FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Thursday 4/15/21
Thursday night's main slate is a tidy five games, as several ball games are taking place earlier in the day. Pitching is a bit of a shrug emoji -- maybe that's being generous -- but at least we won't need to fork over many digital dollars. On offense, the Washington Nationals, Oakland Athletics, and Los Angeles Dodgers have the slate's highest implied totals.
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Let's check out the top options on Thursday's main slate.
Julio Urias ($9,600): As I mentioned from the start, this isn't the prettiest pitching slate, with no pitcher having an obvious path to a high fantasy score. But at least Julio Urias gets one of the easiest matchups, facing the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium. Colorado is showing a slate-low 2.91 implied total, so in theory, that makes Urias the "safest" choice, but the question is how many strikeouts we can realistically expect out of him. While the Rockies are a plus matchup for strikeouts, and Urias has produced an 11.7% swinging-strike rate going back to last season, it hasn't translated to punchouts, as he's also only produced a 19.7% strikeout rate over that span. He's shown past success in the department, though, and he did rack up six strikeouts at Coors Field in his 2021 debut, giving us some hope that there's a ceiling here.
Rich Hill ($7,700): If we're looking purely at strikeout potential, Rich Hill looks to be our guy. Despite a lackluster 19.9% strikeout rate in 2020, he's gotten back on track so far this season, posting a 27.5% rate through two starts. And while the end results haven't been great, a 3.35 SIERA suggests he's deserved better. But the real reason we can have faith in him is his matchup against the Texas Rangers, as their active roster has the highest strikeout rate versus lefties dating back to last season (27.9%). Of course, this is the Rays we're talking about, so we probably can't expect Hill to go much more than the 83 pitches he saw last time, but beggars can't be choosers. When factoring in salary, Hill is arguably the top hurler on the slate.
Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers are a strong option yet again this week, this time getting left-hander Austin Gomber. The southpaw has somehow escaped much damage despite a 7.99 SIERA, 17.5% strikeout rate, and 27.5% walk rate through two starts, including a seven-walk outing against these same Dodgers last weekend.
Gomber has actually demonstrated a better strikeout rate against right-handed batters dating back to last season, but he's playing with fire if his control remains all over the place -- particularly against one of the league's best lineups.
Some more timely hits should allow the Dodgers to capitalize this time around, and as always, just about everyone is in play. Value righties include bats like Will Smith ($3,300), Chris Taylor ($3,300), and A.J. Pollock ($2,400), although you should have more wiggle room than usual due to all the value on the slate. I also wouldn't hesitate to include any left-handed sticks, too, as there isn't anything notable in Gomber's lefty-lefty splits, albeit over a small career sample.
Oakland Athletics: We saw Tarik Skubal put up a 27.6% strikeout rate in 2020, but that hasn't carried over to this season so far, producing a mere 17.1% strikeout rate and 8.0% swinging-strike rate across two rough starts versus Cleveland. It's worth noting that the Indians aren't a great matchup for lefty strikeouts, but Skubal's also struggled with walks (12.2% rate) and has already given up three home runs.
Giving up dingers was an issue for Skubal last year, too, and he only has a 24.1% ground-ball rate going back to last season. Lucky for us, the Athletics are loaded with right-handed batters, and Ramon Laureano ($3,900) is the only one with a high salary in the entire order.
Matt Chapman ($3,200) is especially easy to like after producing an 18.0% barrel rate in 2020, but Mark Canha ($3,000), Jed Lowrie ($2,800), Sean Murphy ($2,200), and Stephen Piscotty ($2,500) give us loads of value choices. Honestly, with so many low-salaried options, you can probably stack another team first, and then use Oakland as your second team and just choose whichever players fit in with the remaining salary.
Kelly has endured two tough matchups (at Colorado, vs. San Diego), so perhaps he can be forgiven for his poor start, but a 10.9% strikeout rate isn't a good look for a guy with a modest career 20.3% rate to begin with. He also owns a career 42.3% ground-ball rate and 43.0% hard-hit rate, so it's pretty clear what the end result could be for Kelly if his punchouts are down against the Nats again tonight.
Juan Soto ($4,400) is a no-brainer, of course, with Josh Bell ($3,400) and Kyle Schwarber ($3,300) being the other top power bats to turn to. Fitting in the speedy Trea Turner ($4,000) shouldn't be an issue, as well, and his power has crept up in recent campaigns (.218 ISO from 2019-21).
Others to Consider: Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays