This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
Friday, the Astros and the Dodgers – the two giants of recent MLB history – might be eliminated. This could be the last day of the season with multiple MLB games. This also means you can play the "Classic" style of competition, though with limited options. Here are my thoughts on how to approach setting your DFS lineup for today.
Let's look at the four pitchers scheduled to start Friday. First, the biggest name of the bunch Blake Snell ($8,700). A couple years ago, Snell won the Cy Young with a 1.87 ERA, and after struggling in 2019 he had a 3.24 ERA in 11 starts during the regular season. In the postseason, his ERA has dropped to 2.87. The Astros scuffled a bit in the regular season by their standards, but their .805 OPS in the playoffs is second best.
The Astros are turning to Framber Valdez ($8,300), who has arguably been their best starter this postseason. Valdez had the best season of his career so far, with a 2.84 FIP and a 9.68 K/9 rate. The southpaw has struck out 17 batters in 18 postseason innings as well. Tampa finished 12th in runs scored this season, but in the playoffs it has honestly struggled a bit offensively. The Rays have a sub-.300 OBP in the postseason.
Then, there are the starters in the Dodgers-Braves game. Even though Josh Tomlin ($5,400) has by far the lowest salary of these four pitchers, there's a reason for that. He had a 4.76 ERA mostly pitching in relief and likely won't go deep in this game. Lastly, there's Dustin May ($7,200). May pitched 1.2 innings in Game 1, so he may not go too late into the game. The young pitcher has a lot going for him, but the Braves finished second in the majors in runs scored by a mere one run and had the top OPS of any team.
Carlos Correa ($4,400) had a bafflingly poor regular season, especially when it comes to power. I did not personally believe that Correa's power had been sapped, as he has a career .480 slugging percentage. The 26-year-old's power has returned in the playoffs, as he's hit six homers in 11 games. Correa is also a righty facing the left-handed Snell, so he has that matchup aspect going for him. Also, while this isn't a true "away" game in that the site is neutral, Snell has a 3.64 ERA on the road since 2018 as opposed to a 2.00 ERA at home.
Other than breakout star Randy Arozarena ($4,700), the Rays have seen most of their bats fall fallow. However, that leaves you opportunity to get some value from the Tampa lineup. I'm turning to Yandy Diaz ($3,700) who usually pops up in the lineup when a lefty (like Valdez) is on the mound. Indeed, the right-handed hitter has a .877 OPS versus lefties since 2018. He only appeared in 34 games this season, but he hit .307 with a .428 OBP.
Like I said, there's no knowing how long May will last, since he pitched in Game 1, admittedly in limited action. Hey, they made a big deal about Gerrit Cole never pitching on three day's rest in his career and then he went out and tossed a gem (in a loss, but nevertheless). In his limited time in the league, May has given up a .282 batting average to lefties. I wish there was more than one lefty for the Braves to recommend, but I don't exactly feel enthusiastic about Nick Markakis ($2,900), though you could use him to fill out your lineup. Of course, Freeman is never hard to recommend. The dude posted a 1.102 OPS this season and he has a .939 OPS in the playoffs.
If you like to only spend a little salary on your catcher, I understand. D'Arnaud may not be for you then. However, I feel like he's a catcher on whom it's worth splurging. In his first season in Atlanta, the backstop had a career year with a .321/.386/.533 slash line with nine homers in 44 games. Ozuna has serious power, and you may have noticed that home runs have been the primary mode of scoring in the playoffs. After hitting 29 homers in 130 games last season, Ozuna went yard 18 times in only 60 games this year with a .636 slugging percentage.
Tomlin likely won't be in the game long, likely no more than a couple innings, which means we probably should expect a bullpen game. That could allow Atlanta to target guys like Seager and Bellinger with lefties, but not like back before the change in bullpen rules. Nevertheless, I'm happy to include Seager and Bellinger in a stack. A lot of Dodgers had down years, but not Seager who slashed .307/.358/.585 with 15 homers. He's been the best Dodgers hitter in the playoffs, sporting a 1.106 OPS. Bellinger had batting average issues, but he hit 12 homers and stole six bases, and in the playoffs he has an .893 OPS. Just in case, I wanted to get a righty in the lineup. Pollock hit 16 homers and slugged .566 this year, and if he faces a lefty, he has the advantage. Pollock has a .879 OPS versus lefties since 2018.