Thursday, Oct. 7, brings two Game 1’s, as the American League side of the playoffs gets started with a 4:07 p.m. ET first pitch. Let’s get into the top MLB DFS picks for pitchers and hitters for Yahoo, DraftKings and FanDuel daily fantasy baseball lineups.
MLB DFS Picks: Spotlight Pitchers and Top Stacks, Thursday, Oct. 7
Both games on Thursday are being played in climate-controlled venues, so weather will not be a concern. One thing to keep in mind is that even though aces are taking the mound today, four of the best offenses in the league are also in action. Over the last few postseasons, managers have not hesitated to pull starters if they are not at the top of their game. Yahoo and DraftKings have definitely taken this into account with the pitcher salaries, and it will also be unlikely that any of today’s starters goes beyond the fifth inning.
Top MLB DFS Picks Target: RHP Lance McCullers Jr. vs. Chicago Whites Sox — 3.8 implied runs
DFS Salary: Yahoo $41 | FanDuel $9,600 | DraftKings $8,000
Lance McCullers Jr. was stellar down the stretch in his final six starts. In these 35 innings, he tallied a 2.57 ERA, 3.43 FIP and a .187 batting average against. While the White Sox had the fifth-best offense against right-handed pitchers this season, McCullers is uniquely positioned to deal with them. For his career, he has a 55.5% groundball rate while allowing 0.71 home runs per nine innings, which is easily offset by his 10.06 strikeouts per nine.
Secondary MLB DFS Picks Target: LHP Shane McClanahan — 3.7 implied runs
DFS Salary: Yahoo $34 | FanDuel $8,800 | DraftKings $7,700
This is a storybook beginning to rookie Shane McClanahan’s MLB career. He was stellar in the regular season, with a 10-6 record, 3.43 ERA and 1.27 WHIP over 25 starts for Tampa Bay. Now it is the postseason, and McClanahan is starting Game 1 of the playoffs for a 100-win team that had the best record in the American League. Boston was just above league average this season against lefties, and while they have several players who are elite against southpaws, the lineup is not as deep as it has been in years past. There is also a chance that J.D. Martinez (ankle) will not play tonight, and even a slim chance he will be left off the roster for this series.
The Rays love to use their bullpen, so it is hard to see more than four innings for McClanahan on Thursday. However, he definitely could have a strong showing in which he gives up only a run or two while striking out a handful, which would still be in the mix as the top scoring pitcher since most hurlers are not projected for more than five innings and change today.
Tampa Bay Rays vs. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez — 4.4 implied runs
This will be the fifth time the Rays have seen Eduardo Rodriguez this season, and they certainly have had his number. In the prior four games, Rodriguez has been knocked around for a 4.71 ERA and four home runs in 21 innings. This year Tampa Bay was the sixth-best team against lefties, with a 112 wRC+.
Randy Arozarena should be leading off, and in his career he has a .418 wOBA and a .253 ISO against lefties. Fellow youngster Wander Franco has been just as good in his 108 matchups while batting from the right side of the plate, with a .436 wOBA and a .253 ISO. Nelson Cruz continues to mash against opposite-handed pitchers ,and he racked up 32 home runs while also being named an American League All-Star at the age of 41
Mike Zunino is an aberration, and while he does not make contact often, when he does it is with light-tower power. In one of the more interesting oddities, Zunino has an isolated power mark of .537, higher than his weighted on-base average of .513, which is nearly impossible to do. Even more impressive is that Zunino has an expected isolated power of .632 in his 123 plate appearances against lefties, which is again rarified air.
Yandy Diaz, Manuel Margot, Brandon Lowe and Francisco Mejia can round out full stacks. Keep in mind that if Rodriguez is in trouble, Boston will not hesitate to have him hit the showers early. However, even though they have fresh arms, the Red Sox do not have a particularly dominating relief corps.
Final Thoughts for Thursday, Oct. 7
In Game 1 of the playoffs, the four teams in action today are putting forth their respective best pitcher. Each team also has a fully rested bullpen, which now includes the back end of the rotation since most teams use just three starters in the five-game series. Additionally, each of these squads is a top-tier offense, which is a big reason they made the playoffs. This will make things fun, stressful and wildly unpredictable in a highly variant sport.
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