This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
For the second time in the division series, we'll get all eight remaining teams in action. We also have the Phillies, Padres, and Astros one win away from punching their tickets to the championship series.
Braves at Phillies
Pitcher Matchup: Charlie Morton ($7,700) vs. Noah Syndergaard ($5,800)
It may come as a surprise Morton has the highest strikeout rate of the pitchers taking the mound Saturday. That's certainly a positive, but he's also shown significant flaws in his skills profile with a high walk rate (8.7%) and HR/9 (1.5). Morton enters with a relatively low salary, which keeps him in play as a value choice, but there are a wide range of potential outcomes for his start. He'd also be strong leverage if you have a thick stomach, as both lineups will be chalk.
Syndergaard compiled a 16.8 K% and 4.39 SIERA for the season, which is reason enough to stay away in a pivotal Game 4 for both teams. Adding to the risk is that if he struggles – even just racking up a pitch count – he'll almost certainly have a short leash before getting yanked. Even as the cheapest pitcher, there's no scenario where I'm using Syndergaard.
Atlanta is likely to be the chalk of the day, and the reasons are fairly clear. Syndergaard is not highly skilled relative to others Saturday, and he's at risk of a short outing. The Phillies had the highest bullpen ERA of any team to make the postseason and it remains a weak spot on the roster. That puts anyone in Atlanta's lineup in play, with Travis d'Arnaud ($3,800) a solid value option.
It's also very reasonable to use Phillies stacks or one-offs Saturday. Morton has the second-highest walk rate and highest homer rate of any pitcher starting. He particularly struggles against lefties (1.9 HR/9), putting Bryce Harper ($6,100), Kyle Schwarber ($5,400), Bryson Stott ($3,100) and potentially even Brandon Marsh ($2,900) as a range of hitters I'd be particularly interested in.
This game lists a run total of nine, which is an outlier for postseason baseball.
Astros at Mariners
Pitcher Matchup: Lance McCullers ($9,400) vs. George Kirby ($6,300)
McCullers ended the regular season with a string of strong performances, which likely explains him being the highest-salaried arm on the day. He produced a respectable 25.6 K% since returning from injury in mid-August, but his 11.3 BB% is very concerning given both his value and matchup. The Mariners drew walks at a 9.7 percent clip during the regular season – a mark only the Yankees surpassed. A short outing seems very possible for McCullers, even if he doesn't get hit hard.
Kirby limped his way into the postseason and now draws his first start. Against a potent Astros offense, the only reason to roster him is to open up salary to spend on an expensive stack or several one-off hitters. In a must-win situation, manager Scott Servais won't hesitate to pull Kirby quickly if needed.
The Mariners are a sneaky stack due to their patience and control being one of McCullers' primary weaknesses. A full stack would be a nice way to get contrarian in a large-field tournament, but the risk remains too high in cash. I wouldn't focus on rostering individual Seattle hitters.
Houston is always in play. Kirby avoids walks, though he did surrender three free passes in two of his final three regular season starts. Houston's lineup could go overlooked because Philadelphia and Atlanta jump out so quickly on paper. If that's the way things appear to be going closer to roster lock, I'd be all in on Houston. Kirby showed extreme reverse platoon splits and pitched worse at home during his first stint in the majors. Both of those could be small-sample anomalies, but it's at least potentially useful information.
Yankees at Guardians
Pitcher Matchup: Luis Severino ($8,100) vs. Triston McKenzie ($8,900)
Severino is likely my favorite point-per-dollar pitcher Saturday. The Guardians have a weak offense, but do make a lot of contact. It may not a ceiling game for Severino, but his floor is among the highest. He represents a nice intersection of skill, value and matchup.
McKenzie enjoyed a breakout season, but his salary reflects it. The Yankees are favored despite being the road team, which should cause some concern about the projected effectiveness of McKenzie. The biggest red flag for me is his high FB%. That can be the source of a lot of easy outs – he has a 14 IFFB% -- but the Yankees have several hitters that are very capable of going deep. I have some interest in McKenzie for tournaments, but he carries too much risk for cash games.
I have little interest in Guardians' bats. Josh Naylor ($3,600) is intriguing as an individual player because he's hit either fourth or fifth for the entire postseason but isn't valued that way.
Yankee power hitters are interesting because the long ball is the best way to beat McKenzie. That means Giancarlo Stanton ($5,200), Aaron Judge ($6,300), Anthony Rizzo ($4,800) and maybe Josh Donaldson ($4,200) are in play, but I likely wouldn't play more than two of those hitters together in the same lineup.
Overall, I'd project a low-scoring matchup.
Dodgers at Padres
Pitching Matchup: Tyler Anderson ($7,200) vs. Joe Musgrove ($8,400)
Musgrove will attempt to punch San Diego's ticket to the NLCS Saturday night. He's one of four pitchers Saturday to have a HR/9 over 1.0, but also has the lowest walk rate of the group. Narrative is also on Musgrove's side, as he showed he's not afraid of the moment by winning Game 3 of the Wild Card series against the Mets. He posted a reasonable 3.63 ERA against the Dodgers during the regular season, maintaining an impressive 23:6 K:BB across 17.1 innings. He's my second-favorite cash game option despite the matchup.
Anderson joins Syndergaard as the only pitchers with a K% below 20 during the regular season, and the Padres were among the teams with the lowest strikeout rate. Since it's been mentioned for Musgrove, it's worth noting Anderson dominated the Padres to the tune of a 1.88 ERA during the regular season. He's a strong value in cash games.
I'd stay away from both lineups as I don't expect many runs. The Dodgers are capable of going off at any point, but I'd take the Philly, Atlanta and Houston lineups ahead of them at a minimum.