FanDuel Pitching Primer: Monday 8/1/22

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.

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 each and every day. Let's dig in.

Top of the Heap

Max Scherzer, Mets ($11,500)

Scherzer is the top hurler on Monday's slate -- and it's not close.

In a friendly matchup with the Washington Nationals, Scherzer projects for 41.4 FanDuel points, according to our model, which is 7.1 more than anyone else. He's going to be chalky as heck, and he should be.

Since coming off the IL, Scherzer has pitched to a 1.79 FIP and 35.7% strikeout rate over five starts. He's incredible. In that five-outing span, he's generated a single-game strikeout rate of at least 32.0% in all but one of the starts, with the lone exception being last time out versus the New York Yankees.

The Nats are not the Yanks. Washington is 21st in wOBA (.303), and they could deal away Juan Soto and/or Josh Bell at any moment. Washington's 3.16 implied total is the slate's second-lowest, and we project Scherzer for a slate-leading 7.7 punchouts.

With plenty of value bats available to us, I don't see much of a reason to use anyone other than Scherzer in your pitcher slot. He's chalk worth swallowing.

Tournament Options

Jon Gray, Rangers ($10,000)

Gray is pretty comfortably the night's second-best option on the mound.

He's been a top-level ace of late. Over his past six starts, Gray has posted a 3.25 FIP, 30.0% strikeout rate, 13.3% swinging-strike rate and 6.7% walk rate. He's fanned at least eight batters in four of the six games.

Taking on the Baltimore Orioles, Gray can keep rolling. The O's are 23rd in wOBA over the last 14 days (.296), and they're 25th in wOBA for the season (.301). Their 3.60 implied total is a number we can feel good about.

Our model forecasts Gray for 34.3 FanDuel points. He isn't on Scherzer's level, but he's in a tier of his own as the slate's number-two arm.

Michael Kopech, White Sox ($8,200)

With Scherzer surely the chalk and Mike Clevinger ($8,500) in a good spot at a similar salary -- more on Clevinger in a second -- Kopech figures to slip through the cracks. That intrigues me a bit, and while Kopech has been in a rut, we know he has big-time upside if he's locked in.

The issue is that Kopech's ceiling games have been very rare this season. His 21.4% strikeout rate and 9.5% swinging-strike rate are extremely meh numbers, and he's had a single-game swinging-strike rate of at least 10.0% in only two of his last eight starts.

With all that said, Kopech had a 13.2% swinging-strike rate last time out in a solid start at Coors (5 1/3 innings, no runs), and he has a nice matchup today versus the Kansas City Royals. KC is 23rd in wOBA (.303) and might be without Bobby Witt Jr., who exited early Sunday after getting hit by a pitch on the hand. KC shows an attackable 3.81 implied total.

While there's obviously plenty of risk with Kopech and I won't have much of him, there's also a lofty ceiling if things click.

Quick Mound Visits:
Mike Clevinger ($8,500):
Best of the rest. "Safer" than Kopech. Gets the Rockies at Petco, so the matchup is there. Salary is easy to like, too. Clevinger owns a 13.5% swinging-strike rate across his last five starts. Rockies have the night's lowest implied total (3.15).
Luis Garcia ($10,200): A good pitcher (3.57 SIERA and 26.4% strikeout rate) but has a tough draw versus the Red Sox. Has completed six frames just twice over his past seven starts.
Andrew Heaney ($9,400): Has been really good when he's been healthy this year but has racked up just 19 1/3 frames. Only 71 pitches in his first start off the IL, so he's scary at this salary despite getting a weakened Giants offense.
Domingo German ($6,500): Matchup with the Julio Rodriguez-less Mariners is a solid one. Finished 2021 with a 14.4% swinging-strike rate. Got up to 82 pitches last time out in his second start off the IL. If you're dying to load up on the best bats, German is a decent punt.