This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
Welcome to the MLB playoffs! This is the first time the MLB postseason has played out in this way. There are 12 playoff teams now, and eight of them are in action in the first round, best-of-three style. All four series in this round begin Friday. The first game is at 12:07 p.m. ET, so get your lineups in early. Here are my recommendations. Let's start the playoffs in style!
Shane Bieber, CLE vs. TAM ($9,300): Bieber struck out the fewest batters of his career, but he pitched 200 innings on the dot and posted a 2.87 FIP, so who would complain too much about that? One team has to be the squad that scored the fewest runs this season among the remaining teams, and that "honor" goes to the Rays. The Devil is back in Tampa, as they scored 666 runs, 21st in MLB.
Alek Manoah, TOR vs. SEA ($6,900): Yes, Manoah has a 3.34 FIP compared to his 2.24 ERA, but he's on fire heading into the playoffs. Over his last seven starts he has exactly an 1.00 ERA. It's cool that the Mariners are in the playoffs, but they had a .230 batting average as a team and finished 18th in runs scored.
With the playoffs just beginning, we're obviously set to see several aces taking the mound Friday. You don't get easy pitchers to target this time of the year. So, who's hot, and who might have a solid opportunity? How about George Springer ($4,900)? Over the last three weeks he has a .954 OPS. He also had an .821 OPS against righties this season, and 13 of his 14 stolen bases came in those matchups. Luis Castillo was added to solidify the Mariners rotation, but over his last five starts he has a 4.23 ERA.
As a rookie, Brendan Donovan ($4,000) had pretty extreme home/road splits. Fortunately, the Cardinals are hosting this series, so Donovan's .896 OPS at home comes into play. Meanwhile, Zach Wheeler had an 1.85 ERA at home but a 3.84 ERA on the road. That isn't surprising. Since joining the Phillies, Wheeler has a 2.21 ERA at home and 3.55 ERA on the road.
Stacks to Consider
I mentioned home/road splits with Wheeler, and that comes into play with Darvish as well. Petco is known as a pitcher's park, and Darvish's numbers play into that rhetoric. This year, the veteran righty had a 2.60 ERA at home and a 3.50 ERA on the road. Last year, it was a 3.38 ERA at home and a 5.54 ERA on the road. Darvish is meeting the Mets in Queens, which is not up his alley.
Lindor doesn't walk, but that can be overlooked given that he hit .270 with 26 home run and 16 stolen bases. I also like that the switch hitter had a .789 OPS against righties and a .784 OPS versus lefties, considering how large of a factor bullpens can be in the postseason. McNeil has a .929 OPS over the last three weeks, and his skill set plays well against a pitcher who doesn't allow many home runs. He has a .326 average and a .382 OBP. The second a lefty enters the game, Vogelbach is going to be pulled. I know that. However, he had an .879 OPS against righties this year, and he has an 1.106 OPS over the last three weeks.
No disrespect to Mikolas, but when you look at the starting pitchers Friday, there's a "one of these things is not like the other" vibe to him. He has a 3.29 ERA and 3.87 FIP. That's fitting, as he has a 3.89 FIP in his career. Also, he struck out a mere 6.81 batters per nine innings, and 6.67 batters per nine in his career. As such, I am going with the Phillies in this one.
As I often note, you need a catcher in your lineup on DraftKings. Realmuto is as good of a catcher at the plate as you will find. He hit .276 with 22 homers and 21 stolen bases, and he also has an .800 OPS over the last three weeks. Obviously, Aaron Judge got most of the home runs love, but Schwarber led the National League with 46 homers. He also had a .900 OPS against righties. Marsh can't hit lefties, but he had a .735 OPS against right handers. On top of that, over the last 21 days he has an .885 OPS.
Editor's note: The Cardinals have since changed their starting pitcher to the left-handed Jose Quintana. The Phillies remain a strong lineup to stack, but consider right-handed options over Schwarber and Marsh.