FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Thursday 8/26/21

A handful of aces headline tonight's main slate, but two of them have questionable workloads, leaving one alone atop the pecking order. For stacks, the Boston Red Sox also find themselves on an island yet again, checking in a massive 6.17 implied total.

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Let's check out the top options on tonight's main slate.


Max Scherzer ($10,500): Scherzer is pretty clearly the top arm on the board, boasting both elite numbers and a consistently high workload. The veteran righty turned 37 last month, and yet continues to mow opposing batters down with a 2.95 SIERA, 34.4% strikeout rate, and 6.2% walk rate. He'll give up the occasional bomb here and there off a 49.1% fly-ball rate, but we'll gladly accept that when he's still racking up punchouts at a high clip.

The Padres are a tough matchup for strikeouts, with an active roster carrying a 20.9% strikeout rate versus righties, one of the best marks in the league. But that's less of a concern with an ace like Scherzer, and San Diego hasn't exactly been firing on all cylinders lately, losing 11 of their last 13 while putting up a league-low 63 wRC+ over that span.

Chris Sale ($10,700): Sale and Yu Darvish are the two other big names on the slate. Darvish is coming off the injured list and reportedly won't have "any limitations," but it's still hard to see San Diego pushing him too hard, and he's facing a lethal Dodgers lineup, so I'm more inclined to take a chance on Sale instead.

Of course, Sale is another guy with an unclear workload, as he dipped down to 71 pitches in his last start after logging 89 in his season debut. He was yanked after five innings in both outings, and that's obviously bad news for his upside if that trend continues tonight against Minnesota.

However, Boston's last two starters have failed to go a full five innings, leading to their bullpen seeing heavy usage on back-to-back nights. While it's unlikely Sale suddenly rockets up to 100-plus pitches, the situation could lead to the Sox loosening some of the restrictions they've placed on him thus far.

As for Sale himself, he's sure looked the part of a leading man with a 32.5% strikeout rate and 2.5% walk rate in those two starts, so the upside should be there if he's given more leeway. The Twins also have some high-strikeout bats in their lineup, leading to a 24.1% strikeout rate versus lefties this year.

Alex Wood ($8,200): Wood isn't a guy who typically exhibits an amazing ceiling, but if the aforementioned aces fail to come through, it's possible a solid score is all we need from him. And solid is exactly what the southpaw is, sporting a 3.72 SIERA, 25.4% strikeout rate, and 7.2% walk rate. He's also a tough pitcher to hit dingers off of due to an excellent 51.4% ground-ball rate.

The Mets could assist Wood with a few extra punchouts (24.0% versus lefties), and they have a mediocre 4.17 implied total.


Boston Red Sox: Another day, another slate with high expectations for Boston's bats. This time the Sox face John Gant, who somehow owns a 3.77 ERA this year despite all sorts of red flags. Gant has ugly underlying numbers across the board, and if we narrow things down to just his innings as a starter, he comes in at a 5.31 xFIP, 17.6% strikeout rate, and 16.0% walk rate.

In looking at Gant's splits, the only issue we can find is a high ground-ball rate against righties -- giving an added edge to rostering lefty sticks -- but other than that, we should feel comfortable stacking just about anyone here. So, as we have throughout the week, give a boost to Rafael Devers ($4,000), Kyle Schwarber ($3,400), Alex Verdugo ($3,100), and Travis Shaw ($2,500), but all the righties are absolutely fair game.

Cleveland Indians: The Indians make the list for the second straight day, owning the second-best implied total of the night behind the Red Sox. That's because they'll enjoy a plus matchup versus Jordan Lyles, who's getting rocked for 2.02 home runs per nine innings while allowing a 42.8% fly-ball rate and 39.8% hard-hit rate. Fly balls and hard contact are nothing new for Lyles, and when you throw in a middling 18.5% strikeout rate, it's easy to see why Lyles is enduring a difficult season.

As always, Jose Ramirez ($4,400) and Franmil Reyes ($3,100) are the priorities, as they boast .285 and .282 ISOs, respectively. Wilson Ramos ($2,300) has also demonstrated some pop this year (.201 ISO) while sporting an improved 11.6% barrel rate. Speedsters Myles Straw ($3,300) and Amed Rosario ($3,300) remain entrenched as table setters ahead of Ramirez and Reyes.

St. Louis Cardinals: Mitch Keller blanked the Cardinals across five innings in his last start, but we shouldn't expect him to pull that off a second time in a row. Keller's been crushed for a 6.35 ERA and 1.82 WHIP this season, and while it's partially due to an inflated .384 BABIP, it's not like his peripheral numbers are any good, either. He owns a 4.92 SIERA and 11.1% walk rate, and he also doesn't induce a ton of grounders (38.2%).

Lefties especially have the advantage against Keller, as the right-hander has an egregious 5.84 xFIP and 15.5% strikeout rate in the split. Unfortunately, this is a predominantly right-handed lineup, but that gives us added incentive to roster switch-hitters Dylan Carlson ($3,100) and Tommy Edman ($3,000). Lefty Lars Nootbaar ($2,100) has value as a punt if he cracks the order.

We do see Keller's strikeout rate jump to 26.1% versus righties, which obviously isn't ideal, but he still walks too many guys (9.9%) and allows dingers off a 39.0% hard-hit rate and 35.7% fly-ball rate. The added strikeouts could prove troublesome, but if Keller is wild, we could see things go downhill quickly for him. Paul Goldschmidt ($3,800) and Nolan Arenado ($3,900) are the top righty sticks, and add Tyler O'Neill ($3,200) to the mix if he's back.

Others to Consider: Texas Rangers, San Francisco Giants, New York Yankees