FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Sunday 4/4/21
The beauty of daily fantasy baseball is that the top targets are different each and every day. Whether it's the right-handed catcher who destroys left-handed pitching or the mid-range hurler facing a depleted lineup, you're not going to find yourself using the same assets time after time.
While this breaks up the monotony, it can make it hard to decide which players are primed to succeed on a given day. We can help bridge that gap.
In addition to our custom optimal lineups, you can check out our batting and pitching heat maps, which show the pieces in the best spot to succeed on that slate. Put on the finishing touches with our games and lineups page to see who's hitting where and what the weather looks like, and you'll have yourself a snazzy-looking team to put up some big point totals.
If you need help getting started on that trek, here are some of the top options on the board today. We'll be focusing exclusively on the main slate, which begins at 1:05 p.m. EST.
Pitchers to Target
Among main slates, this is by far the worst pitching slate of the season, which is to be expected after teams sent their top arms to the hill the first few days. Our projections have no pitchers scoring more than 31.3 FanDuel points. It's not pretty.
Ian Anderson ($9,000 on FanDuel) and Aaron Civale ($8,400) are at the top of my wishlist, and I think you can make a case for either as the slate's best hurler. Civale has a much better matchup and is my preferred option while our projections give Civale (30.2 FanDuel points) a slight edge over Anderson (29.4).
Civale comes into 2021 with plenty of breakout hype. He finished last season with a 4.11 SIERA, 22.1% strikeout rate, 5.1% walk rate and 10.3% swinging-strike rate across 74 frames. On top of those stout numbers, he gets a fantastic matchup versus the Detroit Tigers, a team FanGraphs' WAR projections have with the fourth-fewest offensive WAR. The Tigers were a dream matchup a year ago, recording a league-worst strikeout rate (27.3%) and the fourth-worst wOBA (.303). Detroit has a 4.03 implied total.
As for Anderson, he possesses the swing-and-miss stuff we crave, posting a 29.7% strikeout rate and 11.9% swinging-strike rate in 32 1/3 innings in 2020. That doesn't include his 31.2% strikeout rate in 18 2/3 impressive postseason innings. While his MLB sample size is small, Anderson had a 31.8% strikeout rate and 13.3% swinging-strike rate in 111 Double-A innings in 2019. The blemishes are his 10.1% walk rate from last year and a date with a solid Philadelphia Phillies offense at homer-happy Citizens Bank Park, which is why I lean toward Civale. But the Phils' 3.87 implied total is the slate's lowest.
German was suspended for all of 2020, but he racked up strikeout rates of 25.8% and 27.2% in 2018 and 2019, respectively. His career SIERA is 3.91, and he showed no rust in spring training, fanning 17 in 13 innings while walking 1 and permitting just 2 runs. Rarely can we get exposure to these kind of numbers for a salary this low. The big issue today is a brutal matchup with the Toronto Blue Jays, an offense that is fourth by FanGraphs' WAR projections.
Skubal definitely comes with some risk, but there's plenty to like, as well, especially given the $6,000 salary. He registered a 27.6% strikeout rate and 12.9% swinging-strike rate over 32 MLB innings in 2020. He has some gaudy strikeout rates in the minors, too, including a 48.2% clip -- not a typo -- in 42 1/3 frames in Double-A in 2019. The Cleveland Indians were just 26th in wOBA last year (.303), and that was with Francisco Lindor.
Richards has spun a 24.9% strikeout rate since the start of 2018, a span of 136 1/3 innings, but he's also given up a 40.1% hard-hit rate in that time. A matchup with the Baltimore Orioles is pretty favorable as the O's carry a only a 4.21 implied total and are projected for the sixth-fewest offensive WAR.
Stacks to Target
New York Yankees
This is our first main slate without the Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors as the chalk stack. Well, don't fret -- the New York Yankees step right into the void. The Bronx Bombers hold a 5.26 implied total for their home date with righty T.J. Zeuch, who owns a 5.09 SIERA, 15.8% strikeout rate and 40.7% hard-hit rate in his brief MLB career (34 innings).
Anyone in the Yankees' lineup needs to at least be on our radar. Our model's projections place four New York hitters among the top-12 bats -- Aaron Judge ($4,000), Giancarlo Stanton ($3,800), DJ LeMahieu ($3,700) and Gleyber Torres ($3,500). While those studs are stellar options, I want to focus on Aaron Hicks ($3,200) and Jay Bruce ($2.300), who are core plays for me.
Hicks hit third Saturday versus a righty, and he put up a .351 wOBA in the split in 2020. At his friendly salary, he'll likely be one of the more popular bats if he's slotted third. Bruce is going to be a low-salary way to get a piece of this offense for most of the year as his platoon gig will likely keep his salary in check. Versus righties last year, Bruce smacked 6 homers in only 85 plate appearances, and he mustered a 43.3% hard-hit rate and 53.9% fly-ball rate in the split over a larger sample in 2019. He's the top point-per-dollar hitter on the slate, per our projections.
Kansas City Royals
With the Kansas City Royals scoring 25 runs over their first two games, this feels like point chasing, but KC has another good matchup today. Their 5.62 implied total paces the slate as they're taking on right-hander Jordan Lyles, who finished last campaign with a 5.62 SIERA, 13.5% strikeout rate and 6.7% swinging-strike rate. Righties got to him for a .363 wOBA while lefties had a .350 wOBA, so we have flexibility with a Royals stack.
Outside of Whit Merrifield ($4,000), Kansas City doesn't have anyone with a salary over $3,600, so they fit in nicely alongside the Yankees. Merrifield has donged in each of the first two games and is averaging a cool 34.9 FanDuel points. I feel pretty safe in saying he won't hit 162 homers this year, but he'll likely be atop the order today and offers speed upside, too.
Andrew Benintendi ($2,900), Carlos Santana ($3,300), Salvador Perez ($3,600) and Jorge Soler ($3,400) hit 2-3-4-5 against a righty yesterday. Since the start of 2018, Santana has walked more than he's struck out and has a .350 wOBA. Soler had a hefty 35.1% strikeout rate in righty-righty clashes last season, but he also hit 8 tanks in just 154 plate appearances in the split thanks to a 39.0% hard-hit rate and 40.3% fly-ball rate.
Nicky Lopez ($2,200) hit ninth on Saturday and can be part of a wraparound stack. He doesn't pack much punch with the bat but does have three hits through two games and will hold the platoon advantage against Lyles.
St. Louis Cardinals
We need to take into account the impact of Coors when we look at Jeff Hoffman's numbers, but this is a dude we can feel good stacking against even though he's now on the Cincinnati Reds. Over the past two years, Hoffman has pitched to a 5.00 SIERA while surrendering a 40.8% hard-hit rate and 42.2% fly-ball rate. Same-sided matchups have killed him. Right-handed hitters have mauled Hoffman to the tune of a .411 wOBA, 38.4% hard-hit rate and 38.4% fly-ball rate across 525 batters faced in the split. He's given up a .340 wOBA to lefties, so they're fine to target, too.
Five of the St. Louis Cardinals' first six hitters yesterday hit from the right side, and they'll be taking hacks Great American Ball Park, which has been the most homer-friendly park in each of the last three years, according to FanGraphs' park factors. The Red Birds own a 4.75 implied total.
Paul Goldschmidt ($4,000) and Nolan Arenado ($3,800) stand out as the premier bats in this lineup. Arenado had a .382 wOBA, 44.1% hard-hit rate, and 44.9% fly-ball rate against righties in the last full season (2019). If you want to look at only his road numbers -- to take Coors out of it -- Arenado finished 2019 with a .351 wOBA, 45.2% hard-hit rate, and 43.5% fly-ball rate on the road against right-handers. Goldschmidt ended 2020 with a .377 wOBA in the split, although his hard-hit rate was just 27.9%.
After those two, no other Cards carry a salary above $3,200, so a St. Louis stack also meshes well with a Yankees stack. Paul DeJong ($2,900) and Tyler O'Neill ($3,200) should be in the three and four spots, respectively. Switch-hitters Tommy Edman ($2,800) and Dylan Carlson ($2,700) are listed at easy-to-like salaries. Edman has been the leadoff man in each of St. Louis' first two games while Carlson is a top prospect who launched 26 taters across Double-A and Triple-A in 2019.