FanDuel Pitching Primer: Opening Day

In daily fantasy baseball, success starts with nailing the starting pitcher spot in your lineup.

When compared to hitters, pitching performance tends to be much more predictable and stable throughout the course of the season. You know what you're getting from a top-level ace when you roster him: probably a dominant effort with only one or two implosions per season. In contrast, even the game's best hitters have days at the plate when they go 0-for-4.

As a result, lineup construction should begin with the starting pitcher. Which pitchers should you consider on today's main slate?

High-Salaried Play

Corbin Burnes, Milwaukee Brewers

at Chicago Cubs
FanDuel Salary: ($11,200)

It's Opening Day, which means there are a plethora of outstanding arms that we get to pick through. With the most expensive arm, Gerrit Cole postponed due to rain, there's likely no better option than ace Corbin Burnes of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Burnes has a lot of positives going for him on Opening Day -- he faces a Chicago Cubs offense that struggled to the tune of the 18th-best wOBA (.311) and a hefty 26.7% strikeout rate last season.

The Cubs did add Seiya Suzuki to bolster the lineup, but there weren't many other large acquisitions that make things nerve-wracking.

In case you were unfamiliar with the body of work for Burnes, it was quite beautiful a season ago. Spanning 167 innings last year, he rocked a 35.6% strikeout rate and 16.6% swinging-strike rate. Paired with the monster upside of the porous Cubbies lineup, Burnes is the slate's top arm, per our projections. Roster him with significant confidence.

Mid-Range Play

Yu Darvish, San Diego Padres

at Arizona Diamondbacks
FanDuel Salary: $9,400

If you want to pivot down to a slightly lower-salaried option tonight, can I interest you in right-hander Yu Darvish of the San Diego Padres?

Over 166.1 innings pitched last season, his numbers weren't exactly what we were likely hoping for -- a 4.22 ERA, 1.52 home runs per nine (HR/9), and a 35.1% hard-hit rate which is the second-worst mark of his career.

However, there's a lot to like with Darvish. The whiff rate was still great; he posted a 29.2% strikeout rate and a 12.1% swinging-strike rate.

The Arizona Diamondbacks, Darvish's opponent, were a bottom-five offense a season ago and mustered a 23.8% whiff rate.

All of that adds up to Darvish clocking in as the second-best pitcher, per our projections, on Opening Day.

Budget Play

Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals

vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
FanDuel Salary: $8,000

It's kind of amazing that veteran Adam Wainwright just keeps dialing it in as an ace, but man alive, this dude is outstanding.

As a 40-year-old, Wainwright simply logged 206.1 innings pitched and a 47.5% ground-ball rate on his way to a 3.05 ERA and 3.66 FIP.

Strikeouts are not the bread and butter for the righty (he only recorded a 21.0% strikeout rate), but fear not. Waino faces a moribund Pittsburgh Pirates offense that clocked in third-worst in wOBA and worst isolated power (ISO) a season ago, and they didn't make a ton of large acquisitions to bolster the lineup.

For a budget option, peep the vet.

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