We’re a week into the MLB playoffs and things have been a little weird. Remember how good the AL East was supposed to be? Well, the division is 0-6 in the postseason entering play Tuesday. Remember how good the Dodgers were after the All-Star break? Well, they’re currently down 2-0 to the Diamondbacks and on the brink of elimination.
I guess the point of this rant is to remind you that we know nothing. ...Except when it comes to good fantasy plays on tonight’s slate. I’ve got that on lock.
Nathan Eovaldi, Texas Rangers vs. Baltimore Orioles, $8,800 - Last Wednesday, for the first time since his late-season return from the IL, Eovaldi looked like himself. In his 6.2 innings of work against the Rays, the veteran RHP maintained his average fastball velocity (94.9) and racked up 16 whiffs. Eovaldi was the guy who led the Red Sox to a World Series title. He was the guy that pitched to a 3.15 FIP and a 1.02 WHIP in the first-half of 2023. Could that have been a complete aberration? Of course. But, with the Rangers coming into Game 3 leading their series 2-0, Eovaldi should also have a bit of a longer leash than Cristian Javier ($7,300) or Dean Kremer ($6,900). That possibility of working past the fifth inning makes Eovaldi viable all by itself. The fact Eovaldi has the highest ceiling on the slate is just icing on the cake.
Corey Seager, Texas Rangers vs. Baltimore Orioles, $6,500 - Kremer is a difficult pitcher to figure out. While all of his advanced metrics suggest a starter who is mediocre at best, the 27-year-old has also maintained a 3.25 ERA since the All-Star break. Still, one thing that’s tough to debate is Kremer’s issues with LHBs. Kremer walked 10.1% of the 337 left-handed hitters he faced during the regular season, while also surrendering 1.81 home runs per nine within the split. That’s all great news for Seager, who was arguably the best lefty batter in baseball in 2023. Seager posted a .413 xwOBA. That was the third-highest mark of any player with at least 500 plate appearances.
Jorge Polanco, Minnesota Twins vs. Houston Astros, $4,600 - Though his numbers in 2023 would say otherwise, Polanco has tended to be a more dangerous hitter throughout the entirety of his career when batting left-handed. That’s good news when facing Javier and the Astros, because there isn’t a single LHP in the team’s bullpen. Javier’s been particularly bad against lefties, as well. Overall, the 26-year-old pitched to an ugly 6.20 ERA and 5.58 FIP from June 21 onwards, but it was LHBs that slashed .279/.369/.488 within that span of time.
Edouard Julien, Minnesota Twins vs. Houston Astros, $3,700 - Let’s keep talking about that handedness quirk in Houston’s bullpen. The Twins are a team that like to exploit platoons and they’re usually very aggressive about pinch-hitting. However, with no left-handed relievers to worry about, Rocco Baldelli can feel free to leave assets like Julien, Matt Wallner ($3,300) and Alex Kirilloff ($3,100) in for the whole game. Julien is of particular interest. Not only does the rookie hit leadoff for Minnesota against RHPs, but he managed an .898 OPS and 151 wRC+ within the split during the regular season.
Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros at Minnesota Twins, $5,800 - I can’t lie, I was shocked to discover today that Alvarez’s career wRC+ in the postseason (136) is way, way lower than his career mark for the regular season (166). Still, there’s no denying that Alvarez is an imposing presence in the batter’s box regardless of the month, and he’s lived up to his own hype with three long balls in the first two games of this series. No qualified starter surrendered home runs at a lower clip than Sonny Gray ($9,000) in 2023, yet I remain drawn to Alvarez’s seemingly endless upside and raw power.
Anthony Santander, Baltimore Orioles at Texas Rangers, $4,300 - I know. It’s a little odd to write up a hitter that’s facing my No. 1 target at pitcher, but things get weird on a two-game slate. Also, it’s important to remember how explosively awful Texas’ bullpen has the capacity to be. Santander could have multiple at-bats against non-Eovaldi pitchers. On that note, Santander’s switch-hitting ability and consistency only increase his value. The 28-year-old posted a .344 wOBA and a 122 wRC+ as an RHB during the regular season and a .339 wOBA and 118 wRC+ as an LHB. He’s always in an advantageous matchup.
Leody Taveras, Texas Rangers vs. Baltimore Orioles, $3,000 - Yet another switch-hitter, but this time one with decidedly lopsided splits. Taveras is at his best facing right-handed opponents like Kremer and he’s currently red-hot, hitting .333 in the playoffs with a .444 OBP. Really, much of Texas’ postseason success can be laid at the feet of Taveras and Evan Carter ($4,700) crushing it at the bottom of the Rangers’ lineup. Taveras just happens to be much cheaper than his teammate. That’s how it goes sometimes.
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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.