FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Thursday 4/8/21
We're looking at another early main slate today, with a seven-game offering getting started at 1:10 pm ET. The pitching basket may not be quite as full as yesterday, but we still find some high-upside options this afternoon.
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Let's check out the top options on Thursday's main slate.
Note that rain could be a factor for all three pitchers listed below, so keep that will be something to keep tabs on this afternoon, as all three are taking the hill after 4:00pm ET.
Corbin Burnes ($9,400): In his 2021 debut, Corbin Burnes was absolutely lights out -- he even had a no-hit bid through six innings -- notching 11 strikeouts and zero walks over 6.1 innings against the Twins while allowing just one earned run. He backed up that fire with a 17.2% swinging-strike rate and could be poised to build on last year's impressive 3.18 SIERA and 36.7% strikeout rate. Burnes only tallied 87 pitches in that opener, and like we've seen from Brandon Woodruff so far, the Brewers seem content to keep workloads in check. Even so, Burnes is capable of putting up a big score if he's efficient again, and the Cardinals' active roster rates as below average against righties over the past two seasons (92 wRC+).
Jose Berrios (9,600): On the opposite side of that Burnes debut, Jose Berrios was actually pulled with his own no-hitter still intact after 6.0 scoreless innings, and as you might expect, he was similarly amazing, churning out a dozen strikeouts with a 19.0% swinging-strike rate. A nasty curveball did much of the damage (40.9% swinging-strike rate), and it's even easier to get excited about Berrios because of his matchup against a whiff-happy Mariners lineup (26.2% strikeout rate versus righties from 2019-20). Despite the incredible first start, Berrios had just a 25.1% strikeout rate in 2020, so it remains to be seen whether he can take it to an elite level on a more consistent basis. But due to the fantastic matchup, it's a toss-up between Berrios and Burnes.
Lance Lynn (8,900): All three of these hurlers are below $10,000, so I'm not sure there's much reason to drop below them today unless you want to take a chance on Eduardo Rodriguez against the Orioles. As for Lance Lynn, he didn't submit the head-turning performance of Burnes and Berrios in his opener, but 6 strikeouts over 4.2 scoreless innings with a 15.2% swinging-strike rate versus the Angels is nothing to scoff at. The good thing about rostering Lynn is he's one of the few guys where we can feel pretty confident in his pitch count, as even though he didn't make it through five innings, he was up to 99 pitches at the time. Burnes and Berrios arguably have higher ceilings today, but Lynn should post a strong score against a modest Royals lineup.
Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks: It's a Coors Field day, so you know what that means. Merrill Kelly and Jon Gray aren't the types of pitchers to deter us from going here, and the lack of sky-high pitching salaries should help us fit in some bigger bats.
Both teams are at the top when it comes to implied totals, but the Rockies get the edge at 5.94. Home runs have been an issue for Kelly since his MLB debut in 2019, and he now sits on a pedestrian 4.63 SIERA and 20.8% strikeout rate over his 218.2 career innings. There isn't anything notable about his splits, and he doesn't have an especially high ground-ball rate, so you can pretty much stack whomever you want from Colorado.
The salaries make it difficult to fit them all in, but Trevor Story ($4,100), Charlie Blackmon ($3,900), C.J. Cron ($3,900), and Ryan McMahon ($3,700) are the top targets. The speedy Garrett Hampson ($3,200) gives us some salary relief high in the order, and we'll hopefully also see Sam Hilliard ($3,000) in the lineup.
Gray is a little trickier because he was excellent in his debut -- and against the Dodgers of all teams -- allowing just one earned run over five innings while striking out seven. The right-hander was a solid pitcher before hitting rock bottom in 2020 (5.58 SIERA), so it isn't outlandish to think he could bounce back a bit.
That said, the Diamondbacks are loaded with lefties and have lower salaries than the Rockies. David Peralta ($3,400), Eduardo Escobar ($3,100), Josh Rojas ($2,900), and Pavin Smith ($2,900) aren't the most formidable foursome, but they're an easy way to fill out a stack with lefty/switch-hitting sticks. Christian Walker ($3,400) is the top power bat with a career .212 ISO.
Boston Red Sox: It turns out the Boston Red Sox may not be total doormats after all, with a sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays this week. They'll now try to get revenge on the Orioles and have a good opportunity to do so against Matt Harvey. This will be the second time Boston faces Harvey this season, and while Harvey held them to 2 runs in 4.2 innings in their first bout, there wasn't anything remarkable about the performance, and he only held a 5.8% swinging-strike rate.
We're now several years removed from Harvey's peak years with the Mets, and at this point, he's had a below-average strikeout rate dating back to 2016. Over 59.2 innings in 2019, he only mustered a 5.81 SIERA and 14.7% strikeout rate. He's especially struggled versus left-handed bats, bumping up Alex Verdugo ($2,800) and Rafael Devers ($2,900), but you should feel comfortable rolling out most of this Boston lineup.
Chicago White Sox: The trouble with Brad Keller is his high ground-ball rate (52.1% over his career), which helps him suppress home runs. However, that's about the only thing he does of any significance, posting a 16.3% strikeout rate in 2020 and 17.2% in 2019. He also got wrecked by the Rangers in his first start, giving up 6 runs in 1.1 innings.
Although they're missing some pieces, the White Sox are the type of team that can punish Keller, with guys like Yasmani Grandal ($3,400) and Yoan Moncada ($3,100) having the platoon advantage, along with the usual suspects like Jose Abreu ($3,900) and Luis Robert ($3,500).