Saturday features a two-game slate starting at 4:08 p.m. ET
One of today’s starters stands out in his own pricing tier on DraftKings:
- Max Scherzer (R) $10,200 WSH @ STL
- Masahiro Tanaka (R) $7,300, NYY @ HOU
- Zack Greinke (R) $6,800, HOU vs. NYY
- Adam Wainwright (R) $6,100, STL vs. WSH
The Nationals needed a big performance from Scherzer in Game 4 of the NLDS, and he delivered with seven strikeouts and one earned run over seven innings. The result was 27.55 DraftKings points, good for a Plus/Minus of +10.00.
After facing the Dodgers, the Cardinals should be a walk in the park. The Cardinals ranked just 16th in wRC+ vs. right-handers this season, which is the worst splits-adjusted mark among the remaining playoff teams. Their projected lineup has also been somewhat strikeout prone (25.8% strikeout rate vs. right-handers over the past 12 months).
Scherzer leads the slate in two key pitching metrics: opponent implied team total (3.1 runs) and K Prediction (8.9). Historically, pitchers with comparable marks in both categories have averaged a Plus/Minus of +3.31 on DraftKings (per the Trends tool). Scherzer also checks in as a -140 favorite despite the fact that he’s pitching on the road.
Scherzer should command massive ownership on this slate, but I personally would not risk fading him.
The bigger question is who you should pair with Scherzer on DraftKings. Tanaka is the second-priciest option, and he has a knack for pitching well in the playoffs. He racked up seven strikeouts and allowed just one earned run over five innings in his first playoff appearance this year, and he’s pitched to a 1.54 ERA in the postseason throughout his career.
Unfortunately, he has a brutal matchup vs. the Houston Astros. They have undoubtedly the best offense in the league vs. right-handers. Their projected lineup has posted a ridiculous .380 wOBA vs. right-handers over the past 12 months, and they also own the lowest splits-adjusted strikeout rate on the slate at just 20.1%. Tanaka’s resulting opponent implied team total of 5.1 runs is the worst mark on the slate by a considerable margin.
He has some appeal for guaranteed prize pools — especially since he’ll be the lowest-owned pitcher on the slate — but he also carries plenty of risk.
Greinke is opposing Tanaka at home in Houston, and he’ll be looking to bounce back after a disappointing outing. The Rays were able to score six runs over just 3.2 innings, thanks in part to three home runs.
The Yankees offense isn’t quite as potent vs. right-handers as the Astros’, but it’s still an incredibly difficult matchup for Greinke. Their projected lineup has posted a .362 wOBA vs. right-handers over the past 12 months, and they rank third in wRC+ vs. right-handers this season.
The big difference between the Yankees and Astros is that the Yankees’ offense has been known to strike out in bunches. That gives Greinke the edge in terms of upside.
He also has the edge on Tanaka in terms of Vegas data. His opponent implied team total of 4.0 runs ranks fourth on the slate, but his -155 moneyline odds make him the largest favorite. Historically, pitchers with comparable salaries and moneyline odds have averaged a Plus/Minus of +1.16 on DraftKings.
Wainwright stands out as the best pure value on DraftKings. His $6,100 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 99%.
He’s a solid option at home vs. the Nationals, with his opponent implied team total of 3.8 runs ranking second on the slate. Using the BetLabs database, home underdogs have historically been good investments during the postseason, particularly when the public doesn’t believe in them. Home underdogs getting fewer than 50% of the public bets have actually posted a 55-45 record.
That isn’t super relevant for DFS, but it does imply that the Cardinals have a better chance of winning this game than most people seem to think. If that happens, there’s a good chance it was behind a strong outing from Wainwright.
- 1. George Springer (R)
- 2. Michael Brantley (L)
- 3. Jose Altuve (R)
- 4. Alex Bregman (R)
- 5. Yordan Alvarez (L)
Total Salary: $23,500
The Astros are expected to be the mega chalk. They’re currently implied for 5.1 runs, which ranks first on the slate by a considerable margin. The above stack should be particularly chalky: Each of top five batters in the Astros’ lineup are projected for at least 36% ownership. If you’re going to pair the Astros with Scherzer, you’re going to need to get really creative with the rest of your selections to ensure a unique lineup.
They have nice upside vs. Tanaka. He’s been considerably worse when pitching on the road this season, posting a 6.05 ERA over 83.1 innings. He’s been particularly vulnerable to the long ball, allowing an average of 1.62 HRs per nine innings.
Most of those HRs have come against left-handed batters, which bodes well for Alvarez. He’s crushed the ball this season, racking up 50 HRs between Triple-A and the majors. He’s been at his best when playing at home in Houston, posting a ridiculous 200 wRC+ and .349 ISO.
The Astros also own the top four-man FanDuel stack, so lets focus on the Cardinals instead. They’re a much cheaper option, and they figure to command minimal ownership across the industry:
- 1. Dexter Fowler (S)
- 2. Kolten Wong (L)
- 3. Paul Goldschmidt (R)
- 5. Yadier Molina (R)
Total Salary: $11,300
Stacking the Cardinals and pairing them with Scherzer is an interesting idea. You would never consider stacking against your pitcher on a regular slate, but everything is available when you’re looking at just two games. It should almost ensure you a contrarian lineup — which is easier said than done during the MLB playoffs — and it’s probably not as uncorrelated as you think. Scherzer could still rack up strikeouts while allowing a few HRs, and the Cardinals will also have a crack at the Nationals’ vulnerable bullpen after he exits the game. This obviously isn’t the most +EV strategy on the slate, but it could pay off huge if it works.
Fowler and Wong in particular stand out as nice values. They’ll cost just $5,200 combined, which gives you a lot of flexibility with the rest of your lineup. Both batters will also be on the positive side of their batting splits vs. Scherzer.
Wainwright has been excellent at home this season, pitching to a 2.56 ERA, but he has had some struggles vs. left-handed batters. They’ve posted a .368 wOBA vs. Wainwright this season and have averaged 1.73 HRs per nine innings.
That could spell success for Juan Soto. He’s crushed right-handed pitchers this season, posting a 155 wRC+.
Adam Eaton is another lefty bat worth considering. He’s had a lot of success vs. Wainwright over his career (.545 average with two extra base hits).
Aaron Judge stands out as an elite value on DraftKings, where his $4,400 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 97%. He’ll be on the reverse side of splits vs. Greinke, but Greinke has actually been slightly worse against right-handed batters than left-handed batters this season. Judge obviously has immense power, so he’s worth considering at a reduced price tag.
Good luck, and be sure to check out The Action Network if you’re looking for more in-depth MLB analysis.
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Pictured above: Nationals SP Max Scherzer (31)
Photo credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA Today Sports