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Fantasy Baseball Picks: Top DraftKings MLB DFS Bullpen Strategy for Showdown on September 29

Matt Meiselman gives his top bullpen strategy for Tuesday’s featured DraftKings MLB Showdown contests.

Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

After a 60-game regular season, the MLB playoffs get underway on Tuesday with an expanded 16-team format and several more Wild Card matchups than baseball fans are used to seeing. This year’s Wild Card round consists of best of three series, where the higher seed will be the home team for all of the necessary games.

MLB playoffs means plenty of single-game DraftKings Showdown contests, and those contests get started today with two featured games: Astros-Twins starting at 2 p.m. ET, and Yankees-Indians starting at 7 p.m. ET.

With an increase in starting pitcher quality for most playoff games, some MLB DFS players will look to the bullpens when building their DraftKings Showdown lineups. For this breakdown and for many more to come over the course of the playoffs, you can find analysis on the relief pitchers for these featured games.

Set your DraftKings fantasy baseball Showdown lineups here: MLB Showdown $60K Primetime Pennant Push [$20K to 1st] and MLB Showdown $40K Extra Inning [$10K to 1st] (HOU vs MIN).


Houston Astros at Minnesota Twins

Zack Greinke ($10,800) has been considered a top-level pitcher for a long time, but Kenta Maeda ($11,600) took a leap from good to great in 2020 and gets the call for this important Game 1 as a result. Maeda has been a solid pitcher for a few years, but this season he posted a career high strikeout rate of 32.3% while also having a career low walk rate at 4% (up from his career averages of 28.1% and 8.6%, respectively). Bullpen usage is likely to be more meaningful in this game than it would have been in previous years where Maeda wasn’t as dominant.

Relievers to target

Astros: Ryan Pressly ($4,000), Brooks Raley ($4,000)

Twins: Taylor Rogers ($4,000), Sergio Romo ($4,000), Trevor May ($4,000), Tyler Duffey ($4,000)

The Astros’ bullpen has been a major strength over the past few seasons, but largely due to injuries, that wasn’t the case in 2020. The Astros were middle of the pack in most bullpen metrics, but they do have solid options on the back end in Pressly and Raley. Many will remember Pressly as the setup man from last season, but 32-year-old Brooks Raley was actually in the KBO the last few years and hadn’t pitched in MLB since 2013. Raley had a great season in 2020, especially against lefties, and he should play a key role in this series against the Twins’ left-hand heavy offense.

Taylor Rogers is the biggest name in the Twins’ bullpen, but they actually have a bunch of good late-inning options and it could make sense to spread out exposure there when making DraftKings Showdown lineups. The Twins were 2nd in bullpen WAR this year and near the top in most other metrics, and the depth on the back end is likely a big reason why. There’s also plenty of strikeout potential here, as the Twins were among the league leaders in bullpen strikeout rate, and Trevor May in particular was near the top of the league in this category at 39.6%.


New York Yankees at Cleveland Indians

The first game of this series features the two pitchers who were the leading AL Cy Young candidates prior to the 2020 regular season, and who were the frontrunners for most of the season as well. Gerrit Cole ($11,600) faltered a bit in the second half of the year, but Shane Bieber ($12,000) remained dominant and appears to be a lock to get the award. In any case, this is a premier Game 1 pitching matchup and it should be one that stays low scoring, so it wouldn’t be a shock to see a relief pitcher or two outscore many of the starting position players.

Relievers to target

Yankees: Aroldis Chapman ($4,000), Adam Ottavino ($4,000)

Indians: Brad Hand ($4,000), James Karinchak ($4,000)

The Yankees’ bullpen struggled in 2020, in part due Aroldis Chapman’s early season absence, but this is still a formidable group heading into the postseason. The Yankees’ go-to lefty in Zack Britton ($4,000) is generally a low-strikeout option, but pitchers like Chapman, Ottavino, and even Chad Green ($4,000) are usually good bets for some strikeouts whenever they pitch. Assuming this is a close and low-scoring game, some of them should get opportunities after Gerrit Cole exits.

On the Indians’ side, the most interesting name by far is James Karinchak, who led MLB in K/9 and had the second highest strikeout rate in 2020. Karinchak is just a rookie (only pitching five innings in 2019) and soared through the minors with astronomical strikeout rates. He may not be as well known as Indians closer Brad Hand, who is also a very good pitcher, but Karinchak is as good of a bet for a multi-strikeout inning as there is in baseball.

Set your DraftKings fantasy baseball Showdown lineups here: MLB Showdown $60K Primetime Pennant Push [$20K to 1st] and MLB Showdown $40K Extra Inning [$10K to 1st] (HOU vs MIN).


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All views expressed are my own. I am an employee of DraftKings and am ineligible to play in public DFS or DKSB contests.