This article is part of our FanDuel MLB series.
Thursday's only MLB action is the decisive Game 5 of the Rays-Astros ALDS. Read on to see which players are primed for success.
Ace Astros righty Gerrit Cole will take the mound with the season on the line for the hosts. He'll be on normal rest after tossing 7.2 shutout innings with 15 strikeouts in Game 2, but it's worth noting that he needed a career-high 118 pitches to deliver that gem. Tampa Bay's best hope is working Cole's pitch count again and getting into Houston's bullpen.
Right-hander Tyler Glasnow counters for the Rays. He posted an impressive 1.78 ERA and 2.26 FIP in 60.2 regular-season innings before giving up two runs over 4.1 innings in Game 1. With all hands on deck for the Rays, you can expect Tampa Bay's already stellar bullpen to be supplemented by 2018 AL Cy Young winner Blake Snell, and maybe even a cameo from Game 3 starter Charlie Morton.
The home team has won every game in this series, making the Astros the clear-cut favorites in this one. Houston's offense has been led by the usual suspects in this series: Jose Altuve ($9,500), who has a 1.165 OPS this postseason, and Alex Bregman ($9,000) and his 1.192 OPS. Those two studs can be used as the backbone of your fantasy lineup. Altuve went deep off Glasnow in Game 1.
George Springer ($8,500) came into this series as one of the best postseason hitters ever on a per-plate-appearance basis, but he was held hitless through this series' first three games. The leadoff man showed signs of stirring with two hits in Game 4, and he could be ready to break out at the perfect time. At least one of your MVP and All-Star spots should be occupied by one of the three players above.
As is par for the course for the Rays, they've gotten their offense from some unexpected sources. Nine-hole hitter Willy Adames ($5,500) has been their best slugger this postseason with a 1.815 OPS, with Tommy Pham ($7,000) coming in a distant second. Pham (1.033 OPS) is a remarkable 9-for-18 against Cole in his career dating back to their NL Central days with the Cardinals and Pirates, respectively. Though Cole is a much-improved pitcher since then, it helps the matchup.
Other Rays with notable regular-season numbers off Cole are Travis d'Arnaud (4-for-4 with a home run) and Ji-Man Choi (3-for-5 with a home run). Those guys can be useful pieces at $4,500 and $5,500, respectively, if you're leaning into a cheap Rays strategy.
If you're on the Rays train in this one, consider paying up for Austin Meadows ($7,500). The team's best hitter has been quiet so far in this series, but he'll have the platoon advantage against Cole and delivered a .422 road wOBA against righties in the regular season.
Josh Reddick ($4,500) bats in the bottom third of the order for the Astros, but he could be a difference-maker in this decider. The left-handed stick has the platoon advantage against Glasnow.