FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Thursday 9/16/21

Due to some funky MLB scheduling, Thursday's games are scattered throughout the day, so the FanDuel main slate is starting at the unusual time of 5:05 pm ET and consists of four games. Don't expect much pitching in this one!

Our daily helper is available every day to analyze FanDuel's main slate and help give you a starting point when you're building lineups. Be sure to also incorporate our great tools into your research process. Whether you're looking for daily projections, the latest starting lineups and weather, or batting and pitching heat maps to find the best matchups -- we've got you covered!

Let's check out the top options on tonight's main slate.


Framber Valdez ($10,100): Valdez falls under the category of "top pitcher by default" on a slate that's basically filled with arms we would typically ignore on most slates. Valdez isn't a bad hurler by any means, but this year's 22.0% strikeout rate leaves a lot to be desired by DFS standards, and he also issues too many free passes with a 10.1% walk rate.

But where Valdez shines is a truly elite 69.2% ground-ball rate, which easily leads all pitchers with at least 100 innings this season. Even peak Dallas Keuchel never finished a season with a mark that high. As a result, Valdez only gives up fly balls at a minuscule 15.1% clip, allowing just 0.78 home runs per nine innings.

So, even if Valdez may not have an easy path to a high ceiling, we can feel pretty good in his ability to keep opponents off the board, and that's especially true when that opponent is the Texas Rangers. The Rangers' active roster sits last in wRC+ versus lefties (77) and has a paltry 3.55 implied total.

Editor's note: Valdez has been scratched. Luis Garcia is starting instead.

Jordan Montgomery ($8,800): After Valdez, Montgomery is arguably the only other guy we can feel reasonably comfortable rostering. The southpaw is having a solid if unspectacular campaign with a 4.19 SIERA, 23.7% strikeout rate, and 7.9% walk rate. He's roughly a league-average pitcher, but that's good enough to play tonight.

Montgomery is up against a righty-heavy Orioles team, which might prove troublesome, but as you might expect of a last-place squad, the talent really drops off when you get lower in the order. Baltimore's implied total sits at 4.08, and Montgomery should have a decent shot at the win with the New York Yankees listed as the night's biggest favorites.


New York Yankees: Of course, part of the reason the Bronx Bombers are heavily favored is that their bats should be able to do plenty of damage against Chris Ellis.

While Ellis continues to defy the baseball gods with a 2.08 ERA, all his underlying numbers suggest regression will come down like a hammer in due time. Ellis' 5.07 SIERA is likely more indicative of his performance, and a .237 BABIP, 90.9% strand rate, and 6.9% homer-to-fly-ball rate all point to good fortune that shouldn't last.

Additionally, Ellis owns a 20.0% strikeout rate and 10.0% walk rate while giving up a 48.3% fly-ball rate.

On paper, the Yankees should feast here (5.92 implied total), but note that they also figure to be the chalk. Just about anyone is stack-worthy -- particularly on the small slate -- with Joey Gallo ($3,100) remaining a stellar value at his salary these days.

Houston Astros: The Astros and Rays are the other top stacks, with both teams looking at implied totals around five runs. Tampa Bay faces beatable left-hander Tyler Alexander, who has unremarkable numbers against both righties and lefties, producing both a low strikeout rate (19.9%) and allowing lots of fly balls (44.1%). It's tough to know exactly how the Rays' lineup will shake out with all their platoon bats, but if nothing else, Nelson Cruz ($4,200) is a clear one-off to pursue.

As for the Astros, they're up against Glenn Otto, who is making just his fourth MLB start. Otto actually has intriguing peripheral numbers -- including a 28.6% strikeout rate and 3.6% walk rate -- and he shut down Houston in his big league debut.

However, the young righty most recently got demolished by the Athletics and now has to face one of the league's top offenses for the second time in the span of a few weeks. Otto also only demonstrated a strikeout rate of around 24% across six Triple-A starts this year, so his punchouts could come down as well.

The sample size is painfully small, but Otto's only managed a 16.7% strikeout rate versus lefties thus far, so the power lefty duo of Yordan Alvarez ($3,700) and Kyle Tucker ($3,400) might as well be your starting point. Both sluggers have an ISO above .250 this season.

Others to Consider: Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies