This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
Another two-game slate with the NLDS teams getting a rest day and the ALDS crew returning to action. Monday will be back to four contests, with the chance to diversify options. Given the short schedule, I want to note a strategic point. The biggest change for a short slate is that it's okay - and sometimes even preferable - to take pitchers opposing each other and negatively correlate your lineup. While this would generally limit expected value on a bigger schedule, that's less so the case in a scenario like postseason baseball. An example today: Dylan Cease has a big advantage in strikeout upside compared to the rest of the projected pitchers – more on that soon – so he offers strong upside among the starting options. If you also believe the Astros will sweep the White Sox, it makes plenty of sense to also invest in Luis Garcia and chase the win. If you were to go by Vegas odds, that isn't the case with Houston is a +107 underdog, but It does show how roster construction can change based on slate and contest.
There were some injury concerns for Dylan Cease ($8,600) late in the season having been sidelined by a triceps injury. However, he only missed one turn through the rotation and managed to strike out five across four innings in an abbreviated outing on Oct. 3. As for the slate itself, Cease has a strikeout percentage 5.5 points higher than the next best player. The matchup is scary given the way the Astros have played to this point these playoffs, but the hope is that Cease pitches deep enough into the game to let his significant advantage in swing-and-miss stuff shine through. Another potential hint at value is that the White Sox enter with the best odds to win today at -117.
Nathan Eovaldi ($8,100) has spiked his strikeout rate of late, so I'll chase the slate's two highest-valued pitchers and then try to find value bats around them. It's dangerous to rely on small-sample matchups, but Eovaldi maintained a 2.39 ERA with 31 strikeouts across 29 innings against the Rays this season. Those numbers don't mean he'll be successful Sunday, but it's at least some indication the Rays haven't solved him.
Luis Robert ($5,100) has recorded four batted balls with an exit velocity over 100 mph in the first two games of the ALDS. While he's posted two productive games, he hasn't managed any extra-base hits. Robert's salary is down relative to the end of the season, which makes it a decent time to invest and hope the results catch up to his skills.
Kyle Schwarber ($5,000) was top amongst all Red Sox in wOBA, wRC+ and second in ISO (behind Rafael Devers) when facing righties this year. He's also consistently hit leadoff for the club against righties, so he should have volume on his side. Add in a slight discount from Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and other standouts in Boston's lineup and Schwarber offers the potential to contribute the best volume among the big bats.
Austin Meadows ($3,400) has been on the bench for the first two of the ALDS, presumably because the Red Sox started two left-handers. He should be back atop the lineup today with Eovaldi on the mound and is listed with a head-scratching salary.
Similarly, Gavin Sheets ($3,300) was out of the lineup in Game 2 with a lefty. He too should be back with Garcia on the mound. While a relatively small sample, Garcia has surrendered a .352 wOBA and 1.6 HR/9 to left-handed hitters across 78 career innings. The White Sox have a right-handed heavy lineup, but Sheets, Leury Garcia and Yasmani Grandal will all hit from the left side if playing.
Stack to Consider
As was briefly mentioned, the White Sox are currently being the best odds to win (as of Sunday at 12:00 AM) and also the highest implied team total at 4.4 runs. The Red Sox are listed at 4.3 implied runs, though their entire lineup is inflated. That all points to a White Sox stack - particularly with Jimenez so undervalued - that will allow the ability to pay up for top pitchers or a more expensive secondary stack.