This article is part of our FanDuel MLB series.
Two AL games come at us Saturday, so we'll have only a handful of options to choose from.
Gerrit Cole ($12,200) forces your hand here — pay for pitching or hitting? While no one is a sure thing, he's as close as we get Saturday. He struck out a ridiculous 74 batters in 42 September innings, allowing 20 hits and six runs. You have to go back to June 25 to find a start where Cole failed to reach 40 FDP. If there's any knock at all, it's been the long ball. Cole allowed four in September, and Tampa Bay got him for two in 12.1 innings this season. Cole counters with 24 Ks against the Rays.
Blake Snell ($9,400) will oppose Cole, and can largely be glossed over. Not only does Houston leads the majors with a .363 wOBA and 131 wRC+ against lefties, Snell is unlikely to work deep. He made three September appearances after returning from elbow surgery, but has only made it to 62 pitches. That got him through only 2.1 innings. The Rays would likely be ecstatic with four frames here.
Masahiro Tanaka ($8,000) goes for the Yankees. He's been hit or miss, posting a 5.26 second-half ERA, though a somewhat better 4.38 xFIP in that stretch. He's made it at least seven innings in just three of his last 10 starts, and those three went for between 46 and 52 FDP. The floor, however, is low, as he topped 20 points in just three of the other seven outings. He's a clear GPP target that doesn't look trustable for cash lineups, though his home/road splits suggest he's safer in Yankee Stadium, owning a 3.10 ERA and 3.88 xFIP against 6.05/4.77 on the road.
The Twins announced Randy Dobnak ($5,500) as their starter late Friday night. He made three September starts, and was surprisingly effective, allowing only two earned runs and 10 hits over 16.1 innings, striking out 13. He posted a 2.15 ERA in Triple-A, but a 4.64 xFIP, so expecting continued success in the playoffs seems like a stretch. It's obviously not a great matchup against the powerful Yankees, but at this price, Dobnak would only need three or so clean innings to provide 2x value.
We noted the Astros' prowess against lefties above, so that's the obvious spot to run to offensively. While the right strategy, it's important to consider Snell's likely early removal won't afford multiple at-bats for many, so the splits may not play as you'd hope. There's also the cost factor keeping you from having a lot of shares. Alex Bregman ($4,300), Yordan Alvarez ($4,100), and Jose Altuve ($4,000) are the obvious answers, while Carlos Correa ($3,700) offers some savings. Martin Maldonado ($2,200) routinely catches Cole, has been good against lefties since coming over (.457 wOBA, .414 ISO, 34 PA) and offers salary relief.
Yankees-Twins bats are the obvious game stack to try and pair with Cole. Some cheaper opposite-handed bats from Minnesota may make sense against Tanaka, like Eddie Rosario ($3,600) or Jorge Polanco ($3,500). The Yankees are just so difficult to pinpoint given the power production they get from every spot in the order. The most obvious option gets stand alone value below, but DJ LeMahieu ($3,800) hitting atop the order works nicely, and seemingly has a more-stable floor than identically priced Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton.
The easy contrarian play is Rays bats against Cole, though there aren't any splits to target given Cole's dominance. The sample size is too small to rely on, but the BvP numbers are somewhat notable: Travis d'Arnaud ($2,500) is 4-for-4, Ji-Man Choi ($2,800) 3-for-5, Yandy Diaz ($3,400) 2-for-3 and Tommy Pham ($3,300) 9-for-18, all with homers off Cole. A dart throw lineup for GPPs isn't a terrible idea, but it's almost going to leave too much salary left over as you're obviously not paying up for Cole too.
Michael Brantley ($3,500) is priced too low to ignore. Yes, he had a woeful September (.179 BA, 47 wRC+), but he got off to a nice start in Game 1 and hits in the heart of this potent offense. And if we assume Snell exits early, he could see multiple ABs against a right-hander in the later innings.
Brett Gardner ($2,900), hitting out of the third spot in this loaded Yankee lineup, looks like a nightly bargain during the playoffs, and he got off to a solid start Friday by going deep.