This article is part of our FanDuel MLB series.
The playoffs are here! All four Game 1s of the Wild Card Round are on Tuesday's slate, with Texas at Tampa getting us started at 3:08 p.m. EDT.
As of Tuesday afternoon, there is still some uncertainty on starting pitching. Texas (Jordan Montgomery) and Toronto (Kevin Gausman) are listed at FanDuel but remain unconfirmed, while Corbin Burnes appears set to go for Milwaukee, but is not currently in the player pool. Be sure to confirm before setting your lineups, but generally speaking, all arms look appealing as things tighten up in the postseason. That's evident by all games having listed run totals of 7.5.
Two games are either indoors or have the potential to be, and we're looking dry in the two outdoor parks. Wind could be strong in Minnesota, so check the direction and see if that aids pitchers or bats.
Zack Wheeler, PHI vs. MIA ($9,600): As noted in the intro, there's no bad option on the mound Tuesday, so you're forced to pick sides and build around those choices. Wheeler looks like a nice blend of form, matchup success and fair salary, however. He's earned 40 or more FDP in five of his last five seven starts, has the playoff experience we like and has had success overall against the Marlins (save maybe for Josh Bell). Wheeler allowed six runs and 15 hits against them in three starts and 18 innings this season, striking out 17. Miami's lineup overall is 36-for-144 (.250) with a .685 OPS and 24.3 percent K rate against the right-hander.
Jesus Luzardo, MIA at PHI ($8,500): Luzardo is a wild card in the Wild Card Round; he's shown flashes of brilliance mixed with some unsavory outings. The potential is there for him to be slate-breaking, or make it impossible to win without a Phillies stack. The appeal for me is his dominance over the Phillies' top bats. Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber, Trea Turner, Nick Castellanos, Alec Bohm and J.T. Realmuto are a combined 7-for-57 (.123) with 25 Ks against him. It's been the lesser-known names that have gotten to Luzardo. If he can maintain that dominance, those lesser bats won't get the support to do significant damage.
Brandon Pfaadt, ARI at MIL ($7,800): Pfaadt has been wildly inconsistent in his rookie season but has shown the upside to far exceed this salary. He cut his walks down to 1.4 per nine in September, while raising his strikeouts to 10.8 per nine, leading to a 4.32 ERA and 3.71 xFIP. The Brewers are easily the most targetable offense on the slate, coming in with just a .142 ISO and 90 wRC+ off righties while striking out 23.0 percent of the time. It's certainly possible the moment is too big for Pfaadt and he implodes, but his upside and likely low usage is intriguing.
You simply can't afford to miss on these small slates with your pay-up bats, which is why I prefer some higher-floor players to those with greater ceilings. Christian Yelich ($4,000) fits that profile. He posted a .378 wOBA off righties during the year and added a 138 wRC+, both team highs. He's hit safely in three straight games and six of seven, and he hasn't produced a zero since Sept. 3.
Marcus Semien ($3,800) is a little more volatile but he enjoyed a nice final month of the season, hitting .282 with a .396 wOBA and 153 wRC+ while launching nine homers and scoring 23 times. He's also 4-for-9 with two homers, a double and a triple off Tyler Glasnow, resulting in a massive 1.889 OPS.
We've seen Gausman can get wild at times. He walks 2.7 per nine but has given out 11 free passes in his last three starts, spanning 17.2 innings. Edouard Julien ($3,000) will take walks, doing so three times in six plate appearances against the Jays' starter. It's a limited ceiling play, but if Julien can get on base, that isn't a zero and there's a chance he comes around to score.
So long as he's in the Rays' lineup, Junior Caminero ($2,800) is likely to be in mine. He's hit safely in six of seven games since his promotion and has five hits and five RBI in his last three games, including a homer, offering rare upside at this salary.
There are a few interesting BvP options that make for cheap dart throws. Kevin Kiermaier ($2,400) is 3-for-8 with a homer and 1.194 OPS off Pablo Lopez. Manuel Margot ($2,400) is 6-for-18 with a homer and 1.091 OPS off Jordan Montgomery. Margot also closed the year hitting safely in six straight games and nine of 10, collecting 15 hits in that span.
Stack to Consider
That makes five Rays listed in this column, which wasn't my intent going in. Montgomery is in fine form but with other options on the mound, it's easier to target against him than to use him. The Rays have great numbers against lefties, led by Diaz' .460 wOBA, 204 wRC+, .314 ISO and meager 12 percent soft contact rate. Arozarena isn't in great form and hasn't smashed lefties this season, but he gives us a power presence and second top-of-the-order bat, and we know his postseason prowess. Ramirez balances the budget and is arguably one of the more attractive standalone plays. He has a .415 wOBA and 173 wRC+, though with minimal power, and he's in great form, hitting .382 with a .429 wOBA and 183 wRC+ in September. I personally don't prefer stacking in the playoffs, but rather deploying multiple smaller two-man mini stacks. If you do get it right though, you're in a great spot.