Thursday, July 22, brings an enticing eight-game slate with a nice mix of pitching talent on the mound. Let’s get into the top MLB DFS picks for pitchers and stacks for Yahoo, DraftKings and FanDuel daily fantasy baseball lineups.
MLB DFS Picks: Spotlight Pitchers and Top Stacks, Thursday, July 22
Yahoo Stack of the Day: Tampa Bay Rays at RHP Cal Quantrill — 5.2 implied runs
This has been an up-and-down season for Cal Quantrill as he continues to hone his craft. During 20 innings in June he compiled a 7.20 ERA and was mostly done in by notching only 14, though he also allowed just two home runs. In three July starts he has been improving with a 3.86 ERA, but the strikeouts are still missing, with only nine in 16.1 innings. Lefties give him fits, and over his last 435 such matchups he has only a 19.1% strikeout rate and is allowing a .195 ISO. Tampa Bay could put out as many as seven lefties tonight, which does not bode well for Quantrill.
Brandon Lowe ($24) is carrying one of the highest hitter salaries on Yahoo tonight. This should not be too much of an impediment, as the rest of the Rays are bargains. Lowe has been phenomenal against right-handed pitchers, with a .256 ISO over the last two-plus seasons in 717 plate appearances. Austin Meadows ($13) has been even more spectacular with a .269 ISO in 819 matchups in the same timeframe. Ji-Man Choi ($11) provides discounted power with a .203 ISO in the same period. After this trio, Joey Wendle ($9), Wander Franco ($13) and Randy Arozarena ($12) can fill out the rest of the stack.
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Minnesota Twins vs. LHP Andrew Heaney — 5.2 implied runs
This is a nice spot for the Twins, who will be going against lefty Andrew Heaney. Heaney has allowed six home runs over his last four starts spanning 18.1 innings, though the damage has been somewhat mitigated by just six walks. He prefers to challenge hitters, as evidenced by his 23 strikeouts during this stretch, but that comes at the cost of allowing hard hits.
Mitch Garver returned from the injured list in style Tuesday with a pair of home runs. When healthy he has mashed lefties, with a .330 ISO in his last 229 plate appearances. Nelson Cruz has a .403 wOBA and a .204 ISO against lefties this season despite being 41 years old. Josh Donaldson has had a resurgence as well, contributing a .395 wOBA and a .276 ISO in 90 righty/lefty matchups. Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco can be utilized as part of a full Twins stack on Thursday.
Oakland Athletics at RHP Chris Flexen — 4.1 implied runs
There is no real need to target the Athletics on the main slate, but on the late slate, with just four teams in the player pool, they have the best matchup. Chris Flexen has been outstanding for the Mariners, but he has been getting by on smoke and mirrors. He washed out of the league after the 2019 season when the Mets finally had enough. Last year he reinvented himself in the KBO, and this year Seattle was willing to take a chance with their desperate need for starters. Flexen does not strike out many batters with his abysmal 8.5% swinging-strike rate, and his 5.07 xFIP against his 5.27 ERA show that he is living on borrowed time.
Oakland is much better against lefties, particularly from a DFS perspective since their two best left-handed batsmen are only eligible at first base. Jed Lowrie is an adequate hitter, and it is helpful for his fantasy prospects that he is continually slotted in the cleanup spot so the A’s can break up the handedness of their hitters. Mark Canha, Matt Chapman and Ramon Laureano would be the other options to target from the right side of the plate for a full Oakland stack.
Top Target: RHP Walker Buehler vs. San Francisco Giants — 3.3 implied runs
- DFS Salary: Yahoo $55 | FanDuel $10,500 | DraftKings $10,500
Tonight marks the fourth time that Walker Buehler will have faced the Giants. However, the last matchup was just over three weeks ago. This has been an amazing season for Buehler, who has completed the sixth inning in all but one start. Both his 2.37 ERA and 0.91 WHIP rank sixth in the league, and his 16 quality starts rank first. While he is not a strikeout artist, he is averaging one per inning.
The Giants have somehow posted a 109 wRC+ against right-handed hurlers this season, which is the fifth-best mark in the league. However, missing Brandon Belt, Evan Longoria and Brandon Crawford significantly shortens their lineup. Mike Yastrzemski and Alex Dickerson are solid from the left side of the plate, and Buster Posey is having the best seasons of his career.
However, the rest of the lineup is made up of replacement-level players who are performing at their highest levels. It is rare to see an entire team setting career bests at the plate; the last time this happened for a longer stretch was the 2001 Mariners, who tied the single-season win record 116-46 (.716) while leading the league in runs scored and allowing the fewest.
Secondary Target: LHP Sean Manaea at Seattle Mariners — 3.5 implied runs
- DFS Salary: Yahoo $45 | FanDuel $9,100 | DraftKings $9,600
Sean Manaea has struggled in three July starts, posting a 5.29 ERA and five home runs allowed in 17 innings. A fair amount of this is just bad luck considering he has allowed only one walk and logged 19 strikeouts. Seattle has been in the bottom third of the league against southpaws by most metrics this season. They also have a 26.6% strikeout rate, which trails only the Marlins. Temperatures tonight will be in the upper 60s with a slight 5 to 7 mph breeze blowing in from left field, which should help Manaea.
Wild Card: LHP Blake Snell at Miami Marlins — 3.5 implied runs
- DFS Salary: Yahoo $37 | FanDuel $7,500 | DraftKings $7,800
This is actually a fair salary and not a discount when considering that Blake Snell will likely give his backers 75 to 80 pitches. Miami is striking out a league-leading 27.7% of the time against southpaws. It is unlikely that Snell will log more than four innings, but with the pitching friendly park, strikeout-happy opponent and favorable salary, he is a neutral option if he can get four or five strikeouts while limiting runs and an exceptional option if he can coax the Marlins into seven or eight punchouts.
Final Thoughts for the Thursday, July 22, MLB DFS Slate
Once again there are precipitation risks, which means one less chaotic variable to monitor. There are several viable strategies in play tonight with the intriguing mix of pitching talent, which should make for some fun tournament strategies.
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