Wild Card weekend is over and we’ve only got eight teams left in the MLB playoffs. There has already been some surprises, some massive failures and, most importantly, some tantalizing drama. There’s just nothing like baseball in mid-October, is there?
Let’s find some studs and values on today’s four-game slate, which gets underway at 1:07 p.m. ET.
Justin Verlander, Houston Astros vs. Seattle Mariners, $10,000 - Of the four pitchers priced above $7K on this slate, it just feels like Verlander possesses the most strikeout upside. Julio Urias ($8,700) and Max Fried ($8,500) both averaged less than a strikeout per inning during the regular season, while Gerrit Cole ($9,700) is facing a Guardians’ lineup that owned the lowest strikeout rate of any team in baseball (18.2%). Meanwhile, Verlander struck out an impressive 31.6% of the batters he faced following the All-Star break. The 39-year-old also managed to maintain a 1.75 ERA across 175.0 innings of work. That’s pretty appealing, too.
Logan Gilbert, Seattle Mariners at Houston Astros, $6,800 - Gilbert had a horrendous August, but he certainly managed to right the ship in September. Over his final six appearances of the regular season, the right-hander pitched to a 2.00 ERA with a 2.39 FIP. Gilbert also registered a 29.1% strikeout rate within that span — his highest mark for an individual month in 2022. The Astros are a daunting matchup, yet Gilbert’s had his fair share of success against Houston. All four outings the former first-round pick made versus the Astros this season were quality starts, with Gilbert sporting a 2.52 ERA in his 25.0 innings of work.
Freddie Freeman, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Diego Padres, $5,600 - After burning through their top-three starters this weekend, the Padres are at a serious disadvantage against the Dodgers. Mike Clevinger ($5,300) will take the mound Tuesday evening, a man in possession of a 5.46 ERA and a 5.16 FIP when pitching away from Petco Park in 2022. It’s also worth noting that Clevinger has surrendered an eye-popping 1.93 home runs per nine to opposing LHBs this season. Enter Freeman. The veteran has mashed RHPs as a member of Los Angeles, hitting .338 with a 167 wRC+ within the split.
Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves vs. Philadelphia Phillies, $5,100 - Riley was a little cold to finish the regular season, but it’s difficult to ignore his overall numbers against lefties in 2022. In his 172 plate appearances within the split, Riley hit .329 with a .342 ISO and a 196 wRC+. In fact, among all qualified hitters, Riley’s .419 xwOBA versus southpaws was the fifth-highest mark in baseball. I’d expect that success to continue in a matchup with the contact-prone Ranger Suarez ($5,600).
Alec Bohm, Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves, $3,600 - If you’re purely about the BvP aspects of this matchup, I’d advise getting a few shares of J.T. Realmuto ($4,900), who happens to own a 1.028 OPS off Fried in 36 career at-bats. Bohm’s numbers against Fried aren’t nearly as good as his teammate, yet that doesn’t change the fact that the third baseman thrived against LHPs in 2022. At least, that’s what a 158 wRC+ across 175 plate appearances would suggest.
Ha-Seong Kim, San Diego Padres at Los Angeles Dodgers, $3,200 - I’m genuinely curious how aggressive the Padres are with Kim on Tuesday. The sophomore was routinely featured as San Diego’s leadoff man against LHPs during the regular season, and they’ll have the opportunity to continue that trend with Urias on the mound for the Dodgers. Kim was at his best in his 188 plate appearances versus lefties, registering a 123 wRC+ to go along with an extremely noteworthy 1.26 BB/K ratio.
Aaron Judge, New York Yankees vs. Cleveland Guardians, $6,300 - In theory, Judge is viable in any matchup. However, I think it’s really worth exploring his matchup with Cal Quantrill ($6,400). Cleveland’s RHP is contact-oriented in general, but especially so when facing a right-handed batter. To wit, Quantrill’s only retired 12.6% of the RHBs he faced in 2022 on strikes. He also walked just 4.1% of the RHBs he saw. That means Judge should actually have some batted ball events this evening, which is great news considering his insane .611 expected wOBA on BBEs.
Giancarlo Stanton, New York Yankees vs. Cleveland Guardians, $4,900 - Everything I just laid out above applies to Stanton, as well. Well, except Stanton’s much cheaper and not quite as good as his teammate. Still, we’re talking about an asset that finished 2022 ranked in the 99th percentile in average exit velocity (95.0 mph) and the 98th percentile in barrel rate (19.3%). If Stanton’s consistently putting the ball in play, something productive is likely happening.
Joey Gallo, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Diego Padres, $2,700 - Dating back to September 1, Clevinger’s conceded 2.48 opponent home runs per nine. Gallo might have more flaws than almost any hitter in the league, but he remains a DFS asset with a massive ceiling thanks to his almost limitless power. The other side of that coin is a cavernous floor, yet Gallo’s .220 ISO against RHPs this season speaks for itself. He can easily take Clevinger yard, if given the opportunity.
Robbie Grossman, Atlanta Braves vs. Philadelphia Phillies, $2,600 - Grossman’s upside is capped by a few factors — he’ll likely be batting ninth and there’s a chance he’s lifted for a pinch-hitter at some point — yet his numbers as a right-handed batter in 2022 are enough to overcome those knocks. In 149 plate appearances within the split, Grossman is batting .320 with a .390 wOBA and a 157 wRC+. I can assure you, he’ll draw the start against Suarez.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and customer (my username is theglt13) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.