Welcome to the FREE playoff edition of my articles! I will break down each game for the Wild Card round!
In case you all didn’t know, my name is Matt, mdellagnese14 on twitter. I am currently a student at Springfield College with a love and passion for sports, mainly baseball.
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I am mostly a Fanduel player, so the content in my articles will be for geared mainly towards Fanduel. However, I will include pricing from both sites (Fanduel and Draftkings) Some plays may be better off for the two pitcher sites and I will mention that when needed about a pitcher.
Pitching is one of the most, if not the most important position in your MLB lineups and selecting the right one will help you tremendously. Go check out the MLB Pitching Strategy article to get my thought process on picking these pitchers each slate!
NOTE: most of the stats I used are from a 14-game sample to the handiness of pitchers. If I reference season numbers, I will mention that!
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Welcome to Playoff Baseball! The atmosphere is electric and October is where the magic happens! Below is the breakdown of the two wild-card games that will occur tonight and tomorrow night!
Colorado Rockies @ Chicago Cubs (-140) O/U: 7
Kyle Freeland (L) vs Jon Lester (L)
Freeland: After Marquez pitched in Game 163, Freeland is a great choice to start this wildcard game. Freeland has been really good lately and hasn’t given up more than 3 runs in a start since July 21st. He had a great season for the Rockies and now is in one of the most important games of his life, as a win will bring them to the NLDS. Freeland used groundballs and ways to limit baserunners and hard contract to get success this season too. Out of the 3 starters in the WC games, Freeland has the lowest xwOBA this season at .309. Against LHP in their last 2 weeks, the Cubs have an xwOBA of just .311 and have a 21% strikeout rate. I like Freeland in this spot.
Lester: Manager Maddon has said that Cole Hamels and Kyle Hendricks are both available out of the bullpen tonight if they need it. This worries me a little if Lester finds some trouble in this game. Lester has been great of late though and he does have post-season experience. He has a career 2.55 ERA in 148 innings and is allowing just over 1 hitter on base. Lester does have a rather high .354 xwOBA this season and he has had his struggles with a few Rockies hitters. I don’t hate him here, but I do favor Freeland in this matchup.
Rockies: This is a tougher matchup for the Rockies tonight, but I still like a few of their hitters. They have a .354 wOBA to LHP in the last 2 weeks and have a .329 xwOBA. If he cracks the lineup, Matt Holliday is a very cheap bat I’m interested in. He has always been known to crush LHP and is 7-15 in his career against Lester. Ian Desmond has been hitting the ball well lately with a .344 xwOBA to lefties, he, like Holliday has been able to crush LHP. Desmond does have 3 doubles against Lester in his career too. Nolan Arenado is always consistent and normally doesn’t score 0. He has at least 6 points in every game since September 21st. He’s expensive but has crazy power. Speaking of power, Trevor Story also hit a home run last night and was great this year. Story is the guy we always look to when the Rockies face a lefty and I love him tonight. He did hit 2 HR over the last week of games too. Arenado and Story are the spend up guys here and are my favorite two, while Desmond, Iannetta, and Holliday can be good value bats.
Cubs: The Cubbies were awful yesterday and people are going to wonder how they will be in a winner take all game today. Freeland isn’t an easy guy to hit against either. Freeland is amazing against lefties, so I’ll likely be avoiding most of them. Rizzo is always interesting and he has shown he can hit lefties, but I’m not too high on him. Kris Bryant is my top play for the Cubs in this game and Ben Zobrist has been better vs LHP this season and has a .333 xwOBA vs LHP in the last 2 weeks. He’s cheap enough and makes for a great 1-off. The last guy here is lefty masher Javier Baez. He can always pop off for a homerun and has great power. He also has a .473 xwOBA to LHP in the last 2 weeks. Other than that, I’m not too high on the Cubs offense. Plays in order of how I like them Bryant, Zobrist (great value), Baez, Rizzo.
Oakland A’s @ New York Yankees (-185) O/U: 8.5
Liam Hendriks (R) vs Luis Severino (R)
I’m not using any A’s pitcher in this game. It will be a bullpen game for them and they will likely go by matchups against the Yankee hitters.
Severino: I actually don’t love him here. The A’s have hit him in his career and he’s been awful in the 2nd half. If he struggles early, I can see the Yankees moving to Happ, Tanaka, or the rest of the bullpen. The good thing for him, he’s been a bit better in his last 2 starts before the playoffs. The A’s have been on fire coming into the playoffs too. Nearly all of their hitters have over a .315 xwOBA over the last two weeks. Severino does have strikeout upside for sure, but I do worry he doesn’t go too deep. Severino was great when he faced the A’s at home, but that was way back in May. He has been great at home, which is good for him here, but I do think he’s a little risky. He did struggle against the Twins last year in the WC game and allowed 3 runs in just 0.1 innings. I favor Freeland over Severino for the 2-game slate.
Athletics: As I said above, the A’s have been on fire coming into the playoffs. Jed Lowrie seems to always do some damage against the Yanks and is 6-11 off Severino, he also has a .414 xwOBA of late. Lefties are the way to attack Severino this season, and I like how Matt Olson has looked great lately, coming in with a .411 xwOBA vs RHP of late. Matt Chapman has 20 of his 24 home runs this season off RHP. Ramon Laureano has been getting on base like crazy lately and is rather cheap. If you want another cheap guy, Nick Martini has been doing good and is cheaper than Laureano, potentially leading off. Guys like Khris Davis is always in play, but I’m not high on him against Severino tomorrow night.
Yankees: I actually hate bullpen games. The A’s can roll out matchup pitchers all throughout this game. Over the last two weeks though, the A’s bullpen has given up the 6th most runs in the MLB. Closers for them have blown 5 saves in 68 innings. This is a great thing for the Yankees as they have been hitting the ball well lately. Their whole entire lineup is in play and I won’t argue with you about any Yankee bat. My favorites though are Luke Voit, who has been absolutely AMAZING since coming over from the Cardinals. Neil Walker seems to be matchup proof in this game because he’s a switch hitter. He’s been better batting as a lefty, and he’s very cheap, also has a .448 xwOBA in the last 2 weeks. Andrew McCutchen has been an on-base machine for the Yanks leading off. He has been on base in 14 straight games, and we want hitters who are getting on. The power guys like Judge and Stanton are both heating up too, but will cost you a lot. I will get my Yankees exposure with McCutchen, Voit, and Walker mainly, but like I said, their whole lineup is in play.
Just like yesterday, these two games can go either way. Will the ACE Severino show up for the Yankees or the one who has struggled? If we think the struggles continue, we can use some A’s bats.
The game tonight I definitely favor the Rockies and Kyle Freeland. But don’t be scared to use 1-2 Cubs, especially in the 1-game slates.
If playing the single game for tonight on Fanduel, Arenado or Story are my top 2 for the MVP spot, then you can use value guys like Desmond, Zobrist, and Iannetta and pay up for another stud if you can.
For the A’s/Yankees 1-game slate, I love using Voit in the MVP spot along with Olson or Lowrie for the A’s. Round out that game with McCutchen who is an on-base machine. Then go for the other power hitters like Davis, Judge, Stanton, Sanchez, Didi. These one-game slates can be won or lost by having or not having that 1-2 home runs that can happen.
Please play light on these small slates for the playoffs as we will normally see elite pitching. As we have seen, elite pitchers do get hit too so we will need to pick our spots wisely. Good Luck Everyone!