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. Nationals
Pitchers — I don’t really need to explain to y’all that Max Scherzer and Gerrit Cole are really, ridiculously good. Cole is by all measures the best pitcher in baseball right now and Scherzer is a terrifying force. Cole doesn’t really have any weakness at all, but Scherzer can get lit up by LHH especially in a park that helps that handedness. That being said, they are both your top priorities in GPPs and cash games alike. The only reason you care about the Scherzer splits is for the bats against him, not to avoid him. If you are going to avoid one, you are avoiding Scherzer.
Hitters — The thing about Scherzer is that of course he is a monster but he does struggle pretty badly against LHH with a .305 xwOBA and .466 xSLG in the playoffs. Those are some pretty below average numbers! So the single player that I’m banking on is Michael Brantley. He’s been great in the playoffs with a .661 xSLG against RHP. Actually, him and Josh Reddick have both been fantastic and have a good chance to get to Scherzer here, much better than most of the RHH.
The Nationals are screwed, I wouldn’t suggest using anyone against Cole. The only player that makes a little bit of sense is Adam Eaton and you could take Juan Soto if you wanted to be very different. Adam Eaton would be the main target with very strong splits against RHP in the playoffs.
Captain players — Gerrit Cole, Max Scherzer, Michael Brantley
Top Hitters — Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman, Josh Reddick
Values — Josh Reddick, Adam Eaton