FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Thursday 5/12/22
We get another one of those wonky MLB schedules on Thursday, leaving us with just a four-game main slate beginning at 6:35 pm ET. Outside of the top pitcher on the board, this will be a difficult slate to dissect all around.
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Let's check out the top options on today's main slate.
Dylan Cease ($10,300): It's baseball, so we know anything can happen on a given night. But this is the type of slate where you might just want to lock in Cease and move on with your day.
Over six starts, Cease has posted a 2.74 SIERA, 34.3% strikeout rate, and 14.6% swinging-strike rate, and no one else comes close to touching those marks. His workload has also been excellent, surpassing 90 pitches in five straight and topping out at 101 in his last outing.
A 9.5% walk rate has prevented him from pitching deeper into some games, but he's still cracked 40 FanDuel points in four of six and had a season-high 64 points at the start of May.
That ceiling game came against a formidable Angels lineup, too, which should give us added confidence that he can handle a tough spot versus the Yankees. Following a sluggish start, the Bronx Bombers have hit their stride, and their active roster is top-three in both wRC+ and barrel rate this season. But like the Angels, they do have their share of high-strikeout bats as well.
Despite the lethal opponent, Cease is getting respected by the oddsmakers, as New York is showing a 3.73 implied total. And while it will be warm in Chicago tonight, those hitter-friendly temperatures could be negated by 10 mph winds blowing in from right field.
Zack Wheeler ($9,500): Take a quick glance at the rest of the pitching list, and your eyes will immediately be drawn to Wheeler, the runner-up for last year's NL Cy Young. Despite a late and underwhelming start to the season coming off a shoulder injury, he's submitted back-to-back productive starts of 49 and 48 FanDuel points.
Overall, his season-long marks are pretty meh, though, and reduced velocity has been one of the assumed culprits. However, Wheeler produced season-highs in both velocity (96.9 mph) and swinging-strike rate (20.5%) in his last start against the Rangers, blanking them for 7 2/3 innings with 7 strikeouts and 1 walk.
It may be one outing, but all of this suggests that he may be that much closer to the monster who recorded a 3.18 SIERA, 29.1% strikeout rate, and 5.4% walk rate in 2021.
The problem? Not only is he facing the Dodgers tonight, but he's returning from a stint on the COVID-19 list, adding even more uncertainty to a pitcher who was just starting to look more like his old self. Pitch count has also been iffy for Wheeler, as he's reached 90 just once in five starts.
Still, on a slate with little beyond Cease -- who has a difficult matchup himself -- taking a chance on Wheeler is absolutely an option.
But Brubaker's track record is far shorter than those two, so maybe there's hope that he can get that career 5.30 ERA closer to his much more appealing 4.09 SIERA.
In 2022, it's been more of the same thus far, getting lit up for a 5.68 ERA while sporting a respectable 3.98 SIERA and 26.1% strikeout rate. Brubaker's issue has been a substantial rise in walks, though, with a 12.2% walk rate well exceeding his career average of 8.0%.
The good news is he's coming off his best start of the year against the Reds, racking up nine punchouts over five innings. Well, it just so happens he's facing Cincinnati again tonight, and while that might normally be a bad thing for a pitcher, the Reds have been one of the league's worst teams this season.
It's worth noting that Cincinnati has finally pulled themselves off the mat with some strong offensive play in their last two series, so it's possible they're finally digging themselves out of their season-long slump.
But in the context of this slate, Brubaker checks enough boxes to be considered the top value, and the Reds' 3.80 implied total reflects that, as well.
While we have a clear top choice at pitcher, it's far murkier at the plate. This is another one of the nights where none of the implied totals are particularly high, and naturally two of the slate's best lineups, the Yankees and Dodgers, just so happen to be facing two of the best pitchers. Neat.
But when we dig in, it may be the Texas Rangers who are in the best overall spot.
They're facing Jon Heasley, a right-hander making just his fourth career MLB start and first of the year. Let's just say his first taste of the Majors in 2021 didn't do much for his resume, as the 25-year-old amassed a 5.51 SIERA, 10.2% strikeout rate, and 5.6% swinging-strike rate over 14 2/3 innings.
Heasley has shown some promise in the minors, so perhaps he performs better this time around. But given the all-around uncertainty of this slate, the Rangers feel like one of the better teams to back.
Corey Seager ($3,200) seems to be rounding into form, and we'll gladly scoop him up at this salary. Lefty Brad Miller ($2,700) and switch-hitter Jonah Heim ($2,500) join him as low-salaried batters who will have the platoon advantage, and all three bat high in the order.
Marcus Semien ($3,000) is really, really scuffling at the plate, but as long as he continues to bat second versus righties, we're just putting faith in his career track record. Most lower-order bats come in at bargain salaries, as well, making it easy to round stacks out wherever needed.
Chicago White Sox
The Chicago White Sox are another team opposing a pitcher short on experience.
In their case, they'll see Luis Gil, who was a mixed bag across six starts last season. Over 29 1/3 innings, the right-hander owned a potent 29.5% strikeout rate but also had a troublesome 14.7% walk rate. A 4.55 SIERA proved to be much worse than his ERA, and a 32.4% ground-ball rate could leave him open for the long ball.
It's been all strikeouts, walks, and fly balls in Triple-A this year, too, and it's left him with poor results and a 4.38 xFIP.
Despite their struggles on offense this year, the White Sox have been one of the better teams in terms of barrels, sitting behind only the Yankees in barrels per plate appearance.
Los Angeles Dodgers
While Zack Wheeler is in the running for the second- or third-best pitching option on the slate, the question marks surrounding his form do leave the Dodgers as a viable stack on the other side. In fact, L.A. actually has the slate's highest implied total (4.35).
This mostly boils down to betting on a strong offense to take advantage of a pitcher who still may not be at the top of his game and could be thrown off by this recent COVID-19 layoff.
Freddie Freeman ($4,400) hasn't disappointed as a Dodger, and he's the first place to look to as their best left-handed bat. His .445 xwOBA crack's the league's top 10 this season.
Beyond that, this continues to be a deep lineup where it's easy to stack just about any part of the lineup depending on salary and positional needs. Even a struggling Justin Turner ($3,100) is coming off a four-hit game (three doubles) a couple of nights ago, so he might be coming around.