FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Thursday 10/15/20
Thursday's two-game playoff slate kicks into gear a little earlier at 5:07 p.m. EST, with the American League side flipping over to the early session. The Astros will once again try to stave off elimination against the Rays, while the Dodgers will look to keep the momentum going versus the Braves after last night's blowout win.
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Let's check out the top spots on today's slate.
Despite obvious concerns about his recent back issue, Clayton Kershaw ($10,100) is the clear top option pretty much by default, as none of the other potential starters tonight will be expected to go deep into their games.
As of this writing, Atlanta's Bryse Wilson ($6,100) is the only other confirmed starter, and he compiled a lackluster 5.09 SIERA, 20.5% strikeout rate, and 12.3% walk rate over 15.2 innings this season. This will be the right-hander's first ever postseason start, and he only threw 66 pitches in his last appearance -- way back on September 27th. It's hard to see him going many innings against a ruthless Dodgers lineup, and this will likely amount to more of a bullpen game for the Braves.
The Astros seem likely to throw righty Luis Garcia ($6,000), and much like Wilson, Garcia will be making his first appearance of the playoffs. He also enters with some uninspiring regular season marks, with a 5.05 SIERA, 18.4% strikeout rate, and 10.2% walk rate over 12.1 innings. Although he did make an 86-pitch start in early September, he was used exclusively as a reliever down the stretch, with three appearances below 30 pitches, and he also last pitched on September 27th. Garcia hadn't even reached Double-A before this season, and particularly under these circumstances, one would have to expect a quick hook.
The Rays are no stranger to bullpen games, so it wouldn't be surprising to get another one today. Left-hander Josh Fleming ($6,700) could get the ball, and like the previous two, you guessed it, he last pitched on September 27th. He did reach 90 pitches in that last outing, but he was otherwise held below 80 pitches in all his other appearances, and we know Tampa Bay is always quick to pull the plug on their starters. Fleming posted a solid 3.77 SIERA, 19.2% strikeout rate, and 5.4% walk rate, but even if he's given some leeway, it's hard to see him tallying many fantasy points against an Astros team that doesn't strike out much.
Given the uncertainty between all three other teams, this brings us back to Kershaw. He posted a 3.22 SIERA, 28.1% strikeout rate, and 3.6% walk rate in the regular season, and he could very well be the only hurler who gets any semblance of a normal starter's workload. Unless you're max-entering a tournament, the logical move will be to just lock in Kershaw and differentiate with your bats.
The Dodgers blew up for 15 runs on Wednesday, including a record-breaking 11 runs in the first inning, the only time that's ever been done in a playoff game.
Los Angeles has a robust 5.33 implied total, and another strong night at the plate could be on tap. We don't have large samples to go off of for Wilson, but he's been especially dreadful over 17.1 career innings versus left-handed batters (6.84 xFIP), so we should once again boost the top Dodger lefties like yesterday: Corey Seager ($4,100), Max Muncy ($3,700), Cody Bellinger ($4,300), and Joc Pederson ($2,700). Edwin Rios ($2,400) would be a strong value if he gets another start, too.
We don't have official starters for either the Rays and Astros, and chances are these will be more-or-less bullpen games anyway. We can really just stack up the top bats on either side rather than playing specific matchups. While neither team has been amazing on offense in this series -- they've combined for seven or fewer runs in all four games -- they should be far less popular than most Dodgers bats.
Randy Arozarena ($3,700) continues to be the shining star of the Rays' offense and is really the only Tampa Bay bat with a high salary, making the Rays easy to stack with Kershaw if you so choose. Ji-Man Choi ($2,500) hasn't made much noise lately but is a no-brainer value in his starts.
Particularly if Tampa Bay goes with the left-handed Fleming, we can prioritize the usual righties for the Astros in George Springer ($4,200), Jose Altuve ($3,700), Alex Bregman ($3,800), and Carlos Correa ($3,400).
The Braves are naturally the low man on the stacking totem pole, but even if you're rostering Kershaw, using some of Atlanta's top bats as one-offs can still work to be contrarian. The full stack is really only worth considering as a game-theory move if you fade Kershaw in some lineups, but it's a tougher play with today's other starters being so iffy.