FanDuel MLB DFS Pitching Primer for Tuesday 4/2/24

Nicholas Vazquez
Nicholas Vazquez@nickvaz
FanDuel MLB DFS Pitching Primer for Tuesday 4/2/24

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 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

Luis Castillo, Seattle Mariners ($9,900)

Luis Castillo ($9,900) had a solid season in his first full year with the Seattle Mariners.

In 33 starts, Castillo had a respectable 3.82 expected ERA (xERA) and a 3.81 expected FIP (xFIP). He also sported a 27.3% strikeout rate and a 14.7% swinging-strike rate.

His first outing of the season did not go well against the Boston Red Sox. The good news was he was still able to strike out five batters in five innings. He'll have an easier matchup in this game.

The Mariners will face the Cleveland Guardians at home. Cleveland is projected to score the eighth-fewest runs for the rest of the season by FanGraphs despite their relatively hot start.

T-Mobile Park in Seattle is a park where we'll want to roster a pitcher over batters. It has the lowest park factor for offenses over the last three seasons.

With Castillo also carrying the second-highest projection on FanDuel Research for a pitcher starting tonight (34.1 fantasy points), he's the top play on the board.

Yu Darvish, San Diego Padres ($9,300)

Looking down in salary a bit, we have Yu Darvish ($9,300). He may not be as appealing as he was a handful of years ago, but the man can still pitch effectively.

Darvish had a respectable 24.6% strikeout rate last season for the San Diego Padres to go with a 4.04 skill interactive ERA (SIERA). So far this season, he's allowed one earned run in 8.2 innings pitched.

He'll enjoy the benefits of his home stadium as Petco Park is known for being great for pitchers. Since 2021, it has the second-lowest park factor for hitters of the 30 MLB stadiums.

Despite having a high salary, Darvish is the third-best value by our projections. His opponents, the St. Louis Cardinals, have the third-lowest implied team total tonight (3.56 runs), so we should expect Darvish to limit their offense.

Tournament Options

Brayan Bello, Boston Red Sox ($8,800)

Normally, this salary would probably put me off Brayan Bello ($8,800). However, the matchup makes him someone to consider tonight.

Bello had a solid -- but unspectacular -- season debut. He allowed two runs over five innings but tallied just two strikeouts. He definitely specializes more in getting ground balls than punchout with a 56.8% ground-ball rate and just a 19.8% K rate.

Tonight, he'll face an Oakland Athletics' lineup that struck out at the highest clip against right-handed pitchers last season. This season, albeit in a small sample, their K rate against righties has shot up to 33.1%. They also have an abysmal 56 weighted runs created plus (wRC+) in the split.

Bello may be able to get more strikeouts than normal, and he should be able to keep the ball in the yard at the stadium that has the sixth-lowest park factor for home runs since 2021.

Reynaldo Lopez, Atlanta Braves ($6,500)

Reynaldo Lopez was an intriguing prospect nearly 10 years ago who never fully lived up to his potential as a starting pitcher. He had success as a reliever last year, but now the Atlanta Braves are giving him a chance to start again.

Lopez had a 29.9% strikeout rate and a 14.3% swinging-strike rate from the 'pen last season. He also was able to throw harder without having to work for the full game, averaging a 98.4 MPH on his fastball -- the highest of his career.

These may be warning signs that he won't be as successful as a starter, but he does have a few things going for him tonight. The matchup against his former team, the Chicago White Sox, is a great one.

The White Sox had the lowest weighted on-base average (wOBA) and second-lowest wRC+ against righties last season. This season, they are projected to score the second-fewest runs in the MLB.

The weather may scare people off of Lopez, but this report says that we could see a late start followed by playing the game to its completion in conditions better for pitching.

Of course, the main appeal for Lopez is this low salary. Our projections absolutely love him, giving him by far the best value rating against the Pale Hose. He's projected for the fourth-most fantasy points overall.

Quick Mound Visits

Shane Bieber ($10,200) has a high salary, and that will likely cause him to go overlooked. He also benefits from T-Mobile Park, and if the Mariners are going to continue to strikeout at a 32.7% rate against righties, I'd want a piece of Bieber.

Framber Valdez ($9,100) couldn't find the strike zone in his first start of the season, issuing six walks. He's still a pitcher who was in the top 10 in AL Cy Young voting in the last two seasons, has a respectable strikeout rate, and regularly posts an elite groundball rate. His poor first outing may cause him to get lost in the shuffle.

I like both Adrian Houser ($8,200) and Casey Mize ($7,200) in the Detroit Tigers-New York Mets matchup, but I'm concerned with the weather in that game. If for some reason it clears up, I'd like both of them -- especially Houser against the struggling Tigers.

Similar to Lopez, Javier Assad ($6,200) is a great value option. He didn't do much to write home about in his first season in the MLB, but his salary is low enough to consider in this matchup. He's facing off against a Colorado Rockies' lineup that struck out at the second-highest rate against righties last season. They also had the worst wRC+ against righties (84), and it's all the way down to 43 at this early point of the 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.