP, and 3.30 SIERA.

Ragans' fantasy upside lies with his 28.9% K rate. That comes via a 14.3% swinging-strike rate (SwStr%) and has helped propel him to at least seven Ks in 10 of 16 starts. He has -132 odds to record 7+ strikeouts tonight against the Miami Marlins.

That's an intriguing line for Ragans, and this matchup makes him my favorite arm to roster in DFS.

Miami has been dreadful this season, but they've taken their awfulness to new lows against left-handed pitchers. In that split, the Marlins rank dead last in wOBA (.264), ISO (.101), and wRC+ (68). Although they're only 16th in K rate (21.3%) against southpaws, they have a league-high ground-ball rate (51.4%).

Somehow, Miami's wRC+ (42) is even worse on the road in this split. On the flip side, Ragans' K rate actually climbs to 31.8% at home.

Our projections peg Ragans for a slate-leading 43 FanDuel points tonight. That includes a slate-high 8.24 strikeouts -- something to bear in mind considering the daily strikeout leader market. His +500 odds to be the daily strikeout leader are tied for the day's second shortest.

Freddy Peralta, Brewers ($9,800)

These last two starts have been the epitome of the Freddy Peralta experience. Two starts back, Freddy was lit up for 10 hits and six earned runs, ultimately finishing with 16 FanDuel points.

But the righty bounced back his last time out, striking out eight across six scoreless innings to net 52 FanDuel points.

There's always a degree of uncertainty with Peralta on the bump, but there's no denying his fantasy upside. The righty has cracked 40 FanDuel points six times in 15 starts, reaching for 50 twice.

In total, Peralta is averaging 33.8 FanDuel points per game with a 4.06 ERA. His ERA indicators -- a 3.75 xERA, 3.37 xFIP, and 3.17 SIERA -- offer some encouragement despite the less-than-ideal actual ERA.

He's still running a 31.0% K rate and generating whiffs at a 13.7% clip, so I'm certainly bullish about his upside at a four-figure salary.

While tonight's home matchup with the Texas Rangers doesn't look great on paper, the defending champs have quietly struggled against righties thus far. They're just 24th in wRC+ (93), though they're striking out at only the sixth-lowest rate (19.6%).

Still, their .301 wOBA against righties isn't anything to shy away from, especially with Peralta coming off such a strong start.

If you're looking to save some salary, but don't want to go full value play, Freddy P's set up well tonight.

Tier Two

Tanner Houck, Red Sox ($10,600)

Tanner Houck has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Boston Red Sox's fastball-averse approach. The 26-year-old is in the midst of a career-best season, pitching to a 2.14 ERA with 12 quality starts across his 15 outings.

He's averaging a touch under 40 FanDuel points per game on the year, supporting a 24.2% K rate with the highest called strike rate (20.6%) among qualified starters.

Though he faces the same Toronto Blue Jays lineup that held him to his second-fewest FanDuel points (26) of the season last week, there's certainly an opportunity for a bounceback.

Toronto scored a pair of runs off six hits against Houck in that start. He still finished one out shy of a quality start, striking out five in the process.

The Blue Jays have been right around league average against righties, ranking 14th in wRC+ (100) and 15th in wOBA (.306). While they've struck out at only a 19.5% clip in that split, they're just 20th in ISO (.145).

Still, Houck's salary puts him in no man's land. In single-entry contests, I'd prefer to allocate a bit more salary to go get Ragans or save and dip down to Peralta.

But early roster rate projections from across the industry don't envision Houck being heavily utilized, and there's enough proven upside where I want some exposure in contrarian builds.

Value Arm

Matt Waldron, Padres ($8,300)

Matt Waldron figures to be the go-to salary saver at pitcher tonight -- for good reason. The knuckleballer is in the midst of a stellar seven-game stretch, during which he's upped his knuckleball usage to 42.3%.

Over this stretch, Waldron's pieced together five quality starts and registered a 24.1% K rate with a 1.64 ERA. He's given up two or fewer runs in all seven starts, most recently against the Philadelphia Phillies.

With three 45-FanDuel-point outings over that stretch, I'm happy to ride the hot arm in a plus matchup with the Washington Nationals.

Against righties, Washington ranks just 20th in wRC+ (95), 18th in wOBA (.303), and 25th in ISO (.137). They're striking out at only a 20.5% clip in that split but also have the highest rate of soft contact (18.5%).

It doesn't hurt that Waldron's San Diego Padres have the slate's second-shortest moneyline odds (-205), nor that he's lasted 7.0 innings in three of his last five starts.

Our projections peg Waldron for 37.2 FanDuel points, second among pitchers and enough to make him the top point-per-dollar value on the slate (4.48 FanDuel points per $1,000).

Quick Mound Visits

Garrett Crochet ($10,200) has exceeded 35 FanDuel points in nine straight outings, picking up quality starts in eight of those. He's a stud, but the Los Angeles Dodgers are in town, and they lead the league in wOBA against left-handed pitchers. There's still strikeout upside here, but I'm limiting my exposure outside of larger contests.

Justin Steele ($9,500) has rattled off three straight quality starts, the most recent of which came against the same San Francisco Giants he'll face tonight. Steele's ERA is down to 3.16, but his K rate is still just 23.7%. It's hard to get too excited about his rematch with San Fran -- a team with the sixth-highest wRC+ (118) against southpaws -- considering the other pitchers around his salary range.

Chris Bassitt ($9,000) has cracked 30 FanDuel points in six straight starts, though he registered quality starts in only three of those. An 8.1% swinging-strike rate caps his upside, and I'm not thrilled about him pitching at Fenway tonight.

A date with the Chicago White Sox puts any opposing arm in consideration for DFS, but I can't get there with James Paxton ($8,600). Though he's coming off his best outing of the season (7.0 innings, one run allowed, and eight strikeouts), the 35-year-old still has a dreadful 5.43 SIERA and 3.6% K-BB rate for the year.

Michael Lorenzen ($8,500) has been held under 30 FanDuel points in two of his last three starts and now faces the Milwaukee Brewers -- a team tied for fifth in wRC+ (114) against righties. Lorenzen's flirting with a 5.00 SIERA and has just a 17.5% K rate. It's hard to justify rostering him at this salary.

Spencer Schwellenbach ($8,000) has an eye-popping 29.1% CSW% through four starts, so I can get on board with him against a St. Louis Cardinals team that's struck out at the ninth-highest clip (23.8%) against righties.

Warm temps at Great American Ball Park -- the fifth-best venue for hitters -- are enough to keep me away from Bailey Falter ($7,900) and Carson Spiers ($7,800), especially since these are both rematches from last week's series.

Both Lance Lynn ($7,600) and Roddery Munoz ($7,400) have flashed upside, and both own swinging-strike rates north of 10%. But Lynn gets the Atlanta Braves at home, while Munoz travels to take on the Kansas City Royals. Lance is the lowest-salaried arm I'd consider tonight, but I'm not thrilled about it -- even if the Braves strike out at the eighth-highest clip against righties.

Griffin Canning ($7,200), Patrick Corbin ($6,600), and Luis Medina ($6,400) all have SIERAs north of 4.75 and K rates south of 16%. Canning at least gets the Oakland Athletics, but I still can't justify any of the three even at low salaries.


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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.