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Fantasy Baseball Picks: Red Sox vs. Astros DraftKings MLB DFS Showdown Strategy for October 15

Garion Thorne preps you for Friday’s 8:07 p.m. ET ALCS contest between the Red Sox and the Astros with game-script analysis and Captain’s Picks.

If you polled a million people prior to the start of the 2021 MLB season, I don’t think you would find one person who genuinely was cheering for an ALCS featuring both the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros. There might have been a few people soberly designated to the fact that it would inevitably turn out this way, but let’s just all agree that this is a matchup of two teams that don’t exactly inspire a lot of love outside their respective fan bases.

However, that doesn’t mean that this isn’t a meeting of two talented lineups. That doesn’t mean this isn’t going to be some great baseball, and it all gets started on Friday with Game 1. Let’s dive into it from a Showdown perspective.

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: MLB Showdown $300K AL Pennant Push [$100K to 1st] (BOS vs HOU)


SHOWDOWN STRATEGY

Captain’s Picks

Jose Altuve ($14,700 CP) - I’ve referenced this many times, but when it comes to BvP data, it’s not enough for me that a batter has owned a particular pitcher throughout their careers — it also has to make sense from a grander perspective. As an example, Altuve comes into tonight’s contest with three home runs and a .414 wOBA in his 32 plate appearances against Chris Sale ($10,400). Does that really mean more to me than the fact that Altuve is a career .325 hitter with a 141 wRC+ off of left-handed pitching? Not especially. Yet the fact that the two go hand-in-hand helps to validate each statistic. Altuve’s viability is also assisted by his status as the Astros’ leadoff man and the fact that Sale hasn’t quite looked like himself since returning from Tommy John surgery. In nine regular season outings, the lefty pitched to a 4.29 FIP and a 1.56 WHIP versus RHBs.

Hunter Renfroe ($11,100 CP) - Renfroe is far from the first guy you think about on this 2021 Red Sox roster, but he’s likely the most dangerous bat in the lineup when it comes to hitting left-handed pitching. To wit, across the final two months of the regular season, Renfroe slashed .300/.347/.629 with a .329 ISO and a 156 wRC+ in his 75 plate appearances within the split. That late push is a huge part of why Renfroe led all qualified Boston players in expected wOBA versus LHPs for the campaign as a whole (.394). As for the southpaw Renfroe will face on Friday, things haven’t been recently trending in a fantastic direction for Framber Valdez ($10,400), who was roughed up in Game 2 of the ALDS and who posted a 4.99 FIP over his final five starts of the regular season.


Value FLEX Plays

Yuli Gurriel ($7,000) - Not surprisingly, there are several Astros positional assets with great numbers against left-handed pitching. Alex Bregman ($7,600) owns a career 163 wRC+ within the split, while Kyle Tucker ($9,200) — someone who might go overlooked due to his handedness — actually led all qualified Houston players with a .421 expected wOBA versus LHPs in 2021. Still, the most useful Astro from a lineup building perspective might just be Gurriel. The veteran is incredibly cheap for a man that just led the league in hitting (.319), and much of that damage was done when facing a southpaw opponent, as Gurriel sported a .925 OPS and a 152 wRC+ in his 208 plate appearances within the split. I also think it’s important to note that Alex Cora mentioned on Thursday that Eduardo Rodriguez ($10,600) would be available out of the Red Sox bullpen on Friday, meaning that even if Sale were to get in some early trouble, he’d likely be replaced by another lefty. These splits matter.

Bobby Dalbec ($6,200) - There is so, so much swing and miss in Dalbec’s game, but you don’t mind a hyper-aggressive asset in DFS. It also doesn’t hurt that Dalbec possesses some 70-grade raw power. The rookie posted an .877 OPS and a .273 ISO in his 190 plate appearances against left-handed pitching during the regular season, all equating out to a more than respectable .372 expected wOBA within the split. The floor is cavernous with an asset like Dalbec, yet the ceiling speaks for itself.


Fades

Chris Sale ($10,400) - I don’t like the pitching in this contest in general, but I’ll single out Sale specifically due to the volume concerns he’s presented all season long. Boston made sure to be extra careful with the 32-year-old coming off a lengthy IL stint, consistently capping his pitch count. In fact, Sale hasn’t thrown even 90 pitches in an appearance since all the way back on Sept. 1. It’s a span of seven starts where the left-hander has only exceeded 20.0 DKFP one time. I’d expect the Red Sox to continue to be cautious, especially with a bullpen that comes into Friday very well rested. On top of that, consider this matchup. Houston led all teams in OBP (.339) and wRC+ (117) against LHPs during the regular season, somehow combining all that with the lowest strikeout rate within the split (18.3%). Simply put, the Astros are the worst opponent a southpaw could possibly draw.


THE OUTCOME

The Astros dominated this season series and the team enters Game 1 having won its past four playoff contests as a favorite. Houston is also 4-0 in its most recent four playoff games at Minute Maid Park. The Red Sox are equally red-hot, having just taken down the best team in the American League; but in a matchup where I really don’t trust either starting pitcher, I’ll side with the better offense, especially considering Boston goes from a 116 wRC+ in Fenway to a modest 97 wRC+ on the road.

Final Score: Houston 6, Boston 4

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: MLB Showdown $300K AL Pennant Push [$100K to 1st] (BOS vs HOU)


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