This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
There are two slates available Sunday: a Showdown option for Game 2 of the NLCS and a Sunday-Monday option that incorporates ALCS Game 3. We'll mix and match the analysis to cover both slates. Given the smaller schedules, it becomes more important to predict what your opponents will do in GPPs than specific player analysis. While baseball research will still be important, game theory is equally – if not more – important with less contests.
Max Scherzer ($16,200) is the obvious pick in this spot, but I'll lock in on Corey Seager ($14,700) if I'm looking for a way to get different with the Dodgers. Seager hasn't hit a homer this postseason, but he's produced four batted balls over 100 MPH with a launch angle above 10 degrees. If he keeps hitting the ball that way, more damage is coming.
If you want to get contrarian, Ian Anderson ($14,000) isn't likely to get much attention as the Braves are heavy underdogs and he's going up against Scherzer. However, Anderson has struck out 32 batters across 28.2 innings spanning his last five starts. That strikeout upside hasn't been present for him for most of the season, but it's worth noting the change in skills.
The quality of pitching options for the two-game slate are fairly uninspiring given that we're in the championship series and only the best teams are remaining. Max Scherzer ($8,900) is the obvious option and is a near lock to be played in any cash/H2H contest. On a small slate like this, I don't mind playing negatively correlated pitchers. The case for Anderson from a skills perspective was laid out above. In addition, the early run total has a 7.5 line for the NLCS as opposed to 8.5 for the ALCS. Neither pitcher in the ALCS has been dependable, so rostering both Anderson and Scherzer and hoping for a low-scoring contest is justifiable.
Choosing between Jose Urquidy ($7,700) and Eduardo Rodriguez ($6,900) isn't particularly easy, but I'll side with Rodriguez due to more strikeout upside, lower salary and the Red Sox being slight favorites to win (-114).
Cody Bellinger ($3,400/$9,000 showdown) sat in Game 1 with Max Fried on the mound, but he's expected to return today versus a righty. It's an extremely small sample, but Bellinger has at least one hit in five of seven postseason games. The power hasn't been there, but lineup context will help him, particularly at the discounted value.
There aren't many cheap bats to be found for either Houston or Boston, but Christian Arroyo ($2,300) is a sneaky option. He posted a .332 wOBA and .183 ISO when facing righties this season and Urquidy has suffered from reverse platoon splits both in 2021 and throughout his career. Just for perspective, Alex Verdugo ($3,800) maintained a .334 wOBA and .138 ISO against righties this season, yet is far more expensive and far more likely to be rostered.
Yuli Gurriel ($3,800) is among the value regulars from the Astros' lineup, yet has the highest team wOBA versus southpaws this season and a higher ISO than Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman.
Considerations for Stacking
On such a small slate, it's all about avoiding negative correlation between hitters and pitchers. In other words, don't roster Anderson as a starting pitcher and then stack Dodgers. Any benefit you gain from a strong start by Anderson would be offset by Dodgers' bats doing nothing, and vice-versa if LA were to tee off at the plate.
The most contrarian build would be rostering Anderson as a starting pitcher and stacking Atlanta hitters. There's no reason to do this in cash games, but if Scherzer disappoints there is GPP winning upside if the right Atlanta hitters deliver as Dodgers' stacks backing the ace are likely to be the most popular option.
The ALCS contest likely offers the higher potential for scoring, so another viable option would be to roster both NLCS pitchers and then stack both the Boston and Houston lineup. This may be difficult from a salary-point perspective, but it's possible to build strong lineups by mixing in some of the bargain options listed above.