This article is part of our FanDuel MLB series.
Thursday's LCS slate sees the Astros trying to stave off elimination for a second straight night after escaping with a 4-3 win Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Dodgers bats awoke in the most remarkable manner possible in Game 3, setting a new MLB postseason record with 11 first-inning runs on their way to a 15-3 win. They'll look to even the series at 2-2 behind Clayton Kershaw, who was originally set to pitch Game 2 before back spasms scuttled that plan.
Clayton Kershaw, LAD vs. ATL ($10,100): Kershaw does carry a hefty salary and has at least some health-related doubts attached to him after being scratched due to back spasms in Game 2. However, if at full strength, he's the top pitcher on this slate and faces an Atlanta squad that isn't normally anywhere near as dangerous against left-handed pitching as they are versus righties, as none of Ronald Acuna, Freddie Freeman, Travis d'Arnaud, Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson or Austin Riley hit better than .245 against lefties this season. Kershaw, who's been much better thus far this postseason (1.93 ERA over two starts) than in past years, held both handedness of hitter to sub-.200 averages during the regular season and has held current Atlanta bats to a pedestrian .228/.271/.327 line with 45 strikeouts over 163 combined at-bats.
Luis Garcia, HOU vs. TB ($6,000): Garcia has been named Houston's starter for Thursday's game, although how long he remains on the mound is an open question. Nevertheless, he carries a very modest salary and worth a look given his impressive body of work this season. The rookie righty made two starts during the campaign and worked 4.1 innings in one of his four relief appearances, and he arrived in the majors with an excellent track record of keeping the ball in the park during his four-stop minor-league career. The Rays have been better than the Astros at cashing in with runners on base, but not by much, as they've yet to score more than five runs in any contest since Game 3 of the ALDS versus the Yankees.
Corey Seager, LAD vs. ATL ($4,100): I'm big on the Dodgers again Thursday and particularly Seager, who exploded for 41.4 FD points last night on the strength of a double, a home run and four total RBI. It marked the third playoff game with at least 24.9 FD points for Seager, who now gets a matchup versus Bryse Wilson, who surrendered a .423 average and .438 wOBA in 23 PAs to left-handed hitters this season and who's yielded a .438 wOBA to lefties in a larger career sample. Seager punished right-handed pitching to the tune of a .416 wOBA and .301 ISO this season, and he owned a .435 wOBA against the four-seam fastball, the pitch Wilson most often throws and one he allowed a .457 wOBA on this season.
Alex Bregman, HOU vs. TB ($3,800): Rookie left-hander Josh Fleming is expected to see the bulk of the innings for Tampa after opener John Curtiss, which is potentially good news for Bregman. The Astros' third baseman generated a .319/.411/.574 and .408 wOBA against southpaws this season over 56 plate appearances, and he owns a .323 average and .418 wOBA versus that handedness overall in his career. Bregman has been slumping in this series, which should reduce his usage somewhat, but he also happens to be an excellent sinkerball hitter (1.121 OPS and .462 wOBA versus the pitch in '20), while that qualifies as Fleming's most often utilized pitch.
Max Muncy, LAD vs. ATL ($3,700): Sticking with the theme of potent lefty bats against Wilson, Muncy checks in at a reasonable salary based on recent performances and is $600 cheaper than teammate Cody Bellinger, who's also appealing if you can afford him. Muncy has gone deep in back-to-back games, exploding for 44.4 FD points after tallying 28.2 in Game 2. Muncy had a rough season overall, but he slugged eight of his 12 homers off right-handed pitching and was done in against that handedness by an unsustainably low .172 BABIP. Muncy also posted a 45.7 percent hard-contact rate against righties outside Dodger Stadium and a .475 wOBA against the four-seam fastball.
Martin Maldonado, HOU vs. TB ($2,800): The veteran backstop is more valued in a real-world sense for his handling of the staff and defense, but he offers some nice pop at a reasonable salary. Just as with Bregman, Maldonado is particularly adept against southpaws, tagging them for a .279/.404/.465 line and .381 wOBA this season. The catcher also had a good track record against the sinker, posting a .367 wOBA against the pitch this season.
Nick Markakis, ATL vs. LAD ($2,300): Markakis is up against my top pitcher recommendation in Kershaw, but that doesn't make him off limits at this salary. The veteran outfielder is one of those rare left-handed hitters that is capable of thriving in same-handed matchups, posting a career .281 average and .337 OBP versus lefties, as well as a .392 wOBA against that handedness in a small sample this season. Markakis has also held his own during his career against Kershaw, managing a .267 average and a pair of doubles over 15 total plate appearances.
Stacks to Consider
As detailed earlier, Wilson has had plenty of trouble versus left-handed hitters, and the Dodgers bats are clearly locked in after scoring 22 runs over their last 12 innings between Games 2 and 3.
Betts was actually one of the quieter bats for L.A. on Wednesday, but he still posted 12.4 FD points, his fifth double-digit tally of the postseason. The perennial All-Star's upside is unquestioned, and he generated a .323/.385/.677 line and .438 wOBA versus right-handed pitching this past regular season. Seager and Muncy were already covered earlier, while Bellinger, who compiled 34.4 FD points in Game 3 on the strength of his second round tripper of the postseason, hit nine of his 12 homers this season with a .360 wOBA and .252 ISO against right-handed pitching.