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.
Full Day Overview
SPs to Attack (Stack Ranks)
Yankees lead off the stacks against Jake Odorizzi by a good amount thanks to a couple things. Odorizzi has the second worst SIERA on the slate at 4.34 and is backed up by the second worst bullpen available. He also has the highest xHR/9 by a longshot at 1.54 (highest we have seen in the playoffs thus far). The Twins are next up in a tough matchup with Luis Severino (who we will get to in a bit) and the Braves and the Dodgers have similar ranks. I think that things will solidify a bit and we will see the Braves jump up the rankings once we get a line for that game, so stay tuned for an update later on.
SPs to Use
Luis Severino leads the pitcher with Max Scherzer right there in second. Both are fantastic options but the matchups are far from nice but they are the best pitchers on the slate in terms of SIERA and IRT. Charlie Morton and Rich Hill are GPP plays for me. I don’t really respect Zack Greinke (or rather the numbers don’t) in regards to the other pitchers available. He’s just not a super high upside guy with a lower K.9 and 2K% in regards to the other elite options. Odorizzi, Keuchel, and Hudson are not in consideration in the full slate, but Odorizzi does have some allure as a high strikeout option in showdown. Dakota Hudson is the only pitcher that is an absolute full fade today.
There’s a couple guys here that definitely have splits worth exploiting. Jake Odorizzi and Luis Severino have some interesting reverse splits and are weaker against RHH by a decent margin, and Dakota Hudson has serious problems with LHH which will definitely come into play against the Braves. Rich Hill is considerably worse against RHH and will likely give up a home run or two in this spot.
Top 25 Hitters
The Yankees and the Dodgers are in the top of the ranks with Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge leading the way. I mentioned that Odorizzi has some reverse splits and actually gives up more power to RHH which puts both of those guys in spots to succeed. Will Smith and Cody Bellinger are in the top 5 hitters as well against Max Scherzer, which is not something that I would normally be writing, but the postseason makes some uncomfortable spots to consider.
Game 1: Astros vs. Rays
Pitchers — This is a good spot in GPPs because both pitchers have upside but in different ways. Charlie Morton is a better pitcher in terms of…. everything, but the matchup is obviously significantly tougher than what Greinke is dealing with. With the Astros having a strikeout rate of just 39.08% in 2K counts (lowest on the slate) it should drop his strikeout potential a good amount, probably 10% or so, and Greinke gets to face the Rays which have a rate of 44.85% (best on the slate) which should raise his an equal amount. This should be a close game and with the Rays facing elimination I would expect Morton to have as long a leash as possible and go outwards of eight innings even with a high pitch count, so he’s the priority in this one.
Hitters — Not in love with this matchup from either side. Yordan Alvarez is the best hitter for the Astros with a .603 xSLG and 14.79% xHR/PA and is followed closely by George Springer in terms of underlying stats with a .537 xSLG and .384 xwOBA. The Rays are lead by Austin Meadows with a .538 xSLG and 9.36% xHR/PA in this split with Greinke having the higher power potential allowed. Ji-Man Choi makes for a good value and would be my focus in this game in showdown contests for his upside relative to his price.
Captain players — Ji-Man Choi, Charlie Morton, Yordan Alvarez
Top Hitters — Yordan Alvarez, Austin Meadows, George Springer
Values — Ji-Man Choi, Michael Brantley
Game 2: Braves vs. Cardinals
Pitchers — Dakota Hudson is the worst pitcher on this slate and the worst pitcher that we have had thus far in the postseason. His 5.07 SIERA and 6.91 K/9 are both really low marks and he’s facing a Braves team that is built well to take advantage of contact pitchers. He also has splits that gives him problems with LHH and the Braves have a couple power guys that are in a position to crush him in that regard. Dallas Keuchel is not all that better, and although his run prevention is better and he has a low xHR/9, he still has a SIERA north of 4.00 and is pitching on relatively short rest. Hudson is not in consideration in any format but Keuchel has some upside based on matchup so he’s in play in showdown.
Hitters — Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies are in consideration here with Freeman being the best play overall in this game. Neither one of these pitchers are prone to upside events with both having significant groundball rates but Freeman is going to get plenty of opportunity as the Braves run through Hudson today. Josh Donaldson and Ronald Acuna Jr. are both well in consideration as well. A Braves stack is the best way to go about things in showdown slates and they make for a great GPP option in the full slate. Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna are the best options for the Cardinals, but overall it’s a really weak spot.
Captain players — Freddie Freeman, Josh Donaldson, Dallas Keuchel
Top Hitters — Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Josh Donaldson
Values — Nick Markakis, Dexter Fowler, Matt Joyce
Game 3: Dodgers vs. Nationals
Pitchers — Max Scherzer and Rich Hill are both great options and priorities in showdown contests with high strikeout rates and strong underlying stats, but the matchups are absolutely rough as they come so it’s not like there isn’t considerable downside. There’s some buzz that Scherzer is playing hurt, which obviously puts a damper on his dependability, but this is a guy that has a 2.8 SIERA and 12.44 K/9 over the last two years and will absolutely push to pitch the entire game in an elimination scenario. Rich Hill has injury history and has been used as a long reliver enough times that I would think his leash is actually pretty short in this game. I much prefer Scherzer between the two (which isn’t a ground breaking thing) but like both a lot in GPPs.
Hitters — The Dodgers side of things is technically better and the numbers back them more heavily than the Nationals in terms of overall ranking. As has been the case, Will Smith, Cody Bellinger, and Max Muncy lead the way for the Dodgers in terms of upside, with Howie Kendrick, Anthony Rendon, and Juan Soto being the top options for the Nationals. Rich Hill has some problems with RHH and I’m inclined to say that Anthony Rendon is the best play in this game. His .543 xSLG and 7.28% xHR/PA haven’t made their way forward in the postseason to the effect we would hope but this is a prime spot for him to come through.
Captain players — Max Scherzer, Anthony Rendon, Cody Bellinger
Top Hitters — Anthony Rendon, Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy
Values — Howie Kendrick, Ryan Zimmerman
Game 4: Yankees vs. Twins
Pitchers — Luis Severino is in a really weird spot here, because the numbers consider him both the best pitcher on the slate to use while also having a really rough matchup. The thing about the Twins is that they are all power but don’t do well at occupying the bases so their xwOBA is abnormally low. Severino can and should win this matchup, but the Twins are a good GPP play based on their raw power reserves alone. You can be on either side here. Jake Odorizzi has some appeal in showdown contest just based on his strikeout rates but I’m pretty firm on the fact he’s going to give up 2-3 home runs here with one going to Gary Sanchez, so I don’t think you need to consider him in full slate activities.
Hitters — Gary Sanchez is hitting a home run today, and he will be a part of the best stack on the day with the Yankees. This is the first time in the postseason that we have had a pitcher with an xHR/9 above 1.50 and it’s against a team with a batting order that is full of all-stars. Aaron Judge and Edwin Encarnacion are both great options as well, and honestly you can make a case for most of the batting order. The Twins are obviously great power hitters but it’s pretty hard to make solid contact against Luis Severino. I love Nelson Cruz and Miguel Sano, and I think that Jake Cave is one of the best values on the slate (so long as he ends up being in the order today). Gio Urshela, Jake Cave, and Gary Sanchez is my favorite combination of hitters in this game.
Captain players — Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino, Jake Cave
Top Hitters — Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Nelson Cruz
Values — Jake Cave, Gio Urshela, C.J. Cron