Wow. What an exciting day of baseball to open the 2023 MLB playoffs. I can’t believe [insert team name here] beat [insert team name here] when [insert player name here] was able to come up with that clutch [insert baseball event here].
Full disclosure: I’m writing this Tuesday night with a couple games still left to play. That’s working in sports, baby!
Let’s dive in Wednesday’s Wild Card slate.
Freddy Peralta, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, $9,000 - There’s a case to be made that Peralta should be the most expensive pitcher on this slate. Not only does the RHP boast an impressive 2.81 ERA and 2.92 FIP since the All-Star break — a span in which he also owns an eye-popping 36.3% strikeout rate — but Peralta draws a perfect matchup in the scuffling Diamondbacks. The lone issue Peralta faced in 2023? Home runs. Peralta surrendered 26 for the season as a whole and 2.03 per nine over his final five outings. Well, no National League team produced a lower ISO in September than Arizona (.129). It’s a match made in DFS heaven.
Sonny Gray, Minnesota Twins vs. Toronto Blue Jays, $8,300 - I wouldn’t feel too comfortable dipping below the $8K tier on this pitching slate. So, while Gray isn’t the cheapest value play in the world, he’ll do in a pinch. The veteran RHP has been lights out going back to the beginning of August, registering a 2.03 ERA, a 2.61 FIP and a 26.1% strikeout rate over 66.2 innings of work. For 2023 as a whole, the key to Gray’s success has simply been keeping the ball in the park. No qualified starter has a lower HR/9 than Gray’s mark of 0.39. In fact, no one is even close. As for the Blue Jays, they were held to a single run in Tuesday’s loss and the team has struggle to hit elite pitching all year long. Gray is certainly elite.
Corey Seager, Texas Rangers at Tampa Bay Rays, $6,300 - Seager is the most-expensive positional asset on Wednesday’s slate, but he’s worthy of the price tag. In his 370 plate appearances against RHPs during the regular season, Seager hit .333 with a 1.075 OPS and a 183 wRC+. Among players with at least 250 PAs within the split, only Yordan Alvarez, Aaron Judge, Ronald Acuna Jr. and Shohei Ohtani possessed a higher expected wOBA than Seager’s mark of .438. The man can flat out hit and Zach Eflin ($8,800), who looked a little shaky in September, should be wary.
Jorge Polanco, Minnesota Twins vs. Toronto Blue Jays, $4,600 - While Jose Berrios ($7,600) rebounded in 2023, some of the sheen started to wear off by season’s end. To wit, Berrios pitched to an underwhelming 4.53 ERA over his final seven starts, a stretch where LHBs feasted on the veteran RHP. Berrios surrendered 2.53 long balls per nine to opposing left-handed batters during this span, equating out to an ugly 5.65 FIP within the split. The switch-hitting Polanco has always had more power from the left-side of the plate, and he’ll hit near the top of the Twins’ order on Wednesday.
Alex Kirilloff, Minnesota Twins vs. Toronto Blue Jays, $3,200 - Be warned, as a platoon bat at Rocco Baldelli’s disposal, Kirilloff might only see two or three plate appearances in Game 2 — particularly if the Jays lean on Yusei Kikuchi ($7,200) out of the bullpen in a do-or-die situation. Still, the first baseman hit .300 with a 138 wRC+ off RHPs throughout the regular season and Berrios presents yet another opposite-hand matchup. You could do worse with $3K.
Jonathan Aranda, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Texas Rangers, $2,800 - Speaking of platoon bats, the Rays are flush with them, and I’d expect to see Aranda get the start on Wednesday with the right-handed Nathan Eovaldi ($7,800) pitching for Texas. To be frank, Eovaldi has struggled since returning from a lengthy IL stint in the beginning of September, closing out the regular season with a 9.30 ERA in his final 20.1 innings. Aranda slashed .339/.449/.613 in Triple-A in 2023. The 25-year-old can hit.
Randy Arozarena, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Texas Rangers, $5,400 - The Rays have now scored a single run in their last 33 innings of playoff baseball. That’s pretty bleak. However, I just can not ignore how pitiful the aforementioned Eovaldi has looked in recent games. Heck, he conceded 4.09 home runs per nine to opposing RHBs in the month of September. Eovaldi isn’t right at the moment, and I’d expect Tampa’s big bats to have an impact on this contest.
Nick Castellanos, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Miami Marlins, $4,700 - I wrote up Castellanos on Tuesday, mentioning that the veteran outfielder had produced a 148 wRC+ against LHPs in 2023, while also registering a 139 wRC+ when hitting at Citizens Bank Park. Well, we find ourselves in that exact scenario once again on Wednesday. Only this time, Braxton Garrett ($6,700) is the Miami left-hander on the mound to oppose the Phillies. Garrett pitched to a 4.51 xERA in the regular season. He’s not exactly Cy Young.
Cristian Pache, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Miami Marlins, $2,100 - I know. I’m just as shocked to see Pache’s name as you. The former top prospect has never been known for his bat, yet Pache did hit LHPs pretty well as a member of the Phillies in 2023. In fact, in 57 plate appearances within the split, the 24-year-old posted a 148 wRC+ and a .359 expected wOBA that ranked second-best on Philadelphia’s roster. Pache got the start versus the left-handed Jesus Luzardo in Game 1. There’s no reason to think he won’t start again in Game 2.
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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.