James McCool | Paydirt_DFS
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.
Astros vs. Nationals
Pitchers — Tonight, the Astros are going to finish the job against Stephen Strasburg and Verlander is going to throw a gem to close out another World Series title for the Astros. Verlander has no real weaknesses and has gotten unlucky lately. Since the beginning of September, he is allowing just a .210 xwOBA to both RHH and LHH while keeping the expected power down as well at just .273 xSLG to RHH and .238 xSLG to LHH so we shouldn’t expect him to give up a lot of quality contact in this game. Strasburg, on the other hand, is getting crushed by RHH in the same time frame with a .368/.453 split to RHH that includes a 96.1 average mph on flyballs and line drives. The Astros are a team built of power RHH and I think he’s going to get knocked around tonight. Verlander should be your #1 priority in every lineup that you make as he has a great chance to pitch a complete game tonight should he get through the first couple innings.
Hitters — I have no problem with going to Juan Soto, Adam Eaton, or Trea Turner for the Nationals, but I wouldn’t have any focus there and they should be secondary pieces at best as you put all the effort into nailing the Astros side of things. Verlander just isn’t someone worth attacking when you have a bunch of strong RHH against Strasburg and his splits.
That being said, we are riding Altuve tonight. Since the beginning of September, he has a .537 xSLG against RHP and a .525 mark against LHP which gives him the second-best combined splits on the night behind George Springer (who is also a terrific play with splits of .639/.591) but what I most like is that he’s aggressive on the bases. Him, George Springer, and Carlos Correa are the top options on the slate in that order with Yordan Alvarez being a secondary option thanks to his home run the other night which probably knocked him out of whatever rut he was in.
The hardest part of this slate is fitting Verlander with a top Astros bat and feeling good about your lineup, but I just think you should be doing whatever you can to fit Verlander in the captain spot. You won’t be able to overcome him pitching a complete game here if you don’t have him. So Altuve, Reddick, and Chirinos is probably my favorite combination.
Captain players — Justin Verlander
Top Hitters — Jose Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa
Values — Josh Reddick, Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Eaton