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FanDuel DFS MLB Strategy Advice: Thursday (10/15)

by Jon Mathisen | @eazymath | Featured Writer
Oct 15, 2020

The Astros were able to avoid the sweep on Wednesday with a narrow 4-3 win over the Rays. As a result, our player selection pool doubled for the main slate. Both series got a lot more exciting, as the Dodgers walloped the Braves 15-3 yesterday to pick up their first win of the NLCS. They’ll have a chance to even the series on Thursday.

At the time of this writing, we don’t know who the starters will be in the ALCS, and Dusty Baker has already ruled out Lance McCullers and Framber Valdez as potential options for the ‘Stros. It very well could be a bullpen day for both clubs, so that leaves us with Clayton Kershaw and Bryse Wilson in the NLCS with the former costing significantly more than the latter.

The uncertainty of the pitching matchups complicates matters when trying to analyze the options on offense. We’ll try and get as many hot bats into our lineups as possible and look for some “matchup-proof” players that carry relatively even splits against righties and lefties. We’ll do our best to #StackTheDeck below.

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Value Plays

Pitcher

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Clayton Kershaw (LAD)  @ ATL $10,100 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium

The biggest risk with Kershaw, outside of the difficult task of trying to keep the Atlanta offense at bay, is the fact he was scratched from Tuesday’s start with back spasms. The veteran has gotten some mound work in between now and then, and manager Dave Roberts assured the media that he would be ready to go before the start of Game 3. The 32-year old is having the best postseason of his career thus far, and he’s likely champing at the bit to help LA even up the series. Kersh is rocking a 2-0 record with a 1.93 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, and a 19:1 K/BB ratio over 14 postseason innings (two starts). Between not knowing the probable starters in the ALCS and the Braves throwing out Wilson, who only has 42 2/3 career innings pitched, Kershaw appears to be the “safest” bet on the slate.

Catcher/First Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Will Smith (LAD)  @ ATL $3,100 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium

Given the fact we know who Smith will be facing, it makes him much easier to analyze than the other options at his position, other than the pricier Freddie Freeman and Max Muncy. In the regular season, Smith recorded a .655 xSLG and a .472 wOBA against four-seamers and sinkers, two pitches that Bryse Wilson throws nearly 63% of the time. While Smith has scuffled against righties in the postseason, he fared quite well against them during the regular season when he slashed .288/.402/.638 with eight home runs and 21 RBI over 80 at-bats. Add all that up, and the 25-year old backstop is primed to do some damage as the Dodgers look to even up the series at two games apiece.

Second Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Jose Altuve (HOU)  vs. TB $3,700 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low

After scuffling for most of the regular season, Altuve has been a revelation during the playoffs for the Astros. Nothing about his hefty price tag screams “value,” especially since we don’t know who the Rays are throwing out in Game 5, but his numbers are hard to ignore. After going hitless in the Wild Card Round, the second baseman is slashing .406/.500/.906 in October (32 ABs) with five home runs and nine RBI. He’s gone deep in back-to-back games and feels just about as matchup-proof as you can get right now. He can be inserted into your lineup with confidence, as the Astros will look to stave off elimination once again.

Third Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Austin Riley (ATL)  vs. LAD $2,900 ⭐⭐⭐ High
Yandy Diaz (TB)  @ HOU $2,700 ⭐⭐⭐ High

Apart from the clutch home run that he hit in the ninth inning to break up a 1-1 tie in Game 1 of the NLCS, Riley has had a quiet postseason. But there are some underlying metrics to consider in his individual matchup with Clayton Kershaw. He’s always been a one-trick pony with his 31.2-percent K-rate and 26 home runs in 462 career at-bats but he’s performed much better against southpaws than one would expect. He’s slashing .257/.328/.590 with nine career long balls over 119 at-bats vs. LHP, and he slugged .632 with a .391 wOBA against breaking pitches this season. All it would take is one swing for the investment to pay off, and if he goes 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, it’s no skin off your teeth.

Diaz has played sporadically this postseason due to a balky hamstring that held him out all of September, so there’s a chance that he isn’t in the starting lineup on Thursday. He’s only batting .167 over 18 at-bats during the playoffs, but he’s rocking a healthy .423 OBP. Whether the Astros throw out a lefty or a righty to start, Diaz’s splits don’t vary much, so he’s a safe option if you don’t want to pay up for Alex Bregman or Justin Turner. There’s nothing exciting about putting him in your lineup and his upside is limited, but the savings could help bolster your lineup elsewhere.

Shortstop

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Carlos Correa (HOU)  vs. TB $3,400 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium

Correa has cooled off after pacing the Astros in the Wild Card and Divisional rounds. He’s just 2-for-14 with a solo home run and a pair of walks in the ALCS thus far. Correa’s splits when facing righties/lefties weren’t drastically different in the regular season; he batted .257 with a .685 OPS vs. RHP (140 ABs) and logged a .279 BA with a .763 OPS (61 ABs) against southpaws. The gap has been wider in the postseason with the edge favoring righties, but the sample size has obviously been much smaller. He’s significantly cheaper than Corey Seager ($4,100) and is less than Dansby Swanson ($3,500) with arguably more upside than both of them. So unless you feel like going cheap with Willy Adames ($2,400), Correa should garner heavy consideration.

Outfield

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Michael Brantley (HOU)  vs. TB $3,200 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Joc Pederson (LAD)  @ ATL $2,700 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
AJ Pollock (LAD)  @ ATL $3,000 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium

Brantley is one of those matchup-proof players that we mentioned in the intro with relatively even splits against righties/lefties. Through 41 at-bats this postseason, he’s hit three home runs and driven in eight while batting .341 with a 1.023 OPS. He’s slugging .588 with a double and a home run against lefties (17 ABs ) and is rocking a .625 SLG% with a double and two home runs in 24 at-bats against righties. The bottom line is that he’s always a relatively inexpensive piece of a potent Astros lineup that will pull out all the stops in an elimination game.

Pederson was flying under the radar this postseason until his four-hit effort on Wednesday in the Dodgers’ blowout win. Including that game, he’s 7-for-12 over his last three games with a home run and five RBI. While he did struggle against righties during the regular season with a .179 batting average over 112 at-bats, he still hit all seven of his home runs and slugged .402.

Pollock got the day off on Wednesday, so he didn’t get to participate in the hit party that was the Dodgers’ 15-3 lopsided victory. He’s been having a decent postseason, though, with a .261/.320/.304 batting line. He conspicuously hasn’t homered yet after blasting 10 long balls in September, but that could change on Thursday, as he slugged .468 and hit nine bombs against righties during the regular season.

5 Studs Worth Their Salary

  • Cody Bellinger (LAD) $4,300: Bellinger, who has historically struggled in the playoffs, is quietly putting together a stellar postseason. He’s stuffed the stat sheet thus far with a .281/.361/.594 triple slash line to go along with two triples, two home runs, and eight RBI over 32 at-bats.
  • Corey Seager (LAD) $4,100: Seager has now homered in back-to-back games and is batting .367 with a 1.244 OPS this postseason (30 at-bats). He feasted on right-handed pitching all year with 11 home runs and a .998 OPS, and he should stay hot against the inexperienced Bryse Wilson.
  • Freddie Freeman (ATL) $4,000: After doing next to nothing through his first four playoff games, Freeman is 6-for-13 with two home runs and four RBI over his last four. He’s also 6-for-22 (.273/.360/.455) with a home run off Kershaw in his career.
  • Ozzie Albies (ATL) $3,800: Albies has been the Braves’ hottest batter this postseason, collecting hits in 7-of-8 games, with a .303 batting average and a .879 OPS over 33 at-bats. He’s 3-for-8 against Kershaw lifetime and his career splits versus lefties (.346/.377/.575) favor him.
  • Randy Arozarena (TB) $3,700: Arozarena homered again on Wednesday, hitting his fifth dinger of the postseason. He’s putting up video-game numbers right now with a .442/.489/.907 batting line, and he feels undervalued at his price tag regardless of who Houston throws out in Game 5.

5 Notable Players to Fade

  • Ronald Acuna Jr (ATL) $4,300: Despite his challenges this postseason (7-for-31 with one home run and 16 strikeouts) we haven’t received any sort of discount on Acuña. Due to his name recognition, you’re always going to pay for his production ceiling. But he’s yet to reach it in the playoffs thus far, and he likely won’t do that against Clayton Kershaw.
  • Max Muncy (LAD) $3,700: Muncy has picked up where he left off in the regular season with his struggles against right-handed pitching. He hit just .169 with a .683 OPS and is currently hitting .154 with a .806 OPS in the postseason. He’s a boom-or-bust option at first, but you may as well pay a little more for Freeman (or hit Smith for deeper value).
  • Dansby Swanson (ATL) $3,500: Although he’s changed his tune a bit during the playoffs, Swanson has historically struggled against lefties. He registered a .186 batting average and slugged .256 over 47 plate appearances against southpaws during the regular season. A .189 xBA and .314 xSLG against breaking balls obviously favors the crafty Kershaw in their head-to-head matchup as well.
  • Brandon Lowe (TB) $3,300: Lowe has struggled so much this postseason (.075/.159/.075 over 40 at-bats) that manager Kevin Cash gave him a day off on Wednesday. Maybe the breather will be enough to get his mind right, but I’m not willing to spend up to find out.
  • Travis d’Arnaud (ATL) $3,000: d’Arnaud is having a heck of a postseason. He has batting lines of .333/.455/.630 to go along with two home runs and eight RBI. The problem is that none of that production came against left-handed pitching. The backstop also struggled in the regular season with zero home runs and a .506 OPS vs. southpaws.

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Jon Mathisen is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Jon, check out his archive and follow him @eazymath.

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