FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Thursday 8/11/22

On a tough slate for pitching, Dylan Cease and his elite strikeout rate stand out. Who else should we consider on today's early main slate?

With just two night games scheduled, the Thursday main slate is getting bumped up to 1:00 pm ET and features the six afternoon games.

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


Dylan Cease ($10,900): Take a look at the list of names taking the mound, and it's pretty clear that it's Cease and then everyone else today. While he's been fortunate to work around a 10.5% walk rate more often than not, he still has a strong 3.22 SIERA and 32.8% strikeout rate to back up his strong play in 2022.

Of course, it's those punchouts that most interest us in DFS, and no other arm on the slate comes close to that clip. The next best is Edward Cabrera at 26.7%, and then everyone else comes in below 23.0%.

This is also a plum spot for Cease against the Royals. Against righties, Kansas City's active roster has a 95 wRC+, 23.1% strikeout rate, and 7.0% walk rate. Considering free passes are one of the lone blemishes on his resume, the absence of walks by the Royals could go a long way towards a ceiling performance.

But given the alternatives, we might not even need a peak performance for Cease to end the afternoon with the top score. Kansas City has a 3.30 implied total, the second-worst on the board.

Framber Valdez ($10,400): The lowest implied total belongs to the Rangers against Valdez at 3.07, and that puts Valdez on the map despite his limited upside.

The left-hander is an excellent real-life pitcher due to his league-best 67.4% ground-ball rate -- it's nearly 10 percentage points higher than the next best mark -- but his 21.7% strikeout rate makes it harder for him to post big DFS scores. He also has an 8.7% walk rate that can get him into trouble, as he's tallied three or more walks in 9 of 21 outings.

And yet, all those grounders have a way of getting him out of trouble. He leads the league in quality starts (19), falling short of six innings just twice back in April.

On a slate lacking elite strikeouts outside of Cease, Valdez's floor is valuable, and the bottom half of this Texas lineup could provide him with some added Ks, as well.

Zach Plesac ($8,200): Really, outside of the previous two guys and perhaps Merrill Kelly, it's really hard to get excited about anyone. Despite a modest strikeout rate, Kelly fits the Valdez mold of racking up innings and preventing damage, and his matchup against the Pirates is a good one.

I was hoping to look to the aforementioned Cabrera, too, but his $9,800 isn't much of a discount off the top three.

So, if you're going to take a stab at a value play, Kyle Gibson, JT Brubaker, and Plesac are the "best" options. For what it's worth, Plesac has the lowest salary of the trio and gets the best matchup you could hope for in the Detroit Tigers.

The Cleveland righty has a middling 17.6% strikeout rate, so this is all about hoping the Tigers fall over for him. Detroit's active roster continues to sit last in wRC+ versus righties (70), and their 24.2% strikeout rate remains one of the worst in the split, too.

Plesac's recent box scores have left a lot to be desired, and he's curiously been issuing more walks despite a 7.0% rate for the season. Still, he's typically given pitch counts in the high 90s, and he was consistently going six innings prior to this rough stretch.

Even if he's on his game, it's hard to see Plesac posted 50-plus points, but particularly if Cease is off, there's absolutely a scenario where a score in the 40s could get the job done. If Plesac can achieve that at this salary, it could go a long way if you hit on some high-salaried stacks.


St. Louis Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals don't have quite have an astronomical implied total like the last couple of slates, but 6.05 is nothing to scoff at.

Their final Coors Field game of this trip will be against German Marquez, who has been much more ineffective in 2022. He's produced a thoroughly mediocre 4.31 SIERA, 18.6% strikeout rate, and 8.1% walk rate, and he's really struggled in his home starts.

His splits show a solid 51.2% ground-ball rate and 5.2% walk rate versus righties, but the middling strikeout rate has gotten him into trouble against both sides of the plate.

We're finally seeing the Cardinals' salaries getting bumped up, with the first five projected batters in the order all at $3,500 and higher.

Of that group, Paul Goldschmidt ($4,600) and Nolan Arenado ($4,400) top the wish list as always, but Nolan Gorman ($3,400) is a solid consolation prize. Gorman actually leads the team in barrels per plate appearance, helping him to a .213 ISO in his rookie campaign.

We can still find value lower in the order, though, as Paul DeJong ($3,100) and Lars Nootbaar ($2,700) remain low-salaried. DeJong continues to mash at the plate, posting double-digit FanDuel scores in 7 of 10 games since returning to the big league squad.

Colorado Rockies

The Colorado Rockies shouldn't be an afterthought in this Coors matchup because they could also explode against Dakota Hudson.

Hudson has gotten respectable results this season, but his underlying numbers have all gone in the wrong direction, resulting in a 5.23 SIERA, 12.7% strikeout rate, and 10.4% walk rate.

Despite those poor marks, it's worth nothing that he still doesn't allow many fly balls (28.5%), and he's done a good job of limiting homers this year and over his career.

That arguably places the Rockies behind the Cardinals, but we'll still want to attack this matchup plenty when the strikeouts and walks are this bad.

C.J. Cron ($4,300) is the top power bat by a wide margin, and then it's mostly a matter of slotting in the high-order bats around him.

Charlie Blackmon ($3,900) and Ryan McMahon ($3,400) will have the platoon advantage, and their low ground-ball rates make them better candidates to find success against Hudson. Jose Iglesias ($3,200) is an unremarkable hitter, but he rarely strikes out and has an appealing salary out of the two-hole.

Lower in the lineup, Elehuris Montero ($2,700) is perhaps the Rockies' best overall value option. Montero produced a .231 ISO in Triple-A and has shown signs of carrying some of that over in his limited time at the top level.

Houston Astros

Outside of Coors, the Houston Astros are a logical alternative, and you can also consider the Guardians, Diamondbacks, White Sox, and Phillies.

The Astros stand out due to a their terrific matchup against Cole Ragans, who is making just his second MLB start. The first one came against the White Sox, and while he didn't allow any earned runs over five innings, it came with a 6.61 SIERA, 13.6% strikeout rate, and 18.2% walk rate. Ouch.

While Ragans showed decent strikeout upside in Triple-A before getting called up, it came with a 4.75 xFIP. It's quite fair to wonder if he's ready for The Show yet.

Given the small sample, we don't have any splits to work with here, so it's really just a matter of stacking up the best Astros bats, with Yordan Alvarez ($4,300) being the priority whenever possible. For value plays, Yuli Gurriel ($2,400), Alex Bregman ($3,100), Aledmys Diaz ($2,500), and Jeremy Pena ($2,700) give us plenty of directions to go in.