FanDuel Pitching Primer: Wednesday 7/5/23

Aidan Cotter
Aidan CotterAidanCotterFD
FanDuel Pitching Primer: Wednesday 7/5/23

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.

Top Options

Pablo Lopez, Minnesota Twins ($10,800)

Minnesota Twins' righty Pablo Lopez is by far the highest-salaried player of the slate, coming $900 more than the next-closest pitcher. He's well worth the investment, however, thanks to strong underlying numbers and a juicy matchup on deck.

Lopez's numbers won't jump off the page at first glance, but he's an advanced metric darling. His 3.43 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) is much better than his actual 4.24 ERA, and his 29.8% strikeout rate sits in the 85th percentile league-wide. The 27-year-old is coming off a string of strong fantasy outings, averaging 39.6 points over his last five starts.

His biggest appeal today is the matchup. The Kansas City Royals are one of the worst teams in baseball, and their offense is a huge reason for that. Against righties, the Royals' .288 weighted on-base average (wOBA) ranks 29th and their 24.6% strikeout rate ranks 27th across the MLB. They're similarly poor in the power department, ranking 28th with a .368 slugging percentage.

numberFire projects Lopez for 38.5 FanDuel points tonight -- nearly four more than any other pitcher. Considering the Royals have the lowest implied team total of the slate, Pablo Lopez is a top pitching option for DFS today.

Alex Cobb, San Francisco Giants ($9,100)

There may be six pitchers with higher salaries than Alex Cobb tonight, but there aren't many with his upside. Cobb's San Francisco Giants host the Seattle Mariners in a tantalizing matchup for the righty.

Alex Cobb has been the definition of solid for the Giants this season. He owns a strong 3.61 SIERA while his 21.9% strikeout rate is serviceable for fantasy purposes. Cobb's control is elite; his 5.8% walk rate can set him up for prolonged outings.

The 35-year-old is coming off a trio of so-so starts but a 54.1-point performance against the Baltimore Orioles last month showed his contest-winning upside. Cobb's matchup with the Mariners has all the makings of another monster night.

Seattle has the ability to put up runs, but they're one of the safest bets for strikeouts. The Mariners' 25.6% strikeout rate against righties is the second-highest across all of baseball, and they sit in the bottom half in wOBA (.307) against righties.

numberFire projects Cobb for 34.7 FanDuel points -- the second-highest projection of the slate. He isn't low-salaried, but Cobb is one of the top pitching options of the night.

Value Plays

Seth Lugo, San Diego Padres ($8,600)

San Diego Padres' starter Seth Lugo is catching the Los Angeles Angels at the perfect time for fantasy success tonight. Over a 12-hour span, the Angels lost Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, and Shohei Ohtani to various injuries.

Ohtani's status as a hitter is still up in the air, but with the All-Star break looming, it wouldn't be a shock to see him sit and give Lugo an even easier matchup.

That isn't to say Lugo needed the help. The 33-year-old righty has been solid in his first year as a Padre, racking up a 3.93 SIERA. His control has been especially masterful as a 5.0% walk rate helps him last deeper into games.

Lugo doesn't generate a ton of strikeouts (21.9% strikeout rate), but the Angels strike out at the eighth-highest rate (23.5%) against righties. LA's 3.52 implied team total is the second-lowest of the state -- putting Lugo in a position to deliver a quality performance at a low salary.

Patrick Sandoval, Los Angeles Angels ($7,400)

In the same game, Angels' starter Patrick Sandoval has seen his salary plummet after giving up 18 hits and 10 runs over his last two starts.

The matchup isn't great considering the Padres just roughed Ohtani up for five runs last night. However, San Diego is inconsistent, and their 22.8% strikeout rate against lefties ranks in the bottom half of the league.

Although Sandoval is flexing the lowest strikeout rate of his career, he sits in the 64th percentile in whiff rate and is coming off an eight-strikeout performance against the Chicago White Sox. He's done a good job limiting hard contact (81st percentile; 34% hard-hit rate allowed) and has a lower road ERA for the third consecutive year.

numberFire projects Sandoval for 29.6 FanDuel points tonight -- by far the most points among pitchers under $8,000.

Considering his salary reached $9,400 earlier in the year, Sandoval has the talent to perform as a top-end guy and could make for a sneaky value play in DFS lineups tonight.

So Crazy It Just Might Work

Lance Lynn, Chicago White Sox ($8,400)

I'm not going to blame you if you stay away from the Lance Lynn business. Lynn's 2023 has been incredibly up and down with many more lows than highs. He's tied for the seventh-most losses (8), and he's given up the most earned runs (69) and home runs (22) in the league. Lynn also has a brutal matchup on paper against the Toronto Blue Jays.

And yet... I'm intrigued.

His underlying numbers remain strong with a remarkable difference between his SIERA (3.88) and ERA (6.47). Lynn's 26.9% strikeout rate is above-average, and he's generating whiffs at his highest rate since Statcast data began in 2015. He's also only two starts removed from a 16-strikeout outing that netted 64 fantasy points!

The risk isn't for everyone, but numberFire's projection of 31.3 points is their fifth-best for tonight's slate. He's the ultimate high-risk, high-reward play but for those of you swinging for the fences, give Lance Lynn a look.

Honorable Mentions

There aren't many elite options today, but Mike Soroka looked sharp in his return to the bigs and gets a nice matchup with the Cleveland Guardians if you can stomach his $9,300 salary.

You can't go wrong with either Jose Berrios or Bobby Miller -- two pitchers with established pedigrees and strong matchups but high salaries.

I wouldn't risk it, but Graham Ashcraft put up 41.1 FanDuel points against the Padres last week and gets the lowly Washington Nationals tonight. In that same game, you could do a lot worse than Josiah Gray. He put up 88.9 FanDuel points across his last two starts against the Philadelphia Phillies and the aforementioned Padres.

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.