FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Friday 7/21/23

Friday's 11-game main slate provides us with a strong core of pitchers to choose between at multiple salary tiers, and a handful of offenses stand out above the rest for stacks. Rain could be a factor in both Boston and New York, but as of this writing, those games are expected to play.

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

Framber Valdez ($11,200) is perhaps the best combination of floor and ceiling against an Athletics team showing a 2.97 implied team total that's easily the slate's lowest. While Valdez's 54.6% ground-ball rate is actually the lowest of his career, improvements in both strikeout rate (27.4%) and walk rate (5.9%) have made him an even more lethal fantasy pitcher. He regularly pitches deep into games, logging quality starts in 13 of 18 starts and going seven or more innings nine times.

The A's lineup has shuffled a bit due to recent injuries and minor league call-ups, but as things stand, their active roster has a 72 wRC+ versus left-handed pitching. It's baseball, so weird things happen all the time, but Valdez should be able to put the clamps down tonight.

Due to a nagging blister issue, Shohei Ohtani ($10,200) has been shaky over his last two starts, so that makes him a bit riskier than usual against the Pirates. But his 32.2% strikeout rate leads the slate, and we know what his upside is like when he's firing on all cylinders. Before the blister, Ohtani had racked up double-digit punchouts in back-to-back starts. Pittsburgh is a below-average offense against righties, so they shouldn't pose a huge threat to Shohei if he's back in form.

If Valdez's salary is too restrictive and you're worried about Ohtani's blister situation, Joe Ryan ($10,000) is a great alternative. Ryan boasts a 32.8% strikeout rate and 3.0% walk rate versus right-handed batters, and he's facing a White Sox team that tends to have righty-heavy lineups. Add in that Chicago's active roster has a mere 90 wRC+ versus righty pitchers, and it's easy to like Ryan's prospects.

Given those other three guys, Kodai Senga ($10,400) probably won't get a whole lot of attention in the same salary range. While his matchup versus the Red Sox isn't great, some of Senga's best starts have come against good offenses, most recently scoring 46 FanDuel points against the Dodgers and 67 points against the Diamondbacks. Armed with a tantalizing 30.0% strikeout rate that's often let down by a 12.0% walk rate, it's really more a matter of whether he finds the plate or not tonight.

For options under $10,000, Lance Lynn ($9,200) and Clarke Schmidt ($8,000) could have some upside.

Lynn is still sitting on an ugly 6.06 ERA due to him getting absolutely pummeled for home runs, but he can still pop for the occasional big score because of his 27.7% strikeout rate. It doesn't get more boom-or-bust than Lynn taking on a Twins team that has a .187 ISO and 28.3% strikeout rate versus right-handers. Lynn has stark splits, with most of the damage coming from lefty sticks, so if Minnesota goes heavy on the lefties, this might be a spot to ultimately avoid.

Schmidt has a date with the Royals, and Kansas City's modest 3.61 implied team total is worth noting. While his overall numbers are more solid than spectacular, he's another pitcher with significant splits, as his strikeout rate jumps up to 27.0% versus righties compared to just 19.9% when facing lefties. As the implied team total would suggest, Schmidt isn't in nearly as much trouble as Lynn if the Royals load up on lefty bats, but his upside will be considerably higher against righties.

Hitting Breakdown

The Cincinnati Reds have a slate-high 5.35 implied team total versus left-hander Tommy Henry, a pitcher who's performed fairly well this season but could be due for regression. Underneath the hood, Henry has an uninspiring 5.23 SIERA, 16.9% strikeout rate, 9.0% walk rate, and 36.4% ground-ball rate, and while he might be doing something right as someone who hasn't given up a ton of hard contact, this doesn't look like a sustainable profile for a guy with a 3.89 ERA.

Matt McLain ($3,800) and Spencer Steer ($3,400) are the top Cincinnati righties, and Christian Encarnacion-Strand ($2,700) is a potential value if he starts. Encarnacion-Strand had a .306 ISO in Triple-A before getting called up.

Despite some disappointing results over the last couple of days, the San Francisco Giants' bats are in an excellent spot to bounce back against right-hander Jake Irvin. Irvin has struggled over 13 starts, with lackluster marks in strikeout rate (15.9%) and walk rate (10.5%), and his splits aren't strong against either side of the plate.

The Giants' salaries remain low across the board with no batter exceeding $3,000. Pinch-hitting risks aside, Joc Pederson ($3,000), Mike Yastrzemski ($2,900), and Michael Conforto ($3,000) are appealing lefties at their salaries, and all three should bat high in the order. Wilmer Flores ($2,900) has been dialed in at the plate, so he could get another start.

The Arizona Diamondbacks are facing right-hander Ben Lively, and it's Arizona's left-handed batters who should benefit the most from this matchup. While Lively has solid marks in same-sided matchups, when up against lefties, he's put up a 19.8% strikeout rate and allowed 2.15 home runs per 9 innings off a 50.0% fly-ball rate.

Corbin Carroll ($4,000) is practically a must here, and switch-hitters Ketel Marte ($3,500) and Geraldo Perdomo ($2,800) should bat ahead of him. Alek Thomas ($2,400) usually bats ninth, but he offers up a punt lefty for wrap-around stacks. Christian Walker ($3,400) still deserves inclusion as Arizona's best overall power hitter despite batting right-handed.

The New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, and Los Angeles Dodgers are others to have in mind. The Yankees have a 4.89 implied team total versus Alec Marsh, who's getting strikeouts but is struggling with both walks and home runs over three starts. Tony Gonsolin has a 4.91 SIERA, 18.9% strikeout rate, and 9.0% walk rate over 14 starts, putting the Rangers in a good position to plate some runs. The Dodgers are up against Andrew Heaney, who has a long history of allowing home runs to right-handed batters.