FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Tuesday 6/22/21
With 14 games on the docket tonight, we've got plenty of quality arms to choose from, but it's another night where picking your favorite could be tricky. Meanwhile, the Houston Astros once again lead the way on offense, boasting the slate's highest implied total for the second straight night.
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Let's check out the top options on tonight's main slate.
Zack Wheeler ($11,400): Typically, Gerrit Cole would be an easy selection for top honors, but there's no question he's been less effective since all the talk of MLB's crackdown on sticky substances began. In fact, even if we arbitrarily go all the way back to the start of May, Cole has only produced a 27.9% strikeout rate in the eight starts since. Of course, much like we saw with Trevor Bauer in his last start, that doesn't mean we should write off an elite pitcher like Cole, but it definitely makes him less of a sure thing despite the Royals showing a pitiful 2.89 implied total tonight.
Meanwhile, Max Scherzer would be the other obvious choice, but he's coming off the injured list and only faced one batter in his last start on June 11th. Chances are he'll be on a shorter leash, making him a big risk on such a large slate.
That leaves us with Wheeler, who just keeps on trucking along with strong start after strong start. While other pitchers have seemingly struggled to adjust to MLB's new policies, Wheeler has rattled off the following FanDuel scores over his last six starts: 55, 65, 58, 44, 64, and 46 points. For the year, he's at a stellar 3.01 SIERA, 31.6% strikeout rate, and 5.9% walk rate, and he has no pitch count issues and routinely pitches deep into games.
Wheeler's matchup against Washington isn't a boost for punchouts, but he should be able to take care of business against an active roster that's produced a below-average 90 wRC+ versus righties this season.
Lucas Giolito ($10,500): The Pirates are another team that doesn't strike out a ton, but they have an 88 wRC+ versus righties, and it's not like they have anyone remotely close to the talent of Juan Soto like Washington. That should give Giolito a pretty easy path to a high floor, and his 30.9% strikeout rate still gives him the potential for a ceiling game. Giolito is another guy where we don't need to worry about workload, too, as he's exceeded 100 pitches in five of his last six starts. Pittsburgh has one of the lowest implied totals on the board at 3.35.
Freddy Peralta ($9,500): While there are definitely some intriguing mid-range options tonight, unless you're making a boatload of lineups, I'm not sure you need to force yourself to go far past the high-salaried arms. Even if we just drop down to Peralta, we're getting a good chunk of change back compared to someone like Wheeler or Cole. Peralta is another guy who's seen a drop in spin rate, but he's still maintained a 31.3% strikeout rate over three June starts, which we'll absolutely take at his sub-$10,000 salary. The matchup also checks out against the Diamondbacks, a team that's struggled on offense and owns a 24.4% strikeout rate versus righties.
Others to Consider: Gerrit Cole ($11,000)
Houston Astros: While things are a bit murky on the pitching side, that arguably isn't the case for stacks, where the Astros are the clear headliner. They smacked around the Orioles for 10 runs on Monday and could be looking for an encore performance given their hefty 5.69 implied total tonight.
That's because they're up against Jorge Lopez, who -- much like the rest of his career -- is getting shelled on a regular basis. While Lopez's SIERA or xFIP might suggest he should be performing better, this has been a constant throughout his career, and it's safe to say that when you've posted a career 6.01 ERA after 293.1 innings, it ain't a fluke.
Over his 14 starts this season, Lopez has recorded a 5.95 ERA with pedestrian marks in strikeout rate (22.3%) and walk rate (9.3%). But the big issue is home runs, as he's coughing up 1.80 per nine innings, which falls in line with a career-long issue (1.63 per nine). He simply allows far too much hard contact, as shown across the board in his Statcast metrics.
Meanwhile, Houston has been one of the top offenses in 2021, and while temperatures may be cooler compared to last night, they'll still be aided by a hitter-friendly Camden Yards. Yordan Alvarez ($3,800) is easily the top power bat, and Michael Brantley ($3,400) will also enjoy the platoon advantage, making them both fine places to start, but in this matchup, it's hard to go wrong with anyone in the top two-thirds of the order. Chas McCormick ($2,400) and Abraham Toro ($2,100) will likely bat low in the lineup but offer up potential value options.
Chicago Cubs: Eli Morgan is making his third MLB start for Cleveland, and if it goes anything like the first two, we'll want our share of Cubs in some lineups. Over his first two outings, Morgan's allowed nine earned runs and three home runs over just 6.1 innings, and it's not like this year's Triple-A numbers inspire much confidence, either, posting a 5.48 xFIP, 20.8% strikeout rate, and 11.1% walk rate across four starts.
Although Chicago hasn't been an amazing offense this season, they still have a solid foursome up top in Kris Bryant ($3,800), Javier Baez ($3,700), Joc Pederson ($3,300), and Anthony Rizzo ($3,200). Willson Contreras ($2,500) and Ian Happ ($2,700) are likely to follow them as salary-savers with some pop.
And while Patrick Wisdom's production is unsustainable, he's easy to like at $2,800 if he's in the lineup. Wisdom's put up an absurd 24.4% barrel rate over 77 plate appearances.
Oakland Athletics: Oakland draws a bullpen game against the Rangers, and while that isn't often ideal for stacking, their spot stands out on a slate with so many good-to-great starters going. Outside of the Astros and Cubs, the Athletics are the only other team with an implied total hovering around five runs (4.99).
Left-hander Taylor Hearn will open the game, and he's struggled to keep the ball in the park while allowing a 38.1% fly-ball rate (2.04 home runs per nine innings), and he also issues too many walks (11.4%). And perhaps if we're lucky, original starter Jordan Lyles will appear in the game, as he's been lit up for a 5.68 ERA and 4.80 SIERA over 14 starts while also struggling with dingers.
But at the end of the day, even without knowing the specific matchups, this is mostly about a quality offense facing a mediocre bullpen. Overall, Oakland's active roster has produced a 108 wRC+, which is the sixth-best mark in the league.
Matt Olson ($4,000) and his fantastic .588 xSLG are a great place to start, followed by Ramon Laureano ($3,400), who's sporting a mark of .541. The rest of the lineup comes in at lower salaries, making this an ideal stack to pair with tonight's high-salaried hurlers.
Others to Consider: Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox