FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Wednesday 5/31/23

On a shallow pitching slate, Hunter Brown stands alone at the top tonight. Which other players should we build around?

Pitching dries up in a hurry on Wednesday's seven-game main slate, which could lead to some uncomfortable choices if you want to be different in tournaments. The hitting side is more palatable, though, due to the number of questionable arms taking the mound.

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

Pitching Breakdown

At pitcher, Hunter Brown ($10,500) is the first guy to have in mind, and he's the only arm with a salary reaching five figures tonight.

Brown has the second-best K rate on the board (28.1%), and the only player above him, James Paxton ($9,500), has made just three starts and is a likely regression candidate. That effectively makes Brown the night's top strikeout arm, and his date with Minnesota widens that gap even further.

The Twins pack some punch, so they are by no means a cupcake matchup, but what should excite us is that their active roster also owns a league-worst 27.9% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching. Brown is fresh off his first-ever game with double-digit punchouts, and this is a golden opportunity to make it two in a row.

In addition to his high strikeout rate, the right-hander is suppressing home runs with a 54.4% ground-ball rate, and he's walked just three batters across his last four starts (3.2% rate), which is a good sign that he can keep the free passes at a minimum. His 3.34 SIERA supports his strong ERA, as well.

Despite their power, Minnesota has the second-lowest implied team total (3.53), further solidifying Brown as our top choice.

And the truth is, after him, there's a fairly big drop-off to everyone else.

George Kirby ($9,200) isn't typically an upside play due to his 20.1% strikeout rate, but he might be our next-best choice as someone who's otherwise a good real-life pitcher. He's been a quality starts machine, achieving the bonus in 8 of 10 appearances, and is fueled by a league-best walk rate (2.4%) and third-best hard-hit rate allowed (25.6%), per FanGraphs.

The Yankees are a tough matchup, but they have the slate's lowest implied team total (3.51). Not only will Kirby be aided by his own skills, but his home ballpark is one of the league's best for pitchers. While it's hard to see Kirby cracking 50 FanDuel points very often in this spot, he could slide into the 40s if he notches another quality start and pitches deep into the game, and that could be enough on a weaker pitching slate.

In that same game, Clarke Schmidt ($7,700) has some appeal in a high-strikeout matchup against Seattle -- but his salary is this low for a reason. Schmidt has been crushed for a 5.58 ERA this season, and he's logged six full innings just once in 11 starts.

However, while Schmidt has allowed a ton of hard contact, his .378 BABIP is absurdly high and is tied for the highest among pitchers with at least 50 innings. His 3.92 SIERA further points to poor luck, and his 25.3% strikeout rate and 7.9% walk rate are respectable marks.

The Mariners' active roster is around league average versus righties (102 wRC+), but their 25.0% strikeout rate is the second-worst mark behind the Twins. Schmidt sure seems due for some positive regression, and he could put up a big score if it comes tonight.

Paxton remains an unknown commodity in 2023. Over his three starts, he's getting strikeouts (31.7%) but is walking too many guys (10.0%) and allowing home runs (2.57 dingers per 9 innings). It's anyone's guess where these metrics end up if he stays healthy. However, if these trends somewhat stick, this could be a lot like your typical Robbie Ray season, which could be a rollercoaster ride but one with highs that could be worth pursuing.

The Reds haven't been a great matchup for southpaws -- their entire lineup could bat right-handed tonight -- but this is more about rolling the dice to see if Paxton's punchouts can hold up. He has a season-high of 107 pitches, so he also has one of the slate's best workloads if he performs well.

Aaron Nola ($9,900) is another wild card. Nola has an underwhelming 21.7% strikeout rate this year, but he's logged 10 and 7 Ks over his last two, so maybe he's finally coming around. However, the Mets' active roster has the fifth-lowest strikeout rate versus right-handers (19.1%), so this is a shaky spot to trust Nola. He's in play pretty much by default, but I'm more inclined to play the other guys we've gone through ahead of him.

Hitting Breakdown

In terms of implied team totals, the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, and Arizona Diamondbacks lead the way at 5.76, 5.56, and 5.49, respectively. Every other team is below five implied runs.

Beginning with the Sox, they're facing Luke Weaver, who's getting pummeled by home runs. Weaver is allowing 2.13 per 9 innings off a 44.0% fly-ball rate, and while that rate could regress, he's consistently allowed hard contact for years now, so this is a recurring issue.

Furthermore, while Weaver's getting knocked around by right-handed batters, he actually has worse underlying numbers against lefties, which is particularly notable against a lefty-dominant Boston lineup. In the split, he's carrying a 5.06 xFIP, 17.8% strikeout rate, and 46.3% fly-ball rate allowed.

This is a great time to buy low on Rafael Devers ($3,400), then Masataka Yoshida ($3,600), Alex Verdugo ($3,300), Jarren Duran ($3,100), and Triston Casas ($2,600) give us a wide range of other lefties to work with.

Toronto is facing Julio Teheran, who, in a surprising twist, actually shut down the Giants last week. Of course, as a reminder, Teheran didn't log a single MLB inning last year and made just one start in 2021, so we should be extremely skeptical that he's even an average arm in 2023.

The lone caveat is that Teheran's historically possessed stark splits, struggling against lefties and holding his own versus righties, and Brandon Belt ($2,500), Daulton Varsho ($2,900), and Kevin Kiermaier ($2,900) are the only left-handed batters projected to start tonight. But the reality is that we don't have a clue whether those splits mean anything now, so we should still bet on the Blue Jays' right-handed studs to come through against a pitcher who might not have much left in the tank.

Following a rehab assignment, Dinelson Lamet is joining the Rockies' rotation, and here's another case where it's difficult to know what to expect. Before getting injured, Lamet recorded a 5.87 xFIP, 22.8% strikeout rate, and 21.1% walk rate over 10 2/3 innings out of the bullpen. But he also performed well in his three Triple-A starts, with a 3.17 xFIP, 30.6% strikeout rate, and 2.8% walk rate.

Given that Lamet has been a mediocre-to-poor arm going back to 2021, stacking against him feels like the way to go until further notice. Corbin Carroll ($3,500) has been as good as advertised with 9 homers and 16 stolen bases, and both Christian Walker ($3,300) and Lourdes Gurriel ($3,500) are showing nice power. Pavin Smith ($2,700) and Ketel Marte ($3,000) provide value atop the lineup, as well.

The Philadelphia Phillies are another top option, going up against Carlos Carrasco. Following a solid 2022 campaign, Carrasco's fallen off a cliff this season, putting up a 5.69 SIERA, 13.3% strikeout rate, and 10.6% walk rate over five starts. Other than Bryce Harper ($3,800) and Nick Castellanos ($3,400), the rest of the Phillies come in at $3,000 and below, making this a fantastic value stack.

Alek Manoah and Blake Snell have been all over the place this season, so the Milwaukee Brewers and Miami Marlins fit the bill as possible contrarian stacks, too.