FanDuel MLB DFS Pitching Primer for Thursday 5/30/24

Aidan Cotter
Aidan CotterAidanCotterFD

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


Zac Gallen, Diamondbacks ($10,600)

Though we have just eight pitchers to choose from on tonight's four-game slate, there are still two arms with five-figure salaries.

Zac Gallen leads the way at $10.6K, and he's my personal favorite.

The righty's been rock-solid for the Arizona Diamondbacks this season, pitching to a 3.12 ERA while maintaining a 1.13 WHIP. That ERA is backed up by a 3.27 xFIP and 3.37 SIERA -- both top-25 marks among qualified starters.

Gallen continues to offer upside in the strikeout department thanks to his 25.9% K rate and 27.9% CSW%. Though he's failed to exceed six punchouts in five of his last six starts, he does have a pair of 10-K outings to his name. Gallen's strikeouts prop is set at 5.5 on FanDuel Sportsbook.

He's cracked 40 FanDuel points in four of his 10 starts and stands a good chance of doing so again tonight against the New York Mets.

The Mets have been below-average against right-handed pitchers, ranking 18th in wOBA (.305) and 19th in ISO (.141). They're striking out at only a 21.4% clip in this split, though they also have the fifth-highest ground-ball rate (44.3%).

Notably, slugger Pete Alonso left yesterday's game after being hit by a pitch. His status for tonight's is unclear, but Alonso getting a day off would further benefit Gallen. Against righties, Alonso leads New York in ISO (.214) and OPS (.774).

Consequently, the Mets have the slate's lowest implied total (3.39).

Gallen gets a bump thanks to pitching at Citi Field -- the second-worst venue for hitters, per Statcast Park Factors. He's a worthy top arm tonight.

Jack Flaherty, Tigers ($10,300)

Purely looking at 2024 performance, Jack Flaherty may be the best pitcher on the slate.

In his first season with the Detroit Tigers, the righty has rediscovered the magic he found in 2019 when he finished fourth in Cy Young voting. You just have to dig a little deeper to see how great he's been.

While his 3.84 ERA is nothing to write home about, the underlying numbers tell a different story. He leads all qualified starters in xFIP (2.03) and SIERA (2.26) by significant margins. Flaherty's 33.3% K rate ranks second while his 34.6% CSW% also leads the league.

Despite allowing the lowest contact rate (67.6%), Flaherty has been brutalized by a .340 BABIP. In spite of that, opposing batters are still hitting just .247 against him. That speaks to how strong his arsenal has been this season. He's in the top 10 among starters in both barrel rate (4.7%) and hard-hit rate (33.3%) allowed.

Fantasy-wise, Flaherty is averaging 35.1 FanDuel points per game. He's notched at least 40 FanDuel points in five of 10 starts and is our highest-projected player tonight. We project him to record 18 outs en route to 32.1 FanDuel points. He has -146 odds to record over 17.5 outs on FanDuel Sportsbook, and our Riley Thomas lists Flaherty among the night's top strikeout props to target.

But, while Flaherty's stuff has been better than Gallen's this season, the matchup isn't nearly as juicy as Gallen's. Flaherty travels east to take on the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Fenway has the second-best Park Factor for hitters overall and the best for left-handed bats. The Sox could start as many as five lefties tonight, though Flaherty has let up just a .295 wOBA in that split.

Against righties, Boston ranks ninth in wOBA (.315) and fourth in ISO (.171). Still, there's some saving grace here. The Red Sox are just 18th in wRC+ (98) in this split, and they've struck out at the seventh-highest clip (24.1%)

Between the Flaherty and Gallen, Gallen likely has a safer floor given the matchup. But Flaherty undoubtedly has the higher ceiling given his strikeout upside.

Tier Two

Nick Pivetta, Red Sox ($8,800)

In that same Tigers-Red Sox matchup, I'm not opposed to Nick Pivetta.

The righty is coming off a rough, 4-FanDuel-point outing, but he previously netted 49 FanDuel points. That bad game was his second start with single-digit FanDuel points, though he's cracked 30 in each of his other four starts.

Pivetta has just a 4.20 ERA on the year, but his 27.7% K rate and 27.5% CSW% have kept him plenty relevant in fantasy. He's fallen victim to some rough luck, too, as his 3.25 xFIP and 3.08 SIERA are both excellent marks.

My biggest concerns with Pivetta revolve around his batted-ball metrics. He's sporting a measly 33.3% ground-ball rate and a lofty 48.1% fly-ball rate. His 12.3% barrel rate would be the worst mark among starters if he qualified. Those aren't exactly favorable numbers when you call Fenway Park home.

A matchup with the Tigers isn't bad on paper, but they've quietly posted the 14th-best wOBA (.308) and 15th-best ISO (.150) against righties. They also have the fourth-highest fly-ball rate (40.3%) in that split, although their 24.0% K rate at least offers some upside.

Pivetta's strikeout prop is set at 6.5 on FanDuel Sportsbook, with +124 odds toward the over. He's struck out at least eight hitters in three of six starts and sports +240 odds to record 8+ strikeouts on FanDuel.

There's certainly upside with Pivetta thanks to his middling matchup and strikeout potential. We just need to bank on him keeping the ball in the yard.

Value Arm

Christian Scott, Mets ($7,900)

While Paul Skenes has (rightfully) garnered the bulk of the hype among early-season call-ups, Christian Scott has quietly gotten off to a strong start to his major league career. MLB Pipeline's 56th-ranked prospect went for 39 and 37 FanDuel points in his first two outings, so there's proven upside for someone with a sub-$8K salary.

It's been just four starts, but Scott has a manageable 3.97 ERA and 1.10 WHIP thus far. His 3.93 xFIP and .369 SIERA suggest he's pitching about at expectation, though his numbers are inflated by a rough third outing. The righty lasted just 4.0 innings two starts back, giving up seven hits and four runs while punching out three.

But Scott recorded quality starts in each of his other three appearances, flashing some strikeout potential with six- and eight-K games. His 12.1% swinging-strike rate would rank 24th among qualified starters. Tonight, his strikeout prop is set at 5.5 on FanDuel Sportsbook with +104 odds to the over.

A date with Arizona isn't the worst spot for a right-hander. The D-Backs are just 24th in wOBA (.297) and 25th in ISO (.132) against righties, and they've stuck out at a 21.5% clip in the split. Furthermore, they have the seventh-highest ground-ball rate (43.7%) against right-handed hurlers.

Also, Scott benefits from pitching at Citi Field, and he boasts a strong 28.4-FanDuel point projection. If you're straying away from the top names, Scott's your guy on tonight's four-game slate.

Quick Mound Visits

Carlos Rodon ($9,600) has been on fire of late, cracking 40 FanDuel points in four of his last six games. He has a 2.95 ERA on the year.

Early roster rate projections from across the industry suggest he'll be among the most popular DFS arms tonight, but the matchup isn't as good as you'd think.

The Los Angeles Angels have quietly put up the fourth-highest wOBA (.338) and fifth-best wRC+ (119) against southpaws, and they're striking out at only a 21.0% clip.

On top of that, Rodon is running just a decent 22.2% K rate while his 4.51 xFIP and 4.10 SIERA don't instill much confidence going forward. I'd rather allocate a bit more salary for one of the five-figure studs or dip down to Pivetta.

Trevor Williams ($7,700) has a tough matchup on the road versus the Atlanta Braves, although they're a bit less menacing now with Ronald Acuna out.

We saw that play out yesterday when MacKenzie Gore carved up Atlanta for 10 Ks and 49 FanDuel points. Williams hasn't been as good as Gore has been, but it's hard to argue with a 2.29 ERA. His 3.72 xFIP and a 3.88 SIERA suggest some regression is coming, but those are still solid numbers.

While Williams' K rate (21.4%) leaves a lot to be desired and the matchup is still tough even sans Acuna, he's sure to be among the least-rostered pitchers on the slate. If you need the salary for one of today's top stacks, I don't mind using Williams as a contrarian play.

Patrick Sandoval ($7,100) has a 5.60 ERA and gets the New York Yankees tonight. I'll pass.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't interested in Ray Kerr ($5,500). It's not every day we get a starting pitcher with this low of a salary, and he has tantalizing 27.6% K rate to boot. But this is just his second career start, and he's never pitched more than four innings in a single game in the bigs. You're probably getting too cute here unless you nail your hitters.

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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.