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’s 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 realitically 0-40 points, where as 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 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 spots in the order of each other, you should actively be trying to do that. It’s significantly harder in 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.
Last Update: 7:38pm EST
Game 1: Cardinals @ Braves
Pitchers — Mikes Mikolas and Dallas Keuchel are equally underwhelming. In fact, this is kind of a spirderman-points.gif situation, with both of them having SIERA marks above 4.00, both have a 2K% under 50%, and both have strikeout rates just below 7 K/9. They both have low xHR/9 numbers as well, and with that is going to come a lot of lame contact groundballs and uneventful things. The thing is that the Braves can do a lot with Contact as evidenced by their team .467 xSLG so that’s the side that we should likely focus on. The Cardinals are well overmatched here and I think Keuchel will be able to get through six innings and have the run support to get the win. Both of these pitchers are in play in your showdown formats, and Keuchel is someone you can Captain.
Hitters — There is not a single Cardinals hitter that ranks as well as even the worst Braves hitter for me, so that’s should do plenty to tell you who we are backing here. The top hitters from their respective teams are Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna, with both having xSLG numbers around .600 and xwOBA around .400 in their splits, so either is going to be a fine play as a focus on either team. We are backing Freddie Freeman.
Captain players — Freddie Freeman, Dallas Keuchel
Top Hitters — Freddie Freeman, Josh Donaldson, Ronald Acuna Jr.
Values — Matt Joyce, Yadier Molina
Game 2: Nationals @ Dodgers
Pitchers — Both of these pitchers should be targets in your showdown lineups, and this is where I would be focusing if I was playing the two game slate as well as both of these guys can put up the highest score on the slate without any issue. Similar to the Mikolas/Keuchel matchup, these two are very similar in their underlying metrics: 3.4 SIERA, 10+ K/9, 50%+ 2K-rate and xHR/9 rates around 1.00. The Dodgers are a better team on paper than the Nationals but it’s not by much. This should be a fantastic game but maybe not so much for fantasy. I would focus on the pitchers here and captain a cheap hitter.
Hitters — The best hitter in this game is Juan Soto, and the Nationals “Big 3” is considerably stronger than any individual Dodgers batter. The matchups even things out quite a bit though, as Beuhler limits hard contact better than Corbin but Corbin has a lower xHR/9. As mentioned, I think that focusing on the cheaper hitters here is the right way to go, and if Matt Adams gets the start he’s pretty much a must play. A.J. Pollock and Enrique Hernandez make sense as well. Overall, you shouldn’t kill yourself to get to Juan Soto or Cody Bellinger because the pitching is more important.
UPDATE: No Matt Adams or Enrique Hernandez is annoying, but they are replaced with values in Chris Taylor, David Freese, and Asdrubal Cabrera. Chris Taylor is my favorite value of the three, but this makes Pollock my top value play on the slate and probably my favorite captain play.
Captain player — A.J. Pollock, Chris Taylor, Walker Buehler
Top Hitters — Juan Soto, Howie Kendrick, Anthony Rendon
Values — A.J. Pollock, Asdrubal Cabrera, Chris Taylor