This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
The World Series is here and it begins with two of the best pitchers in the game. The Astros have won 16-straight games with Gerrit Cole on the mound, including a few dominant performances in the postseason. Max Scherzer isn't a slouch, but his numbers aren't at the same level. That's why Houston is roughly a -190 favorite with an over/under of 6.5 runs for Tuesday night.
It's almost a must to use one of these pitchers with an expected run total below seven runs. If Gerrit Cole ($12,000) can go seven innings and not allow a run in New York, there's no reason he can't do that against the Nationals. Cole should be the chalk captain having racked up at least 28 fantasy points in his last 12 starts. The selling point is that he's been better at home with a ridiculous 41.1 K%, .216 OBP and .229 wOBA allowed. The Nationals are rolling, but they've scored fewer runs on the road in both series. They were shutout in Game 1 in Los Angeles and managed five runs in the two wins in St. Louis.
If you fade Cole, it only makes sense to use Max Scherzer ($17,100). He's been awesome in his last two outings, allowing one run and five hits in 14 innings against the Cards and Dodgers. However, he hasn't shown the same consistency as Cole, allowing 15 runs in his four starts prior to the divisional series. There aren't many numbers that point to Scherzer as the Astros dominated righty arms at home in the final month of the regular season with a .416 wOBA and 17.6 K%. The lone factor going for Scherzer is that Masahiro Tanaka shut down the Astros in Game 1 last series, striking out four over six innings without giving up a run.
If you captain either pitcher, you'll have to scrape together the rest of your lineup with a bunch of value plays. You could combine Cole with Josh Reddick ($4,400) and either Robinson Chirinos ($4,200) or Martin Maldonado ($4,000), and have extra cash to throw at a reliable bat or two. If you don't captain Cole, you could bank on Scherzer getting shelled, which would lead to a stack of Houston's best bats in Jose Altuve ($9,600), Alex Bregman ($9,200) and George Springer ($9,000). However, it's not a must to spend if you want viable bats because Michael Brantley ($5,600) used to be in the same division as Scherzer and has 10 extra-base hits (8 2B) in 47 career plate appearances against him. That's a huge number and it's enhanced by Brantley's postseason success with nine hits in the last seven games. Reddick has also had success against Scherzer with a 5-for-11 career mark against the righty.
In tournaments, you could make a play on lefty bats against Scherzer, which is where most of his struggles have come this season. He's allowing 1.38 HR/9 to lefties on the road to go with a .317 OBP and .321 wOBA allowed overall. That means Brantley and Reddick, as well as Yordan Alvarez ($7,200), who won't be on many lists because of a poor postseason. His regular-season numbers support him with a .446 wOBA against righties at home.
There aren't many ways to attack Cole because of how dominant he's been, but he's allowed slightly more power to lefty hitters with a 1.39 HR/9. Similar to the Astros, the Nationals don't have a lefty-heavy lineup so that makes things a bit more difficult. Juan Soto ($8,400) is the clear play if you go this route with Adam Eaton ($5,400) possibly the only other lefty who will play the entire game. Eaton was a steady bat against the Cardinals, producing three runs and three RBIs. While Cole struggles more against lefties, that doesn't mean righties can't have success. A lot of the BVP numbers came when he pitched in the NL, but Anthony Rendon ($9,400) has a career .467 OBP in 15 PA against Cole. Rendon and Howie Kendrick ($7,600) are the plays if you think they can continue their postseason success. They have a combined eight doubles and two homers, while Rendon's .465 OBP is better than everyone, including Bregman and Altuve.
If you simply have to fill a Washington spot in your lineup, Ryan Zimmerman ($4,800) makes the most sense, already with three multi-hit games in the postseason. Victor Robles ($5,200) is also in the conversation with four hits in his last three games, but if you have that much money, it makes more sense to go with Eaton.
To mix things up in GPPs, you may have to captain someone like Brantley or Reddick. That will still allow you to get Cole in the squad, but then you'd be hoping for a home run from one of those bats and for Cole to make it six innings with five or so strikeouts. There aren't a ton of viable ways if you don't captain Cole, but there are possibilities.