The Braves took Game 1 from the Dodgers last night in a minor upset, while the Rays won again to extend their series lead to 2-0 against the Astros. Both series continue today with the start times switched around, as the slate begins at 6:05 p.m. ET and the National League going first. The LCS brings us another two-game DFS slate, and there are a lot of similarities between yesterday and today.
Editor’s Note: Dodgers SP Clayton Kershaw (back) has been scratched from tonight’s game vs. the Braves. SP Tony Gonsolin will now start in his place.
Jose Urquidy ($7,100) - Lance McCullers gave up a pair of home runs in a losing effort against the Rays yesterday, but between those first inning and seventh inning blasts he was as dominant as he’s ever been. McCullers gave up four runs (one earned), but racked up 11 strikeouts without walking a batter. The Rays lineup has had its struggles throughout the playoffs and has gotten by mostly on pitching. They’re clearly the weakest offense of the four remaining teams. It’s not a great matchup for Urquidy, but it’s easily the best of the four pitchers today and that figures to continue for the remainder of the LCS.
Urquidy isn’t actually a very good starting pitcher — or at least he wasn’t in 2020 — as his strikeout rate fell dramatically from his 2019 rookie season. Urquidy had a 2.73 ERA this year, but only struck out around five batters per nine innings, making him one of the least effective strikeout pitchers across all of baseball. Having said that, he only made five starts in the regular season and got increasingly more effective in each one, so there’s at least some reason to expect him to regain his 2019 form, which makes up a larger percentage of the overall picture. Urquidy probably isn’t as good as he was in 2019, but he almost definitely isn’t as bad as he was in 2020, either, and an average pitcher in an average matchup actually makes for a really solid choice in the context of this two-game playoff slate.
The most notable pitcher not mentioned above is Clayton Kershaw ($8,800) and he’s likely going to be the first man in for most of the lineups today. Kershaw has another tough matchup against the Braves, but he should benefit from the Adam Duvall injury, which knocked him out early in last night’s game. The problem with Kershaw is his ownership, and it just won’t be very easy to generate a unique GPP lineup while playing him. On the other side of the game is Braves’ starter Ian Anderson ($8,300), who has been lights out in the 2020 playoffs, but will face by far his toughest test against the Dodgers offense — which is quite a lot better than the Reds and Marlins. Anderson figures to be semi-popular, too, which makes him far less appealing in such a difficult spot.
Differentiating at pitcher when there’s only four total choices for two lineup spots just doesn’t create much opportunity for an edge, so the focus for GPPs should be more on the offenses. Just like yesterday, the pitchers are all relatively cheap, so that should mean high ownership again for the best and most expensive hitters. Here’s what that looked like yesterday:
It’s not precisely the same matchups — and Dodgers’ lefties were lower owned yesterday because they were facing a left-handed pitcher in Max Fried — but the trend is still revealing. If you want to have a lineup with Mookie Betts ($5,300), Ronald Acuna ($5,100) and Jose Altuve ($4,900), it’s not that hard to make the salaries work, so that likely means that most of the cheap hitters will be lower owned than the expensive ones. Manuel Margot ($3,200) hit a three-run homer yesterday and was the top scoring outfielder on the slate, and moving down to a cheaper outfielder like him once again is probably a good way to have a different lineup construction today, as well.
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