The Divisional Series features for actual divisional matchups. Today’s slate includes the two American League games and locks at 4:07 pm E.T.

Houston Astros (+126) at Oakland Athletics (-137) — 4:07 p.m. ET

Weather – 92 degrees, 1% chance of precipitation, 7 MPH winds out to right centerfield

This game may not have the star power of Yankees-Rays, but it offers a fair amount of leverage with the two cheaper pitching options and hitters. Athletics starter Chris Bassitt rates .02 points higher on the Bales Model than Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr. on FanDuel. McCullers is the better option of the two on DraftKings. No surprise that the two are reversed because the cheapest one rates higher today.

Bassitt faces an Astros lineup that strikes out at the lowest rate against right-handed pitching on the road, which is the case for every team; this ALDS series is taking place in Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium. Home or away, the Astros were a league-average offense this season and stand to do damage against a righty with a career 7.79 strikeouts per 9 innings and unsavory 3.16 walks per 9.

Lance McCullers Jr. strikes out more hitters than Bassitt but is slightly worse when it comes to free passes. McCullers will have to keep batted balls on the ground because the Athletics have a top-10 fly ball and hard-hit percentage. The FantasyLabs Player Props tool likes both pitchers to exceed their strikeout Over/Unders.

Offensively, the Astros have the top stack on FanDuel using the Bales Model. Player usage around 20% is usually a red alarm for DFS, but on a short slate, it is normal. Enough players will be used as high as 40-50% in lineups, so getting variation is vital to winning money and winning big. Today’s second best stack is the Athletics, who project to have higher ownership because their salaries are lower. The Over/Under in this game is currently at eight runs.

With leverage and salary top of mind, two players to consider are Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel ($2,700 on FanDuel, $3,600 on DraftKings) and Athletics catcher Sean Murphy ($2,600 FanDuel, $4,200 DraftKings). Both have Leverage Ratings above 85%, and Murphy has an 88% Bargain Rating on FanDuel. A’s outfielder Mark Canha is either one or two on the Bales Model, depending on what site you play on. The other top outfielder is Michael Brantley.

I may be regrettably higher on the early game offensively, but the pitching matchup for tonight’s game is reason enough.

New York Yankees (-131) at Tampa Bay Rays (+121) — 8:07 p.m. ET

Weather – 82 degrees, 0% chance of precipitation, 8 mph winds blowing in towards first base/home plate

Gerrit Cole takes the mound against Blake Snell in San Diego, another pitcher-friendly ballpark. The Yankees were below average away from Yankee Stadium in 2020, but that did not stop the offense from pounding Cleveland’s superior pitching. They face a similar task with Blake Snell, who was excellent in five-plus innings of work against Toronto in the Wild Card round. Cole was equally dominant against the Indians, so how can you pick between the two?

Cole is far and away the top option using the Bales Model, followed by Snell. Their price tags reflect so on FanDuel, while DraftKings kept the four starters within $1,000 of each other. Cole has four Pro Trends tonight, most on the slate. Outside of being favored and player in a pitching haven, Cole projects to strikeout 8.7 batters, most on the slate and an easy way to rack up DFS points. Snell and Cole could see moderate-to-high strikeout totals while logging a quality start, and in Cole’s projected case, a win.

Despite a lack of consistent offense against lefties on the road, getting a piece or two of the Yankees offense in your lineup is beneficial. Switch-hitting Aaron Hicks is better hitting from the right side and continues to slot in the heart of the New York lineup. He is the third-best outfield option from this game behind Rays outfielders Randy Arozarena and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo. Arozarena is amid a six game on-base streak, and Tsutsugo finished second on the Rays with eight home runs this season.

The rest of the Yankees hitters do not rate well because of their salaries on both sites. Fading Cole and Snell will offer more opportunities to get some of their bats in your lineups, but the risk attached to Bassitt and McCullers could doom the strongest batting choices.

Here is a look at what a FanDuel lineup could look like with and without Gerrit Cole. Cole is my bar opposed to Snell because he rates so well tonight:

  • P – Gerrit Cole (NYY)
  • C/1B – Sean Murphy (OAK)
  • 2B – Jose Altuve (HOU)
  • 3B – Tommy La Stella (OAK)
  • SS – Marcus Semien (OAK)
  • OF – Aaron Hicks (NYY)
  • OF – Mark Canha (OAK)
  • OF – Yoshitomo Tsutsugo (TB)
  • UTIL – Willy Adames (TB)

Projected Points: 117.8

  • P – Chris Bassitt (OAK)
  • C/1B – Sean Murphy (OAK)
  • 2B – D.J. LeMahieu (NYY)
  • 3B – Alex Bregman (HOU)
  • SS – Marcus Semien (OAK)
  • OF – Mark Canha (OAK)
  • OF – Michael Brantley (HOU)
  • OF – Aaron Hicks (NYY)
  • UTIL – Randy Arozarena (TB)

Projected Points: 106.3

These are not the best or worst lineups I built, but it gives credence to how important Gerrit Cole is to the success of lineups.

Pictured above: Gerrit Cole #45 of the New York Yankees
Photo credit: Jason Miller/Getty Images