6 MLB FanDuel Studs to Target for 4/21/16

Who are the high-priced studs worth grabbing for Thursday's six-game slate?

Thursday’s lighter schedule means there are only six games on FanDuel’s main slate. The smaller player pool makes it imperative to hit on high-priced players, especially when it comes to pitching.

Let’s take a look at three hitters and three pitchers, who, despite costing a good chunk of change, are worth the investment.


Jake Arrieta, Chicago Cubs

FanDuel Price: $12,100

The main slate’s most expensive pitcher, Jake Arrieta, is our top-ranked hurler for the day. In a cushy road matchup with Cincinnati, we project the Cubs’ ace to rack up 38.82 FanDuel points. We see him allowing 1.98 earned runs on 5.72 hits and 1.79 walks while striking out 6.26 hitters in 6.66 innings.

After his historic second half a year ago, Arrieta has started strongly in 2016. He owns a 2.48 SIERA, which ranks sixth, to go along with the fourth best walk percentage of 2.5. Through 22 innings, he has fanned 20 and walked just two, something at which the entire Cubs’ staff is excelling.

Cincinnati ranks 17th in wOBA after ranking 22nd a season ago. The Reds implied team total of 2.95 runs is the lowest mark of the day. There is a chance for rain in Cincinnati, which is worth monitoring.

Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates

FanDuel Price: $9,700

The ace who faced off with Arrieta in last year’s National League Wild Card playoff game also makes for a great play, checking in as our second-ranked pitcher for the main slate.

After putting up 5.4 Wins Above Replacement and a 3.23 SIERA in 2015, Gerrit Cole has struggled in his first two starts of the campaign. A welcoming matchup against San Diego, who ranked 29th in wOBA last season, at pitcher-friendly Petco Park is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Cole makes a living thanks to a mid-90s heater and filthy slider. He posted a 20.5 percent swinging strike rate with the slide-piece in 2015, and it’s easy to see why.

Gerrit Cole Gif

That’s Buster Posey, a stud with a career .369 wOBA through 3,136 plate appearances and a guy who walked (56) more than he struck out (52) last season. You do that to Posey, and you’re a bad man.

Our projections for Thursday have Cole amassing 34.17 points against the Padres by allowing 2.22 earned runs on 6.06 hits while fanning 5.59 batters over 6.30 frames. San Diego’s implied total of 3.0 runs is the second worst clip of the evening.

Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros

FanDuel Price: $10,700

Dallas Keuchel has a vast amount of success (2015 American League Cy Young winner) for not being a flame thrower. He struck out just 23.7 percent of hitters a year ago -- an above-average rate but top-tier pitchers are usually over 25 percent -- yet he induced a meager 21.3 percent hard-hit rate on his way to a sparkling 2.84 SIERA.

Thursday, Keuchel gets a road matchup against Texas, who ranks 19th in wOBA with a .307 mark. Our models slot Keuchel as the fifth-ranked arm on the main slate, projecting him to register 29.25 points. We forecast him to allow 3.21 earned runs on 6.34 hits while recording 4.55 strikeouts over 6.57 innings of work.


Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles

FanDuel Price: $4,800

Still just 23 years old, Manny Machado -- owner of two 6-plus WAR seasons -- gets lost in the shadow of Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, but he’s a superstar in his own right.

This is what a breakout looks like:

Plate Appearances wOBA Home Runs Steals BB% K%
2013 710 .325 14 6 4.1 19.2
2014 354 .332 12 2 5.6 15.6
2015 713 .370 35 20 9.8 15

The power arrived last year, and it arrived in a big way. After putting together two solid seasons in 2013 and 2014, especially considering they were his age-22 and age-23 campaigns, Machado's numbers jumped across the board. And by the way, he’s a two-time Gold Glove winner who can make throws like this:

As for Thursday night, Machado is our fourth-ranked hitter as we project him to score 13.56 points. Baltimore’s Camden Yards is the sixth best hitters’ park, according to ESPN’s three-year Park Factor Averages. The Orioles’ matchup with Toronto is one to target with an implied total of 9.0 runs, which is split evenly between the two teams.

Anthony Rizzo, Team

FanDuel Price: $4,000

Anthony Rizzo is our second-ranked hitter for Thursday as we project him to tally 13.98 points, making him our top-ranked first baseman.

Rizzo squares off with Reds’ lefty Brandon Finnegan. While most left-handed hitters struggle with southpaws, Rizzo bucks the trend, posting nearly even platoon splits in 2015.

2015 Plate Appearances wOBA Home Runs
vs. LHP 198 .383 6
vs. RHP 503 .384 25

Great American Ballpark is the fifth best hitters’ park, according to those aforementioned three-year averages, and the Cubs have an implied total of 4.05 runs. The only potential hiccup here is the weather as there’s a decent chance for rain in Cincinnati.

Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays

FanDuel Price: $4,700

Jose Bautista gets an inviting matchup Thursday against Baltimore right-hander Chris Tillman. In a game where the Blue Jays’ implied total is 4.5 runs, we rank Bautista as the main slate’s No. 4 hitter, projecting him to score 13.86 points.

Despite being a right-handed hitter, Bautista actually hit righties better in 2015.

2015 Plate Appearances wOBA Home Runs
vs. LHP 131 .363 5
vs. RHP 535 .395 35

Playing in hitter-friendly Camden Yards, Bautista should be able to keep his ridiculous start going. Through 69 plate appearances, he owns an absurd .435 wOBA to go with 3 homers, 11 RBI’s and a 20.3 walk percentage. He’s already recorded 1.1 WAR in just 16 games.