MLB’s 2021 regular season has arrived, and the return of the Awesemo.com Spotlight Pitchers article is here to help guide the slate of pitching decisions for both DraftKings and FanDuel. Each day will feature breakdowns of starting pitchers using Awesemo’s MLB Top Pitchers Tool by identifying some of the best daily fantasy baseball starting pitching plays on each slate based on Awesemo’s top value and top scoring projections for the slate, relative to their projected ownership.
Top Daily Fantasy Baseball Starting Pitchers | April 7
Shane Bieber: CLE vs. KC — DraftKings $10,600, FanDuel $11,500
Despite giving up three early runs in his opening-day loss, Shane Bieber managed to still go six innings without surrendering any more runs while striking out 12 batters, earning 26.7 DraftKings points and 49 FanDuel. While it’s just one start, Bieber notched a 44% strikeout rate and an insane 18.0 K/9. To get a better sense of his consistency, Bieber’s 2020 Cy Young season included a 1.63 ERA with a 41% strikeout rate, 2.52 SIERA, 0.87 WHIP and stranding 91% of batters faced. Taking on the upstart Royals, Bieber has the potential to be among the top pitchers on Wednesday’s extensive main slate, if not the very best.
According to the Awesemo Top Pitchers Tool, Bieber is projected as a 24.4% top-two daily fantasy baseball pitcher on DraftKings and 9.5% top pitcher on FanDuel. Provided his Awesemo point projections of 24.12 DraftKings points and 40.45 FanDuel points, Bieber’s value is scathed by a high asking price, along with volume of the field invested in him. Given the steep projected ownership on both sites (30.3% on DraftKings, 16.0% on FanDuel), Bieber is projected as a top-two pitcher value of 6.4% on DraftKings and top value pitcher at 1.1% on FanDuel. Despite the hiccup in value, he makes for an excellent spend-up option.
Bieber faces a surprisingly daunting projected Royals order of five lefty bats and two switch-hitters. Starting their season smoking hot against right-handed pitchers, the Royals boast a .415 on-base rate, .407 wOBA and 155 wRC+, among the top four teams in the majors against the split (albeit in a small sample). Yet Bieber is likely much more the nightmare to the opposition, as he struck out 40.1% of opposing left-handed hitters, along with a 0.82 WHIP while stranding 84.5% of them on base. The Royals look fantastic thus far, but given how Bieber looked in a loss, imagine what’s possible in his home opener.
Awesemo’s FanDuel Grades: Points A, Value C
Awesemo’s DraftKings Grades: Points A, Value A
Kevin Gausman: SF at SD — DraftKings $7,600, FanDuel $8,400
Kevin Gausman has seen the best strikeout numbers of his career in the past two seasons. Although the pandemic year paved way to just three starts for him, he posted a 32.2% strikeout rate with 11.92 K/9, along with a .218 average against and 1.11 WHIP. On the road in San Diego facing Padres (who are without Fernando Tatis Jr.), Gausman’s weakened matchup may be a sneaky-good matchup in what’s often referred to as a pitcher’s park.
On Wednesday’s extended daily fantasy baseball main slate, Gausman projects to garner 4.7% ownership on DraftKings and 1.3% on FanDuel according to Awesemo’s Ownership Projections. Projected for 17.32 DraftKings points and 30.60 on FanDuel by Awesemo’s premium fantasy point projections, Gausman also has an 8.7% of being a top-two pitcher on DraftKings and 5.1% chance to be the top pitcher outright on FanDuel. Furthermore, Gausman projects as 10.2% top-two value on DraftKings and 3.5% top value on FanDuel.
Gausman is slated to face three lefties and one switch-hitter on Wednesday night. Judging by his recent splits in his three starts last season, he held his own against both sides of the plate, with a 33.1% strikeout rate against righties and striking out left-handed hitters 31.5% in 2020. With a 1.04 WHIP and .284 BABIP versus lefties, along with a 1.17 WHIP and .309 BABIP against fellow righties, Gausman has proven in a recent small sample that he can realistically exceed value at a fair price point like we find today. Although the Padres have earned a decent 100 wRC+, .288 BABIP and .314 wOBA against right-handed pitchers in 167 plate appearances this season, Gausman has the combination of point projection and value at a fair asking price all rolled into one.
Awesemo’s FanDuel Grades: Points B, Value C
Awesemo’s DraftKings Grades: Points B, Value A
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David Peterson: NYM at PHI — DraftKings $7,000, FanDuel $7,000
David Peterson had a remarkable rookie season for the Mets and begins his second season on the road in Philadelphia. With a 6-2 record and a modest 19.5% strikeout rate, 7.25 K/9, .202 average against and 1.21 WHIP, Peterson made the most out of a brutal year to be a rookie pitcher. Squaring off with a Phillies lineup who’s had their share of struggles against left-handed pitchers, Peterson is in a fair position to continue his pitching progression.
Awesemo’s Top Pitchers Tool forecasts Peterson for merely a 2.4% chance at being a top-two pitcher on DraftKings while being a 2.6% at top overall pitcher on FanDuel. With Awesemo premium point projections of 11.67 DraftKings points (and a more promising 22.36 FanDuel point projection) and low price, Peterson is a solid value play. Peterson comes has a 4.8% chance of being a top-two pitching value on DraftKings and 4.6% on FanDuel, leaving much to be desired.
The Phillies are due to roll out six righties and three left-handed hitters, the assignment for Peterson appears a bit concerning on paper. With a 1.26 WHIP and .232 BABIP against righties, Peterson also drags a worrisome 5.49 xFIP into the equation. However, Peterson has just above a league-average in HR/FB ratio with 11.1% and a 1.12 HR/9 against the split. Philadelphia hasn’t been without its early share of issues against opposing left-handed pitchers to start the season. Whiffing to a 37% strikeout rate with a 77 wRC+, the Phillies have hit for just an .070 ISO against lefty pitchers thus far. With a very cost-conscious price on both sites, while going against the grain, Peterson projects to be a low-owned pivot worth a look.
Awesemo’s FanDuel Grades: Points E, Value D
Awesemo’s DraftKings Grades: Points D, Value D
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