MLB

FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: ALCS Game 1

The ALCS between the Tampa Bay Rays and Houston Astros kicks off on Sunday, and Game 1 brings us a pitching matchup of lefties Blake Snell and Framber Valdez. The Rays are 1.5-run favorites on FanDuel Sportsbook, and the total is at 8.5 runs.

For those unfamiliar with the single-game daily fantasy baseball format, scoring is identical to its full roster cousin, except you only roster hitters and lineups consist of five flex spots. The one twist? One of the five roster spots is your designated "MVP," who receives 2-times his total fantasy points, along with a "STAR" slot that gets 1.5-times the points. Naturally, it's crucial that you choose your MVP and All-Star carefully if you want to be at the top of the leaderboards when it's all said and done.

On that note, let's highlight some of the top options for today's FanDuel single-game slate.

Houston Astros

Snell is nasty, but this Houston lineup has some dudes who maul left-handers. Righties are the lesser of two evils against Snell. He had a 42.6% strikeout rate versus lefties this season and held them to a .288 wOBA -- compared to a 27.6% strikeout rate and .320 wOBA to righties.

Righties George Springer ($9,500), Jose Altuve ($8,500), Alex Bregman ($9,000) and Carlos Correa ($7,500) were four of the first five hitters in the lineup the last time the Astros faced a southpaw, which was a date with Jesus Luzardo this past Wednesday. Bregman and Springer are elite plays and should be among the most popular MVP choices. Bregman had a .408 wOBA with the platoon advantage this season while Springer's hard-hit rate was 42.1% in the split, compared to just 34.2% against righties.

Altuve's numbers dropped pretty much across the board in 2020, but he turned it on late in the year. That's carried over into the postseason as he's got a .418 wOBA and two taters in 28 plate appearances. A year ago he tagged southpaws for a .429 wOBA, 44.0% hard-hit rate and 40.4% fly-ball rate. Like Altuve, Correa's regular-season numbers were meh (.308 wOBA), but he has been red-hot in the postseason, smacking four dingers and posting a .668 wOBA in 26 plate appearances. He finished 2019 with a .405 wOBA against lefties.

Yulieski Gurriel ($6,000) is my favorite contrarian MVP pick from Houston, and I'll be leaning on his friendly salary in most of my lineups. While his recent demotion to the seventh spot in the order isn't ideal, Gurriel got to left-handers for a .366 wOBA this year.

Michael Brantley ($7,000) is the only Astros' lefty I'd consider. Yes, Snell is dominant in lefty-lefty spots, but the ace southpaw was limited to fewer than 75 pitches in six of his 11 starts in the regular season. Brantley could get a couple plate appearances against the Rays' bullpen, and he'll likely be in the three hole.

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays were really good versus left-handed pitchers in the regular season, sporting a .343 wOBA in the split, compared to a .319 wOBA against righties.

The last time Tampa Bay faced a southpaw was in Game 4 of the NLDS versus the New York Yankees on Thursday. In that one, Yandy Diaz ($4,500), Randy Arozarena ($7,000) and Manuel Margot ($5,500) his first, third and fifth, respectively.

If Diaz hits leadoff again, he'll be a smashing option, but he's a good play regardless of his slot in the order as he mashed lefties this year to the tune of .356 wOBA. The sample is only 23 plate appearances, but Arozarena racked up a .591 wOBA with the platoon advantage. He's got three jacks and a .580 wOBA this postseason, and he's well worth considering for the MVP spot. Margot is the least appealing option of the three as he had just a .283 wOBA this year versus left-handers.

Fellow righties Mike Zunino ($4,000), Willy Adames ($4,000) and Mike Brosseau ($5,000) could be in the lineup. Using Brosseau feels like chasing the headline after his series-winning homer on Friday night, but Brosseau has been a good play against lefties all season. He posted a .455 wOBA, 62.1% hard-hit rate and 51.7% fly-ball rate in the split in 2020.

Brandon Lowe ($8,000) isn't going to be popular. Given his struggles, salary and the lefty-lefty matchup, it makes sense, too, but Lowe is a bet-on-talent play who could be a slate-changing option if he pops. Against lefties this season, he finished with a .467 wOBA, 50.0% hard-hit rate and 47.2% fly-ball rate. He should be in a meaty spot in the lineup, as well.