FanDuel MLB DFS Pitching Primer for Wednesday 5/1/24

Nicholas Vazquez
Nicholas Vazquez@nickvaz
FanDuel MLB DFS Pitching Primer for Wednesday 5/1/24

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

Justin Verlander, Houston Astros ($10,000)

Justin Verlander ($10,000) is back after starting the season on the injured list and has pitched well in his first two starts.

Verlander had a bit of a down year in 2023. His 4.56 expected fielding independent pitching (xFIP) was his highest since 2008. That's down to 3.83 this season while his strikeout rate has gone from 21.5% to 26.8%. It's also nice to see the 41-year-old still average 94.0 MPH on his fastball.

Today, he'll face the Cleveland Guardians. Cleveland's offense has been decent this season, but their 102 weighted runs created plus (+wRC) is just slightly above average.

The Guardians have the second-lowest implied team total on the main slate today, as it sits at just 3.79 runs. Verlander is projected for the most points by FanDuel Research's projections, so he definitely makes sense as an option tonight.

Kutter Crawford, Boston Red Sox ($9,700)

Kutter Crawford ($9,700) has started off the season very well after having a good year in 2023, as well.

Crawford has excelled at not allowing dangerous contact this season. He's allowed just a 26.1% hard-hit rate and has a career-best 36.4% ground-ball rate. Add that with a 24.6% strikeout rate, and it makes sense that Crawford has a 3.78 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA).

He'll take on the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday in a matchup that shouldn't really scare us. SF strikes out 23.2% of the time against righties while also sporting a below-average 99 wRC+

Crawford feels like a fairly safe option tonight, so I wouldn't mind rolling him out in cash game lineups.

Tournament Options

Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Los Angeles Dodgers ($9,000)

It's pretty difficult to pitch as well as Yoshinobu Yamamoto ($9,000) and keep a salary in check, but we get a bit of a discount on him tonight.

Yoshi has come from Japan and looked like an elite pitcher across the board with all of his numbers. He has a 31.9% strikeout rate, a 2.66 SIERA, and a 2.63 xFIP. He has allowed a 12.5% barrel percentage, but if he can cut that down while maintaining his other numbers, he could be one of the best pitchers in baseball.

He does go up against a dangerous Arizona Diamondbacks lineup tonight, but they are much better against lefties than righties. Against RHP, their 90 wRC+ ranks just 25th in the league.

I really like this salary for Yamamoto, and I think his strikeout rate provides some of the most upside on this slate.

Jose Butto, New York Mets, ($8,200)

Jose Butto ($8,200) is coming off his worst outing of the season but has a nice opportunity to bounce back in this game tonight.

Last start, Butto allowed four earned runs in 5.2 innings. Before that, he had allowed only three earned runs all season. If he can sustain his 27.8% strikeout rate, Butto should be able to have success this season.

The Chicago Cubs come to town, and it's a pretty good matchup for Butto. The Cubbies have a 23.7% strikeout rate against righties with a mediocre 93 wRC+.

Butto will pitch in one of the best pitcher's parks in the MLB at Citi Field. I'm happy to hop back on him in this spot at this reasonable salary.

Value of the Day

Andrew Heaney, Texas Rangers ($7,200)

It's been a brutal start to the season for Andrew Heaney ($7,200), but he warrants some consideration tonight.

While Heaney has an ugly 6.26 ERA this season, his expected ERA (xERA) is down at 4.67. His SIERA is 4.37, which is better than the 4.40 it was last year. His 21.6% strikeout rate is respectable, and if he can improve on his 45.6% hard-rate and 52.9% fly-ball rate, he can get back to being a useful MLB starter.

The reason we'll want to target Heaney today is because of his opponent. He's pitching against the Washington Nationals. Washington's offense hasn't been as bad as we might have expected heading into the season, but they still have just a 90 wRC+ against lefties.

I like buying low on Heaney in this spot, and I think he can pay off this low salary.

Quick Mound Visits

Corbin Burnes ($10,600) will probably fly under the radar against the New York Yankees, and it's nice to be able to get a great pitcher when the field will likely be off of him. It probably won't be easy, but Burnes has a 3.37 SIERA and a 25.5% strikeout rate.

I really want to roster Shota Imanaga ($10,200) whenever I can, but tonight he'll face a New York Mets' team that has been good against lefties. They have the lowest strikeout rate against southpaws at just 15.3%. I'd still target Imanaga in tournaments, but we should temper expectations.

Another pitcher who has been good this season but faces a really tough matchup is Luis Gil ($7,800). Gil has a 32.4% strikeout rate, and his salary is far lower than the other two guys.

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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.