FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Wednesday 8/10/22
Tonight is a tale of two aces, and that might be about it unless you want to get a little crazy in tournaments. For stacks, Coors Field should draw the attention of most lineups again, but some of the usual top offenses could make some noise in favorable matchups, as well.
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Let's check out the top options on today's main slate.
Justin Verlander ($11,300): The strikeouts may not be what they used to be, but Verlander is still delivering on a near-nightly basis.
Overall, he's put together a 3.36 SIERA, 25.5% strikeout rate, and 4.6% walk rate, and all three of those marks rank at or near the top amongst the competition tonight. He often makes up for the lack of punchouts through sheer innings, too, going at least six in 17 of 20 starts and hitting seven or more 10 times.
Considering the gap between Verlander's ERA and his ERA estimators, it's fair to wonder if he's benefiting from some good fortune when it comes to "luck" metrics like BABIP, strand rate, and homer-to-fly-ball rate. Among qualified starters, he has the 3rd-best BABIP (.229), 4th-best strand rate (83.5%), and 11th-best homer-to-fly-ball rate (8.3%).
While some regression is likely in order, he's been above-average in all three categories more often than not in his career, so this isn't entirely a fluke. Verlander's consistently limited hard contact over the years, and it probably isn't a coincidence that he's leading the league in infield-fly-ball rate (20.7%). That's a pretty good way to keep the ol' BABIP in check.
Outside of the non-elite strikeout rate, there really isn't anything to nitpick about Verlander, and the Rangers are a middle-of-the-pack offense. Texas has a 2.82 implied total, and we should expect another strong outing from the 39-year-old veteran.
Sandy Alcantara ($11,200): In many respects, Alcantara is like the NL version of Verlander, lacking consistent strikeouts but doing just about everything else flawlessly. He comes in with a 3.48 SIERA, 23.3% strikeout rate, and 6.6% walk rate, and in his case, his batted-ball profile benefits from the league's third-best ground-ball rate (55.7%).
Alcantara could also see regression in the trio of luck stats, as well, but he's produced a low BABIP in every season dating back to 2018, and he allows so few fly balls that an uptick in homer-to-fly-ball rate wouldn't be all that damaging.
Additionally, despite the average strikeout rate, the young right-hander has popped for double-digit strikeouts four times, so he can get there every now and then.
But much like Verlander, where he really excels is his ability to pitch deep into games. Alcantara leads the league in innings (158 1/3) by a decent margin, and that includes 15 games of at least seven innings and 4 that went nine.
This is a neutral matchup against Philadelphia (3.89 implied total), but this is a negative park factor shift on the road at Citizens Bank Park. That said, the Phillies' active roster does have a 23.9% strikeout rate versus righties, potentially boosting Alcantara's upside.
Overall, Verlander gets the slight nod, but this is really a toss-up between two hurlers in the midst of Cy Young-worthy campaigns.
Nick Pivetta ($8,900): While both of the aforementioned arms have sky-high salaries, there isn't a ton of value pitching out there tonight, and considering how easy it is to find low-salary hitters at even Coors Field, there's arguably less of a need to pay down. Given the remarkable consistency of both Verlander and Alcantara, it's hard to envision a scenario with both of them flopping.
But if you want to shoot for the moon, Pivetta has a high-strikeout matchup against the Braves. Of course, as Atlanta's 5.10 implied total suggests, the more likely outcome is another ho-hum outing from a pitcher who's struggled to duplicate the results he was putting out earlier this season.
Still, Pivetta's been much, much more effective in same-sided matchups, rolling off a 3.83 xFIP, 24.4% strikeout rate, and 6.6% walk rate in the split. Seeing as most of the toughest Braves bat right-handed, that does give us an inkling of hope that he has a shot of taking advantage of Atlanta's swings and misses.
Pivetta hasn't logged a quality start since the end of June, though, and walks have been a consistent issue, which is par for the course. The chances of a ceiling performance are admittedly low, but on a slate lacking a ton of upside options, at least we can see a path towards one here.
St. Louis Cardinals
Freeland is having another mediocre season with Colorado, producing a 4.51 SIERA, 17.0% strikeout rate, and 42.3% ground-ball rate over 21 starts. He has underwhelming splits against both sides of the plate, and in some respects, he's actually been worst when facing left-handed hitters.
But his 16.3% strikeout rate versus righties is well worth attacking with the likes of Goldschmidt and Arenado when possible, and otherwise, we can look to Dylan Carlson ($3,100), Albert Pujols ($2,800), and Paul DeJong ($2,800). DeJong was crushing it in the minors before getting called up at the end of last month, and he's remained locked in, slugging four home runs in just nine games.
The Texas right-hander owns a 4.87 SIERA, 18.8% strikeout rate, and 11.4% walk rate over his 16 starts this year, and he has lackluster underlying numbers against both righties and lefties.
Otherwise, we have another case where value isn't too hard to find. Yuli Gurriel ($2,400) and Alex Bregman ($3,100) are entrenched in the top half of the order, while guys like Trey Mancini ($3,000) and Jeremy Pena ($2,700) offer us solid pop despite batting further down.
As noted with Pivetta earlier, he may have some strikeout upside this evening, but the Braves are a dangerous team who can plate runs in a hurry.
While the Red Sox righty has pretty good marks versus right-handed bats, the same can't be said in the other split. Against lefties, he has a woeful 4.87 xFIP, 19.9% strikeout rate, and 11.4% walk rate.
That makes Matt Olson ($3,500) perhaps the most desirable Braves player to roster, and we don't even have to break the bank to get there. Eddie Rosario ($2,300) isn't the most exciting play, but he's a value out of the five-hole, and Michael Harris II ($2,800) will also have the platoon advantage.
Outside of the lefties, we're really just hoping for the wild version of Pivetta to show up and for Atlanta's big boppers to take care of business. That naturally means Ronald Acuna ($3,700) and Austin Riley ($3,800) when possible, but we can also find low-salary power through Marcell Ozuna ($2,600) and William Contreras ($2,800).