This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
We saw some brilliant pitching performances in Game 1 of the NLCS, with Zack Wheeler stealing the show and a game on the road for the Phillies. The Yankees will try to follow suit Wednesday but will be at a significant disadvantage in the pitching matchup on paper.
Philadelphia at San Diego
Nola has been brilliant through two starts in the postseason, holding both St. Louis and Atlanta scoreless for a combined 12.1 innings. He's the second-most expensive pitcher Wednesday and that fits with his skillset. Among the pitchers on the mound Wednesday, he ranks second in strikeout rate, possesses the lowest walk rate and is one of three pitches to have a HR/9 under 1.0. Nola doesn't stand out in a particularly positive or negative way and is a fine play as a result.
Snell is a value on paper. He has the highest strikeout rate and suppresses home runs to an equal level as Nola. Of course, the well-known risk when rostering Snell is his walk rate. That can pop up at any point, which we saw in his start in the wild-card round when he faced the Mets and handed out six free passes. I'm willing to take that risk because he comes at a significant discount to both Nola and Justin Verlander, and his skills don't dictate that the gap should be that large. The other thing specific to the matchup is that Snell should have the chance to neutralize both Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber with a lefty-lefty matchup.
As was the case against Wheeler, nothing about a matchup against Nola makes me want to stack Padres hitters. One-offs are fine, however. Jurickson Profar ($3,200) remains a value as the leadoff hitter and it's always reasonable to roster Juan Soto ($5,300) and Manny Machado ($5,700). Overall, if I was getting exposure to San Diego hitters, I'd try to do it as cheaply as possible.
There are more interesting options when looking at Philadelphia. Rhys Hoskins ($4,400) has annihilated left-handed pitching this season. There's also some interesting value, as Alec Bohm ($3,300) and Jean Segura ($3,600) both hit well with the handedness advantage and check in at relatively cheap prices. J.T. Realmuto ($5,000) is also a good option and likely a way to make builds a bit different. A Phillies stack is a decent option due to Snell's aforementioned walk problems.
New York at Houston
Taillon is unlike the other three pitchers taking the mound Wednesday. He has the lowest strikeout rate and is the only option of the quartet with an HR/9 over 1.0. He particularly struggled with the longball away from home at the season, surrendering 1.7 HR/9. He also saw a six percent dip in his K% on the road. A matchup against Houston also doesn't help. Taillon isn't a bad big-league pitcher, but the primary reasons to roster him relative to the other available options is salary savings and a way to get contrarian.
Verlander is the highest-priced pitcher Wednesday, likely at least in part due to the fact that Houston has the best implied win percentage. He has an inferior strikeout and home run rate to Nola, so his price semes a bit out of place. That's not to say he's a bad option.
Houston is the obvious team to stack because of Taillon's relatively subpar skills. They'll likely be extremely popular and are also expensive. The cheapest projected hitter in the top half of the order is Jeremy Pena, who checks in at $4,000. In addition to the projected roster rate, another issue with stacking Houston is finding value because the cheapest pitcher (Taillon) will be off the table. In tournaments, it's worth betting on Houston to fail and taking a chance on other plays. In cash games, it will likely be prudent to focus on the Astros' lineup.
There's no reason to roster Yankees hitters on paper, but the team's power hitters are capable of doing damage against anyone. This could be one of the few slates to get Aaron Judge ($6,100) or Giancarlo Stanton ($5,100) at a low roster rate. They can turn this small of a slate upside down with one swing, so they are particularly great plays when they are likely to be unpopular.