Welcome to the ALCS! The MLB playoffs continue to heat up with the Boston Red Sox at the Houston Astros on Friday night with first pitch at 8:07 p.m. ET.
As of this writing, we know who is going to be starting for the Houston Astros, and that is Framber Valdez. The Boston Red Sox situation has been a little more up in the air. Logically, I would think that it should be Chris Sale, but there is a chance that it could be Nathan Eovaldi, too.
Of course, with a one-game slate we are looking at showdown opportunities only. It is quite a different game than regular DFS.
Valdez has been a solid pitcher for the Astros this season, pitching to the tune of a 3.14 ERA. He did get hit hard in his ALDS start against the Chicago White Sox as he gave up four earned runs in 4 1/3 innings.
In two starts against Boston early in the season, Valdez combined for 14 1/3 innings, giving up two earned runs, with 18 strikeouts. On the year, Valdez had fewer strikeouts than innings pitched.
He could turn in a start like last time out, but I would definitely play him in cash games and could see fading him in GPPs.
Both of these teams hit LHP well, with the Red Sox being 8th in wOBA and the Astros being 4th.
If Sale goes for the Sox, I don’t think you need me to tell you to use him. He got hit hard in the ALDS by the Tampa Bay Rays, but that would not throw me off the trail. He has the ability to go vintage-Sale and has very high strikeout upside.
He has strong lifetime numbers against most Astros, with Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman, and Martin Maldonado hitting under .200 against him. Jose Altuve is 8-for-24 with a home run, and Yuli Gurriel is 3-for-8 with a double.
With both of these teams receiving some time off, I think that could mean some quicker hooks for the starting pitchers. At the same time, they will not necessarily want to burn their bullpens in Game 1 of this series.
An Astros core of hitters makes the most sense with their extra half-run that is implied.
Bregman is probably going to be a part of that. He went 6-for-16 in the ALDS and threw in two walks. I mentioned that he had the poor numbers against Sale lifetime, but you know you are going to get a professional at-bat from him. He comes in too cheap on FanDuel.
The other part of that stack is probably going to be Altuve. He is the spark plug for this Astros offense and immediately puts pressure on the pitcher as soon as he reaches. He went 5-for-16 with two doubles, a homer, four walks, and a stolen base in the ALDS — a true stat stuffer.
He makes a lot of sense on both sites. On FanDuel, the Bales Model Optimizer has him placed most frequently in the “UTIL” role.
For Boston, you should probably start with Xander Bogaerts. He gets to be in the positive split for probably his first two at-bats, and I personally think he is arguably their best all around hitter. Let’s just say it is him or Rafael Devers.
In the postseason so far, he is 7-for-20 with two home runs. He has had multiple hits in two of the five games that the Red Sox have played in.
For a GPP, I think Devers is going to be lower owned. He will be in his worse split against the lefty, but his average and OBP are nearly identical right vs. left. The only thing that trails off is his OPS.
Also, the Astros do not have many left-handed options in their bullpen to turn to late game. The only real option would be Cristian Javier. Devers could be a solid sneaky play.
I have written about Brantley all year. He is one of the top plays on the Bales Model. I think even with his terrible numbers against Sale, that he is a great play. He just does not hit the ball very often for anything but a single, but he went 7-for-19 in the ALDS and is going to be in that #2 hole most likely.
He puts himself in a great position to score runs or contribute RBIs. He is all over the Lineup Optimizer for both sites.
Gurriel feels too cheap, too. He is one of the few Astros who had a slower ALDS, but he will be getting opportunities hitting in the fifth spot in the Astros lineup. For FanDuel, the Optimizer has him in the “MVP” or “Star” role frequently.
I might take a look at Christian Arroyo for Boston’s punt play. He is 5-for-19 so far in the playoffs for Boston, with all of his hits coming in two games. We know he is going to hit 9th, but he does not need to provide much to hit for value, and his cheap price allows you to spend more elsewhere.
I was not sure where to put him exactly, but Hunter Renfroe against a lefty has to be mentioned. He actually is 0-for-5 lifetime off of Valdez, but it just seems like he has gotten to every left-hander this year. Obviously, the Astros realize that, too.
He comes a little cheaper than the top of the Red Sox lineup, which I think helps his case to being utilized just a little bit. He is 6-for-20 in the playoffs so far, with a hit in every game.
That’s all for me! Let’s sit back and take in Game 1 of this ALCS – it should be a fun one.