FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Thursday 6/23/22

The Cardinals have a ton of upside today against Jason Alexander. Which other offenses should you load up on, and which pitchers make sense on Thursday's main slate, which locks at 12:10 p.m. EST.?

The beauty of daily fantasy baseball is that the top targets are different each and every day. Whether it's the right-handed catcher who destroys left-handed pitching or the mid-range hurler facing a depleted lineup, you're not going to find yourself using the same assets time after time.

While this breaks up the monotony, it can make it hard to decide which players are primed to succeed on a given day. We can help bridge that gap.

In addition to our custom optimal lineups, you can check out our projections and batting and pitching heat maps, which show the pieces in the best spot to succeed on that slate. Put on the finishing touches with our games and lineups page to see who's hitting where and what the weather looks like, and you'll have yourself a snazzy-looking team to put up some big point totals.

If you need help getting started on that trek, here are some of the top options on the board today. We'll be focusing exclusively on the main slate. Today's main slate starts at 12:30 p.m. EST.

Pitching Breakdown

We have two standout pitching options on an otherwise blah pitching slate -- Frankie Montas ($9,800 on FanDuel) and Robbie Ray ($10,000) -- and they are facing each other.

Montas has hit some bumps in the road of late. His overall numbers are still sparkling, though, as he holds a 3.33 SIERA, 25.2% strikeout rate, 6.0% walk rate, and 13.2% swinging-strike rate. Montas has tossed 103-plus pitches in two of his past three starts, posting a single-game swinging-strike rate of at least 14.6% twice in that span. The Seattle Mariners are showing a 3.68 implied total, the second-lowest. We project Montas for a slate-high 33.9 FanDuel points.

As for Ray, we know what kind of upside he possesses if he's on, and he can overwhelm a feeble Oakland Athletics offense -- one with a slate-low 3.32 implied total -- if he is indeed on. He has the ability to pace any slate in scoring, especially a slate like this one, and he might not be as popular as Montas.

Ray's 15.1% swinging-strike rate is close to his 15.5% clip from 2021 and hints at positive regression for his 26.1% strikeout rate. He got up to 102 pitches last time out in a 10-strikeout outing versus the Los Angeles Angels. Oakland sits last in wOBA (.267) with the ninth-highest strikeout rate (23.5%). Ray could go nuclear, and I want to take a shot on his ceiling.

After those two, it's tough to feel great about anyone else. If he was at full strength, Clayton Kershaw ($10,300) would be a sweet play against the Cincinnati Reds, but Kershaw has yet to top 81 pitches in any of his three outings since coming off the IL. Kyle Wright ($10,500) has slowed since his scorching-hot start and has a rough matchup with the San Francisco Giants. On the flip side of that game, Alex Wood ($8,600) is in good form and is a solid value target, but the Atlanta Braves make for a difficult foe.

To be transparent, I don't think I'll have any lineups that venture away from one of Ray or Montas. But if I had to plug in another hurler, Hunter Greene ($9,000) would be it.

I want to get this out of the way -- you can make an argument for stacking the Los Angeles Dodgers' offense against Greene, and I will do so shortly. With that said, Greene owns a 30.1% strikeout rate and 13.4% swinging-strike rate. He's shown he can get punchouts against top-shelf offenses, fanning six in 5 1/3 innings versus the Dodgers earlier this season, striking out eight in 3 2/3 at Fenway versus the Boston Red Sox in early June and sitting down seven in five frames against the St. Louis Cardinals two starts ago.

With Montas and Ray in good spots and enough value bats on the slate to easily get to their salaries, Greene isn't a priority, but he needs to at least be on the radar for tournaments.

Stacks to Target

St. Louis Cardinals

In 22 1/3 MLB innings this year, Jason Alexander has an 8.0% strikeout rate, 5.0% swinging-strike rate and 9.0% walk rate. I mean, my goodness. The one saving grace for him is a 54.2% ground-ball rate. That's not nearly enough to keep me from loading up on the Cardinals, a team with a 4.79 implied total, the fourth-best.

The high-salary pillars of Cards stacks are Nolan Arenado ($3,700) and Paul Goldschmidt ($4,100).

Leadoff man Tommy Edman ($3,800) won't be a priority for me at his salary. I prefer to target Nolan Gorman ($3,000), Brendan Donovan ($3,300) and Juan Yepez ($2,500) -- especially Gorman and Yepez. Gorman donged twice on Tuesday while Yepez smacked nine homers in 93 plate appearances in Triple-A this spring before coming to The Show. Albert Pujols ($2,200) is worth a dart throw if he starts.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Remember when I said some nice things about Hunter Greene in the pitching section? Well, I left out some stuff.

Greene is a super volatile pitcher right now. When he's not striking out dudes, hitters are making great contact. Through his initial 65 frames in the bigs, Greene is permitting a 56.0% fly-ball rate, and he's been a reverse-splits guy, giving up a .399 wOBA and 3.73 homers per nine to righties. He's also walking 9.9% of hitters.

The Dodgers sport an MLB-best 10.3% walk rate and the second-highest wOBA (.329). As a group of patient hitters who can pounce on mistakes, LA might be the worst possible matchup for Greene.

It's rare we can say this, but the Dodgers aren't that hard to get to. With Mookie Betts out, Freddie Freeman ($3,900) and Trea Turner ($3,800) are the only Dodger bats above $2,900. They're both excellent plays, with Freeman at the top of our hitter projections and Turner right behind him.

Max Muncy ($2,600), Will Smith ($2,900), Justin Turner ($2,700) and Cody Bellinger ($2,500) are all easy to like at their salaries. We project Smith as the slate's number-three stick and the top point-per-dollar hitter.

Cleveland Guardians

The Cleveland Guardians will see Devin Smeltzer, a low-strikeout left-hander who has been tagged for 1.64 taters per nine this season. Smeltzer has just a 12.4% strikeout rate in 2022. Righties are striking out just 11.4% of the time against him this campaign, and they've gotten to him for 1.67 dingers per nine in his career.

Jose Ramirez ($4,300) is the obvious top Cleveland bat each and every night. If you have the salary, get him.

After Ramirez, it's value city, making Cleveland a great stack to pair with Montas or Ray. Franmil Reyes ($2,500) is back healthy just in time for this delectable matchup. He recorded a .367 wOBA, 40.5% fly-ball rate and 40.5% hard-hit rate versus lefties last year. He's one of my favorite low-salary bats on this slate.

Myles Straw ($2,200), Amed Rosario ($2,700), Owen Miller ($2,900) and Oscar Gonzalez ($2,600) hit 1-2-3-4 the last time Cleveland saw a left-hander.