FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Friday 6/2/23
Like most Fridays, we have a doozy of an MLB slate tonight, with a whopping 13 games on FanDuel's main offering. This is a deep slate for pitching, whereas there isn't necessarily an offense to place significantly above the rest for stacks.
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Let's check out the top options on today's main slate.
Shohei Ohtani ($10,800) has the league's second-highest strikeout rate (35.0%) and continues to be a pitcher we want to target pretty much any time he starts.
The main blemish on Ohtani's 2023 resume is a 10.9% walk rate, which is a fairly significant step back from last year's 6.7% clip. He's issued multiple free passes in all but 2 of his 11 outings.
Despite that, it hasn't prevented him from getting results, logging quality starts seven times and reaching double-digit strikeouts four times. That's about as good of a floor/ceiling combo as we could hope for from a pitcher.
The Astros should be an improved lineup with Jose Altuve back, but the truth is they've been average against righties this season, and there's only so much Altuve will change that. Ohtani's shakier control this season still adds some risk, but as long as those Ks keep that ceiling up, we'll gladly take the good with the bad.
Figuring out the pecking order behind Ohtani is tricky, though.
Up top, there's Framber Valdez ($11,200) and Logan Webb ($11,100), guys who lack elite strikeout rates but make up for it through sheer volume and efficiency, regularly pitching deep into games behind superb walk rates and ground-ball rates. Zack Wheeler ($10,900) fits a similar mold to Valdez and Webb when he's at his best -- minus the high ground-ball rate -- and he faces perhaps the weakest offense out of all of them in Washington.
Additionally, if we exclude Tyler Glasnow ($9,200), who's made just one start, Clayton Kershaw ($10,300) and Luis Castillo ($10,200) have the next-best strikeout rates behind Ohtani, but they also have tougher matchups against the Yankees and Rangers, respectively.
Picking some favorites from this group is tricky, but in terms of the overall package, it's hard to go wrong with either Valdez or Webb if you can get there in salary.
While Valdez has seen a slight drop in ground-ball rate compared to last year, 60.1% is still among the league's best, and he's more than made up for it with improvements in strikeout rate (26.9%) and walk rate (5.2%). He's tied for the league's second-most quality starts (9), too. The Angels aren't a walk in the park, but they have a slate-low 3.57 implied team total, which is a credit to Valdez's campaign.
Webb is pretty much the right-handed version of Valdez with a 60.3% ground-ball rate, 26.9% strikeout rate, and 4.9% walk rate, and his matchup is less imposing against Baltimore, who's been average versus righties. He's been an innings-eater lately, too, going seven or more innings in five of his last seven starts, and he most recently blew up for 11 strikeouts against Milwaukee.
If you're looking for more cap space wiggle room, Castillo's combination of punchout potential, salary, and workload arguably make him an ideal alternative in tournaments. In his 11 starts, the righty has put up a 3.24 SIERA, 29.8% strikeout rate, and 5.9% walk rate, and his 15.6% swinging-strike rate is the best we've seen from him since 2019.
Castillo's scored over 50 FanDuel points in back-to-back starts versus Oakland and Pittsburgh, though this is a more difficult test versus Texas, which has been one of the better offenses versus right-handers. Whereas Kershaw is more likely to have a pitch count in the low 90s, Castillo logged 101 and 99 in the last two starts, arguably making him the better high-strikeout candidate to take a shot on.
Wheeler's salary leaves him in a weird spot amongst this group, as it's right around the same level as Ohtani, Valdez, and Webb, but that should leave him as a contrarian option at least. However, despite a matchup against this Nats team with an 87 wRC+ versus righties, the problem is that they also have a league-low 19.2% strikeout rate in the split, potentially hindering Wheeler's upside.
Given everyone we've gone through already, paying down at pitcher is difficult today. The aforementioned Glasnow could be worth a dice roll after racking up eight strikeouts in his 2023 debut, but pitch count, matchup, and possible rain in Boston are all negatives. Despite pretty average season-long numbers, Michael Wacha ($9,300) has popped for double-digit punchouts twice this year, so giving him a whirl against the Cubs' high-strikeout lineup is a possibility.
Given the sheer depth at pitcher, that leaves fewer obvious offenses to stack -- just two teams have implied team totals above five.
Gray's 2.77 ERA is a true head-scratcher when you see that he also has a 5.12 SIERA, 19.1% strikeout rate, and 11.6% walk rate. He switched up his pitch mix this year, so maybe some of his success is validated, but as someone who's allowed 2.02 home runs per 9 innings in his career, it's difficult to see his mark of 0.88 per 9 sticking.
The righty has always struggled against left-handed batters, and that's where we should him regress in a big way. This season in the split, Gray's posted a 5.86 xFIP, 20.0% strikeout rate, 17.0% walk rate, and 47.1% fly-ball rate, yet he's allowed just a .298 wOBA and 0.59 homers per 9 innings.
Bryce Harper ($3,600) and Kyle Schwarber ($3,100) are the clear top options, and then Bryson Stott ($3,000), Brandon Marsh ($2,800), and Kody Clemens ($2,500) give us some value lefties. The right-handed bats all have cheap salaries to round out stacks, as well.
Contreras has produced respectable results this year, but his underlying metrics simply don't back it up. The right-hander's put up a 5.41 SIERA, 16.4% strikeout rate, 10.5% walk rate, and 36.1% ground-ball rate, which checks a whole lot of boxes for us. He's been lucky to allow just 0.87 home runs per 9 innings, and particularly when looking at all the hard contact he's allowing, his 7.5% homer-to-fly-ball rate looks awfully suspect.
While we can attack Contreras with both righty and lefty sticks, it's the latter who will get the biggest boost. Against left-handed batters, he's recorded a 6.29 xFIP with just an 8.6% strikeout rate. This places Nolan Gorman ($3,700) at the top of the wish list, and Lars Nootbaar ($3,300) is appealing if he's back in the leadoff spot. Brendan Donovan ($2,700) doesn't possess much power, but he could move up the order if Nootbaar can't go.
Among the righties, Paul Goldschmidt ($3,800), Nolan Arenado ($3,400), and Paul DeJong ($3,300) are all quality power options, and Willson Contreras ($2,800) is technically a value if you have any faith in him.
For a quick refresher on Anderson, he's lucked his way to a 1.31 ERA with a .226 BABIP, 92.2% strand rate, and 4.3% homer-to-fly-ball rate. His SIERA is bad (5.24), the strikeouts aren't there (12.5%), and he not getting grounders (38.7%).
Even the lowly Royals are showing a 4.87 implied team total in this spot. Salvador Perez ($3,600), Bobby Witt Jr. ($3,700), and Vinnie Pasquantino ($3,100) are the three to build around first, and then the rest of the Royals are below $3,000 apiece.
On the other side of that game, we might need to seriously consider the Colorado Rockies despite them being on the road.
That's because the Rockies are facing Jordan Lyles, a guy who we've stacked against for years and may actually be even worse in 2023. Lyles is getting rocked for 2.34 home runs per 9 innings off a 53.3% fly-ball rate, and given his dips in both strikeout rate (16.6%) and ground-ball rate (29.6%), it's hard to see things improving by much.
Ryan McMahon ($3,600) is one of the few reliable sources of power for Colorado, and Nolan Jones ($2,800) and Brenton Doyle ($2,800) have shown promise over limited samples. Randal Grichuk ($3,200) has been stuck on one home run since early May, but a career .216 ISO suggests that he should turn things up a notch eventually.
The San Diego Padres have a promising matchup against Jameson Taillon, who's been roughed up across eight starts and has putrid numbers against left-handed batters. In the split, he's put up a 6.53 xFIP, 17.9% strikeout rate, and 14.9% walk rate. Four of the five home runs he's allowed have come off lefty bats despite logging more innings versus righties.
The Atlanta Braves don't necessarily have an incredible matchup against Merrill Kelly, but their power makes them a nightly factor, and they have one of the night's highest implied team totals (4.87). If their game plays, the Tampa Bay Rays will face Garrett Whitlock, who's low on both strikeouts (18.1%) and grounders (42.2%).