FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Thursday 7/7/22
Thursdays often give us wonky main slates due to scheduling, but we actually have a nine-game offering tonight, and it isn't lacking in either pitching or hitting.
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Let's check out the top options on today's main slate.
Outside of the free passes, Cease has been outstanding, sporting a 3.12 SIERA and 34.3% strikeout rate over 16 starts. In fact, among qualified starters, only Shane McClanahan owns a better strikeout rate this year.
Pitch counts are never an issue for Cease, too, as he's gone over 100 pitches in seven straight games.
Meanwhile, among active rosters, the woeful Tigers own the worst wRC+ (73) and third-worst strikeout rate (24.3%) against right-handed pitching. Detroit's 3.21 implied total is one of the lowest of the slate, as well.
There are some other standout names taking the mound tonight, but if you're picking just one, Cease is the top guy.
Gerrit Cole ($10,900): Cole, Joe Musgrove, and Tony Gonsolin are the other pitchers salaried at $10,000 and above, and while all three are compelling options, Cole has roughly a six-percentage-point advantage over the other two when it comes to strikeout rate (31.5%).
In addition to the elite punchouts, Cole ranks top three among qualified starters in both K-BB% and SIERA, and he's been a workhorse in his starts, going at least six innings in 12 of his last 13 outings.
The only downside is a matchup versus an above-average Boston team that's a tough opponent for racking up Ks (20.5% strikeout rate versus righties).
Still, Cole is the type of talent who can succeed in tough spots, and he's arguably the best pivot away from Cease in tournaments.
Spencer Strider ($8,600): Incredibly, it's Strider who leads the slate in strikeout rate (37.7%), a mark that would top all qualified starters if he had enough innings. And it's not like that's being propped up because of his work out of the bullpen at the beginning of the year, as he still has a 36.8% strikeout rate as strictly a starter.
He's another pitcher who's sometimes run into control issues this year, but he's gotten his walk rate down to a more manageable 8.3% since joining the rotation, and he's also posted a fantastic 2.40 xFIP over that span.
And while Strider hasn't had the consistent workloads of either Cease or Cole, he's typically allowed to log 90-plus pitches and has a season-high of 106.
Really, the only thing holding him back tonight is a tough draw versus the Cardinals. St. Louis' active roster has a 116 wRC+ and 19.9% strikeout rate against right-handers this year.
That makes Strider a riskier choice, but given the discount we're getting compared to the night's other best hurlers, he should absolutely be on your short list.
Left-hander Matthew Liberatore has really struggled over his first five big league starts, and right-handed batters have lit him up for a 6.03 xFIP alongside a 14.9% strikeout rate, 12.2% walk rate, and 22.6% ground-ball rate. While those marks have admittedly come over just 16 innings in that split, this sure looks like a smash spot for a righty-heavy Atlanta Braves team.
Temperatures are expected to crack the 90s in Atlanta, too, and the end result is a slate-high 5.66 implied total for the home team.
While Ozuna hasn't hit lefties well this season, it's a silly thing to worry about for a guy who's performed well with the platoon advantage over his career. Overall, he actually leads the team in barrels per plate appearance, so his power upside shouldn't be overlooked.
Adam Duvall ($2,900) and William Contreras ($2,700) are solid value plays if they start, too. A power surge in June (eight home runs) has helped Duvall get his ISO up to a respectable .170, and Contreras continues to excel in limited time with an impressive .289 ISO.
New York Yankees
Winckowski's actually performed pretty well over five starts, with his main strength being an annoying 56.1% ground-ball rate. That makes him a trickier matchup for home runs, and he's only allowed one across 26 innings.
But the young righty hasn't faced a lineup anywhere close to the Yankees yet. His game log features two of the league's weakest offenses in the Tigers and Athletics, and teams like the Orioles, Guardians, and Cubs aren't exactly brimming with power.
This is where Winckowski's lackluster 17.3% strikeout rate could get him in trouble, as we know what happens more often than not when you let guys like Aaron Judge ($4,000) and Giancarlo Stanton ($3,700) make contact. Josh Donaldson ($2,500) isn't hitting for as much power these days, but he only hits into grounders 35.8% of the time, making him a solid value here.
It's a small sample, but Winckowski is also showing 4.56 xFIP and an elevated 12.2% walk rate versus left-handed batters, so Anthony Rizzo ($3,700) should have an extra advantage, and Joey Gallo ($2,300) remains a boom-or-bust pick. Gallo homered on Wednesday, showing he can still come through on occasion.
Chicago White Sox
Toronto has a plus matchup against a low-strikeout lefty in Marco Gonzales, but keep in mind that their current bullpen has the lowest xFIP (3.13) in the entire league, so they'll have a difficult time in the later innings if they fail to rough up Gonzales.
Of this group, let's instead highlight the White Sox, who also get a beatable starter in Beau Brieske.
The right-hander now has 13 MLB starts in his rookie campaign, and the underlying metrics have been rather meh between a 4.91 SIERA, 15.7% strikeout rate, and 7.8% walk rate. But the most notable thing is that he's coughed up 1.82 home runs per nine innings off a 43.9% fly-ball rate.
Chicago hasn't been a powerhouse at the plate this year, but Jose Abreu ($3,200), Luis Robert ($3,500), Tim Anderson ($3,400), and Andrew Vaughn ($3,200) have been above average in terms of wRC+. Abreu's .171 ISO leads the team, and both Robert and Anderson bring speed upside with double-digit stolen bases this season.
Eloy Jimenez ($2,900) returned from the injured list on Wednesday, and he wasted no time getting back into the grove by slugging a dinger. This looks like a good buy-low opportunity on someone with a career .233 ISO.
For another value, Gavin Sheets ($2,300) is also a possibility. He's putting up modest numbers this year, but he'll have the platoon advantage and should bat fifth.