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Spotlight Pitchers: MLB DFS Picks for DraftKings + FanDuel




Our Spotlight Pitchers article gives out top MLB DFS picks for Opening Day DraftKings + FanDuel lineups. Max Scherzer or Clayton Kersahw?

Thursday, July 23 marks the Opening Day for MLB on Yahoo, DraftKings, FanDuel and SuperDraft. Before you lock in your baseball lineups and MLB DFS picks, make sure to check out check out Awesemo’s DFS baseball MLB rankings and projections if you’re a premium member.


Baseball is back and you can get your first month of Awesemo+ MLB for 50% off when you use promo code MANFRED at checkout. That’s only $25 for 31 days of Awesemo’s leading MLB DFS projections, ownership projections, top stacks tool, & more! You better hurry because this offer is only valid thru Friday, July 24!

Opening Day MLB Action

Greetings, Gamers! Baseball is back and we have a two-game Opening Day slate on Thursday before things begin in earnest on Friday with 26 teams in action. With just four starting pitchers, it’ll be crucial to get the position right.

This is an interesting slate at the starting pitcher position. Max Scherzer and Gerrit Cole are both very similar as extremely high-upside, high-risk options. The Yankees and Nationals are tough offenses, but they can also strike out a ton. Kershaw is cheaper than both and a massive favorite over a lineup that fails to pack any punch. Let’s dive into how we should be approaching this slate at SP on FanDuel and DraftKings.

Spotlight Pitchers: MLB DFS Picks

Max Scherzer – Nationals vs. Yankees – FanDuel $10,700, DraftKings $8,600

We only have two games on tonight’s schedule and really only three pitchers worth considering. Ownership will be huge on all three in turn, and game theory will be a huge factor in tournaments. While Kershaw might be the safest option, he doesn’t have the upside that Scherzer or Cole brings to the table. Scherzer was as good as ever last season at age 35, posting a career-high 12.69 K/9 and an elite 2.88 xFIP.

The Yankees five best hitters are right-handed, which spells doom as Scherzer allowed just a .223 wOBA while giving up just seven home runs in 98 innings of work. He struck out 141 batters during that same span, so righties don’t have much fun against the ace. Scherzer is projected to be the highest-owned pitcher on both sites by Awesemo. You can check out the ownership rankings here. The Nationals are +135 underdogs as I write this, so I may look to get under the field if ownership is going to be crazy.

Gerrit Cole – Yankees at Nationals – FanDuel $11,600, DraftKings $10,000

While the Nationals certainly have some hard-nosed hitters that work tough counts (Howie Kendrick, Adam Eaton), they still scare me far less than the Yankees. The bottom of this order not only strikes out a ton, but they aren’t nearly as dangerous as the Yankees’ expected K’s. The Yankees are -140 road favorites and Cole has an 8.5 strikeout O/U. We know he’ll get a 100-pitch leash and this Nationals lineup has a few guys that can strikeout three times tonight. Sorry, Eric Thames and Starlin Castro.

What’s holding the ownership down is the price on Cole, sitting at $11,400 on FanDuel and $10,000 on DraftKings. It doesn’t matter much in tournaments, as you’ll have to be different with your batters in GPP’s anyway. You don’t need me to tell you that Cole was the best pitcher in baseball in 2019. He struck out 13.82 batters per nine and posted a 2.48 xFIP. I also prefer Cole on the road as that short porch in New York is going to cause some issues this year. As for tonight, he’s my top option on both sites in tournaments.

Clayton Kershaw – Dodgers vs. Giants – FanDuel $10,300, DraftKings  $7,700

The Los Angeles Dodgers are -305 favorites over the San Francisco Giants, who hold a 2.7 implied total. Kershaw is the safest option we have when you combine his price and probability to pick up a win and easy quality start. In cash games, I don’t see a reason to get away from the three-time Cy Young winner. He should be close to 75% owned on DraftKings where you have to roster two starting pitchers. On FanDuel, that number will be around 40% in cash games and 25% in tournaments.

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There seems to be a vibe around Kershaw that he isn’t anywhere near what he used to be, but I’m not sure that’s true. Kershaw struck out 9.54 batters per nine with an NL top-10 3.50 xFIP. He only had one game last season where he didn’t go more than five innings. Against this atrocious Giants order, I don’t see Kershaw leaving this game with fewer than seven or eight K’s through seven. That’s unless there is some unknown pitch count that the Dodgers will be implementing, which is always a possibility with how careful they’ve handled their pitchers in the past.

Johnny Cueto – Giants at Dodgers – FanDuel $6,600, DraftKings $5,000

The consensus thought around this slate is that you need to pick the correct four Dodgers hitters and then pick and choose between the three other offenses. While that is the safest move in cash games, let’s not forget this is baseball, and crazier things happen all the time. The Dodgers could very well finish with four or five runs while one of the other offenses surpasses them. Cueto doesn’t have any upside but could very well escape with five decent innings if the inevitable line drives find gloves.

The only way I see getting exposure to Cueto is on DraftKings in a large-field GPP. If every big bat homers and one or two of the other stud arms disappoints, Cueto could very well open things up. The Giants won’t leave him out there for more than five innings whether he’s dealing or not, so if he can get through this order twice, the majority of damage could come against the bullpen later in the game. There’s a much higher chance of Cueto giving up three or four runs of his own and is pulled early, but this is MLB DFS, where variance lives. To be clear, you can avoid Cueto unless you’re MMEing tournaments.

FanDuel vs. DraftKings Approach

FanDuel: We only have to, or get to (depends how you look at this slate) roster one of these guys on FanDuel. In cash games, it’s hard to get away from Kershaw at $10,300. The win is valued higher on FanDuel and the biggest sure-thing bet on this slate looks to be the Dodgers getting a win. This Giants order was already one of the two worst in baseball a season ago, and now lose their two best hitters against lefties. Even if Kershaw allows a run or two, I don’t see a scenario where he finishes with anything less than 35 FanDuel points. In tournaments, ownership will be more spread out on FanDuel. Cole is extremely expensive and it will in turn make Scherzer the most owned. I prefer finding a way to get up to Cole and would leverage that with a Yankees bat or two. 

DraftKings: Two starting pitchers on DraftKings changes everything. There is now 200% ownership to work with, so all three big guns will run around 40-70%. Awesemo has Scherzer projected for nearly 70% ownership on DraftKings, which is extremely high for any starting pitcher in any scenario, especially with two other good pitchers on the slate. I’m a fan of plugging in the “safe” bet in the way-too-cheap Kershaw and picking between the other two options. Cole would be my pick, but either of these guys can strikeout 10 without blinking. 

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