FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Friday 9/10/21
This is one of those unusual slates where we have 13 games to sift through, yet the pitching selection is sorely lacking in options we'll feel comfortable rostering. We do have one guy who tops the list, but he'll also cost you a sizable amount of cap space.
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Let's check out the top options on tonight's main slate.
Robbie Ray ($11,200): Ray is that one guy we can feel really good about rostering, and that's reflected by his slate-high salary. But the numbers speak for themselves, as Ray enters the night with an excellent 3.13 SIERA, 32.3% strikeout rate, and 6.4% walk rate in what's looking like a career year. He's been on quite the roll lately, too, racking up 60, 55, 64, and 58 FanDuel points over his last four, tallying double-digit strikeouts in all of them.
Tyler Mahle ($9,900): After Ray, it gets a little tricky to find anyone who might be able to keep pace, but Mahle checks in with a 28.2% strikeout rate and consistently logs 100-plus pitches, giving him a better workload than most. The Cardinals aren't a big strikeout team but also only carry a 91 wRC+ versus right-handed pitching, so should be able to keep the damage to a minimum. With most other top pitchers on the slate in difficult-to-neutral matchups, Mahle arguably gives us one of the better alternatives to Ray.
Ian Anderson ($7,800): Anderson has an underwhelming 22.2% strikeout rate this year after putting up a promising 29.7% clip over six starts in 2020, and he still issues too many free passes off a 10.2% walk rate. He's also submitted a pair of uninspiring starts since returning from the disabled list, recording a combined six walks and zero strikeouts across 8 2/3 innings.
While all of that explains Anderson's low salary, the reason he remains under consideration is his spot versus Miami, which comes in with a mere 3.45 implied total despite the aforementioned issues. That's because the Marlins own an ugly 80 wRC+ and 25.2% strikeout rate versus righties, making them the perfect opponent to help Anderson find his groove again. The young right-hander has also maintained a high ground-ball rate this season (50.4%), helping him get out of trouble and limit home runs to just 0.95 per nine innings.
Toronto Blue Jays: Similar to the situation at pitcher, one offense leads the way by a wide margin, and it just so happens to be Robbie Ray's own team. The Blue Jays boast a sizable 5.84 implied total versus an inexperienced Chris Ellis.
The Baltimore right-hander may have a sparkling ERA in his 16 2/3 innings this season, but we can quickly point to a .186 BABIP to explain why regression is coming. Ellis has produced a low 21.2% strikeout rate and 25.0% ground-ball rate, and he posted modest numbers in both categories in Triple-A, as well. There really isn't anything to suggest the Ellis can handle a tough offense like Toronto.
Unfortunately, the studs of the lineup are getting a massive salary bump these days, as all of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Marcus Semien, Teoscar Hernandez, and Bo Bichette have salaries of $4,000 or higher, meaning you may realistically only be able to roster one or two if you're shelling out the cash for Ray.
Tampa Bay Rays: (Update: Boyd has been scratched. Left-hander Tyler Alexander is expected to start, so this is still a good matchup for the Rays' righties.) Matthew Boyd recently returned from a lengthy stint on the injured list, and he's promptly given up three dingers in two starts, which sure sounds a lot like the Boyd we've come to expect. The left-hander actually hasn't allowed as many home runs in 2021, but his 9.8% homer-to-fly-ball rate is way below what we've seen in prior seasons, and it's also lower than the league average this season (13.6%), all of which suggests a course correction is coming.
Against righties, Boyd is showing a lackluster 5.12 xFIP, 19.8% strikeout rate, and 44.7% fly-ball rate. As always, Nelson Cruz ($4,000) is the top righty stick in the order, and switch-hitter Wander Franco ($4,200) has been on a great run with his historic on-base streak.
Beyond them, Yandy Diaz ($2,900), Manuel Margot ($2,300), and Jordan Luplow ($2,200) are value righties we could see in prime batting slots, while Mike Zunino ($3,400) is someone to consider lower in the order due to his incredible .351 ISO this season.
Cincinnati Reds: Amazingly, the Reds are up against a way-past-his-prime Jon Lester, and yet their implied total sits at 4.41, which is decidedly middle of the pack. Let's hope that knocks down their roster percentages because if that's the case, this could be a great stack to load up on in tournaments.
Lester has actually enjoyed some positive results lately, including against these same Reds a couple of starts ago, but with a 5.38 SIERA, 13.9% strikeout rate, and 8.7% walk rate this year, we shouldn't be phased in the least. Right-handed batters have taken advantage of that low strikeout rate by slugging 1.73 home runs per nine innings.
Any Reds stack should start with Nick Castellanos ($4,100) when possible, and then we get reasonable salaries for righties like Eugenio Suarez ($3,300), Tyler Stephenson ($2,600), Kyle Farmer ($2,900), and Aristides Aquino ($2,500). Aquino actually has the highest ISO of that last bunch at .235, which is supported by a 15.7% barrel rate.
Leadoff man Jonathan India ($3,900) is up there in salary, but he's put up a .274 ISO in the second half.