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 — Interestingly, these two pitchers have gotten hit really hard thus far in the playoffs and this might end up being a more offensively dirven game than people realize. Strasburg, while having great strikeout numbers, is getting smoked off the bat with exit velocity numbers of 100.3 and 99.5 mph to RHH and LHH respectively. He’s also giving up a .480 xSLG to RHH so the Astros are going to have good opportunity. Verlander on the other side isn’t getting hit with as much velocity but is giving a .446 xSLG to RHH and a .432 to LHH so there’s going to likely be some extra base hits from both side in this one. Both pitchers are usable in all formats with the strikeout potential but I wouldn’t be sacrificing too much to force them and think a contrarian approach of focusing on expensive bats could be smart today.
Hitters — As mentioned with Strasburg I think the RHH bats in the Astros lineup are going to have some good opportunity for success. 100 mph off the bat on flyballs and linedrives turn into home runs at a pretty solid rate and George Springer, Alex Bregman, and Carlos Correa are all hitting really well in the playoffs with xSLG numbers above .380 to RHP. Any one of those three would make great anchors and my favorite is Alex Bregman.
On the Nationals side, Verlander hasn’t had drastic splits and has been getting hit very hard by RHH who are teeing off on the high fastball he uses as a strikeout pitch. Anthony Rendon is the natural best choice on this team but don’t forget about Trea Turner who has a .517 xSLG against RHP in the playoffs. Adam Eaton came through yesterday as well and Juan Soto is going to be in play as well. My favorite on the Nationals is Trea Turner with his stolen base upside.
Like I said, I think focusing on the bats is right today. If you can naturally get to a pitcher you definitely should but the bats are really interesting in GPPs.
Captain players — Alex Bregman, Trea Turner, George Springer
Top Hitters — Alex Bregman, Trea Turner, George Springer
Values — Adam Eaton, Kurt Suzuki, Michael Brantley