FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Friday 3/31/23

Cristian Javier​ may have the night's highest salary, but he's worth it on this five-game slate. Who else should we roster tonight?

After a busy Opening Day, we're getting just five games on Friday, but that's still plenty to sink our teeth into. Note that the main slate gets going a little earlier than usual at 6:40 pm ET.

Our daily helper is available every day to analyze FanDuel's main slate and help give you a starting point when you're building lineups. Be sure to also incorporate our great tools into your research process. Whether you're looking for daily projections, the latest starting lineups and weather, or batting and pitching heat maps to find the best matchups -- we've got you covered!

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

Pitching Breakdown

Right off the bat, you'll notice that Cristian Javier ($10,100) is the only pitcher with a five-figure salary, but he's deserving of that distinction as arguably the night's top play.

The 26-year-old righty is coming off a fantastic 2022 campaign where he amassed a 3.14 SIERA and 33.2% strikeout rate, which are the best marks on the slate. While his 8.9% walk rate could use some improvement, and he may have been a smidge lucky in homer-to-fly-ball rate (9.1%), it's hard to argue with the overall results.

Javier is facing a White Sox lineup that has some solid bats and isn't the best matchup for strikeouts, but their active roster produced just a 98 wRC+ against righties last season. Chicago also has the fourth-lowest implied total of the night (3.70).

On the other hand, if you're looking to save at pitcher, David Peterson ($8,300) is a fine value at his salary. Last year's 10.6% walk rate is a red flag, but Peterson also put up a promising 3.57 SIERA and 27.8% strikeout rate.

The hope here is that those free passes won't be as plentiful against a Marlins active roster that recorded the fifth-lowest walk rate (7.3%) against lefties last year. Miami also had the second-worst wRC+ (86) in the split, and bookmakers aren't expecting many runs from them on Friday (3.73 implied total).

We can also look to the other side of that matchup at Jesus Luzardo ($9,100), who also comes at a modest salary. Luzardo put up similar numbers to Javier last year with a 3.28 SIERA, 30.0% strikeout rate, and 8.8% walk rate over his 18 starts. This is a tough spot against the Mets, but they're also showing a low implied total (3.77).

Finally, we have Robbie Ray ($9,900) against the Guardians. Like everyone else on this list, the matchup isn't a great one for punchouts, but Ray had the fourth-best 2022 strikeout rate (27.4%) behind the other three. Cleveland also posted the sixth-lowest ISO versus lefties last year, which should help mitigate Ray's infamous home run issues. At this salary, he's a little less desirable when you can just pay an extra $200 for Javier or spend down, particularly if he ends up being a chalky choice.

Hitting Breakdown

Three of my favorite stacks are the Dodgers, Padres, and Mariners, and I dug into them in greater detail in today's stacks piece. But let's run through the cliff notes version.

The Dodgers get Merrill Kelly, a righty who struggled against left-handed batters last season with a 4.60 xFIP and 19.1% strikeout rate. Freddie Freeman ($3,900) is one of the top plays on the slate and then we can also look to Max Muncy ($3,200), David Peralta ($2,300), and James Outman ($2,200) for some value lefties. And while the matchup isn't as great for righties, Kelly is hardly the type of talent to push us off Mookie Betts ($3,900).

San Diego will see left-hander Kyle Freeland, who was mediocre against righties (4.42 xFIP) last season and somehow even worse versus lefties (4.74 xFIP). Outside of Manny Machado ($3,900) and Juan Soto ($4,000) this lineup is a little short on power, but nearly every other batter is $3,000 or lower. Xander Bogaerts ($3,200) could bat leadoff with a lefty on the mound.

The Mariners may very well have the night's best matchup against Hunter Gaddis. Gaddis pitched just 7 1/3 innings (two starts) in 2022, and it's safe to say it went rather poorly, as he produced a 6.54 SIERA and 12.5% strikeout rate while giving up 8.59 home runs per nine innings. While he showed some promise in the minors, until he proves he can pitch at the highest level, he looks like someone to attack in DFS. Julio Rodriguez ($4,000), Teoscar Hernandez ($3,600), Cal Raleigh ($2,600), and Eugenio Suarez ($3,000) are the best bets to cash in with a dinger.

Outside of those teams, we can also look to Houston, who actually has the slate's highest implied total (4.30) against Lance Lynn. While Lynn is hardly a bad pitcher, he wasn't as effective against lefties in 2022, logging a 20.8% strikeout rate while allowing 1.59 home runs per nine innings. If nothing else, that means we can comfortably roster Yordan Alvarez ($4,100) and Kyle Tucker ($4,000), and the Astros have enough quality righties to round out stacks.