We have a full Friday slate, with first pitch at 7:05 p.m. ET. Let’s break down some of the best plays for tonight’s games.
The favorite for the night on DraftKings is Zack Wheeler. Wheeler posted his worst month of the season in August, but has bounced back by allowing just one earned run in two September starts.
Wheeler ranks second in the MLB with 225 strikeouts — a key for success when being used in DFS contests. He faces the New York Mets tonight, which just feels like it is going to be a low-scoring game. Both the Philadelphia Phillies and Mets are playing for their playoff lives at this point.
Wheeler has seen the Mets four times already this season and in those starts, he has combined for 29 1/3 innings, seven earned runs, and 31 strikeouts. In the more recent two starts against them, he has not allowed a run.
The Mets have the lowest implied run total at 3.5 tonight. It feels pretty safe that Wheeler gets the job done tonight, and could put up some slate-breaking strikeout numbers. It does not hurt that this game is taking place in spacious Citi Field.
On FanDuel, Wheeler’s relative price point makes him still a decent option, but not the top one. The top play on FanDuel for the Bales Model is Dylan Cease.
Cease is not a pitcher who would necessarily be worth rostering in many of his starts. The one thing that he does have going for him is a strong strikeout potential at 202 strikeouts over 151 1/3 innings.
Last time out, Cease was tagged for seven earned runs by the Boston Red Sox. Prior to that, he had not allowed more than three earned runs since July 5. The key to Cease is if he can avoid walking batters, as he is trying to strike them out. In that rough outing against the Red Sox, he had five walks alone.
Cease gets a pretty favorable match-up going up against the Texas Rangers. They have the second-worst BB% in the MLB. I think Wheeler is a safer, more expensive option, but could definitely see using Cease in a GPP.
Walker Buehler is available at a palatable price — he is even under $10,000 on FanDuel.
For being one of the biggest studs amongst National League starting pitchers, it is interesting to see his price come down a bit. In his last two starts, he has really struggled to record strikeouts with tallies of one and five. This game taking place in Great American Ball Park might be influencing the price a bit, too.
There was a lot of talk about the Cincinnati Reds having one of the best offenses in the league, too. They have fallen pretty flat of late. They are all the way down to ninth in runs per game, after leading that category about a month and a half ago. In their latest series with the Pittsburgh Pirates, they combined for ten runs. They have not scored more than five runs in a game since Sept. 4.
I would not be too concerned about his recent struggles with striking out batters. This feels like a good buy low opportunity on an elite starter.
The low-price play for me is probably Elieser Hernandez. Facing the Pirates, in a large ballpark is one of the best match-ups that a starter can have.
Hernandez is really just an average pitcher in the big leagues right now, but we all know that the Miami Marlins seem to grow great arms on the Florida orange trees. They are not entrusting him to pitch deep into ball games, as he can really only last five innings. He has yet to really get blown up in a game though.
This series means absolutely nothing to these teams, and this game in particular feels like it could be really low scoring. The Pirates just lost to the Reds yesterday 1-0. I am not saying that it would be that exactly low scoring, but could easily be like 3-2 one way or the other. That leaves some room for Hernandez to hit for value.
I would envision him as a pure GPP-play, but I think he has established a nice floor for himself.
The top stack of the night belongs to the Los Angeles Dodgers:
- 2. Max Muncy (L)
- 3. Trea Turner (R)
- 4. Corey Seager (L)
- 1. Mookie Betts (R)
This group is projected for 50.0 FanDuel points on a salary of $16,100. This is an expensive group to stack and at only 50.0 points, is not exactly a must-play option. They are some other teams to look at in the New York Yankees or Houston Astros.
These Dodgers will be facing Luis Castillo, who has mostly righted the ship from the disastrous start to the season that he had. This game will take place in a hitters’ ballpark, but Castillo has actually pitched better there than on the road. Turner is 2-for-4 lifetime with a home run off of Castillo, while Muncy is 0-for-8 with seven strikeouts.
The Milwaukee Brewers probably deserve a look tonight, too. Zach Davies is just severely struggling at this point and is almost an auto fade. Kolten Wong is the top-rated hitter on the Bales Model for tonight and Omar Narvaez is one of the top bargains. Wong is in a peculiar stretch in which he is 3-for-21 with all three hits occurring in the same game and two of those hits being home runs. Davies has given up at least four earned runs in six-of-nine starts and has a 16.50 ERA in two September starts.
The Bales Model really likes Daulton Varsho tonight. I think Varsho has remained behind the scenes for a lot of fantasy players this year – playing on an atrocious Arizona Diamondbacks team. He has not put together a bad year by any means and can slot into the catcher spot, if need be. It looks like the Astros will be basically going with a bullpen game with Brandon Bielak probably only going a few innings. Varsho is hitting .281 in September.
The Mr. September of the Yankees may be Brett Gardner. Gardner has been one of the most productive hitters in the Yankees lineup the last few weeks and has regularly been hitting in the 2-hole. He features prominently in the Lineup Optimizer for tonight. Gardy is hitting .295 for the month of September with five extra-base hits. He hits for an absurd eight ProTrends tonight.
Pictured above: Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler #21
Photo credit: Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images