FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Friday 9/24/21
A tricky pitching slate awaits us on Friday with arguably no clear-cut number one option. On the other hand, some lofty implied totals lead the way for our stacks, including an always enticing Coors Field game.
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Let's check out the top options on tonight's main slate.
Dylan Cease ($9,000): With two of the best pitchers on the slate going against each other in tough matchups, that leaves Cease with the easier path towards a high score, and it can't hurt that his salary is reasonably low, too.
While walks will sometimes derail Cease (9.8% rate), he's otherwise produced an excellent 3.63 SIERA and 31.6% strikeout rate this season, and those punchouts have jumped up to 37.0% dating back to the start of August. His bouts with control will sometimes leave him short of six full innings, but he most recently put up 51 points off 10 strikeouts in five innings, so that might not even matter when he's piling up the whiffs like this.
As for his opponent, Cleveland doesn't have an especially deep lineup. They are carrying a 93 wRC+ and 24.1% strikeout rate versus righties this year.
Gerrit Cole ($11,000) and Nathan Eovaldi ($10,000): This is a pivotal series for the Yankees and Red Sox, and they have two of their best hurlers going head to head tonight. While it wouldn't be entirely shocking to see one or both pitchers come through with strong performances, this could also very much go the other way, as shown by the high implied totals for both offenses.
Cole's ceiling is obvious -- after all, he has the best overall numbers on the slate -- but you can make the case that Eovaldi is the preferred option of the two, particularly when factoring in salary.
Going back to the beginning of July, Eovaldi's been killing it, posting a 3.10 SIERA, 30.3% strikeout rate, and 3.8% walk rate over his last 14 starts, so the gap between the two may not be as big as one would think. And while the Yankees are obviously a tough offense, they do own a 24.4% strikeout rate versus right-handers, so there could be some added upside if Eovaldi is dealing.
Cease is probably the safest one to go with tonight, but in tournaments, both Eovaldi and Cole should be in the mix. Note that there's some rain in the forecast, though, so that's something to watch out for later in the day.
Sonny Gray ($8,800): Gray isn't likely to match Cease when it comes to ceiling due to his lower 27.4% strikeout rate -- his season-high is 49 points -- but he's a potential pivot at roughly the same salary.
Gray's pitch count seems to fluctuate all over the place, but he's still managed to log four quality starts in his last six appearances, and the Nationals have the fourth-lowest implied total on the board (3.93).
I'm guessing that if we played out this slate multiple times, at least one of the previous three arms would outscore Gray in most scenarios, but he's still a value at his salary, and that will certainly come in handy on a Coors Field night.
San Francisco Giants: And speaking of Coors, it's pretty clear where most people will be looking for offense first, and that's the Giants, who have an eye-popping 6.86 implied total.
They're up against Peter Lambert, who hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2019 and is returning from Tommy John surgery. It's hard to know what to expect from Lambert, but when we last saw him in the bigs, he produced a poor 5.51 SIERA and 13.6% strikeout rate, and this is a tough lineup and venue to return to.
Additionally, he hasn't cracked 50 pitches in any of his minor league appearances this year, so we're probably only seeing him for a handful of innings. That means the Giants will get to take plenty of hacks against a bullpen that's recorded a lackluster 4.76 xFIP this month.
As for the individual bats, I'm honestly more than happy rostering anyone in this lineup, which has power from top to bottom, with Brandon Belt ($3,800) and his fantastic .304 ISO leading the way. Tommy La Stella ($3,100) is the lone guy with average pop, but he makes up for that with his value salary and a prime spot in the order at leadoff.
Los Angeles Dodgers: We don't necessarily have to be solely fixated on the Giants, though, because the Dodgers are right up there with them, boasting a 5.90 implied total versus Humberto Castellanos and the Diamondbacks.
Castellanos is getting absolutely lit up by left-handed batters, and that's especially been the case across his five starts, where he's put up a 6.14 xFIP, 9.1% strikeout rate, 9.1% walk rate, and 42.4% ground-ball rate.
We may not be talking about a large sample size, but it's not like Castellanos was crushing it in Triple-A this season (5.32 xFIP), nor do we need a ton of extra incentives to roster the likes of Max Muncy ($3,800) and Corey Seager ($4,000). Gavin Lux ($3,400) and Luke Raley ($2,200) are other lefties who could also start tonight.
Beyond Muncy and Seager, the usual righties should also be priorities, as this lineup will also be able to take advantage of an Arizona bullpen displaying a league-worst 5.73 xFIP in September.
Tampa Bay Rays: Edward Cabrera has shown promise in the minors, yet it hasn't translated to the Majors yet, as he's posted a 5.75 SIERA, 17.4% strikeout rate, and 14.1% walk rate over his five starts. His struggles have been especially pronounced versus lefties: a 6.23 xFIP, 12.5% strikeout rate, 14.6% walk rate, and 42.4% ground-ball rate.
Brandon Lowe ($3,500) and Austin Meadows ($3,100) are easy starting points, and Ji-Man Choi ($2,500) and Joey Wendle ($2,500) offer us values with the platoon advantage. Of course, Cabrera hasn't been amazing in same-sided spots, either, so fire up guys like Nelson Cruz ($3,700) and Mike Zunino ($3,300), as well.