FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Saturday 5/8/21
The beauty of daily fantasy baseball is that the top targets are different each and every day. Whether it's the right-handed catcher who destroys left-handed pitching or the mid-range hurler facing a depleted lineup, you're not going to find yourself using the same assets time after time.
While this breaks up the monotony, it can make it hard to decide which players are primed to succeed on a given day. We can help bridge that gap.
In addition to our custom optimal lineups, you can check out our batting and pitching heat maps, which show the pieces in the best spot to succeed on that slate. Put on the finishing touches with our games and lineups page to see who's hitting where and what the weather looks like, and you'll have yourself a snazzy-looking team to put up some big point totals.
If you need help getting started on that trek, here are some of the top options on the board today. We'll be focusing exclusively on the main slate.
With Clayton Kershaw ($11,000) coming off of his worst career start and starting on short rest for the first time in five years, he's not rating out as a must-play option against the Los Angeles Angels, who are 29th in strikeout rate as a team (21.6%).
The other "high-salaried" pitchers for tonight are Lance Lynn ($10,400) and Cristian Javier ($9,500), both of whom have better moneyline win odds. But all three face low strikeout teams, and that complicates things a bit.
Lynn, then, looks like the safest of the three, as he and the Chicago White Sox draw the Kansas City Royals, who rank just 20th in barrels per plate appearance as a team. Lynn himself is in the 80th percentile in strikeout rate and in the 92nd percentile in expected wOBA, so he himself is not really in question. The real issue is that the Royals rank 24th in strikeout rate against at 22.5%, so Lynn's upside may be a bit capped.
Javier and the Houston Astros are getting the Toronto Blue Jays as -148 moneyline favorites (the White Sox are -154, and the Los Angeles Dodgers are -142, for context). Javier's strikeout rate is in the 80th percentile, yet the Blue Jays are just 25th in strikeout rate (22.4%). No pitcher at a big salary seems to be in the perfect spot.
Perhaps it's just Ian Anderson ($7,900) against the Philadelphia Phillies we settle on most often. The Phillies rank second in strikeout rate against (27.9%) and around league average in expected wOBA. Anderson himself sits in the 33rd percentile in expected wOBA but in the 75th percentile in whiff rate and the 61st percentile in strikeout rate.
Anderson trails just Vincent Velasquez ($6,600) in strikeout rate since the start of last season among those on this slate. Anderson and the Atlanta Braves are -168 favorites, the largest on the slate. Anderson is numberFire's top value projection among pitchers.
Stacks to Target
The Astros will get lefty Steven Matz at home with the highest implied total on the board at 5.10 runs. Matz has been about as average as can be this season across most categories but rates out poorly in one big one: whiff rate (29th percentile).
The Astros are already the least-strikeout-prone team in the MLB (19.2%), so they should get contact while Matz is on the mound. That's a strong starting point with how volatile baseball can be.
Righties Jose Altuve ($3,400) and Alex Bregman ($3,600) can be had in the top three of the lineup, though we will lose some platoon advantage because lefties Michael Brantley ($3,000) and Yordan Alvarez ($3,700) have also been in the top-four against left-handed starters this season.
We can always balance out our lineups by targeting the bottom of this lineup, given the great overall spot for the Astros, who -- as a team -- rank third in expected slugging.
The Atlanta Braves' bats will cost us, but with the state of pitcher, it's not that difficult to make them our primary stack of the night against Vincent Velasquez. Velasquez ranks in the 39th percentile in expected wOBA this year, and while he's in the 75th percentile in strikeout rate, the Braves are better-than-average at avoiding punch-outs and Velasquez is also in the 9th percentile in walk rate.
Our model loves Ronald Acuna ($4,400) and projects him for 18.0 FanDuel points, 4.0 more than any other hitter today. His 0.37 home run projection is also tops on the board.
Freddie Freeman ($4,000) and Marcell Ozuna ($3,500) should follow Acuna at the top of the order, but some combination of Ozzie Albies ($3,300), Austin Riley ($3,500), William Contreras ($2,800), and Dansby Swanson ($2,300) should follow, giving us some flexibility.
All of these hitters have an average or better expected wOBA.
With the pitching slate being what it is, we probably don't need to be building around a value stack, but if we do and we go at Kershaw or Lynn -- or just leave salary on the table -- we can get a little weird here with the Seattle Mariners.
Seattle is facing Kohei Arihara, who has struck out just 13.1% of 107 batters faced in his debut season and has allowed a hard-hit rate of 47.6% and a soft-hit rate of 6.1%.
This gives the Mariners the slate's fifth-highest implied team total at 4.50 runs.
While only one of their top four -- Mitch Haniger ($3,400), Kyle Lewis ($2,600), Kyle Seager ($2,900), and Ty France ($2,900) -- hold a platoon advantage against the righty (that being Seager), that should work for a team that is affordable to stack one through four.
All four of those hitters are better than the MLB average in expected wOBA this year. We just shouldn't dig much deeper into this lineup if we can avoid it.