This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
Thursday's two-game main slate is a tough one to navigate, as it features three pitchers who could only be around for an inning or two. Still, we can find fantastic value hitters strewn throughout the docket, as well as try to determine which of those three hurlers has the chance to rack up points.
Clayton Kershaw, LAD at ATL ($9,400): One thing we know for sure is Kershaw is set to return to the bump after missing his Game 2 start due to back spasms. Kershaw's two postseason starts have been nothing short of phenomenal, as he has tallied a 1.93 ERA and a 28 percent strikeout rate in 14 innings. This comes after a regular season that saw him post a 2.16 ERA in 58.1 frames. The Braves were a powerhouse squad against nearly every kind of pitcher you can think of in 2020 but with the level of uncertainty that exists on this slate, it might be best just to take him based on raw skill alone.
Luis Garcia, HOU vs. TB ($4,100): The Astros and Rays will both be using openers for Thursday's contest, but Garcia does have at least one start this year. He threw 86 pitches in that outing, which could make him a major value play if he gets through the lineup more than once. All the reasons I stated yesterday to pick on the Rays still apply, as they finished the year with the second-highest strikeout rate in the league (27 percent) and a bottom-5 RAA against the fastball.
Cody Bellinger, LAD at ATL ($4,900): I am overjoyed that DraftKings continues to give us Bellinger under $5,000. Particularly when he is facing a pitcher like Bryse Wilson, who allowed a .524 slugging percentage and a .437 wOBA against lefty hitters in 4.1 frames (23 batters faced). After a subpar 2020 regular season (by his standards) Bellinger has hit the gas in the playoffs, notching a .313 ISO and .388 wOBA in 32 at-bats.
Jose Altuve, HOU vs TB ($4,600): Unlike Garcia, there isn't much to suggest that John Curtiss will hang around longer than an inning or two for the Rays, as he has been used exclusively as an opener this year. Curtiss has been lit up in the playoffs, allowing five runs in his 4.1 frames to go along with three walks over that span. While this is good news for Astros hitters, I would likely recommend Altuve regardless of who was pitching at this price, as he has crushed the ball to the tune of a .410 ISO in 39 at-bats during the postseason.
Marcell Ozuna, ATL vs. LAD ($4,100): It's never comfortable to target a hitter against Kershaw, but this is the lowest price I can remember Ozuna being at this season. We should take note of this, as the 29-year-old absolutely destroyed left-handed pitching during the regular season, notching a .511(!) ISO to go along with a .527 wOBA in 45 at-bats. On a two-game slate, this could be a spot to roster Kershaw and Ozuna together to see if he can lose one in an otherwise great pitching performance.
Michael Brantley, HOU vs TB ($3,200): Brantley is practically a must-roster player at this price thanks to the .268 ISO and .432 wOBA he has tallied over 41 at-bats in the postseason. His move to the front of the lineup could garner us an extra at-bat or two, but there does exist the possibility that the Rays match him up with lefty arms in what will essentially be a bullpen game. Still, Brantley has enough working for him here to be a strong recommendation.
Stacks to Consider
The Dodgers are once again facing a weak pitcher by postseason standards, which means we should take the opportunity to throw in as many high-powered bats as possible. We know the threat posed by Bellinger and Muncy, but Pederson has seen back-to-back starts in the lineup for Los Angeles, which makes him a more-than-rosterable hitter due to the .223 ISO he logged against righty arms during the regular season.
Curtiss is certainty a pitcher who can be gotten to, but as I alluded to above, this is more of a general recommendation based on how well the lineup has been performing. Altuve, Springer, and Brantley will all enter the contest with slugging percentages above .500 in the postseason.