Benny breaks down both of the NLDS Game 5s so you can be ready to slay tonight’s competition on DraftKings and FanDuel!
Solid day of baseball as we have not one, but two knockout games in the NLDS. The first starts at 5 EST featuring St. Louis at Atlanta. The nightcap is the Nationals going to see the Dodgers. The Cardinals are a slight favorite in the opener, but this whole series has been extremely close. They are just a -114 favorite and the Braves are the underdog at even money. This game has the higher total at 8, but a lot of lines have some juice on the under 8. The Dodgers/Nationals game has just a 7 total, but the juice is to the over a bit on that number, so they are close.
We have very solid pitching here tonight with Stephen Strasburg facing off against Walker Buehler in the late game and Jack Flaherty facing Mike Foltynewicz in the early one. Strasburg, Flaherty, and Buehler were three of the best pitchers in the national league all season. They all finished with ERAs around 3, WHIPs around 1, and 10+ Ks per 9. Strasburg and Buehler were both lights out in their other starts already in this series. The sites have the pricing of these two studs higher than both pitchers in the other game. Strasburg edges out Buehler on DraftKings by a few hundred dollars and Buehler is more expensive than Strasburg on FD by about the same couple hundred bucks. Pricing does not steer me to one or the other here. Whichever of the two you like, that is who you should use on both sites, even if it cost a couple hundred more. On FanDuel you don’t get much of a discount dropping down to Flaherty. I think it’s $400 below Strasburg and $700 under Buehler. On DraftKings it is a sizeable difference with Flaherty $2000 cheaper than Strasburg and about $1500 below Buehler. Folty is the cheapest on both sites, but that discount at $6000 on DK is much nicer than the $8300 tag on FD.
Jack Flaherty (DK) -The softest matchup here is probably for Flaherty. The Braves were slightly better than the Cardinals in terms of creating runs, but they also had the highest strikeout rate. That gives Flaherty the best chance for upside. His first start of the series he gave up 8 hits, 1 walk, and 3 runs over 7 innings. He threw 117 pitches in that one too. It was actually his worst start of the last month and a half as he had only given up 3 runs in one other of his last 10 starts and the rest were lights out starts with 1 or no runs allowed. He allowed a run in the first inning before shutting down the Braves offense for 5 straight innings before being tagged by Adam Duvall for a pinch hit 2-run homer in the seventh. It was not his best start and he did earn the loss, but he still managed 8 Ks over 7.
Walker Buehler (Both sites) – My #1 on the board is going to be Walker Buehler today. I love the stuff this kid has. The Nationals are the softer lineup in that late game and that is why I gave Buehler the edge over Strasburg. I totally expect this to end up as a pitcher’s duel. Strasburg went 6 innings, struck out 10 and gave up just one run on 3 hits and a walk in the first matchup of the series. Buehler was equally as good if not better going 6 innings with 8 Ks, allowing just 1 hit, 3 walks, and no runs against the Nationals in his other outing of the series. Both guys are studs and if you want to try to squeeze them in together I don’t think it’s a crazy GPP thing to do for slightly lower ownership. They used Strasburg for three innings in the play in game before pulling him at 85 pitches while cruising in game 2. That is my biggest concern with him. Buehler is routinely throwing 100+ pitches lately and while Strasburg didn’t need that many last time out, I worry a bit about a short leash with him. With the projections being close by a razor thin margin, that and the underdog status cemented Buehler > Strasburg for me.
Stacking works great during the regular season, but I am not convinced it is a must in the playoffs with these short slates. The late game is one where I really doubt we see a lot of offense at all, so I’m not trying to end up with 4-5 guys on either of those teams. Someone is going to have to score, so I can see including a few bats from either side here or there, but can’t imagine Buehler or Strasburg getting lit up today. IF you want to stack or even be heavily invested in one game over the other, I do think we see more scoring in the first matchup. Atlanta is a better hitter’s park than Dodger Stadium is and the pitchers on the West Coast are both more talented. No one projects for much over 4.5 runs here today, but the Cardinals have the softest matchup and highest team total. If you wanted to stack someone, I think they are the best bet. We obviously only have 4-5 options on the slate at each position, so let me mention the ones I like.
Brian McCann – Will Smith has not been doing much with just one hit this series. Yadier Molina had a good game to help his tam tie it up and move on to this spot. McCann and likely Yan Gomes are the other two starters here. McCann has power upside and the right splits swinging from the left side of the plate. On a slate where I do not expect a lot of scoring, I do like that he is a lefty in a lefty friendly park down in Atlanta. None of these guys are elite options and none really have slam dunk matchups either. The discount on McCann has him as my favorite > Molina, followed by Smith, with Gomes pulling up in last.
Second Favorite: Yadier Molina
Paul Goldschmidt – Goldy has hit safely in every game and sports a 7-for-16 stat line so far in this series. Four of those hits were doubles and 2 others were Homers. He is as hot and as locked in as anyone in the game. Goldy is not cheap, but if you agree with Vegas that they are likely to win, I would bet that Goldy has something to do with that scoring.
Notes: Freddie Freeman profiles fine, but he has not had a good series to date. On DK you have a lot more roster flexibility to use some of the other infield options on the Nationals and Dodgers that also have 1B eligibility. I have decided to lock in and pay for Goldy myself, but wouldn’t be surprised if any other first baseman went off. Goldy is my favorite, but the position is one where anyone can flash some power.
Max Muncy – I am not actively looking to pick on Strasburg, but let’s think about the position for a minute. Ozzie Albies draws his weaker split, so that is not the time I want to use him. The Nats have a few guys with 2B eligibility, but none are elite options. Dozier, Cabrera, and Kendrick all profile well here, but none are guys I really want to use to pick on Buehler. Muncy has elite power upside, so he can blow open what is looking like a low scoring slate with one swing of the bat and few other 2B options can say that.
Kolten Wong – One thing Faulty has struggled with in his career is lefties and that is why Wong is dangerous. This ballpark also sets up for a lefty slugger to tee off on a very unimpressive rookie.
Justin Turner – I am higher on Turner today and I think that is the opposite of most people. Not to lie, I love Rendon as well, but for GPP game theory purposes, going away from him saves you money and helps differentiate your roster. Both guys actually have shown the ability to hit in the same handed spots, but I think Turner comes in lower owned than Rendon and a tad cheaper as well. I like both guys better than both third baseman in the other game. Josh Donaldson is second in raw projections behind Rendon, so I guess you can say I’m fading Rendon here on my main lineup.
Matt Carpenter – Strictly a flier GPP play, but the weakness of Folty is lefties and that ballpark plays better to lefties. Would not be shocked to see him catch and lift one to the outfield. He’s an old man, but not washed up yet and one swing could be the difference between cashing and falling off for him. The numbers took a dip this year, but the guy has always hit righties well.
Trea Turner – I am not actively trying to jam Trea Turner into y lineups, but tell me what is better? You have Corey Seager a tad priced up and Paul Dejong who is HR or bust. Turner at least has SB upside, leads off, and can get on base to score or be driven in.
Dansby Swanson – I think he goes overlooked and he’s had the best NLDS of all the SS options. Dejong is 2-for-14 and Seager was 3-for-16 entering today. Turner had a couple hits, but the best average and most hits belong to Swanson. He’s hit safely in every game so far this series and has been moving up in that order late in the year. He’s not a massive discount, but you definitely save on him off the top priced chalk.
Marcell Ozuna – The guy I am putting in a lot of my lineups is Ozuna. Listen, other guys may be better, but this guy is on fire. Not only that but the entire strength of the Cardinals offense is those bats in the middle of it. He and Goldy are going to need to generate some runs or the Cardinals are going to be playing golf next week. He has two hits in every game of this series and is a big reason why the Cards are still alive.
Ronald Acuna – No surprise here as he is arguably the best OF option available. He has flashed the upside with some multi-hit games. He might not always run hard, but you don’t have to when you are trotting around the stadium.
Cody Bellinger – People might not realize how good Bellinger is, but those numbers since being called up are pretty elite. This is no easy matchup for him, but Bellinger can produce against anybody, especially a RHP.
Juan Soto – Again, Walker Buehler is not someone to pick on, but we have to play some bats. Soto is elite against RHP so he profiles the best of those bats on the Nationals. His near 150 wRC+ score is nothing to sneeze at and it means he can produce even when the matchup is not strong.
Nick Markakis – One of my favorite contrarian things to do today is play Markakis in a GPP. I know he is most certainly not a GPP play with a lack of upside, but that may not matter today. Markakis can get a 1-for-3 against anybody and has for years. That may not be good enough to take down a GPP on a 12 game Wednesday slate, but on a 2 game slate with elite level pitching in close out games, anyone involved in any of the scoring is going to have value. Not only is he cheap, but an RBI single or a double and a run scored at his price would be great. On a day where a lot of zero’s are likely, having any kind of positive performance from a professional hitter is worth inclusion, especially for a discounted price.
Michael Taylor – When Robles went down, he opened up playing time in the last few games for Taylor. Taylor has a lot of speed and has been getting on base to be able to use it. HE is a very key guy on this slate due to price. Taylor has upside despite lacking power, because this is the kind of game where a walk, SB, and run scored could be the difference and he is one of the few guys capable of doing all those things. He’s 3-for-7 since being thrust into the starting role and his speed makes him a threat for runs or stolen bases. The real kicker is the price which allows you to pay up for pitching and still be able to afford studs with him as a salary saver.