FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Friday 8/20/21
There are some tough decisions to be made on this Friday slate, as there are both high-salaried pitchers we want in our lineups, yet also some tantalizing stacks we want to leave room for.
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Let's check out the top options on tonight's main slate.
Chris Sale ($10,700): Sale didn't miss a beat in his first start since 2019, racking up eight punchouts across five innings against the Orioles while giving up two solo shots. He logged 89 pitches, too, which should give us confidence that he could have close to a full workload moving forward.
Obviously, there is still some uncertainty in spending up for a pitcher in just his second MLB start after Tommy John surgery, but matchups don't get much better than the Rangers. Texas' active roster owns a 77 wRC+ versus lefties this season, and they've also really struggled lately, sporting a measly 63 wRC+. Even if Sale's pitch count doesn't go up much, he should be able to mow down enough Rangers to make it worth our while tonight.
Robbie Ray ($10,500): At virtually the same salary, Ray offers us a viable pivot from Sale against Detroit. The southpaw is dealing this year with a 3.37 SIERA, 30.3% strikeout rate, and 6.7% walk rate. Although the Tigers have performed pretty well versus lefties, they also carry a 25.2% strikeout rate in the split, which paves the way for a potential ceiling game from Ray.
Lance McCullers ($8,500): Given all the mouthwatering stacks tonight, you're probably going to want to save at pitcher in some lineups, and there are plenty of intriguing sub-$9,000 options. McCullers, Blake Snell, and Sonny Gray all carry similar underlying numbers as high-strikeout, high-walk hurlers, but of that trio, McCullers is arguably the easiest one to trust.
The Houston right-hander has posted a 27.7% strikeout rate and 11.2% walk rate, and while the free passes are obviously an issue, a 53.8% ground-ball rate and consistent workload help his cause. The Mariners present a good matchup, checking in with a 3.64 implied total.
Toronto Blue Jays: The Colorado Rockies boast the slate's highest implied total (6.26), and it's a massive one at that, so they're pretty clearly in play against left-hander Tyler Gilbert. Gilbert actually threw a no-hitter in his first MLB start last week, but that has to be chalked up as a fluke, as his 5.40 xFIP and 22.8% strikeout rate in Triple-A this year are nothing to write home about.
But the Rockies are hardly alone tonight, with three other teams also hovering around six implied runs. The Blue Jays are one such team versus Tyler Alexander, and considering what a powerhouse offense this is to begin with, the plus matchup should vault them at or near the top of our list.
Alexander has pitched as both a starter and reliever this year, but across his eight starts, he's produced a middling 5.16 xFIP. Against righties, he has a 15.8% strikeout rate while allowing a sky-high 47.5% fly-ball rate and 46.3% hard-hit rate, making him highly susceptible to home runs.
Load up on the high-salaried Blue Jays power bats like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. ($4,400) and Teoscar Hernandez ($3,800) where possible, but Lourdes Gurriel ($3,000), Randal Grichuk ($2,500), and Alejandro Kirk ($2,000) all possess enough pop to get in on the fun, too.
New York Yankees: Left-hander Charlie Barnes may very well be the weakest arm of the slate, putting up a ghastly 5.58 SIERA and 11.5% strikeout rate across four appearances (three starts). He's also only managed a 34.4% ground-ball rate, so we should also get plenty of balls hit in the air. He's demonstrated a better ability to get grounders in the minors, but other than that, there's little to suggest big improvements will come around for Barnes.
Aaron Judge ($4,300) and Giancarlo Stanton ($3,600) are great adds, of course, but seeing how little Barnes has shown at the big league level, we shouldn't hesitate to include Joey Gallo ($3,800) and Anthony Rizzo ($3,500), who can both hold their own versus lefties. Similar to the Blue Jays, there's possible value lower in the order between Luke Voit ($2,900), Gary Sanchez ($2,500), and lefty Rougned Odor ($2,800).
Cleveland Indians: The Atlanta Braves are the fourth team with an implied total around six, and they're right up there with the aforementioned teams against Keegan Akin, a struggling lefty with a 4.73 SIERA and 19.6% strikeout rate.
But for a stack that might not get a ton of attention on such a large slate, the Indians stand out versus Jaime Barria. Over six appearances (four starts), the Angels righty is putting up Charlie Barnes numbers with a 5.77 SIERA, 11.3% strikeout rate, and 39.8% ground-ball rate. Add in an 8.9% walk rate, and it's easy to see even an offense like Cleveland coming through with some a big score.
Jose Ramirez ($4,300) and Franmil Reyes ($3,000) are the two guys to build around, and Wilson Ramos ($2,300) is showing nice power this season. There aren't many standouts after that, but we can take advantage of all the savings in a lineup that's filled with guys below $3,000.