This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
Thursday's Showdown slate between the Dodgers and the Nationals can be a bit tricky to navigate, as the game will feature elite talent as far as the eye can see. This should force prospective owners to dig deep in order to find an edge.
Walker Buehler ($11,600) will definitely be a strong captain choice due to the 2.86 ERA and 112 strikeouts he logged at Dodger Stadium in 91.1 innings. In the other dugout, we have Patrick Corbin ($11,000), who finished 2019 with a 3.29 ERA and a 29 percent strikeout rate in 33 starts. Both pitchers would be a fine choice on any given regular-season slate, so where do we find the daylight between them here?
The first thing to note is that Corbin had some trouble with the free pass this season (8.4 percent walk rate), but the biggest vulnerability comes from his performance on the road, where he allowed 16 homers in 97 innings. This contributed to a 4.18 ERA. While these are certainly the most significant data points to look at, we shouldn't completely ignore the fact that Corbin spun a gem in his lone start against the Dodgers this year, throwing seven innings of scoreless baseball with eight strikeouts at Dodger Stadium.
It's a bit tougher to pin down weaknesses for Buehler because he doesn't really have any. He doesn't throw his negative value pitches often enough for us to try and find hitters that excel against said pitches, and his xFIP, while higher, is close enough to his ERA for us to forget about any kind of correction. It's not all great news for the 25-year-old, however, as he holds a hard contact rate over 40 percent against both sides of the platoon. He had mixed results against the Nationals this year, firing seven scoreless frames at Dodger Stadium before allowing seven runs (four earned) in 5.1 innings during a road outing.
Based on our analysis in the first section, it seems likely that the most popular (and perhaps, most successful) course of action will be to make Buehler the captain of the ship, while trying to find as many workable, quality bats as we can from the Dodger lineup. L.A. logged a top-10 ISO to go along with a nine percent walk rate against lefty pitching in 2019, which should leave us with plenty of options as we look to exploit Corbin.
One may not think that we would be able to find many cheap righty bats due to the nature of the slate, but it turns out we can choose from several reasonably priced options who have shown big power against lefty hurlers, including Justin Turner ($7,600), David Freese ($6,200), and Chris Taylor ($6,600). These options don't come without some baked in risk, however, as Turner has been dealing with a back issue, and Freese is a candidate to be lifted for a pinch-hitter once a righty enters the game.
Those more interested in big hitters will have noticed that three of the most celebrated power hitters are all left-handed. While Joc Pederson ($8,800) has been abysmal against left-handers, the power numbers of Cody Bellinger ($10,600) and Max Muncy ($9,200) show no significant power decline by platoon, which could give them a bit of scarcity at their respective prices.
Those who wish to take a shot with the Nationals offense against Buehler can hardly be blamed, as the Nats were one of the most powerful teams in the league against righties according to ISO this year. Juan Soto ($8,600) and Adam Eaton ($6,800) would make for a great mini-stack along with Corbin, as the former has shown tremendous power against righties, while the latter could be a bargain thanks to his ability to steal bases at the top of the lineup.
While his price isn't particularly surprising, Matt Adams ($4,200) is the exact kind of feast-or-famine bat we look for at the bottom of the range, as he logged a .238 ISO against right-handed pitching this year.