FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Thursday 7/29/21
Tonight's main slate only has five games scheduled, so it's a thin one for pitching, particularly with question marks surrounding some of the better hurlers. That does leave us with some variety for our bats, though tonight's Toronto-Boston matchup has some weather issues to monitor.
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Let's check out the top options on tonight's main slate.
Frankie Montas ($8,800): The safest choice on the board is Montas, who doesn't have any workload concerns and has produced a 3.81 SIERA, 25.3% strikeout rate, and 6.2% walk rate this season. He's also been on a roll lately with 10, 7, and 10 strikeouts over his last three starts, and that has coincided with a recent rise in his splitter usage. And this isn't a bad matchup against a watered-down Angels lineup that's severely lacking in talent once you get past Shohei Ohtani.
Considering the red flags surrounding tonight's other top options, there's a strong argument to making Montas your first choice, and the salary doesn't hurt, either.
Freddy Peralta ($9,700): Under typical circumstances, Peralta clearly has the highest ceiling of anyone on the slate, with his 35.0% strikeout rate besting the field by a wide margin.
The only problem? The Brewers are already looking ahead to the playoffs and plan to limit the workloads of their top pitchers the rest of the season to keep them fresh, which includes using their starters in tandem. This played out in Peralta's last start, when he threw only 51 pitches was replaced by Adrian Houser after 4.0 innings. That's... not ideal!
Now, Milwaukee indicated they won't do this every time, and Houser pitched just yesterday, too, so he's out of the picture for a potential tandem. But Houser was also held to 70 pitches last night, so we can't rule out Peralta being similarly limited tonight.
That means that we can probably realistically expect only five innings. That adds more risk than we would like, particularly from someone who isn't terribly efficient due to an 11.5% walk rate. But Peralta is still capable of racking up punchouts in a hurry, and he's up against a Pirates lineup that's pretty barren in talent these days with an 85 wRC+ versus righties and a 3.45 implied total.
Joe Musgrove ($8,400): Earlier in the season, starting Musgrove against the road-tripping Rockies at this salary would've been a shoo-in play on a small slate, but the reality is that Musgrove simply hasn't been the same guy lately. Since the beginning of June, he's submitted a 4.45 SIERA and 20.7% strikeout rate across his last nine starts. Meh.
But as noted in prior helpers this week, the Rockies are far and away the worst offense on the road (67 wRC+), so if there was ever a matchup for Musgrove to excel in, it's this one. This is backed by Colorado's paltry 3.10 implied total, as well.
You're taking a leap of faith in rostering Musgrove, but on a short slate, it might be one worth taking.
San Diego Padres: Left-hander Kyle Freeland is having a rough 2021 campaign, and it's not like it's all been the result of Coors Field, either, as his ERA is actually worse on the road. On the season, he's recorded a middling 4.82 SIERA and 17.4% strikeout rate, and his ground-ball rate is down to 44.0% after posting a mark above 50% in 2020. That hasn't helped him in the home run department, where he's given up 1.78 per nine innings.
Freeland has poor marks against both sides of the plate, so we don't need to worry too much about platoon splits, but most of San Diego's lineup should be right-handed anyway. Fernando Tatis Jr. ($4,600), Manny Machado ($3,900), and Tommy Pham ($3,200) form an excellent core, and you can round them out with the value we find in the rest of the order, as almost every other starter should be below $3,000.
Detroit Tigers: As of this writing, it's the Tigers of all teams who possess the highest implied total (5.16) in a plum spot versus Alexander Wells. They have actually been one of the best offenses in the league lately, too, putting up an impressive 119 wRC+ over the last 30 days, one of the league's best marks. Detroit should also benefit from hitter-friendly temperatures in the 80s and the wind blowing out this evening.
Wells has logged only 10 1/3 innings (three appearances) of big league action this year, so we don't have a ton of data to work with, but those early returns have left him with an uninspiring 17.0% strikeout rate and 12.8% walk rate. He made his first start last week against Tampa Bay, and while he allowed a respectable 3 earned runs over 5 2/3 innings, he also coughed up 2 home runs.
We get a larger sample from Wells' action in Triple-A this season, and there's a lot to like there from Detroit's perspective. The 24-year-old only managed a 4.82 xFIP across 43.0 innings with a low 20.6% strikeout rate and 37.9% ground-ball rate.
Eric Haase ($3,200) is arguably the top guy you want as the team leader in both barrel rate and xSLG, and Akil Baddoo ($3,500) and Jonathan Schoop ($3,500) are also solid options who should hit atop the order. Robbie Grossman ($3,100) and Jeimer Candelario ($2,700) are decent values at their salaries, and while Miguel Cabrera ($2,500) is a shell of his former self, they keep rolling him out as the clean-up hitter on most nights, so he can help round out stacks.
Boston Red Sox: If the weather holds up, we could have a slugfest between the Blue Jays and Red Sox at Fenway despite two above-average lefties taking the mound in Hyun-jin Ryu and Eduardo Rodriguez. Both sides can be stacked, but I lean toward the Sox in their matchup against Ryu.
While Ryu has the superior ERA of the two starters, his underlying numbers have been mediocre, taking steps back in both SIERA (4.22), strikeout rate (19.9%), and ground-ball rate (47.7%) compared to 2020 and 2019. In fact, since the start of June, he's produced just a 14.4% strikeout rate over his last nine starts.
For the most part, Ryu has still put up positive results over this span, but the Red Sox have the type of lineup that can take advantage of that low strikeout rate. J.D. Martinez ($3,900), Xander Bogaerts ($3,500), and Hunter Renfroe ($3,300) are top power bats with the platoon advantage, and Enrique Hernandez ($3,500) has entrenched himself in the leadoff spot with his strong play of late.