FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Wednesday 8/25/21
There's no shortage of aces on tonight's 10-game slate, so paying top dollar at pitcher may almost be a requirement. On the hitting side, Boston once again emerges as the night's top stack, and Cleveland also finds itself in a plum spot.
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Let's check out the top options on tonight's main slate.
Shohei Ohtani ($11,600): Ohtani has the highest salary on the board, but he also draws one of the least imposing matchups amongst tonight's talented group of arms. While the Orioles do carry some pop in the top half of their lineup, their active roster ultimately checks in with a below-average 97 wRC+ versus righties, and it also has an inviting 24.8% strikeout rate.
We know walks can sometimes be an issue for Ohtani, but we've now seen him post a 5.2% walk rate since the beginning of June (11 starts), so it's easier to trust him on that front. He's also maintained a 27.9% strikeout rate over that span, which is a slight dip from his season average but still ranks as one of the top marks of the slate.
Ohtani's not someone we expect to exceed 100 pitches, something he's only done once all year, but he's still a good bet to go at least six innings and has quality starts in six straight outings.
Zack Wheeler ($11,000): Once you get past Ohtani, the other five hurlers at salaries of $9,800 or higher have tougher opponents, but all of them are still capable of putting up tournament-winning scores.
While you can make an argument for any of them, Wheeler has some of the best numbers of the group, sporting a fantastic 3.16 SIERA, 29.1% strikeout rate, and 5.4% walk rate this season. Although he's endured some inconsistent results lately, Wheeler posted a 70-point complete game just a few starts ago, and we're still talking about a workhorse who leads the league in innings pitched, leading to him also ranking first in punchouts.
The Rays are a tough test, but they aren't a team that tends to suppress strikeouts, and they come in with a modest 3.73 implied total. Wheeler's also only allowing a 27.4% fly-ball rate, which should help him contain Tampa Bay's power.
Josiah Gray ($8,000): Given all the ace talent on this slate, it'll be more difficult for the mid-to-low tier to keep pace, but Gray might be one of the lone exceptions due to his 28.0% strikeout rate and a plus matchup versus the Marlins. While Gray's topped out at 87 pitches in his two most recent starts, which could make it more difficult for him to post a big score, Miami's one of the weaker offenses in the league, owning an 82 wRC+ and 24.8% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching.
Boston Red Sox: Similar to yesterday's slate, it feels like it's the Red Sox and then everyone else when it comes to our bats, and that's also reflected by their slate-high 5.78 implied total. Bailey Ober actually doesn't have bad numbers across his 14 starts, but if we dig into his splits, we find that he's much worse against lefty sticks, showing a middling 4.68 xFIP and 21.5% strikeout rate. On the other hand, he boasts a 3.51 xFIP and 27.2% strikeout rate versus righties.
That clearly gives Boston's left-handed bats a leg up, but here's the other good news: Ober still gives up a boatload of home runs to both sides of the plate. He's coughed up 1.98 home runs per nine innings, allowing exactly 7 bombs against each handedness. That's due in large part to the right-hander giving up over 40% fly balls to righties and lefties alike.
Rafael Devers ($4,000) and Kyle Schwarber ($3,500) are the priorities, and fellow lefties Alex Verdugo ($3,000) and Travis Shaw ($2,300) offer us some salary-savers, but don't hesitate to roster all the right-handed power in this lineup, too.
Cleveland Indians: As of this writing, Cleveland is one of just three teams with an implied total above five runs, showing how quickly things get murky on the hitting side. And it's not like the Indians are a particularly reliable group, nor do we have a lot of data to go on in their matchup against left-hander Jake Latz, who is making his MLB debut.
Still, Jose Ramirez ($4,500) and Franmil Reyes ($3,200) pack some punch in the middle of the order, and Latz is incredibly short on experience, with just two starts at the Triple-A level. While Latz did show some strikeout ability in the lower minors, he also held a double-digit walk rate in both Double-A and High-A, and he's never demonstrated a high ground-ball rate. He also struggled mightily in those two Triple-A outings, getting lit up for a 7.00 ERA and 7.80 xFIP while only putting up a 19.6% strikeout rate.
Beyond Ramirez and Reyes, the rest of the Indians aren't especially exciting, but Myles Straw ($3,300) and Amed Rosario ($3,200) offer some speed upside at the top of the order, and the rest of Cleveland's bats have low salaries.
Minnesota Twins: We have a lot of good teams against top pitchers, or bad offenses against questionable pitching, but the Twins kind of fall somewhere in the middle. They're a middle-of-the-road offense, while opposing pitcher Nick Pivetta is a middle-of-the-road starter.
Pivetta has enough strikeout ability to cause headaches, but he also owns a 10.3% walk rate, making him prone to his share of poor starts. And while Pivetta hasn't given up as many dingers as in years past, he allows a whopping 43.8% fly-ball rate, so he can definitely get in trouble on that front.
The Twins provide solid power in the top half of the order, with Max Kepler ($3,200), Brent Rooker ($2,700), Jorge Polanco ($3,500), and Josh Donaldson ($2,900) all exceeding a .200 ISO on the season. Mitch Garver ($2,600) and Miguel Sano ($3,200) are three-true-outcome types if they crack the lineup, too.