The Dodgers haven’t confirmed a starting pitcher for tonight’s game against the Padres, but leave a bit of salary space in some of your daily fantasy lineups in case it’s Tony Gonsolin. He can make the case for being the best starting pitcher the Dodgers had this season even with a Kershaw resurgence. Walking just seven, he generated a 22.1 K-BB%. A 4.0 HR/FB is not sustainable with just four of his six Barrels leaving the yard and perhaps just 4.9% Barrels/BBE is pushing it too with just a 34.2 GB%, but even removing the contact profile (3.33 xERA), his worst estimator is still a 3.80 xERA. The matchup isn’t ideal with the Padres owning a 119 wRC+, 20.7 K% and 19 HR/FB vs RHP that rivals the Dodgers’ own marks, but considering your other options and a price tag below $8K on FanDuel, Gonsolin could be the top pitcher and value on the board if he gets the ball tonight.
The collective Marlins offense against RHP comprises the worst offense on the board (89 wRC+, 11.4 HR/FB) and it should help Kyle Wright that they’ll only be able to muster three LHBs against him in this lineup (just one in the first five) because his .402 wOBA/.389 xwOBA against LHBs since 2019 is the absolute worst split on the board today. The lack of left-handed Marlins doesn’t preclude Corey Dickerson from potentially being a top value today. His 122 wRC+ vs RHP since 2019 is tops in the lineup. His .213 ISO against them is second. A sub-$3K price tag on FanDuel is the cherry on top. With none of the Miami bats in the confirmed starting lineup above $3K on FanDuel, many of them can be considered at least decent values, considering Wright hasn’t been great against same-handed batters either (.324 wOBA/.377 xwOBA). While his 10.8 K-BB% in September exactly triples his season rate, it’s still far from impressive.
Ryan Thompson will open for the Rays and while RHBs have a .339 wOBA against him, that drops to just a .270 xwOBA with a 55.6 GB%. Ryan Yarbrough is expected (though not confirmed) to follow, but it’s a good bet they’ll want Thompson to face Giancarlo Stanton before exiting because nothing that anyone has thrown at him this post-season has worked. He’s homered six times in five games. He’s absolutely destroying the baseball right now, which is an ability that was never in question, just if he could make contact with it often enough. When Stanton made contact during the regular season, it was a Barrel 18.4% of the time. While Thompson may give the Rays a bit more of an advantage the first time around, what are the Rays planning to do the next four or five?
Jordan Montgomery finished the season with a solid 24.4 K%, but the story here is that he struck out 24 of his last 66 batters with a 15.4 SwStr% to get there. If he can sustain and combine even his season ending rate with his penchant for creating soft contact (84.6 mph), the Yankees will have at least another strong mid-rotation arm for years to come. His 5.11 ERA was more than a run above all estimators except for 4.48 DRA, due to a 65 LOB%. This will be his first career post-season appearance and as we get deeper into these series, he may be the safest pick on the board. As of this writing, neither the Dodgers, nor Astros have confirmed starting pitchers, while the Padres and Rays are using Openers (though we can at least expect Ryan Yarbrough to get some innings here). The remaining options are Kyle Wright (3.6 K-BB%), Sixto Sanchez against perhaps the top offense against RHP in baseball or Frankie Montas against an Astros offense with a board low 19.8 K% vs RHP this year in a park that the ball has been jumping out of in this series. Montgomery will be facing a Tampa Bay offense with a 121 wRC+, 11.7 BB% and 22 HR/FB vs LHP. None of these options are safe. However, the Rays also have a board high 28.5 K% vs LHP. At $8.3K on FanDuel, Montgomery is the second lowest priced of the four currently confirmed starting pitchers with potentially the most value.
Ian Anderson made a splash with a 29.7 K% through six starts, though control has been inconsistent (board high 10.1 BB%), a trait that plagued him at times in the minors as well. Anderson has also been able to generate a lot of weak contact (86.7 mph EV) on the ground (52.5 GB%). In fact, though it’s not sustainable, he allowed just a single Barrel during the regular season, generating a board best 2.58 xERA. All other non-FIP estimators were more than a run above his 1.95 ERA though, due to .250 BABIP, 4.5 HR/FB and four of his 11 runs being unearned, but only a 3.82 SIERA was above four and a half. Anderson continued his strong work in his opening round start, striking out nine of the 22 Reds he faced with just two walks and two hits, although just three of 11 batted balls were on the ground. His matchup with the Marlins probably puts him in the top spot on the board tonight. Their 89 wRC+ vs RHP is the worst split today, as is their 11.4 HR/FB against them as well. A 25.1 K% vs RHP sits only behind Tampa Bay’s mark of 26.3%. Anderson is the second most expensive pitcher on FanDuel at $9.5K and more than $1K above everyone not named Kershaw, but he’s still potentially the top value in this high upside spot.
Austin Meadows made a triumphant return to the Tampa Bay lineup last night with a HR and will likely be at the top of the order against Masahiro Tanaka tonight. Meadows has blasted RHP for a 144 wRC+ and .265 ISO since last season and Tanaka has been quite HR prone over the last several years himself, including a 16.4 HR/FB and 9.1% Barrels/BBE this year. In fact, Meadows has faced Tanaka 21 times in his career with two HRs. According to Statcast, Meadows has a .472 xwOBA in these matchups with a 90.6 mph EV and 28.3 degree launch angle. To make things even more enticing, he costs just $3K on FanDuel, where he could be one of the top values on the board.
Freddie Freeman appeared to be the only Atlanta bat that didn’t produce big results in Game One against the Marlins, but he’s still the top bat on the team against RHP (171 wRC+, .302 ISO since 2019) and we’re going to go back to that well again today. Freeman finished with a 213 wRC+ over the last 30 days of the season that’s the best mark among still active players in this post-season. While results haven’t been as strong against the Reds and Marlins (just one hit), it’s still such a small sample and he has walked four times with just one strikeout in 15 PAs. While Pablo Lopez has done a great job of shutting down RHBs in his career (.257 wOBA, .279 xwOBA), LHBs have had some success (.347 wOBA, .333 xwOBA). While it didn’t work out yesterday, the Braves once again have the top implied run line at 5.15 (Dodgers not yet posted) and Freddie Freeman may again be the top overall bat on the board.
Clayton Kershaw turned the clock back to 2017 with his highest strikeout rate (28.1%) and K-BB (24.4%) since that year, while setting a career high 53 GB%. So while his 17.4 HR/FB was the second highest mark of his career, next to last year’s 18.5 HR/FB, it was a bit less of a problem with more than half of his contact on the ground. Kershaw still allowed eight HRs and 12 Barrels (8.0% Barrels/BBE), despite an 87.8 mph EV that’s about average though. Estimators were about a run above his 2.16 ERA due to a .232 BABIP and 82.5 LOB%, but all still exceptionally below three and a half. Against the Brewers, Kershaw took a big chunk out of the narrative about him being unable to pitch in the post-season. He struck out 13 of the 27 batters he faced through eight innings of three hit shutout ball. He’s going to be facing a slightly better lineup tonight. One that certainly doesn’t have Ryon Healy batting cleanup. The Padres have a 106 wRC+ with a 23.2 K% and 16.8 HR/FB vs LHP. In Kershaw’s favor though, Globe Life Field in Texas has played like the most pitcher friendly park in this round. It’s only been a game or two, but the balls have been flying out of the other parks in afternoon game, while Barrels are dying in outfielder gloves in Texas so far. Kershaw is the most expensive pitcher at $10.3K on FanDuel because he is the best pitcher on the board.
Deivi Garcia was not needed as the Yankees made quick work of the Indians. The top pitching prospect for the Yankees struck out at least six in five of his six starts and exactly six in four of them for a 22.6 K%, while walking just six (4.1%), but with just one-third of his contact on the ground and 9.4% Barrels/BBE, which led to six HRs as 60% of his Barrels left the yard. While all of his estimators were below his 4.98 ERA (65.5 LOB%), none were below four. In fact, a 4.15 FIP (12.2 HR/FB) was the most optimistic with remaining estimators around four and a half. Garcia still makes for an interesting upside GPP play tonight. Consider that the Rays have a 26.3 K% vs RHP that’s the highest split on the board by more than two full points today. Another important factor is that Garcia wasn’t treated with caution in his six starts, throwing at least 95 pitches in half of them and averaging 24.3 batters faced. While leashes are generally shorter in the post-season, the Yankees being up 1-0 in the series could give a just a bit of extra wiggle room tonight. Garcia is not the safest play, sitting on the middle of the board at $8.5K on FanDuel, but he does have some upside in this spot and is capable of giving us some length.
The ball was flying out of Dodger Stadium on Monday afternoon and with similar conditions expected today, perhaps we should expect similar results. While Sean Manaea has estimators much lower than his 4.50 ERA with a 50.3 GB% and board low 3.6 BB%, he did allow three HRs and five Barrels over his last two starts, ending the season with a 90.6 mph EV. Manaea has also done fairly well against RHBs since last season (.279 wOBA, .299 xwOBA), but you’re not going to find many poor pitchers starting the second game of a post-season series. While the entire Houston offense took a step backward this season, Alex Bregman still has a 197 wRC+ and .362 ISO vs LHP since 2019 and while BvP numbers can be unreliable (unless we’re talking about Ji-Man Choi’s ownership of Gerrit Cole of course), Bregman has three HRs and a .506 xwOBA in 29 career PAs against Manaea according to Statcast, the only batter with multiple HRs against the pitcher he is facing today.
A 22.7 K% for Sandy Alcantara is a career high, including nine of 27 Yankees in his last regular season start. If he can combine an average strikeout rate with a strong ground ball rate (49.1% this year), he’ll be another weapon in an up and coming Miami rotation. The 3.00 ERA is a bit of a fluke, as eight of 22 runs were unearned, but he also stranded just 63.9% of runners through seven starts. It balances out with most estimators were right around four. Against the Cubs, he pitched 6.2 innings of one run ball, striking out four of 27 batters, walking three and allowing three hits as well. He’ll likely have a tougher time against one of the best offenses in baseball against RHP. In fact, the Braves have the highest implied run line on the board at just under five, while no other offense is above four and a half. In addition, LHBs have a .344 xwOBA (.330 wOBA) against Alcantara since 2019, which is the worst split on the board. This makes Freddie Freeman the top overall bat on the board today. The potential NL MVP has a 171 wRC+ and .302 ISO vs RHP since last season and finished up the regular season with a 213 wRC+ over its last 30 days. Freeman also Barreled 14.7% of his contact this season, his highest mark in the Statcast era.
Tyler Glasnow struck out a board high 38.2% of batters this season and at least eight in seven of his last eight starts. While a 9.2 BB% and 90.4 mph EV are drawbacks, the strikeout rate has been high enough to negate some of those issues. Finishing with a 4.08 ERA, he allowed as many Barrels as HRs (11), which strongly suggests HR regression. All of his non-FIP estimators were more than a half run below his actual results, including a 3.13 xERA that includes his Statcast contact profile. He continued that strikeout streak against the Blue Jays, whiffing eight more with two solo HRs the only damage against him. He faced the Yankees three times this season, struggling his first time out, but striking out 17 of the last 44 Yankees he faced with just one HR over 11.2 innings. While it’s a tough choice between he and Framber Valdez when considering tonight’s top overall arm, Glasnow is $400 less on FanDuel and strikeouts are king in Daily Fantasy.
Clayton Kershaw turned the clock back to 2017 with his highest strikeout rate (28.1%) and K-BB (24.4%) since that year, while setting a career high 53 GB%. So while his 17.4 HR/FB was the second highest mark of his career, next to last year’s 18.5 HR/FB, it was a bit less of a problem with more than half of his contact on the ground. Kershaw still allowed eight HRs and 12 Barrels (8.0% Barrels/BBE), despite an 87.8 mph EV that’s near average though. Estimators were about a run above his 2.16 ERA due to a .232 BABIP and 82.5 LOB%. While the Kershaw of half a decade ago is not returning, this is still a nice rebound, proving he’s still one of the best pitchers in the league. The Brewers were more potent against LHP this year (105 wRC+, 17 HR/FB), though still striking out a quarter of the time (24.9%). You’re really only looking at three bats in the projected lineup above a .180 ISO vs LHP since 2019 though, and one of them, Ryan Braun, left last night’s game with back issues. At $9.8K, Kershaw is just the third most expensive pitcher on the board and a strong pivot against higher priced arms in one of the most negative run environments in baseball in a matchup with some upside.
While we’re not yet sure what the A’s decide to do, Tim Anderson is likely to be one of the top overall bats on the board either way. If they go with the right-handed Mike Fiers, RHBs have a .321 wOBA and .351 xwOBA against him, while Anderson has a 120 wRC+ and .152 ISO against same handed pitching since 2019. If they decide to go with the lefty, Sean Manaea, while RHBs have just a .279 wOBA and .299 xwOBA against him since last season, Anderson has destroyed southpaws over that same span (171 wRC+, .264 ISO). Either way the A’s decide to go, Anderson has an advantage and projects well. He isn’t cheap ($4K on FanDuel), but should be worth the pay up.
Adam Wainwright has a 20.6 K% that’s second worst on the board, but with just a 5.7 BB%, while completing six innings in eight of 10 starts. His 3.15 ERA was about a run below estimators due to a .247 BABIP, but Wainwright was only supposed to be a back of the rotation piece this year. The Cardinals certainly would have signed for estimators in the low fours. However, with plenty of tough pitching across the board, Wainwright’s .344 wOBA/.366 xwOBA against LHBs since 2019 is the worst split on the board and makes him one of the pitching candidates to attack. The top LHB for the Padres has been Trent Grisham, projected to be in the leadoff spot. Grisham has a 112 wRC+ and .204 ISO vs RHP since last season and costs a reasonable $3.4K on FanDuel. While quite a few Padres struggled through September, Grisham had a 124 wRC+ over the last 30 days of the season and Barreled 11.1% of his contact this year.