FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Wild Card Helper: Cardinals at Dodgers
With the AL wild card in the books, we now shift over to the NL on Wednesday, where we get a matchup between the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers that few could've predicted earlier this summer. But between an amazing late-season surge by the Cardinals that included a 17-game win streak, and 106 wins somehow not being enough for the Dodgers to take the NL West, their paths have crossed in tonight's winner-take-all.
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.
This 7.5 over/under is even lower than last night's game, but the implied totals have a much larger divide this time around, with the Dodgers getting a solid 4.42 mark compared to 3.08 for the Cardinals.
Wainwright is obviously the far less flashy hurler, but the 39-year-old had a throwback year of sorts, finishing with a fantastic 3.05 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. His 4.13 SIERA and 21.0% strikeout rate don't jump off the page, but he was able to get the job done with a low walk rate (6.0%), solid ground-ball rate (47.5%), and minimum hard contact allowed (29.7%).
As for Scherzer, he was elite pretty much across the board, posting a 2.90 SIERA, 34.1% strikeout rate, and 5.2% walk rate, and outside of giving up the occasional dinger off his sky-high 48.2% fly-ball rate, there's little to nitpick. He did stumble in back-to-back starts to end the season (at Colorado, vs. San Diego), but outside of that, it's clear that the Cardinals will be at a disadvantage.
The Dodgers' bullpen was a strength all season, so they ought to have the edge there, as well. That being said, both teams performed well in that department over the last month, with St. Louis actually ranking fifth in bullpen xFIP (4.08), while Los Angeles barely trailed them at sixth (4.10).
Los Angeles Dodgers
All signs point to the Dodgers in this one, so all of their top bats will almost certainly be the most popular choices for the MVP/STAR slots.
Even with Max Muncy out with an elbow injury, that still leaves us with the trio of Trea Turner ($9,500), Corey Seager ($8,500), and Mookie Betts ($8,000) atop the order, and all three have a lethal combination of power and low strikeout rates. Turner's elite speed (32 stolen bases; 100th-percentile sprint speed) gives him another avenue to fantasy points, too.
Justin Turner ($7,000) and Will Smith ($6,500) are strong plays, as well, and they might be ways to be a little different in the multiplier slots when leaning Dodgers. Turner is another guy who doesn't strike out often (16.0%) with some pop (.193 ISO), while Smith is one of the better power hitters on the team (.237 ISO).
The bottom of the order can mostly help fill out lineups in the flex, with guys like A.J. Pollock ($6,500), Chris Taylor ($6,000), and Cody Bellinger ($5,000) being possibilities. Pollock could fly under the radar despite demonstrating solid power off an 11.1% barrel rate. Bellinger is coming off a disastrous season, but given the talent we've seen in the past, he could be worth a flyer at this salary to fit in the high-salaried bats.
St. Louis Cardinals
Weird things can happen in a single baseball game, so going heavy on the Cardinals might be the game-theory play.
While Paul Goldschmidt ($9,000), Tyler O'Neill ($7,500), and Nolan Arenado ($7,500) ought to find themselves in plenty of lineups overall, my guess is they'll draw far less attention as MVP/STAR choices. In particular, O'Neill is a fun multiplier option because of his massive 17.9% barrel rate, .274 ISO, and .570 xSLG.
Due to a lack of power, Tommy Edman ($6,000) is probably better left as a flex play, but he's an excellent value for a leadoff man with 30 stolen bases under his belt. Dylan Carlson ($7,000) falls in a similar boat as a solid if unspectacular slugger, though he should bat in the heart of the order.
Paul DeJong ($4,500) is near minimum salary with a .194 ISO and 10.6% barrel rate this year, so he could be the best punt option on either team if he starts.
Lastly, the streaky Harrison Bader ($5,500) probably won't be especially popular at the bottom of the order, but he can have occasional big performances as a power-speed threat with 97th-percentile sprint speed.