Saturday’s FanDuel MLB main slate features 11 games and locks at 7:05 p.m. E.T.
Let’s break it down using the tools and models at FantasyLabs.
Four pitchers come in at a salary over $9,000:
- Gerrit Cole (R) $10,600, NYY @ BAL
- Lucas Giolito (R) $10,400, CWS @ KC
- Kenta Maeda (R) $9,900, MIN vs DET
- Aaron Civale (R) $9,100, CLE vs MIL
Gerrit Cole is not putting up the same Astros-like numbers in his first season in New York. His exit velocity and launch angle allowed are at career-highs, and he is on pace to shatter his Barrel Percentage (10.5% in 2020, 5.5% career average).
The good news for Cole is that his numbers are slightly worse than expected. His 3.68 Expected ERA (xERA) and 3.69 Expected Fielder Independent Pitching (xFIP) are lower than his 3.91 ERA. It is not a big difference, but it helps put into context how his higher HR/9 and HR/FB percentage are outliers.
Cole faces the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday. The O’s have cooled off offensively, but they are still hitting well. They are top 10 in batting average and slugging but are 24th in Fangraphs’ Baseruns (BsR) statistic. In Cole’s lone start against Baltimore this season, he earned a win and logged a quality start while accumulating 42 FanDuel points. He is the Bales Model’s top-rated pitcher on the main slate on FanDuel and DraftKings.
Lucas Giolito is an ace two years after being the worst pitcher in baseball. His turnaround has also been aided by one of the best offenses in baseball. A win is a win when you are trying to rack up points in DFS.
Giolito pitches against the Kansas City Royals and their subpar offense. The Royals used to get by with walks and timely hitting, but those teams are in the rearview mirror. The way to get to Giolito is by grinding out long at-bats and talking walks, and the Royals are the sixth worst at earning free passes. Do not expect the Royals to put up a fight against the White Sox.
Kenta Maeda is averaging 40 points per game on FanDuel. That is more than Cole and 1.37 points per game fewer than Giolito. He is my favorite pitcher on the slate because he saves salary, has high floor/upside, and gets support from an excellent offense.
Maeda faces the Detroit Tigers again, five days after logging a quality start in a no-decision in Detroit. Detroit has the highest strikeout percentage and lowest walk percentage in the league. The difference this time for Maeda is game location; his two best FanDuel point outputs have come in his two starts in Minnesota. The Twins are projected to outscore the Tigers 5.3-3.4.
I touted Aaron Civale before his last scheduled start by saying if he could erase the home runs from his line, he would be aces; he did that but was hit hard in every other way possible. His fastball and cutter have a difference of 4.4 MPH with an average speed of 91.8 and 87.4, respectively. His fastball relies on location and a bad cutter gets demolished every time.
I say all of this because he has a chance to rebound against the Milwaukee Brewers tonight. Their Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) is 21 points below league average and 25th overall. Civale will also have to continue to post career-bests in walk and strikeout percentages. Milwaukee is top 10 in walk percentage but is also striking out at the 10th highest percentage.
His price is the lowest among the elite options on the main slate for a reason. The savings and points upside make Civale hard to quit. It would also be nice if the Cleveland Indians could stop being awful at the plate.
The emergence of Tony Gonsolin (0.51 ERA) and Dustin May made former teammate Ross Stripling expendable at the trade deadline. Gonsolin gets the slumping Colorado Rockies on Saturday.
The Rockies have the third worse road wRC+. Gonsolin’s biggest drawback is his inability to pitch into the fifth inning, something he has done twice. And he has only completed five innings of work once. Regression is coming (4.11 xFIP), but not tonight. His six Pro Trends are second best on the slate.
If you are in the mood for a dart throw, pick between Kyle Gibson ($6,900) and Justus Sheffield ($8,100). Sheffield’s price tag is questionable, but the Texas Rangers offense is the worst in baseball. Gibson will be dueling against Sheffield and the Seattle Mariners, who are one of the league’s worst teams against righties at home. This game will finish 2-1 or 14-12.
No arguments with the Bales Model on today’s favored FanDuel main slate stack from the Braves:
- Freddie Freeman (L)
- Dansby Swanson (R)
- Marcell Ozuna (R)
- Ronald Acuna Jr. (R)
Total Salary: $15,100
The Braves are also the top stack on DraftKings. The return of Ronald Acuna Jr. has injected energy into this team, which was already on an offensive tear. Dansby Swanson and Acuna Jr. are top 10 plays according to the Bales Model. Atlanta is projected to score 5.9 runs against the Washington Nationals and win by 2.2 runs, the highest margin projected on the slate.
The New York Yankees have an affordable stack against the Baltimore Orioles:
- Luke Voit (R)
- D.J. LeMahieu (R)
- Gleyber Torres (R)
- Aaron Hicks (S)
Total Salary: $13,200
This stack is affordable because Aaron Hicks and Gleyber Torres are priced below $3,000. Torres is questionable to play, making the stack more volatile. If Torres is out, pivot off of the Yankees if you are looking for a four-player stack. Other options include the lower-priced White Sox, Twins, and higher-priced Dodgers.
The White Sox have three players inside the top 10 plays of the night, according to the Bales Model. The cheapest of those three is Yasmani Grandal. The switch-hitting catcher is $2,800 on FanDuel and has a bargain rating over 90. He leads the main slate with teammate Tim Anderson ($3,600) with seven Pro Trends, most on the main slate.
Brandon Nimmo is a cost-effective option and rates second on the Bales Model Player Rater. He has three hits, three runs, and three walks over his past four games, setting the table for power bats in the New York Mets lineup.
I’m a big fan of Josh Donaldson here. He is working his way into the Twins lineup after month on the IL. Despite limited playing time, Donaldson has logged a wRC+ of 128 and three of his seven hits have gone for extra bases. The offensive support of the hitters in the Twins lineup allows him to be productive in a small sample size.