FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Friday 7/23/21
Following what has been mostly limited pitching options this week, things open up a bit on Friday night where we get the majority of MLB teams on the main slate as usual. That will give us a variety of ways to go in tournaments, whether it's paying top dollar for a high-salaried arm or hopping lower down the list. The large slate still gives us a plethora of enticing spots for stacks, though, with six different teams exceeding five implied runs.
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Let's check out the top options on tonight's main slate.
Lucas Giolito ($9,800): Honestly, I'm really torn as to who the top pitcher on the slate is, but when looking over the matchups of the top tier, there's a strong case for leaning Giolito's way in his spot versus the Brewers. Milwaukee's active roster carries an 88 wRC+ and 25.6% strikeout rate versus righties, the latter of which is one of the league's worst marks.
Giolito is rocking a solid 3.57 SIERA, 29.2% strikeout rate, and 7.3% walk rate this season, but what always stands out for him is that he's the rare workhorse in an age of limited pitch counts. The right-hander has now exceeded 100 pitches in 9 of his last 11 starts, most notably hurling a complete game against the Astros in his last appearance.
Zack Wheeler ($10,200): When strictly looking at upside in tournaments, Gerrit Cole is back in our good graces after posting back-to-back elite fantasy scores in tough matchups, and Freddy Peralta owns the highest strikeout rate on the board (35.1%). However, neither one has an easy matchup, and Peralta's ugly 11.4% walk rate will get him in trouble on occasion.
That has me leaning towards Wheeler above them, as he owns some of the slate's best overall numbers, and his matchup against the Braves may not be as daunting as it would appear. In its current state, Atlanta's lineup may still have some boppers, but it really trails off as you go down the order, and their active roster actually has a below-average 97 wRC+ and 24.8% strikeout rate against righties. In fact, their 3.43 implied total is one of the lowest on the slate.
As for Wheeler, he's dominated this year off a 3.05 SIERA, 30.6% strikeout rate, and 5.6% walk rate, and despite some recent stumbles, his peripheral marks have remained steady. And like Giolito, Wheeler will regularly surpass 100 pitches, and that's helped him achieve 13 quality starts in 19 tries.
Given all the big names on the slate, I'm not getting the impression Wheeler will garner the same attention -- particularly in a matchup that could be perceived as more difficult than it is -- which makes the Phillies right-hander especially enticing in tournaments.
Tyler Mahle ($7,600): There are some other intriguing pitchers below $9,000, but it's really hard to beat the deal we're getting on Mahle at this salary. It's been a while since Mahle posted a big FanDuel score -- hence the bargain-bin salary -- but his season marks aren't far off from the other top arms, with a 3.64 SIERA, 29.6% strikeout rate, and 8.9% walk rate. He's maintained a 31.5% strikeout rate since the start of June, so punchouts haven't been a concern lately, either.
However, it's the walks that have derailed him lately, issuing three or more free passes in four of his last five starts. That's the risk we'll have to accept in rostering him tonight, but if he can limit that one issue, he should find success against the Cardinals, who own a lackluster 87 wRC+ versus right-handed pitching. Additionally, Mahle is yet another guy who's allowed a long leash, logging 100-plus pitches in five of his last six outings despite his walk problems.
Los Angeles Dodgers: If this Dodgers team was at full strength, they would be a shoo-in for the top stack against Chi Chi Gonzalez tonight. However, Mookie Betts has been out all week, and now Max Muncy will be away from the team on paternity leave. Of course, this being the Dodgers, we can still cobble together a pretty solid group of bats anyway, so they arguably preserve the top slot.
Justin Turner ($3,800), Chris Taylor ($3,600), Will Smith ($3,300), and A.J. Pollock ($2,600) are all enjoying productive 2021 campaigns, and while Cody Bellinger ($3,400) is decidedly not finding much success this year, he's worth taking a chance on when the matchup is this inviting.
That's because Gonzalez enters the evening with a 5.17 SIERA, 13.2% strikeout rate, and 39.6% ground-ball rate, enduring yet another underwhelming season in an underwhelming career. He's equally bad against both sides of the plate, so don't hesitate to stack any of the aforementioned bats, and we should have some value bats at our disposal if need be, too.
Cincinnati Reds: We find another low-strikeout arm in Cincinnati, where the Reds should be able to thrive against Wade LeBlanc. The Cardinals southpaw has rather similar numbers as Chi Chi Gonzalez, putting up a 5.24 SIERA, 13.4% strikeout rate, and 38.9% ground-ball rate across 31 1/3 innings as both a reliever and starter. And if we narrow things down to just his five 2021 starts, he's posted a truly ugly 11.8% strikeout rate paired with a 9.7% walk rate. Oh, and hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park should give the Reds an assist, too.
There isn't much evidence that LeBlanc can even handle lefty-lefty matchups with much success anymore, so we can comfortably include Jesse Winker ($3,600) alongside the modest salaries of righty sticks like Jonathan India ($3,200), Eugenio Suarez ($2,900) Tyler Stephenson ($2,300), and Aristides Aquino ($2,200). Joey Votto ($3,000) should also be in the mix despite the same-sided matchup.
San Francisco Giants: Chad Kuhl has been all over the place with a 13.5% walk rate, and that -- alongside an uninspiring 18.4% strikeout rate -- could lead to some big innings for the Giants' offense. Kuhl has remarkably avoided getting shelled all that often, but his 5.46 SIERA is probably more indicative of his 2021 performance. The 28-year-old does have a decent 47.5% ground-ball rate, which has helped him keep home runs down, but he's struggled with the long ball in prior seasons.
As is often the case, stacking San Francisco is also fairly easy on your cap space, with Mike Yastrzemski ($3,500) and Buster Posey ($3,200) being the only batters at salaries above $3,000. Including those two, we can also grab LaMonte Wade Jr ($2,600) as a value leadoff man, and Wilmer Flores ($2,800) and Alex Dickerson ($2,300) should round out the top five slots in the order.