FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Wednesday 4/21/21
With a smaller number of night games on the schedule, Wednesday's main slate is getting bumped up to 6:10 pm ET to give us six to peruse. If you thought pitching was lacking yesterday, that's even more the case tonight, and weather could be a concern in a few spots, most notably in the Toronto-Boston game.
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Let's check out the top options on tonight's main slate.
Tyler Mahle ($8,800): It says something when Tyler Mahle has the second-highest salary on the slate, but he's been racking up strikeouts at a 39.3% clip through three starts, so that definitely gets our attention. No one is expecting him to maintain that pace, but after producing a 29.9% strikeout rate in 2020, we can feel pretty confident that a good chunk of these punchouts are here to stay, particularly with an increase in velocity thus far. Unfortunately, a high walk rate has also come along for the ride (12.5% walk rate), which has prevented him from going beyond five innings in any of his 2021 starts. But on an ace-less night, there's plenty to like here to roster Mahle against a modest Arizona Diamondbacks lineup that's showing a 3.56 implied total.
Ian Anderson ($7,800): Moving down the line, Ian Anderson hasn't had the results, but his early peripheral numbers are eerily similar to last year, posting a 3.56 SIERA, 28.4% strikeout rate, and 10.4% walk rate. He's also getting ground balls half the time at exactly 50.0%. Better times are ahead, and while the New York Yankees are clearly a tough matchup on paper, it isn't a secret that they've been scuffling at the plate this month. Given the names in their lineup, they could turn things around in an instant, but at least their current play gives us a little more confidence in rostering Anderson tonight.
Jakob Junis ($7,300): If anything, Jakob Junis has been a guy to stack against over his career, but it appears a new cutter could be giving the 28-year-old some newfound life. Junis is displaying a 32.6% strikeout rate and 12.4% swinging-strike rate through his first dozen innings, blowing away his career averages of 20.9% and 9.6%. Should we be skeptical? Of course, but no one is a sure thing on this slate to begin with, and the Tampa Bay Rays are the type of team to help Junis keep cooking. Tampa's active roster owns a 25.9% strikeout rate versus righties going back to last season.
Atlanta Braves: Despite the lack of high-end pitching, this isn't the easiest night for stacking, either, especially with the Red Sox and Blue Jays in danger of getting postponed. If the weather is looking better later in the day, they're two teams you'll definitely want to include in the mix, as both offenses have plus matchups.
But assuming that game is off the table, the Braves are another team we can look at. They're facing Corey Kluber, whose comeback tour isn't quite going to plan thus far. Kluber's velocity is down, and he's put up a mediocre 4.57 SIERA, 22.6% strikeout rate, and 13.2% walk rate, the last of which is especially a red flag for a pitcher who's rarely issued free passes over the years (5.5% career walk rate).
There are some positive signs, like a 14.1% swinging-strike rate and 56.3% ground-ball rate, so maybe Kluber finds a way to improve, but as things stand, he looks more like a pitcher to attack than not.
Kluber's seven starts in 2019 are probably the closest thing we can find for usable splits, and in that season he posted a 5.94 xFIP versus lefties, so we should roster Freddie Freeman ($4,100) and Ozzie Albies ($3,000) with confidence, and Albies is especially appealing at that salary. We're still waiting on Marcell Ozuna ($3,600) to flex that power more, but history says it will come around. The rest of the order is filled with low salaries, and if Ronald Acuna (abdomen) is out, we could get a value option batting leadoff tonight, too.
Cincinnati Reds: Merrill Kelly has allowed 1.48 home runs per 9 innings dating back to 2019, and he's already coughed up 4 dingers in 16 innings this season. Throw in a drop in strikeout rate (13.5%), and we have ourselves a stacking opportunity.
Sadly, the Reds are missing some pieces, making this a less formidable lineup, but Eugenio Suarez ($3,100) is easy to like despite the slow start, and Jesse Winker ($3,700) and Joey Votto ($2,800) are a pair of lefties who are performing well. Tyler Naquin ($4,000) has an absurd salary, but it's hard to ignore what he's accomplished so far, and his batted-ball metrics on Baseball Savant are hot fire. Everyone else checks in below $3,000 to help fill out our Reds stacks, too.
New York Yankees: The matchup isn't great, and the Yankees' struggles are well-documented. But in theory, they're one of the top offenses of the slate, and they have one of the better implied totals (4.43).
Although he's a right-hander, Ian Anderson's early career splits suggest that righties are the better way to go against him, as he has a less imposing 4.03 xFIP in the split and "just" a 24.8% strikeout rate. That may not seem like much, but that's better than the 2.31 xFIP and 34.4% strikeout rate we see versus lefty sticks.
In any case, it's his double-digit walk rate that we're hoping come into play, and he's coming off a four-walk outing against the Miami Marlins. Aaron Judge ($3,900) is a Statcast darling as always, Giancarlo Stanton ($3,800) is still making loads of hard contact, and DJ LeMahieu ($3,200) continues to get on base at a high clip. Like the prior two stacks, we also get plenty of value plays, including Gleyber Torres ($2,500).
Others to Consider: Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays (if they play)