FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Tuesday 5/17/22
Between a handful of doubleheaders and some early evening games, we're left with an eight-game main slate, and good luck feeling super great about whomever you end up rolling with at pitcher. Unsurprisingly, Coors Field will be the main attraction for stacks, and some of the usual suspects on offense also stand out.
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Let's check out the top options on today's main slate.
Logan Gilbert ($10,100): This is about as tricky a pitching selection as you'll ever come by for a slate of this size. It's either a matter of choosing a good pitcher in a bad matchup or a questionable one in a plus spot. Pick your poison.
That couldn't be more apparent when looking at the three hurlers with the highest salaries -- Gilbert, Nathan Eovaldi, and Jameson Taillon. Both Gilbert and Eovaldi have performed well this season but draw difficult opponents in the Blue Jays and Astros, respectively. On the other hand, while Taillon's in a far more inviting matchup against the Orioles, he's produced an underwhelming 19.4% strikeout rate.
On this slate, you could make a case for any of the three being the "best" option, but I'm giving the slight edge to Gilbert. For Eovaldi, Houston is a truly brutal matchup for strikeouts, and Taillon's lack of upside to this point is tough to buy into at $9,200. But these are thin margins at best, so I wouldn't stop you from choosing either of them.
The first thing that stands out for Gilbert is that he owns the second-best strikeout rate on the board (27.5%), and while the swinging-strike rate isn't as high as we would like (10.0%), he put up a 25.4% strikeout rate over 24 starts last season. He's also sporting an encouraging 3.43 SIERA, and his workload is about as good as you could hope for, logging 92 or more pitches in five straight and cracking 100 twice.
The main issue in his profile is a 9.2% walk rate, which has put a dent in his efficiency. He's reached six or more innings just once, limiting him to just one quality start. In fact, he's tallied three or more walks in four straight starts.
This is a worrisome trend for sure, but the 25-year-old recorded a 5.6% walk rate in 2021, so there's hope that this is just a small bump in the road.
Of course, the Blue Jays are the other concern -- but there's some hope here, as well.
Toronto simply hasn't been the offensive juggernaut they were last year, and their active roster is middle of the pack in wRC+ (101), strikeout rate (22.6%), and barrel rate (8.1%). And what could be especially of note in Gilbert's case is that the Blue Jays are not about taking free passes, owning the league's third-lowest walk rate (7.2%).
There are still plenty of paths to failure here, particularly if we assume Toronto is far more talented than they've shown. But Gilbert may very well still be our best path to a ceiling game on a night where nothing is guaranteed.
Alex Cobb ($7,100): That's right, let's go from all that to looking at a pitcher starting in Coors Field. Super.
Avert your eyes from the scary implied total for the Rockies and instead look at Cobb's metrics, which are among the slate's best. The veteran right-hander has put together a 2.52 SIERA, 31.5% strikeout rate, 9.0% walk rate, and 69.2% ground-ball rate over five starts. While that walk rate could be better, it's hard to argue with all those strikeouts and ground balls.
Overall, this is the type of profile tailor-made to deal with the confines of Coors.
Unfortunately, it wouldn't be this slate without throwing another wrench into things, and that's Cobb's pitch count. While Cobb got up to a season-high 85 pitches in his last start, between being 34 years old and an April groin injury setting him back, it wouldn't be surprising to see his workload stay in this range.
Rostering Cobb certainly isn't for the risk-averse. But his salary opens things way up for our bats, and he's a talent-based play in the context of this slate.
JT Brubaker ($6,900): Brubaker has continued his career-long trend of pairing solid peripherals with poor results, getting lit up for a 5.34 ERA while posting a 4.15 SIERA this season. While he owns a respectable 24.3% strikeout rate, his walk rate is up to 11.8%, so it's not like he's been doing himself any favors.
But the reason he deserves a second thought is that he's up against a Cubs team with a 25.4% strikeout rate, the second-highest among active rosters. This game also has some of the coolest temperatures on the slate, which is probably why we see the Cubs sitting at just a 4.03 implied total.
Brubaker hasn't gone past five innings in a start and his workload has been all over the place this season, but he does have a season-high pitch count of 94 pitches. He produced nine punchouts a couple of starts ago against the Reds, too, so there's theoretically a path to a top-notch performance in the right matchups.
Hey, at least he isn't pitching at Coors, right?
San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants have the highest implied total by a country mile for the second straight night (6.02), and while they get a slightly tougher matchup tonight against Chad Kuhl, the right-hander's stellar results look to more be the result of a .220 BABIP than a jump in skills.
Although Kuhl's 13.3% swinging-strike rate could point to a further bump in punchouts, his 22.1% strikeout rate and 8.8% walk rate are only slight improvements from his career marks. Following Kuhl's five unremarkable campaigns with Pittsburgh, there isn't enough here to buy into the 29-year-old's early-season results.
Kuhl owns a career 4.93 xFIP versus left-handed batters, and we could see lefties in five of the first six slots in the order. Brandon Belt ($3,700) has a team-high salary, but we can also get Joc Pederson ($3,300), Brandon Crawford ($3,300), Mike Yastrzemski ($3,200), and LaMonte Wade Jr ($2,900) at reasonable values. As we saw last night with Wade and Pederson, there's always the risk of pinch-hitters ruining Giants stacks, but the upside goes without saying.
The splits against righties have generally been mediocre for Kuhl, as well, so Evan Longoria ($3,000) adds another value play and should be the lone righty in the upper two-thirds of the lineup.
New York Yankees
Spenser Watkins is in the running for the worst starter of the slate, coming in with a 5.38 SIERA, 11.0% strikeout rate, and 10.2% walk rate. Dating back to last season, the right-hander has actually been worse in same-sided matchups, which includes allowing an absurd 2.76 home runs per nine innings to righties.
It's a dream spot for Aaron Judge ($4,500) and Giancarlo Stanton ($4,000), who are top-two in barrels per plate appearance among qualified starters. Josh Donaldson ($3,100) seems to be rounding into form with three dingers in the past five games, and he's now up to a .193 ISO this season. Leadoff man DJ LeMahieu ($3,300) is an unexciting one-off DFS bat, but he can still put up big games hitting ahead of Judge and friends when the Yankees go off.
Watkins is getting grounders versus lefty sticks this season, but the poor strikeout and walk numbers mean we should happily include Anthony Rizzo ($3,800) and Joey Gallo ($2,600) as options, too. Gallo could especially benefit, given that he'll be more likely to utilize his 20.8% barrel rate versus a low-strikeout pitcher.
Los Angeles Angels
This is kind of similar to the Los Angeles Angels' spot yesterday. They aren't necessarily facing a bad pitcher, but there also isn't enough for us to stay away from stacking such a lethal lineup.
Left-hander Taylor Hearn hasn't had positive results, but an inflated .366 BABIP hasn't helped his cause, either, and he's put up a solid 24.6% strikeout rate. However, the good news mostly ends there.
An 11.0% walk rate has gotten him into trouble at times, and that's been a constant over his young career. Additionally, a 40.3% ground-ball rate isn't suitable for suppressing home runs, and sure enough, he gave up 1.47 homers per nine innings in 2021.
Mike Trout ($4,300) ranks third behind Judge and Staton in barrels per plate appearance this year, and Taylor Ward ($4,300) leads all batters with at least 100 plate appearances in ISO (.344). Add in value cleanup man Anthony Rendon ($3,000), and we're already looking at an appealing three-man stack, and we're not about to ignore Shohei Ohtani ($4,400) just because a southpaw is pitching.
Jared Walsh ($3,300) doesn't have a great track record in lefty-lefty matchups, but Hearn hasn't gone beyond five innings in any start, so Walsh should see some bullpen at-bats.