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 8
Jose Berrios: MIN vs. SEA — DraftKings $9,600, FanDuel $9,800
In a remarkable 12-strikeout, no-hit, six-inning debut to the season, Jose Berrios smashed the Brewers on the road and earned 42 DraftKings points and 64 FanDuel points. While 2020 was a more forgettable season for him (4.00 ERA, 9.6% walk rate, 4.06 FIP), Berrios still had a 25.1% strikeout rate and a .292 BABIP. He appears to be rekindling more of his All-Star form in the new season. Welcoming the Mariners to Target Field, Berrios is in a promising position to put up significant fantasy numbers in the Twins home-opener.
The Awesemo Top Pitchers Tool shows Berrios is projected for 26.3% chance of being a top-two pitcher on DraftKings and 10.9% of being the top pitcher on FanDuel. Awesemo is projecting him for 19.07 DraftKings points and 32.95 FanDuel points, and Berrios projects as one of the best starting pitchers on Thursday’s main slate. His considerable ownership is to be expected, as Berrios projects for 37.1% on DraftKings and 19.4% on FanDuel according to Awesemo’s Ownership Projections. But he also has a 12.6% chance of being a top-two value on DraftKings, though only 4.6% top overall pitcher value on FanDuel.
He is taking on a Mariners lineup with four left-handed hitters and one switch-hitter. Berrios’ career against lefties draws concern, with a 1.32 WHIP and 4.63 xFIP in the split. Yet he isn’t without his share of merit, as Berrios has struck out more opposite-handed bats on average (23.6%, 9.14 K/9) than he has with righties (23.4%, 8.85 K/9). Although a limited sample size this season, the Mariners have earned a 90 wRC+, .310 BABIP, .300 wOBA and 28.6% strikeout rate in 140 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers in 2021.
Awesemo’s FanDuel Grades: Points B, Value C
Awesemo’s DraftKings Grades: Points A, Value C
Jake Arrieta: CHC at PIT — DraftKings $8,500, FanDuel $8,500
In the first series of this National League Central battle, Jake Arrieta had five strikeouts in six innings against the Pirates, earning 21.3 DraftKings and 40 FanDuel points. Although Arrieta’s 2020 was mediocre (1.51 WHIP, .295 average against, 16.8% strikeout rate), his promising start to 2021 garners hope. This time on the road in Pittsburgh, Arrieta has most recently proven his resilience against the Pirates and remains an affordable mid-range option on both sites.
Awesemo Top Pitchers Tool gives Arrieta a 12.5% chance of being a top-two pitcher on DraftKings and 7.5% of being overall top pitcher on FanDuel. Awesemo’s fantasy point projections of 14.38 DraftKings points and 26.64 FanDuel points give reason for confidence, and with his inherent value, Arrieta is an excellent pivot off of the top echelon. He also projects for merely 1.2% ownership on DraftKings and 0.7% on FanDuel according to Awesemo’s Ownership Projections. Arrieta’s top-two pitcher value on DraftKings projects at 9.5% and a 5.5% top value on FanDuel, due primarily to his priced-up salary.
In a rematch of this past Saturday’s 5-1 win at home in Wrigley Field, this time Arrieta will have to do so in PNC Park while facing five lefty batters and one switch-hitter. With a 10.3% walk rate and 1.37 WHIP over his 10-year career, Arrieta could find himself in a bind against parts of this Pirates batting order. However, in their 2020 season against right-handed pitchers, the Pirates had a league-low 64 wRC+, 25.5% strikeout rate, .133 ISO and .266 wOBA. Coming off a solid performance against these Pirates, Arrieta makes for a great mid-range option.
Awesemo’s FanDuel Grades: Points D, Value E
Awesemo’s DraftKings Grades: Points C, Value D
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Tyler Anderson: PIT vs. CHC — DraftKings $6,600, FanDuel $7,000
For every top shelf, there’s a bargain bin. Today Tyler Anderson makes way for savings with a number of spend-up options worth rostering. Despite surrendering three runs in his first start, Anderson managed seven strikeouts and 30.4% strikeout rate in five innings. While his 2020 (15.8% strikeout rate, 1.40 WHIP, 4.36 FIP) left much to be desired, Anderson has proven to be a decent fiscal selection. Drawing the Cubs again in his second start of the season, this time at home, Anderson comes into Thursday’s slate as a promising low-cost option.
Awesemo Top Pitchers Tool forecasts Anderson for 7.4% ownership on DraftKings and 2.1% on FanDuel. Along with Awesemo projections of 12.57 DraftKings points and 24.02 FanDuel points, Anderson also has an 8.6% chance of being a top-two pitcher on DraftKings and 6.4% chance of being the top overall pitcher on FanDuel. Anderson also has a 16.5% chance of being top-two value on DraftKings and 9.4% chance of being the top value on FanDuel.
The Cubs are projected to roll out six right-handed hitters and one switch-hitter, so Anderson’s task on paper is a steep climb to say the least. On the brighter side, Anderson’s career splits haven’t shown a drastic differential. On the contrary, his 0.64 HR/9, .233 average against and 1.31 WHIP against the split were noticeably better than his performance against fellow lefties last season (.309 average against, 1.44 WHIP, 1.04 HR/9). Not without his shortcomings, Anderson’s frugality and value on a Thursday slate full of spend-up options (including a Coors Field matchup) provides breathing room.
Awesemo’s FanDuel Grades: Points D, Value C
Awesemo’s DraftKings Grades: Points D, Value C
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