FanDuel Pitching Primer: Friday 7/7/23

Aidan Cotter
Aidan CotterAidanCotterFD

When building a daily fantasy baseball lineup on FanDuel, nailing your pitcher is crucial to succeeding in any contest. Strikeouts are king -- although, innings-eaters and win potential can't be ignored.

With a pitcher serving as the backbone of your lineup, we don't want to mess around. Let's take a look at some of the top pitcher options and values, as well as a dart throw for today's main DFS slate on FanDuel.

*Statistics via FanGraphs unless otherwise stated*

Top Options

Zac Gallen, Arizona Diamondbacks ($10,100)

Kicking things off out west, Arizona Diamondbacks ace Zac Gallen is someone I'm all over ahead of Friday's DFS slate. Gallen's got the strikeout stuff and the favorable matchup we're looking for in a pitcher.

Gallen and the D-backs get a tantalizing matchup with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates have been a trainwreck offensively aside from their red-hot April. Since May 1st, they've struck out at the eighth-highest rate (23.9%) and have the second-lowest weighted on-base average (.291; wOBA) against right-handed pitchers.

Over that same period, the Pirates have managed just 46 homers -- the second-fewest in the league. They're simply not hitting the ball hard, registering hard contact at the fifth-lowest rate in baseball (30.8%).

Gallen, meanwhile, has turned into a bonafide ace thanks to a 3.53 skill-interactive ERA (14th among qualified pitchers), an above-average 26.8% strikeout rate, and a 92nd-percentile 5.1% walk rate, per Statcast. He is currently the favorite to take home the National League Cy Young award, per the Cy Young odds at FanDuel Sportsbook.

numberFire projects Gallen to rack up 35.9 FanDuel points tonight. Considering he's eclipsed 40 FanDuel points in three of his last four starts, that projection seems like the floor.

With Pittsburgh's 3.42 implied team total lining up as one of the lowest of the night, Gallen is a top option in DFS.

Luis Castillo, Seattle Mariners ($9,700)

Despite a losing record (5-6) this season, Seattle Mariners' righty Luis Castillo has been one of the best pitchers in baseball. For the year, he ranks 16th with a 3.60 SIERA and 8th with a 27.9% strikeout rate.

He is coming off a bit of a rough patch, however, and has eclipsed 30 FanDuel points just once over his last four starts. That said, he gets a nice matchup tonight against the Houston Astros.

While we don't typically advise targeting the defending champs, the Astros are without both Jose Altuve and Yordan Alvarez. Seattle's George Kirby made short work of Houston last night and finished with 36.1 points.

numberFire projects Castillo for 35.6 FanDuel points tonight -- the third-highest projection of the slate. Houston's implied team total of 3.81 is nothing to write home about, making Castillo a top option for DFS.

Value Plays

Hunter Brown, Houston Astros ($9,000)

A rookie pitcher has the highest projection on numberFire tonight. No, it's not Andrew Abbott despite his slate-leading salary.

The honor belongs to Astros' righty Hunter Brown, who numberFire projects for 36.2 FanDuel points. At his $9,000 tag, Brown is one of the best values of the slate.

Brown has been a revelation for Houston this season. Through 16 starts, he owns a 3.44 SIERA and 27.5% strikeout rate -- both ranking in the top 15 league-wide.

Brown is coming off a down performance in a tough matchup at the Texas Rangers but had dropped 40-plus FanDuel points in two of his last four outings. He has a great opportunity to do that again tonight in a juicy matchup.

Seattle has been one of the friendliest teams in the league for opposing pitchers. Against righties, the Mariners strike out at the second-highest rate (25.7%) in baseball. Their .307 wOBA is below average, as well, making Brown one of the top options of the slate and an obvious value play.

Yu Darvish, San Diego Padres ($8,700)

While Brown may carry their highest projection, numberFire has Yu Darvish as the best point-per-dollar value for tonight's main DFS slate.

numberFire projects Darvish for 35.6 FanDuel points tonight in his home matchup with the New York Mets.

Darvish has been up and down this season, but his baseball savant page is still full of red numbers. He's gotten pretty unlucky considering his 3.86 SIERA is nearly a full point lower than his 4.84 ERA.

While Darvish is no longer an elite strikeout pitcher, his 25.7% K rate still sits comfortably above the league average.

Since signing with San Diego, Darvish has consistently been more productive at Petco Park compared to on the road.

2021 (Home)3.3832.7%.275
2021 (Away)5.5424.3%.339
2022 (Home)2.6025.1%.258
2022 (Away)3.5025.9%.260
2023 (Home)3.6429.8%.310
2023 (Away)6.1621.5%.318

The Mets aren't a slam-dunk matchup. However, since June 1st, they've been hovering around the league average in strikeout rate (22.3%, 16th) and wOBA (.323, 13th) against right-handed pitchers.

Darvish has one of the highest ceilings of the slate, and with a low salary, he's an excellent value play tonight.

It's a Trap!

Andrew Abbott, Cincinnati Reds ($10,600)

Andrew Abbott is the highest-salaried pitcher of the slate at $10,600. Abbott's been unbelievable since getting called up, and the matchup is there as the Milwaukee Brewers strike out at the highest rate (27.6%) and have the third-lowest wOBA (.294) against lefties.

But Abbott's 4.04 SIERA (compared to his 2.68 ERA) and .190 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) suggest what he's doing is unsustainable over the long haul.

The matchup is great, so he very well could be in for another strong outing, and if he was lower in salary, I'd have an easier time backing him. But I'm not willing to commit to the highest-salaried pitcher when I know regression is coming for him at some point.

Honorable Mentions

Tonight's pitching slate is deep, with nine guys salaried above $9,000 and 10 projected for at least 30.0 FanDuel points, per numberFire. Gallen is my top choice overall, while Brown's hard to beat from a value standpoint.

However, if you're looking to get weird, here are three more names for larger contests.

Aaron Civale, Cleveland Guardians ($8,800)

When in doubt, target the Kansas City Royals. Since June 1st, no team has had a lower wOBA (.280) against righties than the Royals do. Over that span, they're last in isolated power in the split (.110 ISO) while striking out at the ninth-highest rate (23.7%).

Cleveland Guardians righty Aaron Civale gets the honor of facing KC's putrid lineup tonight. He won't break the bank and is one of the safer options out there.

numberFire projects him for 33.1 FanDuel points tonight -- second-most among pitchers under $9,000.

Tony Gonsolin, Los Angeles Dodgers (8,000)

Tony Gonsolin has seen regression hit him hard over his last three starts. Prior to a June 18th blow-up against the Giants, Gonsolin had a 1.93 ERA. Fast forward three starts, and he's up to 3.69.

While his 4.55 SIERA is still far from ideal, it's worth noting Gonsolin has outperformed his xERA in all four seasons of his career. He's in a great spot to turn things around against a Los Angeles Angels squad that's without Mike Trout and is playing with hobbled versions of Shohei Ohtani and Anthony Rendon.

Gonsolin's low salary is his biggest appeal, however, and he's a fine option for those looking to devout more of their budget to hitters.

Jameson Taillon, Chicago Cubs ($6,400)

In larger contests, Jameson Taillon is someone worth keeping an eye on. He'll only set you back $6,400 and has an intriguing matchup with a depleted New York Yankees lineup.

Since Aaron Judge went out in early June, the Yankees have the lowest wOBA (.277) in the league against righties. Consequently, Taillon is numberFire's best point-per-dollar value of the slate with 27.6 projected FanDuel points.

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.