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 is 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: Astros vs. Yankees
Pitchers — The Astros are going to use a bit of strategy in this one and save Gerrit Cole rather than use him tonight and go with Brad Peacock. My assumption here is that with the Yankees going with a bullpen game (J.A. Happ is the “long reliever”) the Astros didn’t think it was necessary to use Cole and wanted him available for a possible high leverage spot if they can’t finish things tonight. So, with that assumption, both of these teams are going to be using a very conservative bullpen approach and no pitcher is safe to go more than two innings. Peacock pitched last night (eight pitches and one inning pitched) and will have a really short leash here and I think most people will make the assumption that he’s going to act as a starter when he isn’t. Happ has mostly been unused in the postseason but considering the opener is before him you can’t expect a long leash in an elimination spot. No pitcher is safe in this game and I think it would be silly to make any assumptions on who ends up being the best reliever to take, so I’m suggesting a full fade of the pitching options.
Hitters — The other problem in a game with unreliable pitching considerations is that we can’t rely on splits or strengths of hitters either. The two best hitters for the Astros in the postseason have been Alex Bregman and George Springer. Here is the last month of splits for the Astros:
Michael Brantley is interesting with some good even splits and Josh Reddick has a chance to be serious value against an RHP but you can’t count on those splits. The right move here is to focus on the good all-around hitters like Bregman and Springer.
Here’s the Yankees:
Edwin Encarnacion, Aaron Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton seem to make the most sense from an upside perspective with DJ LeMahieu being one of the better floor plays available. I would say to avoid Gardner, Sanchez, and Urshela like the plague and be the way of Sanchez and Torres who have been very split dependent.
Captain players — Alex Bregman, Michael Brantley, Edwin Encarnacion
Top Hitters — Alex Bregman, George Springer, Edwin Encarnacion
Values — Michael Brantley, Josh Reddick