clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Fantasy Baseball Picks: Top DraftKings MLB DFS Bullpen Strategy for Showdown on September 30

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

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 below, you can find analysis on the relief pitchers for these featured games.

Set your DraftKings fantasy baseball Showdown lineups here:

Dodgers vs. Brewers: MLB Showdown $70K NL Night Cap [$20K to 1st] (MIL vs LAD)

Yankees vs. Indians: MLB Showdown $10K Extra Inning [$2K to 1st] (NYY vs CLE)

Reds vs. Braves: MLB Showdown $25K Extra Inning [$5K to 1st] (CIN vs ATL)

White Sox vs. Athletics: MLB Showdown $8K Knuckleball [$2K to 1st] (CWS vs OAK)


Cincinnati Reds at Atlanta Braves

Relievers to target

Reds: Raisel Iglesias ($4,000)

Braves: N/A

Bullpen pitching was as small of a factor for the Reds in 2020 as it was for any team, as the Reds’ starting rotation carried them through the season, with today's starter Trevor Bauer leading the way. The Reds finished the regular season 3rd in starting pitcher WAR, and as a result their bullpen was near the bottom of the league in total innings pitched. The Reds’ bullpen also has a few pitchers who are overpriced for a Showdown slate, so the safest choice is their closer Raisel Iglesias, who has been an above average closer with the Reds for the last four seasons.

Mark Melancon ($4,000) led the Braves with 11 saves in 2020, but as a low strikeout pitcher, he’s not really someone to count on for this year’s Showdown slates. Set up man Shane Greene ($4,000) has the same problem, but the Braves were still a middle of the pack team in terms of bullpen strikeout rate this year even with Melancon and Greene only getting 35 strikeouts in 50 combined innings. The reason for this is that the Braves long relievers all had solid K rates, but given their increased prices and lack of predictable usage, they don’t set up as viable targets, at least not on today’s slate.


Chicago White Sox at Oakland Athletics

Relievers to target

White Sox: Evan Marshall ($4,000)

A’s: Liam Hendriks ($6,200)

The White Sox used three relievers in yesterday’s Game 1 win, but all three worked quickly and figure to be available again for Game 2. Middle reliever Evan Marshall has been the White Sox’ best bet for strikeouts, at least among the later inning options, and he only threw eight pitches over two-thirds of an inning and should be ready for his normal role again today.

The A’s, on the other hand, taxed their bullpen to a significant extent yesterday after starter Jesus Luzardo only lasted 3+ innings. J.B. Wendelken ($5,200) and Joakim Soria ($4,000) threw 38 and 24 pitches respectively, so they probably won’t end up pitching in today’s game. Closer Liam Hendriks, who led the A’s in strikeout rate in 2020, figures to see some action today regardless of circumstance, considering that the A’s are on the brink of elimination and need to win this game to stay alive in the playoffs. Even with his price up to $6,200, he’s at least worth a look in lineups containing starting pitchers, where the expectation would be for a game with low offensive output.


New York Yankees at Cleveland Indians

Relievers to target

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

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

In a game that most people probably expected to be low scoring, the Yankees attacked Shane Bieber early and often yesterday's Game 1 and ran away with a 12-3 win. As a result of the blowout, none of either team’s best relievers appeared in the game, so everyone is fully rested heading into Wednesday’s Game 2. Both of these teams have top end strikeout talent in their late inning relief choices, so any of these guys could produce points in a hurry if they get into the game.

The fact that this is a Game 2 also means we have ownership numbers to look at from yesterday. Chapman, Hand, and Karinchak came in at at 6.7%, 6.0%, and 4.7% respectively, which are reasonably high numbers for relief pitchers but still make them contrarian plays overall. Ottavino and Green were substantially lower, at 2.0% and 1.7%. Given the nature of yesterday’s high scoring affair, and also the fact that there’s a weaker pitching matchup between Carlos Carrasco and Masahiro Tanaka, the relief pitchers should be even lower owned today than they were in Game 1.


Milwaukee Brewers at Los Angeles Dodgers

Relievers to target

Brewers: Devin Williams ($4,000), Josh Hader ($5,600)

Dodgers: Jake McGee ($4,000)

Most baseball fans will know of Brewers closer Josh Hader, but Hader wasn’t actually the team’s best reliever in 2020 despite having one of the best seasons across the league. The almost inarguable top bullpen arm in all of baseball was his teammate Devin Williams, who yielded just a single earned run in 27 innings (0.33 ERA) while racking up 53 strikeouts and just nine walks for the year. Like Hader, Williams has shown an ability to pitch two inning stints as well, and both are viable options in a game with a starter like Brent Suter, who doesn’t often pitch for more than four or five innings.

The Dodgers’ bullpen is mostly made up of guys who generate ground balls rather than strikeouts, but closer Kenley Jansen is an exception to that as he’s still one of the top late inning bets for strikeouts as there is in MLB. The problem with Jansen is that he’s priced up to $7,200, which is almost certainly too expensive for a guy who rarely pitches for more than one inning at a time. One other name to watch instead for this series in particular is fellow veteran Jake McGee, who led the Dodgers in strikeout rate in 2020. McGee is left handed, and that could mean increased opportunities against a left-hand dominant team like the Brewers.

Set your DraftKings fantasy baseball Showdown lineups here:

Dodgers vs. Brewers: MLB Showdown $70K NL Night Cap [$20K to 1st] (MIL vs LAD)

Yankees vs. Indians: MLB Showdown $10K Extra Inning [$2K to 1st] (NYY vs CLE)

Reds vs. Braves: MLB Showdown $25K Extra Inning [$5K to 1st] (CIN vs ATL)

White Sox vs. Athletics: MLB Showdown $8K Knuckleball [$2K to 1st] (CWS vs OAK)


Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.


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