FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Friday 8/21/20

Will the Dodgers enjoy another blowout win tonight? Which other teams are in good spots?

One pitcher stands out above the rest on Friday, but there are plenty of enticing pivots if you want to get wild in tournaments. We get a plethora of stacking spots, too, with roughy half of tonight's teams showing implied totals of 4.70 or higher.

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.

Pitcher Salary L/R Opp. SIERA K% BB% Opp. K% Opp. wRC+
Aaron Nola $10,700 R @ATL 2.30 39.8% 4.3% 23.7% 102
Max Fried $9,400 L PHI 3.73 25.5% 8.2% 22.6% 113
Lance McCullers Jr. $8,700 R @SDP 4.08 20.7% 9.0% 24.7% 92
Walker Buehler $8,500 R COL 5.10 21.3% 11.3% 22.1% 82
Jon Lester $7,900 L CWS 5.02 15.2% 4.4% 23.8% 124
Andrew Heaney $7,500 L @OAK 4.36 24.5% 8.8% 21.0% 114
Garrett Richards $7,400 R HOU 4.86 18.3% 7.8% 16.9% 124
Adrian Houser $7,400 R @PIT 4.36 20.5% 10.2% 21.1% 88
Dallas Keuchel $7,300 L @CHC 4.37 13.6% 5.1% 22.4% 93
Danny Duffy $7,200 L MIN 3.92 28.0% 7.0% 20.1% 118
Jon Gray $7,100 R @LOS 5.12 14.2% 5.3% 20.1% 123
Robbie Ray $7,000 L @SFG 6.07 25.0% 18.5% 22.5% 103
Mike Fiers $6,800 R LAA 5.97 9.8% 5.4% 20.5% 111
Dakota Hudson $6,700 R CIN 4.35 20.6% 5.9% 24.5% 95
Chad Kuhl $6,600 R MIL 3.25 33.3% 7.4% 24.0% 100
Jake Odorizzi $6,500 R @KAN 3.76 26.7% 6.7% 22.7% 92
Logan Webb $6,400 R ARI 5.26 19.4% 11.8% 21.6% 98
Anthony DeSclafani $6,300 R @STL 4.96 16.4% 5.5% 23.8% 94
Kolby Allard $6,200 L @SEA 4.53 25.0% 7.7% 23.7% 102
Adam Plutko $6,100 R DET 5.01 14.6% 1.8% 26.6% 80
Nick Margevicius $6,000 L TEX 4.27 20.0% 3.6% 26.7% 91
John Means $5,900 L BOS 4.90 17.1% 5.7% 20.2% 110
Michael Fulmer $5,700 R @CLE 5.75 14.6% 9.8% 22.5% 94
Colten Brewer $5,500 R @BAL 4.49 22.7% 12.1% 21.6% 88

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


Aaron Nola ($10,700) is clearly the cream of the crop tonight, coming in with the league's third-best strikeout rate and second-best SIERA among qualified starters. We can point to a change in pitch mix to explain the increase in strikeouts, most notably coming from a sizable rise in changeup usage -- a pitch that's generating a 23.1% swinging-strike rate. He isn't even that priced up and should be able to keep things going against a Braves lineup missing Ronald Acuna and Ozzie Albies.

Walker Buehler ($8,500) has some surprisingly middling numbers over four starts, although he's endured tough matchups against the Angels, Astros, and a rising Padres team. His velocity is about the same as last year, and his pitch usage is nearly identical, too, so there's little reason to think he can't turn things around. He's thrown 89 and 87 pitches in his last two starts, so his workload is getting to a comfortable spot.

Buehler gets arguably his easiest matchup thus far against a Rockies squad away from Coors Field. Colorado has the night's lowest implied total (3.80).

If you want to think outside the box in tournaments, Robbie Ray ($7,000), Chad Kuhl ($6,600), and Jake Odorizzi ($6,500) all have punchout upside in plus matchups.

Kuhl is my favorite of this group, facing a Milwaukee Brewers lineup that continues to struggle mightily at the plate. Milwaukee's active roster owns a 28.3% strikeout rate and 64 wRC+ versus right-handed pitching in 2020. Kuhl got up to a season-high 78 pitches in his last start, and a reliance on breaking balls has helped him vastly improve his strikeout rate compared to pre-Tommy John levels. If the Pirates bump up that pitch count again, Kuhl could be a money value play.

Ray has an abysmal walk rate and is giving up bombs, but at least he's still getting strikeouts. Some of his issues could also be the result of a tough schedule. Despite Ray's struggles, he's still typically allowed high pitch counts, and cool temperatures at Oracle Park should help him avoid dingers against the Giants.

Odorizzi is facing the Royals for the third time in a row, which probably isn't ideal, but they're a mediocre offense. He got up to 79 pitches in his second start and posted a 27.1% strikeout rate in 2019.


Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon Gray has uninspiring numbers after five starts, and the Los Angeles Dodgers will be far and away his most difficult opponent yet. While some of his poor results can be blamed on Coors Field (four of his five starts), that isn't an excuse for a 14.2% strikeout rate and 46.7% hard-hit rate. Tonight's game is at Dodger Stadium, but that isn't likely to save Gray from another beatdown against one of the league's best.

Gray has historically allowed more hard contact to lefty sticks and all four home runs he's given up have come from that side. Cody Bellinger ($3,900) is one of the slate's top plays, and Corey Seager ($3,900), Max Muncy ($3,400), and Joc Pederson ($2,800) should also be able to take advantage.

Mookie Betts ($4,300) is a no-brainer, too, excelling in just about every relevant stat this year.

Cleveland Indians

Michael Fulmer has only logged 8.1 innings over three starts, but he's already coughed up five home runs. Between a low strikeout rate, high walk rate, and a boatload of hard contact, Fulmer's road back from Tommy John isn't going swimmingly.

The Cleveland Indians seem to be coming around on offense, and this is an inexpensive stack behind Jose Ramirez ($4,000) and Francisco Lindor ($3,500). Franmil Reyes ($3,100) is popping on the Statcast front as usual, and Tyler Naquin ($2,300) consistently makes hard contact if you need a punt.

Los Angeles Angels

The Boston Red Sox should be a popular play again tonight, drawing a potentially lucrative matchup against lefty John Means. It's worth noting that Means has shown better velocity this season, but it hasn't translated to better results over three starts. He posted a 5.02 SIERA in 2019.

The Baltimore Orioles were a dud on Thursday but could also be worth a look against a combination of Boston relievers in Colten Brewer and Darwinzon Hernandez, who both struggle with walks. The Orioles probably won't see a particularly high draft percentage and have a solid 4.92 implied total.

But let's touch on the Los Angeles Angels here, who could put up some crooked numbers on Mike Fiers. West coast teams sometimes get less attention in tournaments, and the Angels, in particular, have been releasing their lineup late recently, so we might be able to get them at a slightly lower draft percentage.

Fiers is dead last in strikeout rate among tonight's starters, and when you combine that with a 45.3% hard-hit rate and 42.6% fly-ball rate, bad things happen. His velocity is down a couple ticks, and he's just not missing bats at all with a 5.1% swinging-strike rate.

Mike Trout ($4,500) is the headliner as always, but anyone in the usual top five batting slots are strong options, with Shohei Ohtani ($3,000) being an especially nice value. In the bottom half of the order, Brian Goodwin ($2,700) is actually hitting barrels at a high clip, and both catchers -- Jason Castro ($2,200) and Max Stassi ($2,300) -- are showing nice power.