Quality of opposing pitcher doesn’t seem to matter much as Mookie Betts (176 wRC+, .271 ISO vs RHP) and J.D. Martinez (174 wRC+, .315 ISO) are both almost always going to be two of the top overall bats on the board. 2018 breakouts Max Muncy (169 wRC+, .334 ISO) and Luke Voit (174 wRC+, .301 ISO) both join them as two of the top bats against RHP this year, though the latter still with a fairly small sample size. Francisco Lindor (168 wRC+, .240 ISO) is the top bat on the board against the LHP he faces today. Tyler Flowers (203 wRC+, .258 ISO vs LHP) would also be an interesting catcher piece should he bat in the middle of the Atlanta order.
There are two clear weak bullpen spots on today’s post-season slate. The Braves ended the season with a 4.87 FIP and 3.3 K-BB% rolling 30 day performance, while the Red Sox were only a bit better (4.65 FIP, 13.1 K-BB%). Both are facing the most powerful and probably deepest lineups on the slate in the Dodgers and Yankees. Starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz has already struggled against this lineup. Nathan Eovaldi averages the lowest innings per start on the board. We could see a lot of both pens on Monday.
Special post-season pricing has every pitcher below $10K today and the sites have done a good job making these pitchers very close in value. The most positive run environment on the board sees Mike Clevinger (25.6 K%, 3.86 SIERA, .296 xwOBA) take on Dallas Keuchel (17.5 K%, 4.15 SIERA, .303 xwOBA). Clevinger will not have a long leash in an elimination game and is facing an offense with a 104 wRC+ and 19.2 K% vs RHP. Keuchel is the only pitcher on the board below a 22 K% and faces a tough offense as well (99 wRC+, 19.1 K% vs LHP). Despite the lack of upside, Keuchel does generate a lot of weak ground balls (53.7 GB%) and costs just $5.7K on DraftKings. He also may have the longest leash of today’s group with his team up 2-0. Rich Hill (27.4 K%, 3.57 SIERA, .314 xwOBA) averaged just 5.1 IP this season (second lowest on the board) and has to contend with another tough offense (107 wRC+, 20.1 K% vs LHP) in Atlanta, probably the most pitcher friendly environment in play today. Mike Foltynewicz (27.2 K%, 3.77 SIERA, .288 xwOBA) was treated poorly by the Dodgers in the first game of this series. They are tied for the split high wRC+ (116) and strikeout rate (22.5%) against RHP today. In the most power friendly environment, Luis Severino (28.2 K%, 3.26 SIERA, .310 xwOBA) is the most talented pitcher on the board and the one with the most upside. He did have some control issues in the wild card game, but was nearly unhittable. Of course, the Red Sox are tied for the split high 116 wRC+ and split low 19 K% vs RHP. He’s opposed by Nathan Eovaldi (22.2 K%, 3.71 SIERA, .299 xwOBA), who has to face a deep Yankee lineup (109 wRC+, 22.5 K%, 16.8 HR/FB vs RHP) as the largest underdog of the day. He averaged just over five innings per start, worst on the slate. The bottom line is this is a tightly priced group of pitchers, all facing difficult offenses.
As expected, outfield is the position most flush with exciting DFS options on Friday. Although incredibly expensive, discussion must start with Mookie Betts (212 wRC+, .368 ISO vs LHP) and J.D. Martinez (155 wRC+, .244 ISO) against J.A. Happ (RHBs .313 wOBA). Another interesting high priced spot is Christian Yelich (162 wRC+, .250 ISO vs LHP) against Tyler Anderson, who’s .355 wOBA against LHBs this year is the highest split against either side for any pitcher today. Charlie Blackmon (122 wRC+, .235 ISO vs RHP) is in another strong spot against Jhoulys Chacin (LHBs .338 wOBA). Steve Pearce (158 wRC+, .255 ISO vs LHP) is an OF eligible value play on DK. Ryan Braun (125 wRC+, .277 ISO vs LHP) costs $3.3K on FanDuel, where Carlos Gonzalez (104 wRC+, .201 ISO) costs $2.3K.
Second base is just as difficult if not more so than catcher for DFS players today. Jose Ramiez (158 wRC+, .315 ISO vs RHP) faces Justin Verlander (LHBs .251 wOBA) in Houston. Ozzie Albies (139 wRC+, .212 ISO vs LHP) and Gleyber Torres (139 wRC+, .322 ISO vs LHP) may reside near the bottom of the order against elite lefties when healthy. Kike Hernandez (123 wRC+, .243 ISO vs RHP) is second base eligible on DraftKings and interesting if he’s in the lineup. Jose Altuve (140 wRC+, .140 ISO vs RHP) did have a power crash, but is still a quality bat at the top of the order. RHBs had just a .250 wOBA against Corey Kluber this season, but with a 35.9 Hard%. Altuve would seem the best non-punt option at the position. Shortstop does offer some more upside. Xander Bogaerts (118 wRC+, .139 ISO vs LHP) did not hit for power with the platoon advantage and it’s cold at Fenway today, but it’s still a more favorable run environment than at least two parks on the board and he’s hitting in the middle of the lineup against a pitcher who was league average against RHBs (.313 wOBA). Alex Bregman (153 wRC+, .243 ISO) is shortsop eligible on DraftKings. Manny Machado (139 wRC+, .242 ISO vs RHP) is the other obvious play at the position. Francisco Lindor (117 wRC+, .243 ISO vs RHP) and Trevor Story (111 wRC+, .244 ISO) are both facing pitchers who held batters from their side of the plate below a .255 wOBA this season.
Corner positions are where DFS players usually get the most offense from their infielders, especially first base and today’s slate may have a couple of potential value options at Fenway. Luke Voit (212 wRC+, .440 ISO) and Steve Pearce (158 wRC+, .255 ISO) have both punished LHP this year and both hover around the $4K price on DraftKings (just a bit below on FanDuel). Max Muncy (169 wRC+, .334 ISO) has been a surprise masher of RHP this season and has remained a house of fire this week. Jesus Aguilar, Freddie Freeman, Tyler White and Cody Bellinger all additionally have at least a 130 wRC+ and exceed .220 ISO against the handedness of the pitcher each faces tonight. Muncy is also third base eligible on DraftKings, but players would have to sacrifice rostering Justin Turner (142 wRC+, .187 ISO vs RHP). Alex Bregman (153 wRC+, .243 ISO vs RHP) and Jose Ramirez (158 wRC+, .315 ISO) are the top bats at that position, but both are facing great starting pitchers in one of the most negative run environments in baseball. Justin Verlander held LHBs to a .251 wOBA this season. Statcast has him for an even more absurd .221 xwOBA against lefties.
Catcher was probably the most difficult DFS position this season and today is no different. While no catcher projects very strongly tonight, both Kurt Suzuki (120 wRC+, .216 ISO) and Gary Sanchez (136 wRC+, .289 ISO) were well above average hitters against LHP this year. Yasmani Grandal (131 wRC+, .240 ISO vs RHP) is the most expensive option on the balll. Of course, players could always choose to punt this position and may not be losing all that much, but if looking for some offense out of the position, these would seem the three best options. None are expected to own top half of the lineup spots.
While bullpen composition is now a bit different than it was in September, six of the eight active bullpens today were top 10 by FIP over the last 30 days of the season. The two exceptions are the Braves (4.87 FIP, 3.3 K-BB%) and the Red Sox (4.65 FIP, 13.1 K-BB%). Coincidentally, both teams have starters facing the top two offensive splits against the handedness of the pitcher they are facing today (Dodgers and Yankees). While it’s rarely suggested to oppose Chris Sale, considering recent concerns, it might not be a terrible GPP play and bullpen concerns only make things that much more interesting.
Today is the best day of the post-season for MLB DFS, as it’s the only day players are guaranteed four games. It’s not surprising that it’s a pitcher friendly slate (no team above 4.5 implied runs), but not a single pitcher exceeds $10K on DraftKings, though three are above $10K on FanDuel. Both Corey Kluber (35.3 K%, 2.56 SIERA, .262 xwOBA last 30 days) and Justin Verlander (41.7 K%, 1.92 SIERA, .209 xwOBA last 30 days) finished the season with a flourish and are pitching in one of the most negative run environments in baseball tonight. The case against them is that both the Astros (19.2%) and Indians (18.8%) have two of the lowest strikeout rates in the league against RHP. Chris Sale (38.4 K%, 2.27 SIERA, .240 xwOBA this season) is the other high priced pitcher today and he comes with some concerns, mostly a significant velocity drop in his last start, though he did reach 92 pitches, his most since returning from the DL. He also has to contend with the Yankees (115 wRC+, 18.4 HR/FB vs LHP) in the most positive run environment on the board, though temperatures are expected to be in the 50s with the Yankees implied for just 3.2 runs. All of these factors combine to make Sale an interesting GPP option. J.A. Happ (26.3 K%, 3.64 SIERA, .315 xwOBA) will be receiving the same weather neutralizing benefit and costs less against an offense less potent against LHP (92 wRC+) and respectably struck out 13 of 49 Red Sox, allowing four ERs in 12 IP as a Yankee. Clayton Kershaw (23.9 K%, 3.45 SIERA, .291 xwOBA) faces a contact prone Atlanta offense (107 wRC+, 20.1 K% vs LHP), though they were shut down by another southpaw last night. While Anibal Sanchez (24.4 K%, 3.85 SIERA, .285 xwOBA) and Tyler Anderson (22.3 K%, 4.22 SIERA, .308 xwOBA) are both fine pitchers at a lower cost, both are facing difficult offenses (Dodgers 116 wRC+ vs RHP, Brewers 15.8 HR/FB vs LHP) with potentially quicker hooks as their teams each trail in their series. Jhoulys Chacin (19.6 K%, 4.59 SIERA, .331 xwOBA) is the worst pitcher on the board by most metrics, but also someone players may want to look at in their SP2 spot on DraftKings ($5.2K). He pitched great in Chicago and the Rockies struggle against RHP (82 wRC+) and on the road (78 wRC+). Additionally, the Milwaukee bullpen was worn out last night, while owning the lead in the series may give him a bit longer leash.
Considering the two breakout pitchers on the mound in Los Angeles later this afternoon and the high quality bullpens for three of this afternoon’s four teams, the top portion of the Milwaukee lineup would seem to have particular value. Each of Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich and Jesus Aguilar hit pitchers from either side of the plate well. They are facing Jose Quintana, who shuts LHBs down (.296 wOBA) fairly well, but does have some issues with RHBs (.326 wOBA). While each of the three batters mentioned plus Ryan Braun have all exceeded 125 wRC+ vs LHP this year, the first three don’t suffer much when a RHP is introduced from the bullpen. Additionally, Christian Yelich has crushed RHP this year, while remaining strong against same-handed pitching (147 wRC+, .224 ISO). On the other side, while the Cubs LHBs may be able to take advantage of Jhoulys Chacin (.341 wOBA), the very real prospect of having to face Josh Hader (LHBs .174 wOBA) at some point in this game looms large.
Monday afternoon’s two game MLB slate offers some interesting choices. The early game features two pitchers with some large platoon splits (LHBs have a .341 wOBA vs Jhoulys Chacin, while RHBs have a .326 wOBA vs Carlos Quintana). Both offenses have the personnel to do some damage to either pitcher. The late game features two pitchers who have had major breakouts in the second half of 2018. Walker Buehler had a 2.21 ERA, 2.96 FIP, 24 K-BB% and .235 wOBA in the second half. German Marquez had a 2.55 ERA, 2.04 FIP, 28.2 K-BB% and 2.54 wOBA in the second half. That last number is incredibly impressive considering he pitches a lot of his games at Coors. The difference here is that German will be facing an offense with a 110 wRC+ at home and 116 wRC+ vs RHP, while Beuhler will be facing one with a 78 wRC+ on the road and 82 wRC+ vs RHP. Theoretically, it is possible to fit both players in your DraftKings lineup at a combined cost of $19.6K with some room left over to take advantage of key bats at Wrigley. A Buehler/Chacin combination would cost $15.5K. On FanDuel, it’s probably preferable to side with on of the pitchers in LA, who are separated by just $200.
Stanton has been scratched from the New York Yankees original confirmed lineup and will not start in Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Boston Red Sox due to rest. He’ll be replaced in the lineup by Miguel Andujar, who will now handle the designated hitter duties and slot directly into Stanton’s vacated cleanup spot in the order. However, the remainder of the Yankees lineup will stay intact offensively as they face off against right-hander Rick Porcello on the road this afternoon.