This article is part of our FanDuel MLB series.
Friday features just the Yankees and Rays in a decisive Game 5, which I believe results in our first showdown slate of the postseason.
Both teams bring their aces to the mound in Gerrit Cole and Tyler Glasnow, and while both are pitching on short rest, it's Glasnow who only had two days off after throwing 93 pitches in Game 2, so we can't expect him to work too deep, but rather expect all hands on deck, including Blake Snell, the Rays' Game 1 starter.
Glasnow has elite strikeout numbers, fanning 14.3 per nine, suggesting the Yankees will likely be a bit more feast or famine than usual for an offense that whiffed just 21.4 percent of the time during the regular season. That played out exactly as expected in Game 2, where the Yanks fanned 10 times over five innings, but managed four runs on just three hits thanks to two long balls. Glasnow was up and down in three regular-season starts against New York, allowing 11 hits, six runs, two homers and 22 Ks across 14.1 innings, the bulk of that damage came in a 2.2 inning outing in August.
Cole profiles almost identically. He's seen a small uptick in ERA in two postseason starts (3.46 vs. 2.84), but it's come with a lower xFIP (2.20 vs. 3.38) and an increase in Ks per nine (14.5 vs. 11.6). Tampa got him for two homers in Game 1, account for all their offense, putting up only three singles against Cole and the bullpen otherwise. Cole has allowed a long ball in three straight, and the Rays likely will need to focus on elevating the ball against Cole and his 43.1 percent fly ball rate if they're going to scratch. This is the type of game Cole was brought in to dominate, and the expectation is he'll do just that.
The trendy/popular pick, obviously so for both cash and GPP lineup's alike is going to be to use Giancarlo Stanton ($9,500) as your MVP. He's surged in the postseason, with last night being his first game without a homer. He took Glasnow deep twice in Game 2, and has down so now three times in six at bats against. The less obvious option may be DJ LeMahieu ($7,500), who comes with far less upside, but a much more stable floor. He fans a team low 11 percent against righties, sporting a team-high .428 wOBA and 176 wRC+, brings an eight-game hitting streak into Friday, and has hit safely in 22 of his last 25 games. Rolling the dice on Luke Voit ($8,000) is my preference over a cold Aaron Judge ($9,000), as there's not only savings, but we could ride Voit's homer Thursday and post-game guarantee of a Game 5 win into this contest. He carried a .321 ISO against righties during the regular season. Both will likely be lower used, GPP options.
There aren't many sure things in the Rays lineup, but building a contrarian stack has to start with Randy Arozarena ($8,500). New York finally solved him Thursday (0-for-4), but entered yesterday 12-for-20 with three homers, four RBI and eight runs scored during the postseason, including 3-of-3 off of Cole in Game 1. The Rays figure to go lefty-heavy with the rest of their lineup, not entirely targetable against Cole, but he did allow four more homers in 46 fewer at bats than he did against righties. Brandon Lowe ($7,500) hasn't recorded a hit in this series however, and a pivot to Austin Meadows ($7,000) has only yielded one knock. The only other bat outside of Arozarena that's enjoying post season play is Kevin Kiermaier ($4,500), who's 4-for-10 in this series.
It's impossible not to mention, and consider, Ji-Man Choi ($4,500). Not only is he priced low, he's dominated Cole in his career. After going 1-for-2 with a homer and an intentional walk against Cole in Game 1, he's now 9-of-14 with four homers, 10 RBI and four walks. Yandy Diaz ($4,500) led off against Cole in Game 1 despite the RvR matchup, and with just a 10.8 percent K rate against righties, whom he posted a weak .088 ISO against during the regular season, but a stable .372 wOBA
Given that Glasnow is less likely to work deep into this contest, perhaps targeting safer Ray bats and going with some one-offs in a deep Yankees lineup could be a successful play. Gleyber Torres ($6,500) is comes at a nice tag after a disappointing regular season, but he's been useful in the postseason, homering twice while hitting safely in all but one game. Depending on what the lineup card looks like, Clint Frazier ($6,000) and/or Brett Gardner ($5,500) offer low entry points into the Yanks offense.