FanDuel MLB DFS Pitching Primer for Thursday 5/9/24

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 of the Heap

Sonny Gray, St. Louis Cardinals ($11,600)

It's been a rough start to the season for the St. Louis Cardinals, but Sonny Gray ($10,900) has been excellent in his first year with the club.

Gray has exceeded all reasonable expectations so far. His career strikeout rate is 23.5%, and this season that's up to 33.3%. He also has an incredible skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) of 2.39 and an expected FIP (xFIP) of 2.30.

It won't be the easiest matchup for Gray against the Milwaukee Brewers. Milwaukee has the second-highest weighted runs created plus (wRC+) against righties, at 126. Gray should be able to keep them in the park, though, as he has allowed opponents to barrel the ball only 4.2% of the time this season.

It's hard not to love what Gray has done this season, so I'll take my chances with him on today's small slate even in this tougher matchup. Despite their offensive success, the Brewers still hold the lowest implied team total tonight at just 3.56 runs, so Gray is still expected to do well tonight.

Next Arm Up

Reid Detmers, Los Angeles Angels ($9,600)

Reid Detmers ($9,600) started off the season lights out, but since then, he has allowed 16 earned runs across his last three games.

Even after this poor stretch, his ERA is still just 4.24. His advanced numbers are even better, such as his 3.55 SIERA and 3.59 xFIP. These numbers paired with his 26.7% strikeout rate make him a good DFS option.

Detmers will face the Kansas City Royals tonight. KC has been better than we expected coming into the season, but they still struggle against lefties. The Royals have just a 73 wRC+ against southpaws, ranking 27th in the league.

If I can't find the salary to get all the way up to Gray in lineups, I'm definitely fine using Detmers in all formats. Our model believes in Detmers -- he actually has FanDuel Research's highest projection by a good margin.

Value of the Day

Michael Wacha, Kansas City Royals ($7,000)

We can go all the way down to Michael Wacha ($7,000) if we want a value choice at starting pitcher tonight.

Wacha has rarely wowed anyone over his 12 seasons in the majors, and this season he's been underwhelming for sure. He has just an 18.9% strikeout rate and got blown up for seven earned runs in just 3.2 innings in his last start.

That's the bad news out of the way.

Now, the good news.

Wacha still has respectable SIERA (4.18) and xFIP (4.11). He also hasn't been getting knocked around too badly, with just a 6.6% barrel percentage and a 36.4% hard-hit rate against him.

Wacha will go up against the Los Angeles Angels, who suffered a huge blow last week when Mike Trout went on the injured list. In their active lineup, the Angels have just a 91 wRC+ against righties.

If I want to get the top bats in my lineup, Wacha is who I will turn to at the pitcher spot to be able to make that happen.

Quick Mound Visits

Ben Lively ($10,000) is the only other pitcher on this slate I'd really consider. He has a 28.6% strikeout rate and faces one of the worst offenses in baseball, the Chicago White Sox. There is some potentially bad weather in this game, so be on the lookout for that.

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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.