Welcome to the MLB Playoff Rundown! Because of the nature of short slates like this (Showdowns especially), this will be written a bit differently. There are so many different ways to go in showdown slates and it’s really difficult to say “This guy is the best play” because you could be 100% right in saying that and still get a zero for your efforts. First, I’m going to lay out some basic understandings of MLB DFS showdown slates so that y’all have a place to start, and then we can get into the picks for the slate and the data being used.
MLB DFS Showdown basics:
- Understanding that the range of outcomes for hitters are more volatile for pitchers is imperative to success. Hitters have a range of outcomes that is realistically 0-40 points, whereas pitchers (especially in the playoffs) are going to have a range that is skinnier and more like 5-30 points. This being said, Pitchers are almost always the best play on a showdown slate and unless there is a starter that you would stack against 100% of the time it’s always better to start your builds with both pitchers
- In a showdown, correlation is underrated as people look to roster the best hitters possible and ignore that kind of thing. That’s generally going to be a mistake, as correlation doesn’t just go away when you are playing a single game. If you can afford hitters within a couple of spots in the order of each other, you should actively be trying to do that. It’s significantly harder in a showdown, but it’s still valuable.
- Taking hitters against your pitcher is something that people are scared to do and that carries over to showdown to a certain extent, but it’s optimal to do it. If your pitcher gives up a home run to one of your hitters, you are gaining the difference in fantasy points from your hitter getting the home run and your pitcher giving one up. It’s still a positive outcome, and one home run isn’t going to hurt you if your pitcher strikes out 8-10 anyway.
Game 1: Nationals vs. Cardinals
Pitchers — This is such an odd situation because both of these pitchers are bad in the exact same way and it’s going to make for a very offense-oriented showdown slate. Anibal Sanchez has a higher strikeout rate at just around 7.52 K/9 with Mikolas at a nice rate of 6.9 and both struggle badly with their splits to RHH.
Now, in terms of who can actually be used in this showdown contest, I would prefer to side with Sanchez just because I feel that the Nationals deserve to be favorites here, but the more likely answer is that you should just focus on the expensive bats instead. If you want to use a pitcher, it’ll be Mikolas because the Cardinals have less RHH that can cause serious damage.
Hitters — I think there’s going to be a lot of offense in this game. We have two underdogs facing off here and coming off some really big game five victories so the bats should stay alive. As mentioned with the pitchers, the splits are really bad for both and the RHH are the focus in this game. Anthony Rendon is the obvious top play on this slate but don’t forget about Trea Turner. Leading off he has some of the highest upside available and is in a prime spot to make good contact and steal some bases. For the Cardinals, Paul Goldschmidt has the highest splits against RHP with a .547 xSLG and .383 xwOBA over the last three months. As usual, Ryan Zimmermann is a good value, but don’t sleep on Yadier Molina. He’s actually been pretty good and is the cheapest hitter on the slate. The problem, of course, is that he should be considered very heavy chalk, so the fade makes a lot more sense in GPPs.
Captain players — Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, Paul Goldschmidt
Top Hitters — Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, Paul Goldschmidt
Values — Ryan Zimmerman, Yadier Molina, Kolten Wong