FanDuel Pitching Primer: Friday 7/15/22

Clayton Kershaw is a top option against a slumping Angels team tonight. Which other hurlers should we consider?

Pitchers lay the foundation for daily fantasy baseball teams. So it's not coincidental they have the highest salaries in FanDuel contests. Of course, it's possible to overcome a bad outing from a starter, but it's markedly easier to cash in contests with a good or excellent start.

Simply nailing your pitcher can cover up for a miss or two among your hitter selections. Thankfully, pitchers are less volatile to project than their hitting counterparts. First, pitcher skills such as walk rate and strikeout rate help separate the genuinely talented pitchers from their lesser peers. In addition, park factors and the offensive strength of the opponent are integral considerations for picking your FanDuel pitchers.

Weighing the importance of a pitcher's skill, park factors, opponent, and accounting for their salary is the game within the game on FanDuel. This piece is your home for my favorite pitcher picks for FanDuel's main slate every day. So, let's get to today's top hurlers.

High-Salaried Play

Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

At Los Angeles Angels
FanDuel Salary: $10,100

Clayton Kershaw had a good beginning of the season, but he missed a month from early May to mid-June while on the injured list. But, thankfully, he's gotten back into good form. According to FanGraphs, in Kershaw's previous five starts totaling 29 2/3 innings, he's had a 2.73 ERA, 3.00 xFIP, 1.25 WHIP, 5.7 percent walk rate, and 26.8 percent strikeout rate.

Still, a six-run mess at Coors Field held back Kershaw's overall marks in his last five turns. He allowed no more than one earned run in the other four starts. He's also struck out 18 batters in 14 2/3 innings over his last two starts. So, Kershaw is locked in.

There's almost no reason to think the Los Angeles Angels will disrupt his dominance. The Angels are 24th in wRC+ (92) against lefties this year, striking out at the fourth-highest rate (24.8 percent) when facing them. The Angels have also been stuck in a funk, ranking 29th in wRC+ (72) with a jaw-dropping 29.3 percent strikeout rate over the last 30 days.

Thus, Kershaw is the top pick among pitchers on FanDuel's main slate tonight.

High-Salaried Alternative

Alek Manoah, Toronto Blue Jays

Vs. Kansas City Royals
FanDuel Salary: $9,600

Alek Manoah has the cushiest assignment on tonight's slate. Go ahead, throw out the season-long numbers for the Kansas City Royals. They're irrelevant for the series in Toronto. The Royals are without many starting hitters.

Manoah is facing a glorified Triple-A team, with a few legitimate big-leaguers sprinkled in. The 24-year-old righty has dominated big-leaguers to the tune of a 2.34 ERA and 2.87 Expected ERA (xERA) in 17 starts spanning 107 2/3 innings.

So, what do you think he'll do against a lineup loaded with reserves? Odds are, Manoah will chew them up and spit them out.

The betting info supports the previous assertion. According to FanDuel Sportsbook, the Toronto Blue Jays are -350. Additionally, the game's total is only 8.0 runs. Therefore, Manoah's an excellent pick tonight.

GPP Dart

Zach Plesac, Cleveland Guardians

Vs. Detroit Tigers
FanDuel Salary: $8,800

There are a few compelling stacks that require a sizable salary-cap commitment. So, hunting for a value pick in GPPs is a viable move.

Fortunately, Zach Plesac is an attractive option salaried under $9,000. I admit it. I was wrong. After a sluggish start to 2022, following a poor showing in 2021, I labeled Plesac a below-average starter with a flukey 2019-2020.

Plesac's overall ERA estimators aren't pretty, but his 3.99 ERA and this year and underlying stats are remarkably similar to his 3.81 ERA and ERA estimators in 2019. Additionally, in his last five starts totaling 29 innings, Plesac has had a rock-solid 2.48 ERA, 3.52 FIP, and 1.14 WHIP. Admittedly, Plesac has benefited from a low homer rate, evidenced by his 4.53 xFIP.

Nevertheless, Plesac has a matchup he can shine in tonight. The Detroit Tigers are dead last in wRC+ (70) against righties and wOBA (.261) on the road. The regression monster will probably appear at some point for Plesac this year. However, that time isn't tonight. Finally, the Cleveland Guardians are -190, boosting my confidence in backing Plesac tonight.

Joshua Shepardson is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Joshua Shepardson also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username bchad50. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.