FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Tuesday 5/23/23
Tuesday's 10-game main slate has viable pitchers at every salary tier, and it's another Coors Field night on the hitting side.
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Let's check out the top options on today's main slate.
Coincidentally, this is the third straight start where Spencer Strider ($11,500) and Gerrit Cole ($11,100) have appeared together on the main slate, and both pitchers figure to be popular choices tonight. But with Cole's strikeout rate lagging behind this year, Strider continues to be the preferred option, and that's even with a difficult matchup on tap against the Dodgers.
Among qualified starters, Strider leads the league with a massive 41.5% strikeout rate, and no other arm in that group cracks even 35%. To demonstrate just how consistent his punchouts have been, here is the full list of totals across his nine starts: 9, 9, 9, 9, 13, 8, 10, 12, and 7.
But, as always, walks and a lack of innings are the main things that prevent Strider from crushing it every single start. He's issued three or more free passes five times and has achieved the quality start bonus just four times. But the ceiling is immense when it all comes together, as those highs include scores of 55, 55, 57, and 73 FanDuel points.
A date with the Dodgers is one we would typically avoid with most starters, but Strider is clearly no ordinary talent. He racked up double-digit strikeouts against a strong Blue Jays offense just a couple of starts ago, so we shouldn't doubt his ability to post a tournament-winning score. Strider is the night's top option.
Considering his track record, Cole probably deserves billing as the next-best arm, but his 26.8% strikeout rate is somewhat unremarkable on this slate, and his matchup against Baltimore is nothing special, either. At this stage in the season, Strider just looks like the far superior upside play, and only $400 separates them tonight.
Is Cole a good play? Absolutely. After all, the Orioles have a slate-worst 3.36 implied team total. But generally speaking, I'm more inclined to either move up to Strider or take chances on guys at lower salaries.
For instance, by 2023 numbers, Yu Darvish ($10,400) is practically the same thing as Cole but at a lesser cap hit.
Over eight starts, Darvish has put up a 3.77 SIERA, 27.2% strikeout rate, and 8.2% walk rate, and this isn't a bad matchup versus Washington. While the Nats' active roster has a low strikeout rate against right-handers (20.1%), they're a poor offense overall, owning lackluster marks in wRC+ (81), ISO (.111), and walk rate (6.3%). So, while Darvish probably won't lead the slate in strikeouts, there's a path to an optimal score if he can pitch deep into the game and keep Washington off the board.
Sonny Gray ($10,200) comes in with an impressive 29.6% strikeout rate, but his walk rate isn't great (9.4%), and he's been lucky to go nine starts without allowing a single home run. Still, his 3.62 SIERA is better than Cole's or Darvish's, so it's not like his strong results have entirely been because of good fortune.
At first glance, this is a plus matchup for strikeouts against the Giants (23.9% versus righties), but similar to Bailey Ober yesterday, I do worry about Gray facing too many left-handed batters tonight. It could be a small sample, but Gray has logged a 16.9% strikeout rate facing lefties this season compared to a 38.3% clip against righties. Given that he hasn't consistently shown stark splits in his career, I wouldn't write him off completely, but it might give the edge to Darvish when choosing between the two.
Kodai Senga ($9,600) has been held back by a 13.9% walk rate all season, but a 29.4% strikeout rate and 49.5% ground-ball rate have hinted at a high potential ceiling. Well, despite still issuing 3 walks in his last start, he racked up a season-high 12 Ks and 55 FanDuel points, and it came against Tampa Bay of all teams. The wildness leaves him as a risky play, but if he can post a big score against the Rays, then he surely can against the Cubs, too.
MacKenzie Gore ($9,400) is very much in the same mold as Senga, entering the day with a 29.0% strikeout rate and 11.5% walk rate. Similarly, he has a season-best of 10 punchouts and 55 FanDuel points, but in his case, that came at the end of April, and he's had mixed results ever since. The Padres have been average against left-handers, though, so this isn't a bad salary to jump in with Gore.
For value plays, Alex Cobb ($9,000) and Brayan Bello ($8,500) are the two to have in mind. Cobb's 20.4% strikeout rate won't move the needle, but his 62.4% ground-ball rate is elite, and the Twins' active roster has an absurd 27.9% strikeout rate versus righties. Bello also comes with a fantastic ground-ball rate (61.9%) but with more strikeouts (23.8%) and walks (9.2%). While Bello hasn't shown a high ceiling yet, he's hit 100 pitches in back-to-back starts, and the Angels are a high-strikeout (23.6%), low-walk (7.8%) matchup for right-handed pitchers.
The Miami Marlins were a disappointment at Coors Field on Monday, but that's the risk of rostering these lesser offenses, no matter how great the matchup is. They have a slate-high implied team total (5.66) again, though, this time against lefty Austin Gomber.
Gomber's produced a 5.34 SIERA, 14.9% strikeout rate, 9.2% walk rate, and 40.7% ground-ball rate this season, and when you throw Coors Field in on top of that, there isn't a whole lot more you could ask for here. Miami could have an entire lineup of right-handed batters tonight, as well.
Jorge Soler ($3,500) is the guy to click on if you're rostering a one-off, and then I'm not sure a ton separates the rest when it comes to stacks. Jon Berti ($3,100) has an appealing salary and some stolen base upside batting leadoff, while Bryan De La Cruz ($3,400) is probably the next-best power bat behind Soler.
Predictably, the Colorado Rockies have the second-best implied team total (5.34), though I don't love this spot against top prospect Eury Perez. The 20-year-old righty hasn't disappointed through his first two starts with a 3.09 SIERA, 33.3% strikeout rate, and 7.7% walk rate, and he was crushing it in Double-A before his promotion.
Of course, with this being a young, inexperienced pitcher at Coors Field, things could always go south for Perez in a hurry. But I'm more inclined to roll with the team with the best non-Coors implied team total (4.98): the Seattle Mariners.
At this point, the Athletics' pitching staff might as well be the traveling version of Coors Field, and Seattle could have another big night at the plate. Right-hander Luis Medina has a respectable 4.21 SIERA, so perhaps he's been better than his 6.88 ERA, but he isn't getting strikeouts (20.5%) and is struggling to keep the ball in the park. Even if those dingers have been a little flukey, and he performs better, the Oakland bullpen continues to be the gift that keeps on giving, sporting a 5.18 xFIP.
Between Julio Rodriguez ($3,400), Jarred Kelenic ($3,300), Cal Raleigh ($3,200), Teoscar Hernandez ($2,800), and Eugenio Suarez ($2,900), there's no shortage of Seattle power bats to choose from, and everyone else in the lineup has sub-$3,000 salaries.
The Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox, and Atlanta Braves are other non-Coors teams that stand out. Houston faces struggling right-hander Colin Rea, who isn't getting many strikeouts (19.2%) and has a double-digit walk rate (10.0%). Griffin Canning is another right-hander with poor numbers, and Boston's top lefty sticks could have an especially good matchup against a pitcher posting a 14.3% strikeout rate and 4.86 xFIP in the split. The Braves are taking on righty Bobby Miller in his MLB debut; Miller is a top prospect but doesn't quite look ready given his 5.31 xFIP in Triple-A this year.