After all four of the Division Series got underway on Saturday, the National League takes Sunday off while the two American League series make up the main two-game Sunday slate on DraftKings, which gets underway at 4:07 p.m. ET when the action gets underway in Baltimore.
Make sure to keep up with the latest news from multiple sports in the DK Live app and follow DraftKings Network on X (@DKNetwork) for all the latest updates. I’m also on X (@ZT_Sports), where you can keep up with all my picks throughout what should be an outstanding postseason.
Framber Valdez, Houston Astros vs. Minnesota Twins ($8,700) – Valdez stumbled a little bit in his last few starts of the season, but he still finished the season 12-11 with a 3.45 ERA, 3.50 FIP and 9.09 K/9. His 200 strikeouts were a new career high, and he finished with good strikeout totals in his last four games, including a pair of double-digit strikeout performances, and 32 strikeouts over 23 1⁄3 innings. Valdez didn’t face Minnesota this season, but he faced the Twins in August of 2022 and allowed just one run on two hits while striking out eight.
Like yesterday’s starter Justin Verlander, I like Valdez as a proven playoff pitcher who has a history of digging deep and coming big in big spots. Last year in the postseason, he went 3-0 with 33 strikeouts in 25 innings with a 1.44 ERA and 2.07 FIP, all while holding opponents to just a .161 batting average. He may not quite match that dominance this season, but I feel much more confident in his success against the Twins than in Pablo Lopez ($9,000) being able to shut down the Astros. The fact that Valdez actually saves some salary is an added bonus.
Jordan Montgomery, Texas Rangers at Baltimore Orioles ($7,600) – Montgomery was a great mid-season addition for the Rangers and got the ball for them in Game 1 of their Wild Card series against the Rays. The former Cardinal went seven shutout innings with five strikeouts and got the win to earn 26.2 DKFP.
The excellent outing was a continuation of the lefty’s strong form to finish the season. In his final four starts of the regular season, Montgomery only allowed two total runs on 19 hits with 22 strikeouts across 27 innings. Montgomery has run hot and cold throughout his career, but when he’s locked in, he can be elite. The fact that he’s a lefty also puts him on the better side of the splits against the Orioles, who struggled with lefty Andrew Heaney in Game 1. He’ll go head-to-head with rookie Grayson Rodriguez ($6,700), and Montgomery is the much stronger option based on his experience and recent form.
Jose Altuve, Houston Astros vs. Minnesota Twins ($6,000) – Altuve led off Game 1 with a home run on Saturday and now has an impressive 23 homers in 92 postseason games. He has a .271 career batting average in the playoffs with a .356 wOBA and 128 wRC+. Altuve missed the start of the year due to injury, but came on strong in the second half, hitting .335 with a .407 wOBA after the All-Star break and stealing 11 bases in 86 games. He has both power and speed potential against Lopez and the Twins as the anchor at the top of the Astros’ lineup on Sunday.
Josh Jung, Texas Rangers at Baltimore Orioles ($4,600) – Jung hit the decisive homer in the first game of this series, after going 3-for-4 with three extra-base hits and 24 DKFP in the final game of the Wild Card series. Jung had a breakthrough season, playing 122 games and hitting 23 home runs for the Rangers with a .266 batting average and .334 wOBA. He is a great and relatively affordable option at 3B against his fellow rookie Rodriguez on this slate.
Other Options – Corey Seager ($6,500), Royce Lewis ($5,900), Jorge Polanco ($4,400)
Carlos Correa, Minnesota Twins at Houston Astros ($3,600) – Despite getting hit on the hand on Wednesday against the Blue Jays, Correa was in the lineup against his former team on Saturday, and went 2-for-4 with a double and 8.0 DKFP. He has hit safely in each of the Twins’ three playoff games and hasn’t shown any limitations from the plantar fasciitis that sidelined him the last two weeks of the regular season. Correa usually has good splits against lefties, and getting him under $4K is a solid SS solution on Sunday.
Jose Abreu, Houston Astros vs. Minnesota Twins ($3,300) – Abreu went 1-for-3 with an RBI and 7.0 DKFP in his first playoff games with the Astros, and he remains a great play at under $3.5K for Game 2. After his miserable start, he found his stride in September with seven of his 18 homers coming after September 1. In his 26 regular season games after that, he hit .237 with six doubles, a triple, an impressive 28 RBI and 9.3 DKFP per contest. Abreu is still underpriced given his upside, and his spot in the heart of such a stacked lineup.
Other Options – Jeremy Pena ($3,400), Willi Castro ($3,300), Jonah Heim ($3,200)
Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros vs. Minnesota Twins ($5,800) – Last season, Alvarez mashed his way through the playoffs and delivered the Astros a World Series win. He came up with all the big hits the Astros needed, including two homers to push them past Seattle in last year’s ALDS. He picked up where he left off on Saturday, going 2-for-3 with three RBI, three runs scored, two home runs and 34 DKFP. He dealt with some injuries during the season, but came down the stretch in a nice groove, posting a .308 batting average and .422 wOBA in the second half. Alvarez’s clutch abilities over the past two seasons remind me of another left-handed slugger who always came up big in the clutch. While he’s not in Big Papi territory just yet, he is a great play to build around again on Sunday. Lopez struggled a bit with left-handed power hitters this season, allowing 13 of his 24 homers to lefties, who had a .327 wOBA against him, compared to just a .260 wOBA for righties. If you’re building an Astros stack, Alvarez and the other lefties like Kyle Tucker ($5,500) are a great spot to start.
Evan Carter, Texas Rangers at Baltimore Orioles ($4,500) – It’s amazing that a recent call-up is having such a huge impact on the postseason, but Carter has quickly started looking the part of one of the top hitters in all of baseball. He posted 21 and 20 DKFP in the Rangers’ two wins against the Rays and started this series with 13 DKFP against the Orioles. In his 26 games in the majors during the regular and postseason, he has averaged 9.6 DKFP, while hitting .324 (22-for-68) with six home runs and four stolen bases. He’s still just 21 years old, but he looks like he’ll be here to stay as a centerpiece of the Rangers lineup for many years to come. Getting him at this price actually seems like a good deal when you consider his recent form and potential upside.
Other Options – Kyle Tucker ($5,500), Anthony Santander ($4,300)
Michael Brantley, Houston Astros vs. Minnesota Twins ($3,600) – Brantley started Game 1 of the ALDS and went 1-for-3 with a stolen base for 10 DKFP. He only played 15 games this season for the Astros and went 15-for-54 (.278) with two homers, and didn’t even attempt a stolen base. The speed isn’t something to count on, to be sure, but he’s definitely feeling healthy and is a cheap way to get another Astros’ lefty in your lineup against Lopez.
Leody Taveras, Texas Rangers at Baltimore Orioles ($3,000) – Taveras is only 25, but compared to Carter, he’s basically an old-timer. He had an up-and-down season but finished with a strong September, in which he hit .310 with two homers, three stolen bases and a .357 wOBA. He has started and hit safely in each of the Rangers’ first three games this postseason, going 4-for-12 (.333) with a walk and two stolen bases to average 8.7 DKFP per contest. He doesn’t have nearly the ceiling of his younger teammate, but he does bring both power and speed potential and comes at a great price of just $3K.
Other Options – Max Kepler ($4,100), Chas McCormick ($3,900), Aaron Hicks ($2,900)
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is z.thompson) 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 skills 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.