FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Wednesday 9/28/22
Wednesday's 12-game slate features a solid group of pitchers, and team motivation could be a deciding factor as the season nears its conclusion. We see some repeat names amongst tonight's stacks, with the Atlanta Braves once again leading the way.
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Let's check out the top options on today's main slate.
Aaron Nola ($10,300): The Phillies are trying to hang onto the last NL wild card spot, so there will be no motivation concerns for Nola tonight. Between that and a fantastic matchup against the Cubs, the Philadelphia right-hander is arguably the night's top choice.
Nola is checking pretty much all the boxes in 2022, rocking a 2.88 SIERA, 28.7% strikeout rate, and 3.8% walk rate while regularly pitching deep into games. He ranks fourth in innings pitched this season.
Perhaps he's had some good fortune with the home run ball, allowing just 0.84 per nine innings, but he's still produced a solid 47.3% ground-ball rate in same-sided matchups, so it isn't all smoke and mirrors.
Dingers will be hard to come by at Wrigley Field tonight, too, as the wind is blowing at 10 mph and temperatures will be in the 50s. The Cubbies have a middle-of-the-pack offense against righties, but their active roster has a 25.7% strikeout rate in the split, and they haven't performed well down the stretch.
It all boils down to a 2.81 implied total for Chicago, and there's a clear path to a slate-best score from Nola on Wednesday.
Justin Verlander ($11,200): The Astros are pretty much coasting to the finish line at this point, but they technically still need one more win or a Yankees loss to clinch the top seed in the AL. They let Verlander go 93 pitches in his second start since coming off the injured list last week, so we could see a similar workload tonight as Houston gets their ace ready for a deep postseason run.
Verlander may not have the strikeout upside of his peak seasons with the Astros, but he's posted an efficient 3.19 SIERA, 26.9% strikeout rate, and 4.3% walk rate. As a fly-ball pitcher, his 0.66 homers per nine innings would definitely regress over the long haul, but he's helped his cause by allowing the highest rate of infield fly balls (19.4%) among qualified starters.
The Diamondbacks are an average offense at best, and they've really stumbled over the final month, recording the third-worst wRC+ (88) and fifth-worst strikeout rate (25.6%) among active rosters. The D-backs have the second-lowest implied total on the board (2.85), and it wouldn't be surprising to see Verlander put up a strong result.
George Kirby ($9,200): Kirby is coming off a disastrous outing against the Athletics of all teams, but he's posted a promising 3.26 SIERA, 24.8% strikeout rate, and 3.6% walk rate in his rookie campaign.
His pitch count figures to be limited to the mid-to-high 80s, but his low walk rate helps him remain efficient, and he still managed to hit 40 and 46 FanDuel points in his two starts prior to this last clunker. Seattle is trying to hang onto one of the final AL wild card spots, so they'll probably try to squeeze as much as they can out of Kirby tonight.
The Rangers are another team that hasn't been lighting it up at the plate lately, putting up a 94 wRC+ and 25.3% strikeout rate in September. Like the Cubs and D-backs, Texas is near the bottom of the barrel with a 2.94 implied total this evening.
Kirby isn't likely to match Nola or Verlander if they're at their best, but if they falter, the rookie righty could come through at his modest salary.
The Atlanta Braves are the top stack for the third day in a row, and it's Josiah Gray who could be on the receiving end of a Braves beatdown tonight.
Gray's shown his potential here and there behind a solid 24.2% strikeout rate, and he's even logged double-digit strikeouts three times this season. However, more often than not he's been plagued by a 10.2% walk rate while coughing up an absurd 2.33 home runs per nine innings.
Much of the damage has been done by left-handed batters. In the split, Gray is showing a 5.79 xFIP and allowing a sky-high 61.3% fly-ball rate.
Los Angeles Angels
Perhaps it's a bit surprising to see the Los Angeles Angels with the second-best implied total (4.80) behind the Braves. But it's less surprising when you see that they're facing a pitcher with a 6.10 ERA.
That ERA is the result of right-hander Adrian Martinez giving up a massive 2.22 home runs per nine innings. It sure looks like there's some poor luck factoring into this due to an inflated 21.8% homer-to-fly-ball rate, but it's not like there's a whole lot to otherwise scare us off here, either. Martinez has a ho-hum 20.2% strikeout rate, and he performed poorly in Triple-A both this season and in 2021.
The 25-year-old is allowing more fly balls (46.6%) and hard contact (35.6%) to lefties, so Shohei Ohtani ($4,100) looks like the top one-off. Martinez has a 50.6% ground-ball rate in same-sided matchups but also carries a 19.3% strikeout rate, so it's not like Mike Trout ($4,500) can't have a big night, too.
As noted yesterday, the Angels' lineup does fall off pretty quickly, but Taylor Ward ($3,600) remains the team's third-best option, and then the rest of the batters come in on the cheap. Mike Ford ($2,100) hasn't shown much in 2022, but his salary is barely above the minimum, and he'll have the platoon advantage out of the five-hole.
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles have been slugging it out so far in this series, combining for 22 runs on both Monday and Tuesday. Both sides are intriguing for stacks, and perhaps we get a similar result again tonight.
For Boston, they'll face Dean Kremer, who's enjoyed positive results but could be due for regression. There's a sizable gap between Kremer's ERA (3.07) and SIERA (4.42), and he's not getting a ton of strikeouts (17.4%) or grounders (40.8%). He allowed just 0.63 home runs per nine innings, which looks awfully suspect behind a mere 6.2% homer-to-fly-ball rate.
The right-hander can be attacked by both sides of the plate, but he has worse marks in xFIP (4.47) and strikeout rate (15.4%) in same-sided matchups, which sets things up nicely for Xander Bogaerts ($3,500). Fellow righties Tommy Pham ($3,000) and J.D. Martinez ($2,800) have value as the expected number one and five hitters, and Martinez has actually shown some signs of life this month with a .186 ISO.
Kremer is low on strikeouts and ground balls against lefties, as well, so Rafael Devers ($3,800) is still a top play as Boston's best overall hitter.