This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
Unlike our previous two slates, Thursday's Showdown game between the Rays and the Astros won't feature either starter on short rest, which should lessen the chance that they will fall short of pitching to the back of their respective baseball cards. While offense could be at a premium Thursday, prospective owners can pick up some scarcity by relying on one hurler's tendency to allow home runs.
Gerrit Cole ($12,000) put a punctuation mark on the outstanding 40 percent strikeout rate he logged in the regular season by mowing down 15 (!) Rays in 7.2 innings of scoreless baseball last week. This makes him something of a lock in the captain's seat, but it should be noted that he was not immune to the home run spike that plagued pitchers this season, as evidenced by the 17 long balls he allowed to left-handed batters in 117.1 innings.
Fellow former pirate Tyler Glasnow ($10,000) certainly doesn't get (nor deserve) the praise that Cole does, but the 26-year-old had a fantastic season in his own right, logging a 1,.78 ERA and striking out 76 batters in 60.2 innings. This, combined with the fact that Glasnow doesn't allow many home runs, might encourage prospective owners to roster both hurlers, but those who wish to go down this route should consider two factors. The first of these is that Glasnow struggled in his outing against the Astros last week, allowing two runs and three walks in just 4.1 innings. The second thing to consider is that a bullpen game worked so well for the Rays on Monday that manager Kevin Cash may be inclined to once again mix and match. It goes without saying that Glasnow will have a longer leash than someone like Diego Castillo, but it would hardly be surprising to see the game be turned over to a reliever or even another starter after four or five frames.
Ordinarily, you wouldn't necessarily target hitters from the opposing squad against a pitcher like Cole. As I mentioned above, however, Cole has developed a knack for giving up the longball, having lost at least one fly ball in six of his final 10 starts of the regular season. The interesting thing about this from a DFS perspective is we can still expect 30 or more points from Cole on days when this happens, making it quite tempting to pair the flamethrower with a powerful Tampa Bay bat. My choice for that bat is Austin Meadows ($8,400). Meadows is much more reasonably priced than he has been in the past due to postseason struggles, but he showed tremendous power against right-handed pitching this season (.278 ISO) while striking out against them less than 19 percent of the time.
Due to the quality of both hurlers, riding with two starters Thursday certainly wouldn't be a bad idea. Those wary of going to Glasnow after his shaky performance in Game 1, however, may want to take advantage of some of his groundball tendencies with hitters who put the ball in the air. This would mean focusing on Alex Bregman ($9,600), Carlos Correa ($8,400), and Robinson Chirinos ($6,600) as main targets.
Unfortunately, we don't have multiple super low-cost plug-ins here that we've seen on other showdown slates, but we should still take a strong look at players like Willy Adames ($6,000) and Joey Wendle ($4,400). Adames has caught absolute fire this postseason, going 5-for-13 with two homers, while Wendle kept just a 16 percent strikeout rate to go along with a 36 percent hard contact rate against right-handed pitching in 184 at-bats during the regular season.