FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Thursday 8/20/20

Sonny Gray is one of many excellent hurlers taking the mound on Thursday. Who else deserves a look tonight?

We're treated to a plethora of fantastic pitchers on Thursday and deciding between them could be tricky in tournaments. The top-notch pitching leaves fewer desirable stacking spots, but the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers are among the teams with higher implied totals.

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!

And don't forget to take a listen to The Solo Shot podcast with Jim Sannes, who breaks down the MLB daily fantasy slate each morning.

On that note, let's highlight some of the top options for today's FanDuel main slate. Below are tonight's projected starters with their 2020 stats. Opposing team strikeout rate and wRC+ date back to last year and are against a given pitcher's handedness using up-to-date active rosters, per FanGraphs.

Jose Suarez is making his 2020 debut, so his 2019 marks are listed (noted in italics).

Pitcher Salary L/R Opp. SIERA K% BB% Opp. K% Opp. wRC+
Shane Bieber $12,000 R @PIT 2.07 42.9% 4.8% 20.9% 88
Sonny Gray $10,700 R @STL 2.79 37.2% 7.4% 23.7% 94
Clayton Kershaw $10,100 L @SEA 2.80 28.1% 4.7% 23.2% 105
Dinelson Lamet $9,400 R TEX 3.40 32.1% 7.1% 24.8% 88
Jose Berrios $8,700 R MIL 5.01 21.6% 11.7% 24.0% 100
Adam Wainwright $8,300 R CIN 4.84 19.1% 9.5% 24.5% 96
Brandon Woodruff $8,100 R @MIN 3.35 29.1% 6.8% 21.2% 115
Kevin Gausman $7,700 R LAA 3.06 31.8% 4.7% 20.5% 110
Kyle Gibson $7,500 R @SDP 4.47 17.5% 7.2% 24.7% 91
Trevor Williams $7,200 R CLE 4.54 20.9% 7.0% 22.5% 94
Nathan Eovaldi $6,800 R @BAL 3.95 22.9% 4.2% 21.5% 89
Yusei Kikuchi $6,500 L LOS 3.77 25.8% 9.7% 21.9% 102
Asher Wojciechowski $6,400 R BOS 4.52 21.8% 7.7% 20.8% 103
Sean Manaea $6,300 L ARI 4.13 20.2% 5.6% 21.7% 106
Alex Young $5,800 L @OAK 3.42 25.4% 5.1% 20.9% 113
Jose Suarez $5,500 L @SFG 5.09 19.2% 8.8% 22.7% 102

Let's check out the top spots on tonight's slate.


The top four pitchers in salary all deserve our attention tonight, but it's hard to argue against Shane Bieber ($12,000) for top overall honors in spite of that hefty salary.

Bieber has been absolutely lights out through five starts, as his massive 42.9% strikeout rate trails only Trevor Bauer among qualified starters, and his 19.8% swinging-strike rate tops all comers. In addition to the elite strikeout numbers, he's upped his ground-ball rate to 50.8%, which should help protect him from the long ball.

The Pittsburgh Pirates were a mediocre offense against righties in 2019, but they've been truly inept this season, with their active roster registering a 50 wRC+ in the split -- easily the league's worst mark. And while they were a tougher matchup for punchouts last year, they're striking out at a 24.4% clip in 2020, too.

It all sets up for Bieber to continue his strong play, and it's well worth ponying up that extra cash for his services.

Sonny Gray ($10,700) is also putting up some awe-inspiring numbers, and you'll want plenty of exposure to him in tournaments, as well.

Gray has benefited from easy matchups against several struggling offenses, so it's fair to expect his eye-popping strikeout rate to regress a bit, but he did post a 28.9% rate in 2019. Really, it's hard to fine many blemishes in his 2020 resume, and the Cardinals should make for a plus matchup.

Clayton Kershaw ($10,100) and Dinelson Lamet ($9,400) fall a tier below Bieber and Gray, and it's largely because they haven't been given the 100-plus pitch workloads of those two. Kershaw threw a promising season-high 91 pitches in his last start, while Lamet has hovered in the mid-to-low 80s in three straight.

Still, both are showing excellent peripherals, and they have appealing opponents in the Mariners and Rangers. Seattle was surprisingly decent against lefties in 2019, but their active roster owns a pitiful 65 wRC+ in the split this year.

I don't think you need to drop below these four, but if you're looking for a value play, then Kevin Gausman ($7,700) is a possibility. Gausman jumped to 106 pitches in his last start, and a 14.5% swinging-strike is a good sign for his delightful strikeout rate. While the Angels are a risky opponent, that's baked into the salary, and cool temperatures at Oracle Park should help keep the ball in the park.


Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox have been one of the worst teams in the league, but most of the blame falls on an abysmal pitching staff. This team still packs some punch at the plate.

They're arguably the best stack of the evening against Asher Wojciechowski, who is showing similar peripherals to 2019 -- a campaign that resulted in a 4.92 ERA. Wojciechowski's long had trouble with home runs, allowing 1.90 per 9 innings over his career, and his Statcast data suggests more of the same moving forward.

The right-hander owns lackluster numbers against both sides of the plate, but the historical advantage goes to left-handed hitters. He has a career 5.61 xFIP in the split with a pedestrian 20.1% strikeout rate and 9.0% walk rate. That gives a boost to Rafael Devers ($2,800) -- one of the slate's top values -- along with Mitch Moreland ($3,300) and Alex Verdugo ($2,700).

J.D. Martinez ($3,500) hasn't been his usual self in 2020, but we're getting a nice discount if he's back in the lineup tonight. He's still producing a 40.3% hard-hit rate, so better days could be ahead.

Milwaukee Brewers

Once you get past the Red Sox, it's gets a little tricky to find the next best stack. The Los Angeles Dodgers have the night's highest implied total after Boston and are certainly in the conversation against left-hander Yusei Kikuchi.

However, despite a 5.28 ERA, Kikuchi has actually put up some intriguing numbers over three starts, with improvements in strikeout rate (25.8%), swinging-strike rate (12.2%), and ground-ball rate (57.5%). He also hasn't given up a single barrel yet. This isn't to say you should flat out fade a potent offense like the Dodgers, but the matchup may carry more risk than one might expect.

But everyone is familiar with the Dodgers' top bats, so let's instead discuss the Milwaukee Brewers, who have been a shocking disappointment at the dish but could get a lift against a struggling Jose Berrios.

Berrios has the name value, but he hasn't lived up to the billing, with his numbers down across the board. He's allowing a 49.3% hard-hit rate, and the barrels have been piling up, so the Brewers might be able to send a few balls into the outfield seats tonight.

Christian Yelich ($4,200) is a no-brainer, and Keston Hiura ($3,100), Justin Smoak ($2,600), and Ryan Braun ($2,400) are among those with power potential.

Baltimore Orioles

The Baltimore Orioles qualify as a boom-or-bust option against Nathan Eovaldi, who's mixed in good and bad starts this year. Most recently, he was pummeled by the Yankees, and he's now given up five home runs the last two games. Dingers were an issue in 2019, and his 40.5% hard-hit rate and 41.7% ground-ball rate suggest more are on the way.

Boston's bullpen also hasn't been anything special, allowing the third-worst ERA among active rosters. While ERA estimators suggest some bad luck -- they've also endured a .330 BABIP -- their collective FIP and xFIP are mediocre, too.

As for the Orioles, they've been above average versus righties this year, and lineup mainstays Anthony Santander ($3,400), Renato Nunez ($3,200), and Rio Ruiz ($3,300) are among those dealing at the plate. Chance Sisco ($2,300) is a nice value if he's batting leadoff.