FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Wednesday 5/18/22

On a loaded pitching slate, Kevin Gausman stands out as one of the top options. Who else should we consider tonight?

We go from a Tuesday slate completely devoid of pitcher to a slate chock full of aces. Go figure. The main slate festivities get going at 6:40 pm ET, so Coors Field is off the table this time around, but we still see some potent offenses are in good spots for stacks.

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


Gerrit Cole ($10,600): Boy, we sure could've used some of these arms on Tuesday. Check out all the names above a $9,000 salary tonight: Gerrit Cole, Pablo Lopez, Max Scherzer, Lucas Giolito, Shohei Ohtani, Kevin Gausman, and Zack Wheeler. That's quite the list!

Frankly, you can probably make an argument for any of those hurlers, so narrowing things down will be particularly tricky. But after yesterday, that isn't a bad problem to have.

This also means that I'm much less inclined to touch anyone in the value tier, as it's going to be extremely difficult for a mid-range talent to come out of nowhere and best this many elite-to-near-elite arms.

Cole is definitely in the running for top honors due to a plus matchup against the Orioles. Baltimore has a slate-low 2.99 implied total, and their active roster owns the league's fifth-highest strikeout rate (24.5%). That all checks out.

As for Cole himself, he got off to a slow start this season, but he's since rattled off FanDuel scores of 57, 46, 50, and 47 points.

Overall, he now boasts a 2.93 SIERA, 30.3% strikeout rate, and 7.9% walk rate, and it's safe to say he's still every bit the elite pitcher everyone expected entering 2022. He's thrown 114 and 97 pitches in his last two outings, so he's been fully unleashed from a workload perspective, as well.

Even on a slate with so many elite options, Cole figures to be one of the more popular choices -- and rightfully so.

Shohei Ohtani ($10,100): In terms of pure upside, it's hard to beat Ohtani, who's already scored 64 FanDuel points twice this year. He owns a sparkling 2.20 SIERA, 35.4% strikeout rate, and 5.4% walk rate over six starts and looks to be carrying over last year's success and then some.

However, the one concern is that Ohtani saw a slight dip in velocity last week, which would be a troubling trend if it continues. We shouldn't panic over one game, but it's something to keep in mind, particularly since the Angels could be content to dial back his workload after he went for more than 90 pitches in back-to-back outings.

It's also worth noting that Ohtani's results have been pretty up and down. Despite those massive ceiling games, he's also logged five or fewer strikeouts in three of his six starts.

Still, if Ohtani is at peak performance, he shouldn't have trouble mowing down a Rangers lineup that's bottom-five in wRC+ (91) among active rosters. Unsurprisingly, Texas' implied total (3.32) is near the bottom of the slate.

Kevin Gausman ($9,800): With Scherzer facing a low-strikeout team, I gravitate towards Gausman and Giolito for this third slot. But with Giolito coming off the COVID-19 list, leading to some uncertainty, Gausman gets the nod.

After issuing his second walk of the year in his last start, Gausman is up to a 1.1% walk rate for the season. The guy is really falling off.

Seriously, though, in addition to his impeccable control, the right-hander has an outstanding 2.20 SIERA, 30.9% strikeout rate, and 18.3% swinging-strike rate. Add in three straight games with 98 or more pitches, and there's zero to nitpick this season -- and his salary is one of the lowest in this ace grouping.

Based on season-long numbers, his matchup against Seattle doesn't seem that great for punchouts. But if we look at the bottom half of their lineup, it's loaded with hitters who whiff at a high clip, giving Gausman a path to a ceiling game. The Mariners' middling 3.01 implied total also passes the smell test.

When factoring in his pristine numbers, consistency, salary, and matchup, Gausman has a case to be right up there with Cole for the best on the board.


New York Yankees

The Bronx Bombers make the list yet again tonight, this time licking their chops against Jordan Lyles. Their 4.51 implied total checks in as the slate's second-best.

Lyles' results actually haven't been too bad this year, but his 18.5% strikeout rate, 8.1% walk rate, and 42.6% ground-ball rate don't stray all that far from what he did in 2021 -- a year where he coughed up 1.90 homers per nine innings.

His lengthy history of giving up dingers is well-documented, and there isn't much to suggest things should be any different this season. This will already be Lyles' third go-round against the New York Yankees, and he was walloped for three long balls the last time.

Both sides of the plate could have a field day, but the Orioles' righty posted a 5.63 xFIP versus lefties last year and has performed poorly in the split this year. Four of the five bombs he's allowed have come off left-handed bats.

The usual Yankees like Aaron Judge ($4,400) and Giancarlo Stanton ($4,000) are shoo-ins, but with lefties getting such a tantalizing matchup, give a bump to Anthony Rizzo ($3,800), Joey Gallo ($2,600), and maybe even Aaron Hicks ($2,500), too. The latter two could be especially helpful given the top-heavy nature of tonight's pitching options.

Hicks has performed poorly from a power perspective, but he's stealing bases (5) and getting on base through a 19.8% strikeout rate and 18.0% walk rate.

Toronto Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays have been a bit disappointing on offense, performing at roughly league average in terms of wRC+. But they possess one of the night's highest implied totals (4.49) against left-hander Marco Gonzales.

Gonzales is one of those pitchers who always seems to outdo his peripherals despite modest strikeout numbers. This season has been no different, with the southpaw putting up a 3.38 ERA while a 4.86 SIERA and 15.0% strikeout rate lurk in the shadows.

But I'm more willing to buy into those underlying numbers because Gonzales is an ideal target for dingers -- even more so when we have a righty-heavy lineup like Toronto's.

Despite Gonzales allowing a high rate of fly balls beginning in 2019, the home runs didn't catch up to him until last year, when he gave up 1.82 per nine innings. That seems to have carried over into this season, as Gonzales has already allowed multiple round-trippers in three starts.

George Springer ($3,900) and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. ($3,600) have been the Blue Jays' top hitters this season, and there's little reason to turn away from them in this spot. And while Bo Bichette ($3,400) and Teoscar Hernandez ($3,000) are off to slower starts, we should have faith in their strong overall track records.

The rest of the lineup comes in at value salaries, which should give us a big assist for slotting in a stud pitcher. Matt Chapman ($2,800) is one value slugger who stands out, demonstrating his usual pop with a .183 ISO and 10.1% barrel rate this season.

Chicago White Sox

Zack Greinke still has a low ERA, but it's started to unravel for him after giving up five earned runs in his last start, albeit at Coors Field.

Through seven outings, the veteran right-hander has a 4.98 SIERA, 8.9% strikeout rate, and 38.4% ground-ball rate. His strikeout rate is the lowest among all qualified starters, and it's likely only a matter of time before his ERA skyrockets.

The Chicago White Sox are still wallowing near the bottom of the league in offense, but both name value and a high barrel rate suggest that they could be a sleeping giant.

It's actually same-sided batters who should have the advantage tonight, as Greinke gave up 2.01 home runs per nine innings in the split last season. Lefties don't need to be ignored by any means, but Greinke has shown he can still induce grounders against them for several seasons now, and that's still been the case so far in 2022.

Among Chicago righties, Tim Anderson ($3,700), Luis Robert ($3,800), and Jose Abreu ($2,700) are the core options, while Andrew Vaughn ($2,600) and A.J. Pollock ($2,500) are solid value plays to round out stacks.