FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Friday 5/20/22
Friday brings about a dozen games for the main slate, and while the pitching selection may lack big-name star power, we've still got some outstanding arms to choose from. Coors Field is likely to be postponed due to weather, but there's no shortage of plus matchups for stacks tonight, as well.
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Let's check out the top options on today's main slate.
Eric Lauer ($10,400): It still feels weird to see Lauer with this high a salary -- let alone the highest on the slate -- but this upgraded version is looking more and more like the real deal. Through six starts, the left-hander has a 2.34 SIERA, 35.5% strikeout rate, and 5.8% walk rate, and his rise in strikeouts is backed by a 14.2% swinging-strike rate and increased velocity.
He's up against a below-average Nationals offense, but the bad news is that they have the fifth-lowest strikeout among active rosters (19.6%), and that number dips even further versus lefties specifically (17.2%). That will be a tough hurdle to overcome, but Lauer's strikeout rate is easily tops on the board, so it's possible that he can still post a healthy number of punchouts.
Washington also has one of the night's lowest implied totals (3.40), further solidifying Lauer as an appealing option.
Sean Manaea ($9,900): If Lauer's matchup worries you, we also have Manaea, Nestor Cortes, and Tarik Skubal, and all three are viable alternatives. However, with Cortes and Skubal also against opponents that suppress strikeouts, Manaea arguably gets the edge here.
Manaea's logged a 3.19 SIERA, 28.7% strikeout rate, and 8.0% walk rate with the Padres, so he seems to be adjusting well to life in the National League. The southpaw's strikeout rate has fluctuated over the years, but his 13.4% swinging-strike rate is a couple of percentage points above his career average, so the bump in punchouts checks out.
San Diego hasn't been afraid to let Manaea pile up the pitches, either, as the lefty has now tallied counts of 110, 99, and 104 over his last three outings. He's also been incredibly efficient, notching quality starts in six of his seven starts.
Although the Giants are generally more of a neutral matchup for strikeouts, they're a team that tends to juggle its lineup against left-handers, and their strikeout rate bumps up to 23.7% in the split. Between that and pitcher-friendly Oracle Park, this isn't a bad spot overall for Manaea, and you could argue that he's the top option tonight.
Aaron Civale ($6,800): For a slight discount behind the aforementioned hurlers, Robbie Ray is someone to consider at $9,100. It hasn't exactly been smooth sailing for Ray, but he's up to a 25.0% strikeout rate and has logged eight or more strikeouts in three of his last four starts. However, while this could be a solid matchup against an underwhelming Boston lineup, they've been quietly coming around recently, and their 4.61 implied total gives me some pause.
For a true value play, though, Civale looks mighty interesting.
It feels a little weird to recommend someone with a 9.85 ERA, but he's hit the bad luck trifecta with a .382 BABIP, 44.0% strand rate, and 15.0% homer-to-fly-ball rate. Underneath all of that lies a much more palatable 4.00 SIERA that's probably closer to how he's really performed.
Normally, a 22.3% strikeout rate would be easy to gloss over, but it's the matchup against the Tigers that piques our interest. Detroit has been truly dreadful in 2022, as their active roster is dead last in wRC+ (76) and third-worst in strikeout rate (24.7%). This could be the perfect night for Civale to finally flip the script on all his poor luck.
It's worth noting that there's hitter-friendly weather in Cleveland tonight, which could get Civale into some trouble -- but considering the Tigers own a team ISO below .100 (yikes), maybe that's overthinking things.
New York Yankees
A mainstay on this list all week, the New York Yankees end the work week with yet another tantalizing matchup.
Dallas Keuchel still has that annoying ability to get ground balls at a high clip (55.7%), but just about everything else has fallen off. A 5.06 SIERA, 12.5% strikeout rate, and 11.7% walk rate are all bad news, and it wasn't like he was any good in 2021, either.
To make matters worse for the veteran left-hander is that this is a righty-heavy Yankees lineup, and it just so happens that it leads the entire league in producing barrels. It all adds up to New York getting a 4.99 implied total, the highest on the slate if we exclude Coors Field.
Aaron Judge ($4,500) and Giancarlo Stanton ($3,700) are obvious starting points for stacks, and DJ LeMahieu ($3,300), Josh Donaldson ($3,200), and Gleyber Torres ($2,500) should be the other prominent righties in the lineup.
Anthony Rizzo ($3,800) could very well be the only lefty starting tonight, but he's held his own in lefty-lefty spots over his career, so feel free to toss him into the mix, as well.
Los Angeles Dodgers
While Ranger Suarez is coming off an excellent 2021 campaign, his metrics just aren't popping in the same way this season. Despite reasonable results, the lefty's strikeout rate has dropped to just 17.6% and even his trademark ground-ball rate has plummeted to 47.8%.
Suarez is still getting the job done against lefties, but he's showing some worrying marks versus righties, including a 4.60 xFIP, 16.4% strikeout rate, and 9.4% walk rate.
Loading up on right-handed Los Angeles Dodgers bats looks like the play here. Mookie Betts ($4,300), Trea Turner ($3,800), Will Smith ($3,200), Justin Turner ($2,900) and Chris Taylor ($3,200) give us a variety of options at different salary points. Justin Turner has finally woken up at the plate lately, slugging three home runs over the last week.
For a stack that might be a little more off the radar, the Minnesota Twins could be worth a look against lefty Daniel Lynch.
Lynch has a respectable 4.26 SIERA and 22.5% strikeout rate this season, so he hasn't been a total scrub by any means, but what will favor the Twins is his 10.1% walk rate and a massive 51.8% fly-ball rate. Minnesota ranks fourth in barrel rate this season and is just outside the top 10 in walk rate, so they should be able to make the most of this opportunity.
Additionally, they're projected to roll out a lineup entirely made up of right-handed bats. While Lynch was able to take care of business versus lefties in 2021, he was lit up by righties for a 5.46 xFIP.
Byron Buxton ($4,200) is the guy to build around as always, and he'll be easier to squeeze into stacks due to the lower salaries of all the other Twins. Jorge Polanco ($3,200), Carlos Correa ($3,200), and Gary Sanchez ($2,900) should all bat high in the order and have been above average at the plate this season. Sanchez has the next highest barrel rate (17.9%) on the team behind Buxton.
Note that Kyle Garlick ($2,000) could start and bat as high as third, but he's a pinch-hit risk, so keep that in mind.