FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Thursday 8/18/22

Jacob deGrom has been incredible since returning at the start of the month, but he's yet to go over 76 pitches in a start. Is he still worth his high salary tonight?

We're looking at a five-game main slate on Thursday night, and the biggest decision may be whether you're willing to pay up for the best pitcher in baseball despite his restricted workload. For our bats, one stack hovers above the rest, so you may need to get creative to be contrarian in tournaments.

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


Jacob deGrom ($12,000): deGrom has wasted no time in proving he's still as dominant as ever, producing an absurd 0.92 SIERA, 50.0% strikeout rate, and 1.8% walk rate over three starts. He's racked up double-digit strikeouts in each of his last two, helping him to FanDuel scores of 53 and 58 points.

The only problem is that he hasn't gone over 76 pitches yet, and there's no doubt that the Mets and deGrom have long-term goals in mind as they eye a deep run in the postseason. Even if he sees a bump in pitch count tonight, it's probably more in the 80-90 range at best.

That makes him less of a no-brainer at this sort of salary, but considering he's proven that he can still get the job done on limited pitches, he has to be a top option on a short slate.

As noted yesterday, the Braves are a risky matchup, but they strike out in bunches, and deGrom already dismantled them two starts ago. deGrom will need to remain efficient to keep posting big scores, but there's no question that he's still the top pitcher in the world when healthy.

Yu Darvish ($10,600): As amazing as deGrom is, if you're worried about paying the premium for a guy on a pitch count, then Darvish is a more conventional selection.

It's expected to be smooth sailing for Darvish against the Nationals, as Washington is showing a slate-low 2.85 implied total at pitcher-friendly Petco Park. While they're still just a middle-of-the-pack opponent for Ks, their deadline trades have left them with a roster that has the third-worst wRC+ versus righties (85).

Darvish doesn't have the dominant strikeout rate of years past, but he's sporting a rock-solid 3.40 SIERA, 25.0% strikeout rate, and 4.8% walk rate and is consistently allowed to go over 100 pitches. He's posted quality starts in 17 of his 22 games. so he's typically maintained a high floor more often than not.

This is Darvish's second straight start against Washington, which is a slight negative, but overall, he looks like the obvious alternative to deGrom while also grabbing an extra $1,400 for our bats.


San Diego Padres

The San Diego Padres will almost certainly be the chalk stack with a slate-high 5.15 implied total in an obvious plus spot against Anibal Sanchez.

Sanchez has struggled mightily over six starts, producing a 5.18 SIERA, 16.3% strikeout rate, and 10.4% walk rate. He's already allowed 10 dingers in just 30 innings, giving up at least one in every single outing.

Considering Sanchez wasn't much better when we last saw him in 2020 (5.03 SIERA in 11 starts), it appears incredibly unlikely that we see a sudden turnaround in his age-38 campaign.

Manny Machado ($4,500) and Juan Soto ($4,100) are the headliners, but it will be difficult to fit both in when rostering deGrom or Darvish. On the bright side, Machado's particularly high salary could keep his popularity lower than it might otherwise be.

While Brandon Drury ($3,700) also has a fairly high salary, the rest of the lineup opens up several salary-saving avenues through Jurickson Profar ($2,900), Josh Bell ($3,000), Jake Cronenworth ($2,900), and Trent Grisham ($2,900).

New York Yankees

While Jose Berrios has respectable underlying numbers, he just can't keep the ball in the park these days, as he's given up at least one long ball in 10 of the last 11 games and 5 of those games had multiple dingers.

Most recently, he's gotten lit up in his last two starts against the Twins and Guardians, logging a worrisome 4.9% and 9.8% walk rate. The New York Yankees have been off their game this month, but this sure looks like a slump-busting matchup.

Berrios is allowing his share of home runs to both righties and lefties this season, but it's the latter that's really giving him trouble. He has a 17.9% strikeout rate and 43.7% fly-ball rate in the split while allowing 2.47 home runs per nine innings. That should put Anthony Rizzo ($3,700) high on our list, and Andrew Benintendi ($2,900) gets a bump as a value play.

But if Berrios has another night where he isn't generating swings and misses, he's not going to get very far against the righties, either. Aaron Judge ($5,000) has the highest hitter salary of the slate, but we can also look to Gleyber Torres ($3,000) and Josh Donaldson ($2,500) for some value alternatives.

Beyond all these guys, the bottom of the order is pretty unexciting, but the punt salaries could go a long way towards fitting in the top bats.

Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox are tied with the Yankees for the second-best implied total on the board (4.60), and they'll have an opportunity to sweep the Pirates tonight.

Pittsburgh is rolling out JT Brubaker, who's had his moments this year but comes in with a pedestrian 22.9% strikeout rate and 9.0% walk rate. His splits don't reveal anything glaring, but he gets fewer strikeouts (21.5%) and more grounders (48.3%) against righties, and then we see the opposite for lefties (24.3% strikeouts; 36.2% grounders).

Overall, the matchup doesn't have quite the same punch as our previous two, but where the Red Sox add some appeal is their lower top-to-bottom salaries.

Rafael Devers ($4,200) is up where he should be, but then we get Tommy Pham ($3,300), Xander Bogaerts ($3,200), Alex Verdugo ($3,000), and J.D. Martinez ($3,100) in the mid-range, and everyone else is below $3,000. Outside of trying to get Devers in there, this is probably a spot where you probably don't have to be picky about the individual hitters and work in whoever happens to fit based on position and salary space.