FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Thursday 10/7/21
The ALDS gets underway on Thursday, beginning with the White Sox and Astros at 4:07 pm ET, followed by the Red Sox and Rays in the night cap at 8:07 pm ET. As one would expect from four of the best teams of 2021, not a whole lot separates them, with tonight's four implied totals all bunched together between roughly three to four runs.
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Let's check out the top options on tonight's main slate.
Lance McCullers ($9,600): Realistically, with no gimme matchups here -- it's the playoffs, after all -- you could roster any of tonight's four starters, with the exception of perhaps Shane McClanahan ($8,800), who's the least likely candidate to pitch deep into the game. Lance Lynn ($10,300) is arguably the top talent, but he draws an unforgiving matchup against an Astros lineup that doesn't strike out often.
That leaves us with McCullers next up in an ever-so-slightly better spot against the White Sox. Chicago's a tough lineup, of course, but they should be more of a neutral matchup for punchouts, and they own the slate's second-lowest implied total (3.54).
McCullers' 11.1% walk rate is a blemish on his resume, but he otherwise excels in all other regards, with a 27.0% strikeout rate and 56.4% ground-ball rate while allowing a mere 0.72 homers per nine innings. And even though you never know when a starter will get a quick hook in the postseason, the Houston righty routinely exceeded 100 pitches this year, making him a good bet to earn a quality start.
Eduardo Rodriguez ($8,400): It wouldn't be surprising if the Rays are one of the more popular stacks against Rodriguez, who's been wildly inconsistent this season (4.74 ERA) despite solid underlying numbers. Tampa Bay has the highest of tonight's modest implied totals, too (4.09).
But if the good version of Rodriguez shows up, he can hang with the others on the slate. His 3.64 SIERA, 27.4% strikeout rate, and 7.0% walk rate suggests he should have far better box score results, and an inflated .363 BABIP points to some poor luck this season.
Furthermore, while the Rays' bats can mash with the best of them, they do carry some high-strikeout bats that Rodriguez might be able to exploit.
Lastly, despite the low implied totals, we're also dealing with four strong offenses, so it's entirely possible that none of these starters post huge scores, so grabbing Rodriguez at the lowest salary could also work in your favor by default.
Tampa Bay Rays: As with the pitchers, the margins are thin on offense, as well, so ultimately choosing whichever offense gets the least attention could very well be the best strategy in tournaments.
But strictly as far as matchups go, the Rays do get the slight edge over the others versus Eduardo Rodriguez. As noted earlier, the Boston lefty has all the peripherals of a strong pitcher, and bad luck has perhaps played a role in his high ERA, but there's no denying that for whatever reason, E-Rod just seems to fall apart sometimes.
The last time the left-hander faced the Rays in September, he got lit up for six earned runs and two bombs in just 3 2/3 innings. This will also be the fifth time Tampa has seen him, so they're more than familiar with his arsenal at this point.
On top of that, if Tampa is able to knock Rodriguez out early, they'll face a mediocre Boston bullpen that had just the 17th-best xFIP over the last month.
None of the Rays' salaries are particularly high, so loading up on Nelson Cruz ($3,300), Wander Franco ($3,400), and Randy Arozarena ($3,600) shouldn't be difficult, and they figure to occupy the top three batting slots. Yandy Diaz ($2,800) and Mike Zunino ($2,900) are nice values at their salaries, with Zunino being especially enticing for his whopping .343 ISO and 24.3% barrel rate.
Brandon Lowe ($3,500) gets the dreaded lefty-lefty matchup but also deserves to be high on your list as one of the best overall power hitters on the Rays.
Boston Red Sox: Honestly, there isn't anything special about Boston's matchup against Shane McClanahan, but I'm just assuming they'll be the least popular offense tonight due to their slate-low implied total.
McClanahan's numbers aren't all that different from the other starters, and even if he's dealing, we rarely ever see him surpass five innings. Tampa's bullpen is a strength, but for what it's worth, they were closer to middle-of-the-road over the past month in terms of xFIP, ranking 10th in the category.
We know Boston's offense is always capable of erupting, with power coming from all over the place in Xander Bogaerts ($4,000), Rafael Devers ($3,800), Kyle Schwarber ($3,100) Hunter Renfroe ($2,900), Enrique Hernandez ($2,800), and Bobby Dalbec ($2,400).
Given that most of these salaries are surprisingly low, it shouldn't be difficult to mix and match whomever you want, and with the Rays' bullpen likely taking a good chunk of the game, I don't mind including lefties like Devers and Schwarber.