This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
The Showdown slates on DraftKings are a great way to have extra interest in standalone games that you might not otherwise pay attention to. As the Division Series round of the MLB playoffs winds down, the number of "Classic" slates will dwindle, which should continue to steer new players toward signing up for the single-game alternatives.
The lineups are very straight forward. Choose any six players from the game that you'd like, regardless of position, but with the limitation that only four hitters can be from the same lineup. You can stack four hitters from the same team, with one of that team's pitchers, but you need to have at least one player from the opposing team.
For those who haven't played an MLB Showdown contest yet, or for those who didn't take a few minutes to double-check the scoring system, there are a few differences.
The bigger differences come with pitching, where multi-inning relievers can become useful plays in certain scenarios, since holds and saves are rewarded, and reliever innings are worth 3.9 points (1.3 points per out) compared to starting pitchers' standard 2.25 points (0.75 points per out). Reliever strikeouts also receive a bump, earning 3 points each compared to the usual 2 for starting pitchers.
The two starters in Tuesday's game are the most expensive players on the board.
Rick Porcello, SP, BOS ($14,000) – Not surprisingly, the Yankees were better than average against right-handed pitching in 2018, carrying a 108 wRC+. Of course, the hitter-friendly tendencies of Yankee Stadium are well known, and left-handed hitters get an even greater park boost than righties in the Bronx. Porcello posted a career-high 25.0% K% against lefties this season, cutting his ERA to 4.28 and his WHIP to 1.21 in that split after finishing with a 5.25 ERA and 1.47 WHIP in 2017.
While Porcello made adjustments to his approach, including the reduced use of his four-seamer, he's operated with a seemingly small margin for error when you consider that he's carried a whiff rate below 20 percent against lefties with all but one of his offerings (the less utilized four-seamer). Like most pitchers, he's more effective against same-handed hitters, thanks to his curveball (40.9% whiff rate vs. RHH), slider (27.9% whiff rate) and four-seamer (28.8%) generating whiffs more than 25 percent of the time.
The Yankees' right-heavy lineup is good enough to do damage against any pitcher, but their current roster construction bodes well for Porcello. Of the two starting pitchers taking the ball in this game, Porcello is the one I'm more willing to build around in cash-game lineups.
CC Sabathia, SP, NYY ($13,300) – The Red Sox struggled against lefties early in 2018, getting no-hit by Sean Manaea in April and carrying a well-below average wRC+ against southpaws throughout the first half. The season-long mark (89) suggests that it's a below average offense against lefties, but there is no compelling reason to think that the Boston bats will be unable to get to Sabathia.
Against righties, Sabathia has worked with his cutter as his main offering (50.2%), while using his slider as his main secondary offering (27.6%) with occasional changeups (12.7%) and sinkers (8.8%). The sinker has been his worst pitch in each of the last three seasons, and opposing righties posted a .483 wOBA against it in 2018. If he simply avoids it entirely, he'll be much better off, especially if he's able to mix in a few more changeups along the way. Against right-handed hitters, it's easily his best weapon, as he's generated more whiffs with it than any other offering.
Ultimately, the problem for Sabathia will be depth, as he's logged 14 innings over three starts against Boston this season (avg: 4.2 IP/start) during a season in which he's gone 153 innings over 29 starts in total (avg: < 5.1 IP/start). Unless the Yankees pounce on Porcello early and open up a big lead, Sabathia seems unlikely to work deep into this start, making him a GPP-only consideration.
As the bullpens go, Chad Green (29 pitches), Jonathan Holder (38) Steven Tarpley (31) all pitched enough for the Yankees in the Game 3 loss to ignore them as a potential multi-inning contributors, since it's unlikely that they'll appear for more than one inning Tuesday, if they pitch at all. The Red Sox used Heath Hembree and Eduardo Rodriguez after Nathan Eovaldi went seven innings Monday, and each reliever needed just 15 pitches to get through their respective frames.
The Yankees are facing elimination, and have the benefit of an off-day Wednesday if they come away with a win in Game 4, so look for David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Zach Britton, and Aroldis Chapman to contribute if this game is competitive, perhaps working in combination to take the ball from Sabathia in the fourth or the fifth to the finish line.
Robertson picked up the win in Game 5 of the ALDS last season against Cleveland, replacing Sabathia with one out in the fourth, pitching through the end of the sixth, and picking up the win with a 2.2-inning scoreless outing. He's fresh, having been rested since appearing in Game 1 of the current series with the Red Sox on Friday.
Betances was only used a handful of times in multi-inning relief appearances during the regular season, but he's much more likely to be asked for more than three outs after going two full frames in the AL Wild Card Game against Oakland and in Game 2 against Boston.
My interest in the Boston bullpen is limited to a lineup construction under the narrative that the Red Sox win a close enough game to generate a save chance for Craig Kimbrel, who at $3,300, is a huge bargain if the game plays out that way, despite the clear limitation on the points ceiling for a closer.
The most cash-friendly "value" bat on the Yankees side is Andrew McCutchen ($5,900), as he'll likely lead off against Porcello at a heavily discounted price, and he frees up the cash necessary to load up a 1-2-3 or 1-2-3-4 Yankees stack with a combo of Aaron Judge, Luke Voit and Giancarlo Stanton behind him. Despite the more favorable lineup position for McCutchen, my preference is to shift to a 2-3-4-5 Yankees stack to include Didi Gregorius if you're building around a pro-Yankees narrative. At $7,200, he draws a lefty-righty matchup against Porcello, and he's positioned in the middle-third of the Yankees' lineup with the potential for a huge night if the thumpers in front of him can get on base.
At $6,000, Steve Pearce is a steal against a left-handed starter, and he seems unlikely to lose early at-bats to Mitch Moreland, since Moreland appears to be limited to a late-inning pinch-hit role. The Red Sox hit Pearce third in the order in Game 1 against lefty J.A. Happ, and while a return to that spot will drive up ownership even further, Pearce is a very strong cash-game play in that role.
Also on the Boston side, paying the freight for J.D. Martinez ($10,000) in cash games offers slightly more balance than Mookie Betts ($11,000), and it allows affords a slightly better mini-stack opportunity with Xander Bogaerts ($9,200) as the team's potential No. 4 and No. 5 hitters both opening the game with the platoon advantage against Sabathia, likely for their first two trips to the plate.
As tournaments go, the cheap options that can serve as useful one-off plays are the hitters buried somewhat in their respective orders.
For the Yankees, Gleyber Torres ($5,800) will likely hit eighth, but under $6K, he provides cheap power upside, and the salary relief necessary for pricey combos of Boston bats.