FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Wild Card Helper: Yankees at Red Sox
We got a nail-biter finish to the AL wild card race, with the possibility of four teams ending the regular season in a tie -- but in the end, there was no chaos, and we've ended up with a familiar matchup between division rivals.
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 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.
These MLB postseason slates tend to be tricky because after whittling things down to the top teams, we no longer have bottom-feeders like the Orioles or Diamondbacks to knock around anymore, and we're naturally left with good-to-elite starters and bullpens going on a near-nightly basis.
That's no exception in this single-game opener between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, as both teams have arguably their best 2021 starters taking the mound in Gerrit Cole and Nathan Eovaldi.
As a result, both teams are combining for a modest 8.0 over/under, with the Yankees getting a 4.15 implied total and the Sox showing 3.85. Basically, we're looking at a toss-up.
Beginning with Cole first, he finished the season with a 2.93 SIERA, 33.5% strikeout rate, and 5.6% walk rate, and despite some inconsistency down the stretch, his underlying numbers still remained strong in September. He did allow a 46.2% fly-ball rate to left-handed batters, though, so he's a bit more susceptible to dingers against them (1.48 per nine innings). However, he also has a massive 39.1% strikeout rate in the split, so it's not exactly easy to connect, either.
Meanwhile, Eovaldi wrapped up his campaign with a 3.60 SIERA, 25.5% strikeout rate, and 4.6% walk rate. On paper, that would suggest a clear advantage to the Yankees, but we should also keep in mind that Eovaldi was phenomenal from the beginning of July onward, producing a 3.26 SIERA, 29.0% strikeout rate, and 4.2% walk rate over his last 16 starts.
The Yankees should have an advantage in the bullpen, though, as over the last month, their relievers posted the third-best xFIP in the league, while Boston was just 17th.
What theoretically could help the Sox decrease the gap is manager Alex Cora's willingness to use just about anyone in these crucial games, so starters Nick Pivetta and Eduardo Rodriguez could be available out of the 'pen. Both pitchers helped the Red Sox close out their regular-season finale against the Nationals.
New York Yankees
I'm guessing the Yankees are the more popular side, between having Cole on the mound and absolutely demolishing Eovaldi for 7 earned runs in 2 2/3 innings in his second-to-last start of the season.
That ought to leave Aaron Judge ($9,500) and Giancarlo Stanton ($8,500) as two of the most popular options for the multiplier slots. Their power potential is obvious, so the only thing you'll have to decide is whether or not to limit your MVP/STAR exposure for game theory reasons. Over the final two months of the season, Judge posted a .294 ISO, while a red-hot Stanton surpassed that at .314.
Joey Gallo ($6,000) figures to see a high roster percentage due to his lower salary, but he could ultimately trail both Judge and Stanton in the MVP/STAR slots, so that's something to consider. He was fairly quiet down the stretch, but his season-long 18.5% barrel rate bested even Judge (17.6%).
Out of the top five batters in the order, Anthony Rizzo ($7,500) and leadoff man Gleyber Torres ($7,000) ought to see the least attention at MVP/STAR, as they clearly trail the other three in power, but I wouldn't necessarily rule them out due to their prime batting slots. Particularly in a low-scoring game without home runs, it's entirely possible they outscore their more flashy brethren.
Unless you're making a ton of lineups, the bottom half of the order is probably better reserved as value flex plays, but Gio Urshela ($5,000) is a solid value if he's batting sixth, Kyle Higashioka ($4,000) has sneaky power at minimum salary (.207 ISO; 15.6% barrel rate).
Boston Red Sox
If I'm going under the assumption that the Yankees' top bats draw the most attention, Boston is my preferred side overall.
Rafael Devers ($9,000) isn't going to sneak by anyone after his two-dinger day to end the year, but he should still see less MVP/STAR looks than Judge and Stanton. Boston's other top lefty, Kyle Schwarber ($7,500), is a strong choice as a multiplier, as well. They're the top bats to take advantage of Cole's fly-ball tendencies versus left-handed sticks.
After that, I think it's mostly a matter of cycling through any of Xander Bogaerts ($8,000), Hunter Renfroe ($6,500), and Enrique Hernandez ($6,500) in your multipliers. They're all capable of knocking one out, with Renfroe owning the top ISO (.242). Unfortunately, J.D. Martinez has been ruled out, or he would also be in this group.
Bobby Dalbec ($5,500) is intriguing if he cracks the lineup. He was an absolute beast late in the season, which includes a .418 ISO off a 48.9% hard-hit rate and 60.0% fly-ball rate over the last 30 days. With that kind of pop, you might even consider throwing him in as a contrarian MVP.
Alex Verdugo ($5,500) isn't super exciting, but the value salary can help if you're leaning Red Sox, and he'll have the platoon advantage.