FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Thursday 8/4/22

On a slate lacking pitchers with elite strikeout rates, can Jeffrey Springs come through as a value play? Who else might stand out on the main slate?

There arguably isn't one single pitcher who's a must-have tonight, and it could be a matter of weighing salary, upside, and how much risk you're willing to take on. It could also be a wide-open slate for stacks, as just one team has an implied total cracking five.

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


Justin Verlander ($11,200): This is a tricky pitching slate lacking anyone with an elite strikeout rate, and most of the top arms have less-than-thrilling matchups. In Verlander's case, he has an exorbitant salary typically reserved for the elite of the elite and also has an upside-sapping matchup against Cleveland.

But on a slate where it's hard to get 100% on board with any one pitcher, Verlander brings a lengthy track record and consistency that few can match tonight.

He may not have the dominant peripherals of years past, but the veteran right-hander is still getting it done with a 3.36 SIERA, 25.6% strikeout rate, and 4.6% walk rate. He also stands out by regularly pitching deep into games, going seven or more innings in 7 of his last 10 outings. This has helped him exceed 40 FanDuel points seven times over this stretch, and he's cracked 50 on four occasions.

That last fact should help boost his score despite facing an active roster that has a league-low 15.7% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching. We shouldn't expect a ton of swings and misses, but Verlander is still a good bet to log a quality start and grab a win behind a strong offense facing a lesser pitcher in Zach Plesac.

Carlos Carrasco ($9,500): For a high risk/high reward play, we turn to Carrasco against a dangerous Braves team that also strikes out at a high clip. Against righties, Atlanta's active roster boasts a .193 ISO but has a 25.4% strikeout rate.

That last bit gives us a path to upside that's sorely lacking on this slate. Carrasco himself isn't a big strikeout pitcher anymore, but he's produced a rock-solid 3.65 SIERA, 23.1% strikeout rate, and 6.4% walk rate in 2022.

At the same time, while he's still capable of popping for the occasional big score, his pitch counts are often held to the mid-to-low 90s, and the Mets aren't afraid to pull him prior to completing six full innings.

Still, flipping back over to the positives, the Braves' 3.90 implied total is fairly low, and Citi Field is a park factor downgrade compared to their home digs.

It isn't a perfect scenario by any means, but Carrasco is worth rolling the dice with in case everything breaks in his favor tonight.

Jeffrey Springs ($7,400): If Springs were a right-hander, he'd be an easy call as perhaps the top overall option facing the league's worst team against righties. But the Tigers are merely "not good" when it comes to southpaws, and their active roster is at a 97 wRC+ and 22.1% strikeout rate in the split.

And yet, Springs has a 25.4% strikeout rate as a starter this season -- one of the slate's best marks -- and even though he's a lefty, that rate bumps up to 26.3% versus righties specifically. That could actually boost his upside tonight despite facing what should be a righty-heavy lineup.

However, the one thing that holds Springs back is a lack of consistent innings and pitch counts. He's logged as many as 102 pitches, but the Rays are never afraid to give him a quick hook, resulting in him hitting six innings in just 3 of 13 starts.

While that's an obvious risk, we're getting Springs at a bottom-of-the-barrel salary, and he may not need to be perfect on a night where pitching scores could be lower than usual. Detroit has the slate's second-lowest implied total (3.49), too.


Philadelphia Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies have a slate-best 5.31 implied total against Paolo Espino, a right-hander who has struggled since joining the Nationals' rotation. Over his nine starts, Espino has put up a 4.71 xFIP and 17.4% strikeout rate, and a sky-high 47.7% fly-ball rate has led to tons of balls landing in the outfield seats.

In fact, home runs have been an ongoing issue for the now 35-year-old righty. Over 206 1/3 career innings, Espino has allowed 1.74 home runs per nine innings.

He has poor splits against both sides of the plate, as well, so we needn't be picky when stacking Philadelphia.

Kyle Schwarber ($3,500) and Rhys Hoskins ($3,100) are the obvious power options to start with, and Darick Hall ($2,900) also deserves some love. Hall will have the platoon advantage, and his .258 ISO is backed by a high rate of barrels in his first taste of the Majors.

Beyond that trio, J.T. Realmuto ($3,300) and Alec Bohm ($2,800) have come alive following a strong July, and perhaps Nick Castellanos ($2,500) could be next after showing some signs of life lately.

Houston Astros

As I noted earlier, the Houston Astros should be able to provide Verlander with ample run support and take advantage of a matchup against Plesac.

The Cleveland right-hander had a modest 4.35 xFIP and 17.7% strikeout rate, and he's especially susceptible to damage from lefty sticks. In the split, that xFIP jumps to 5.52 and the strikeout rate plummets to 13.4%. He's also allowing a 43.2% fly-ball rate that's contributed to giving up 1.65 home runs per nine innings.

Yordan Alvarez ($4,400) and Kyle Tucker ($3,500) are the clear winners here, and then it's a matter of filling out the rest with Houston's top righties. Lucky for us, there's plenty of value to be found between Alex Bregman ($3,000), Jeremy Pena ($2,900), Trey Mancini ($2,700), and Yuli Gurriel ($2,400).

St. Louis Cardinals

Left-hander Sean Newcomb is getting the start in Game 2 of the doubleheader between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals, and while it's hard to say how many innings we will see of him, this looks like a good spot to roll with the Cardinals.

Considering both the Braves and Cubs have designated Newcomb for assignment in 2022, the former Atlanta prospect isn't exactly a hot commodity anymore in what's now his age-29 season.

Used almost entirely as a reliever, Newcomb has posted a 5.24 xFIP in 9 1/3 big league innings this season, and he wasn't much better across 24 Triple-A frames, either (4.92 xFIP). He also produced a 4.62 xFIP in 2021, too. In all three cases, a double-digit walk rate has limited his effectiveness.

There's nothing to suggest that Newcomb is about to turn his career around, and that's especially the case against a righty-dominated Cardinals lineup.

Paul Goldschmidt ($4,200) and Nolan Arenado ($3,900) lead the way again, and then Dylan Carlson ($2,700), Albert Pujols ($2,400), and Paul DeJong ($2,200) are among the low-salaried options to complete the full stack.