FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball NLDS Helper: Dodgers at Giants, Game 5
As many expected entering this highly-anticipated series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, it's come down to a winner-take-all Game 5 on Thursday night at Oracle Park. This one could go either way in a matchup of the season's top National League teams, with both deploying top-notch starting pitchers and likely having nearly everyone else available in relief.
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.
Scoring could be hard to come by with young but deadly pitchers Julio Urias and Logan Webb taking the mound tonight, and that's reflected by the game's low 7.0-run over/under. The Giants have a slight advantage in implied team totals -- if you can even call it one -- at 3.53-3.47. (UPDATE: The Dodgers have announced they are opening the game with right-hander Corey Knebel. They're expected to still go with Urias for the bulk of innings, but they're presumably doing this to mess with the Giants loading up their lineup with right-handed batters. Keep an eye on how the Giants' lineup shakes out, but this otherwise shouldn't affect the slate much.)
Both hurlers performed well earlier in this series, but it was Webb who absolutely dominated in his start, logging 7 and 2/3 scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts in Game 1. Urias was no slouch in Game 2, though, allowing just one earned run in five innings with five punchouts.
Still, given the way Webb was dealing in that last outing -- not to mention that he'll be on full rest -- the Giants should have the advantage here, particularly at home. And let's not forget that Webb was absolutely fantastic in the regular season, too, recording a 3.13 SIERA, 26.5% strikeout rate, 6.0% walk rate, and 60.9% ground-ball rate. Webb logged 92 pitches in Game 1, so he shouldn't have any limitations tonight.
As for Urias, while he doesn't carry the elite ground-ball rate that Webb possesses, his regular-season numbers were otherwise comparable, with a 3.64 SIERA, 26.2% strikeout rate, and 5.1% walk rate. Between going on shorter rest and tallying just 72 pitches in Game 2, we should expect a quicker hook for the southpaw.
With a low-scoring game expected, this could be a particularly tricky single-game slate, because if things play out as expected, a few timely hits or solo shots may be all that ultimately determines the winner.
The Dodgers do appear to have the more difficult pitching matchup against Webb, though, and things might not get much easier once they get past him. Despite relying heavily on his bullpen in Game 4, the travel day in between should help the Giants' pitching staff greatly, as manager Gabe Kapler stated that "everybody will be up and ready to pitch," and that could even include starters Kevin Gausman and Alex Wood.
On top of that, if we're playing the game theory angle, it's easy to look at the players atop the salary list and immediately gravitate towards Mookie Betts ($9,500), Trea Turner ($9,000), and Corey Seager ($8,000) for those multiplier slots, and Will Smith ($6,500) has two home runs in the series, as well. Justin Turner ($6,500) hasn't done much in the postseason, but his mid-range salary and prime spot in the batting order should also keep him popular.
You'll definitely want exposure to those guys in spite of the tough spot, but if you're trying to be a smidge different, flipping over to the Giants for those ever-so-important multiplier slots could be the play.
Urias won't be a walk in the park, and the Dodgers expect to have everyone else on the staff available outside of Max Scherzer, so their potential advantage is minimal. But at least they don't have to worry about running into a buzzsaw like Webb.
Part of the reason the Giants probably won't garner as much attention is that they don't have quite the same name value as the Dodgers' stars. Kris Bryant ($8,500) and Buster Posey ($7,500) are the obvious guys to look at first, as they're the mainstays high in the order and have been two of San Francisco's best hitters in the series.
After that, we could run into some pinch-hitting risks with several guys in the lineup because the Giants will almost certainly mix up their lineup against the lefty.
Therefore, hopping down to Brandon Crawford ($7,000) and Evan Longoria ($5,500) could be the best contrarian route at MVP. Crawford has the lefty-lefty matchup, but he could still mash versus the bullpen (.224 ISO; 11.5% barrel rate). Longoria dealt with injury issues this season, but his power numbers were among the best on the team when healthy (.221 ISO; 13.4% barrel rate).
As far as values, the Dodgers' Gavin Lux ($4,000) and Cody Bellinger ($5,500) are two of the best choices. Lux might be the only starter on either side at minimum salary, while Bellinger has shown signs of life this postseason and has a pretty good shot of playing the whole contest.
On the other hand, outside of Longoria, all the value plays on the Giants' side are at risk to get pulled once Urias is out of the game. Guys like Darin Ruf ($5,000), Austin Slater ($4,500), and Wilmer Flores ($5,000) are secondary plays who are probably better served in lineups that go Giants heavy in the hopes of a surprise blow-up inning early in the game.