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: Yankees vs. Astros
Pitchers — Both of these pitchers have some home run issues that make their otherwise high ceiling just a tad bit lower. It’s not going to scare me off of either one in this spot but that’s only because it is a showdown slate and the baseball has been changed out for one with much higher drag and thus there’s less chance for home runs to happen. Paxton certainly has some problems with RHH (.296 xwOBA and .386 xSLG are both notably worse than the splits to LHH) and because the Astros have so many strong RHH it makes Verlander the better play. But really you should be using either one of these pitchers in whatever format you want with how high their upside is relative to the bats.
Hitters — Jose Altuve is the best hitter in this lineup over the last three months with a .407 xwOBA and .582 xSLG in the split with Yordan Alvarez and Alex Bregman both being pretty close behind. That being said, there’s really no way to go wrong with the Astros bats in this game outside of Brantley as most every other hitter has strong splits against LHP. If you are looking for value you’ll be able to find some towards the back of the order with Robinson Chirinos. He’s not a great hitter but he has a lot of power and actually the highest xwOBA against LHP in the recent sample at .411 so he’s definitely underpriced. For the Yankees the top play is probably Edwin Encarnacion thanks to his strong numbers against RHP. Verlander is kind of reverse-split-y and gives up more power to RHH so if you are looking for a home run it’s going to come from that side of the plate. Otherwise it’s really hard to like the Yankees bats and it would be better just going low for Gary Sanchez or Gio Urshela.
Captain players — Justin Verlander, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman
Top Hitters — Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez
Values — Robinson Chirinos, Jake Marisnick, Gary Sanchez