The two trailing teams in the League Championship Series both earned their first wins in yesterday’s games, with the Houston Astros holding on for a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays to avoid a sweep, and the Los Angeles Dodgers scoring 11 runs in the first inning to pull within one game heading into Game 4 of their series with the Atlanta Braves. Both series continue on Thursday, beginning with the American League game at 5:07 p.m. ET.
Clayton Kershaw ($9,400) - Kershaw’s price is as high as anyone thus far in the LCS, but today’s slate is very thin at starting pitcher and Kershaw is clearly the top gun. With Game 4s and 5s on tap for Thursday, all four teams would theoretically be selecting from the back end of their rotations, but Kershaw was scratched from Game 2 with back spasms and still hasn’t pitched in this series as a result. It could be reasonable to have concern about Kershaw’s health and therefore his effectiveness, but given the lack of other competent options, it’s probably best to trust him today even against a tough offense like the Braves.
The other thing that should help Kershaw today, as well as Braves starter Bryse Wilson ($6,000), is the weather. Yesterday’s game between these teams saw a strong hitting environment, with temperatures approaching 90 degrees and also some helping winds, but today’s game will have roughly the opposite conditions. The start time is a couple of hours later which means more of the game will be played at night, and the temperatures should be about 20 degrees lower than they were yesterday. Fly balls tend to not travel as far as temperatures drop, and the pitchers will take all the help they can get after a combined 33 runs were scored in the last two games of this series.
Nick Anderson ($4,100) - We can really only speculate as to how the Rays and Astros will manage their pitchers as today’s ALCS Game 5 goes on, but it seems unlikely that any pitcher in the game will wind up going for more than two or three innings. John Curtiss ($4,100) has been announced as the opener, and he’ll probably command some ownership just due to the certainty that he’ll pitch. Anderson might be a better bet for fantasy scoring, however, and he should come in at much lower ownership. Most of the Rays’ best relievers have already appeared twice in this series, but Anderson has only pitched once and he should be well rested after getting the last two days off.
DraftKings Slate Strategy
Pricing has been almost a non-issue in MLB DFS this week, as pitchers have been routinely cheap and hitters have been underpriced. That’s not really the case today, however, as Kershaw costs almost $10K and most of the Dodgers’ hitters are now into the $4.5-5K range. One of the ways to make this work is to limit use of the Dodgers’ offense, especially considering the downgrade in park conditions for today’s game, and instead focus on offense in the American League matchup. The other seemingly viable options — if using Kershaw — is to use a cheap relief pitcher as your SP2, since there really isn’t another great choice. The Rays and Astros both figure to use several different pitchers today, and it’s conceivable that the winning lineup today pairs Kershaw with a reliever from the AL game.
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