FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Saturday 7/17/21

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.

Pitching Breakdown

With Brandon Woodruff ($10,200) in a lukewarm matchup against the Cincinnati Reds, Gerrit Cole ($10,100) is trending down since the sticky stuff crackdown (in early June), and Walker Buehler ($9,200) trending down since the start of June and heading to Coors Field, the pitching slate lacks some of the punch it could have had, but we still have plenty of options.

And that's not to say that Woodruff or Cole are out of the conversation. Not at all. Especially not after Cole got right in his last start with 12-strikeout complete game shutout of the Houston Astros. In fact, Cole (41.1 projected FanDuel points) and Woodruff (35.5) are numberFire's preferred plays from a raw projections standpoint. We should start here if we can find the value with the bats, but their situations could be better overall. Cole gets the slight edge for me due to expected strikeout rate.

Anthony DeSclafani ($9,900) holds the slate's top ERA (1.54) since June 3rd as well as the fourth-best SIERA (3.59) and xFIP (3.47) in that sample. The St. Louis Cardinals don't strike out a lot (their active roster is 4th-best in that category at 22.0%), but their wRC+ is just an 89, and the park factor favors DeSclafani. He should be considered a total pivot away from Woodruff and Cole, given the salary, if seeking tournament leverage.

But we can also just save salary, too.

Alex Cobb ($8,800) should be able to make his ERA since June 3rd (4.68) play closer to his xFIP in that span (3.60) against the Seattle Mariners, a team whose active roster ranks 27th in strikeout rate (26.2%) and 25th in wRC+ (89). That ultimately combines for the fourth-highest expected strikeout rate for Cobb among main-slate starters, as he holds the slate's best called-strike-plus-whiff rate.

Luis Castillo ($8,000) has had some ERA luck over his past few starts. He has sported an ERA of 1.97 since June 3rd despite a 3.68 xFIP and a 4.21 SIERA. The matchup with the Milwaukee Brewers could lead to some upside, however, as their active roster is 25th in strikeout rate (25.9%). Castillo himself is just 8th in strikeout rate (24.0%) and called-strike-plus-whiff rate (28.2%) since June, but the adjustment for matchup vaults him up to third in expected strikeout rate (24.9%).

Tylor Megill ($6,500) has a small, 77-batter sample since early June but leads the slate in strikeout rate and is second in xFIP in that span. The New York Mets are -172 moneyline favorites over the Pittsburgh Pirates, a team with a lowly active-roster 88 wRC+.

Stacks to Target

San Diego Padres
In deriving a one-number metric for matchup that includes data for the team's active roster, the opposing starter, the bullpen, and the park, the Los Angeles Dodgers have the best matchup of the night by around 33% over the next best matchup. However, it's not really necessary to talk about a stack in Coors Field. I just wanted to get that posited before moving along.

It's the San Diego Padres who rate out as the best non-Coors stack against Patrick Corbin, who ranks a lowly 14th in SIERA among main-slate starters. The Padres are third-best in active-roster strikeout rate and rate out 12th in wRC+, all while experiencing a park boost in Washington.

This stack won't sneak up on anyone after *double-checks notes* a 24-run outburst last night. But that ain't changing the salaries for today's slate.

Tommy Pham ($2,900) helps out a lot with top-end stacks, as does Jake Cronenworth ($3,000) -- though Cronenworth has a lefty-on-lefty matchup to start the game. From there, we can prioritize Fernando Tatis Jr. ($4,300) and Manny Machado ($3,800) depending on our secondary stack and/or pitcher selection. Eric Hosmer is also $2,400 but also has a lefty-versus-lefty matchup.

Washington Nationals
The Washington Nationals' matchup with Blake Snell on the other side of that game should also put them on our radar. Snell is apt to giving up free passes (he has a slate-worst 12.9% walk rate) and allowing hard contact (37.5% hard-hit rate, 19th on the slate). In total, he has racked up a poor 4.83 SIERA since June 3rd, which could help elevate the overall average bats of Washington.

The Nationals get a plus bullpen matchup in addition to the night against Snell, as well, and they put up eight runs just last night.

Similar to the Padres, there are high-salaried sticks that feel like musts -- Trea Turner ($4,200) and Juan Soto ($4,000) -- but with some salary-savers, too: Alcides Escobar ($2,400) leading off and some combination of value bats, depending on who they roll out. Keep an eye on their lineup for tonight.

San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants are rating out as the fifth-best stack in my model behind the two Coors Field teams and the two stacks above, and it has a lot to do with the matchup against Kwang-Hyun Kim and the St. Louis Cardinals' bullpen, which owns a dreadful 118 xFIP- over the past six weeks. Based solely on pitching and park, it's the second-best situation of the night, rivaling the Dodgers' spot.

They've got a viable 3.86 implied run total and tiny salaries to make them a perfect secondary stack or one to build around if you're jamming in Cole and Woodruff into every lineup.

We should get Austin Slater ($2,300) and Wilmer Flores ($2,500) with a platoon advantage against Kim to kick off the order, and then probably Donovan Solano ($2,100) in the top five, as well. Even if we don't build a full Giants stack, this team could help round out rosters tonight.