Gerrit Cole

Game 5 of the World Series is a rematch of Game 1, with Gerrit Cole ($11,200) of the Houston Astros going against Max Scherzer ($10,600) of the Washington Nationals, although this time the game is taking place in a National League park at Washington. Since the game is in an NL park, the Astros lose their usual designated hitter slot, which has affected the playing time of Yordan Alvarez ($8,200), as Alvarez is a below average defensive player who Houston has been reluctant to use in the outfield. In Game 1, the Nationals tagged Cole for five runs in seven innings, the first time Cole has allowed more than one run in a start this postseason. Scherzer lasted just five innings and was inefficient with his pitch count, needing 112 pitches to complete five innings against a disciplined Astros lineup that chased the fifth fewest pitches outside of the strike zone during the regular season.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Max Scherzer (neck) has been scratched from tonight’s start. Joe Ross will start for Washington.

Kurt Suzuki ($5,800; hip) enters Game 5 with an uncertain status. Fantasy owners can get up-to-the-minute news, analysis and lineups by downloading the DK Live app. You also can follow DK Live on Twitter at @DKLive.

Note: All salaries will be Flex prices unless noted as Captain’s Pick prices.

BETTING TRENDS

— Eight of the Nationals’ past nine home games against AL West opponents have gone UNDER the total runs line.

— The Astros have lost the first inning in each of their past four Sunday games against NL East opponents.

— Houston has won each of its past eight Sunday games.

— The “First Inning OVER 0.5 runs” market has hit in each of the Astros’ past four Sunday games vs. NL East opponents.

— Houston has led after three innings in each of its past five Sunday games.

Stats provided by DraftKings Sportsbook


SHOWDOWN STRATEGY

EDITOR’S NOTE: Max Scherzer (neck) has been scratched from tonight’s start. Joe Ross will start for Washington.

Cole will be in a softer spot in a park and league upgrade in Nationals Park in the NL, where he will face the opposing pitcher instead of the DH. Cole’s park and league adjusted ERA was second best among qualified pitchers during the regular season, and he is in a rebound spot off Game 1’s subpar performance in part due to the softer conditions. Cole struck out approximately 40% of batters faced during the regular season, which is the greatest single season strikeout rate in the history of baseball, beating out Pedro Martinez’s 37.5% rate from 1999. Cole generates his strikeouts with a high 90s, high backspin four-seam fastball that he throws high in the strike zone combined with two breaking balls, a slider and a knuckle-curveball, that break below the barrel. Because of how elite Cole is, Nationals batters are obviously in a tough fantasy spot in what could be a very low scoring game between two of the top pitchers in MLB.

In Game 1, Cole gave up two ding dong Johnsons, the first of which was to Ryan Zimmerman ($6,400). One reason for Zimmerman’s success in Game 1 off Cole could be in part due to his swing path. Zimmerman’s swing path is more level than some hitters who like to uppercut the ball, and his bat path is able to more closely match the path of Cole’s four seam fastball, which Cole throws with a ton of carry in the upper third of the strike zone. Zimmerman hits more ground balls and less fly balls than average as he is more likely to get on top of the ball, which is a good way to attack a four-seam fastball with a lot of backspin. Zimmerman hit two balls very hard off Cole in Game 1, one at 108 mph and one at 106 mph.

Cole’s second home run was given up to Juan Soto ($9,400), who was dominated with high fastballs by Cole in his first at-bat but made an impressive adjustment in his second at-bat to reach the high four-seamer, hitting an opposite field home run. Soto then launched a double off Cole in his third at-bat that left his bat at 102 mph, his second batted ball with an exit speed over 100 mph off Cole in the game. Soto is one of the most talented young hitters in the game and had a historically great 2019 season by his age. Soto’s age 20 season in 2019 ranked as the 11th best offensive season all time by a 20-year old by park and league adjusted metrics, and his 34 home runs ranked fourth most by a player in his age 20 season. Soto is arguably the strongest play in Washington’s lineup and had an explosive .303 isolated power vs. RHP during the regular season.

Zimmerman and Soto had the best contact quality off Cole in Game 1, while Adam Eaton ($7,800) and Kurt Suzuki ($5,800) also posted slightly better than average contact quality by the combination of exit velocity and batted ball angle. Regular season MVP candidate Anthony Rendon ($9,800) is also obviously a fantasy option given his elite skills and strong lineup slot, as is leadoff hitter Trea Turner ($9,000).

Scherzer is one of baseball’s best at enticing batters to chase pitches located out of the strike zone, generating the fifth most swings outside of the strike zone during the regular season. However, Houston is one of the most disciplined teams in MLB, ranking fifth lowest in chase rate, and they did not chase Scherzer’s pitches outside of the strike zone very often in Game 1. This is part contributed to Scherzer throwing an inefficient 112 pitches through just five innings. The good news for Scherzer in Game 5 is that like Cole, he has a softer pitching environment in a National League park that does not feature the DH. Scherzer will instead face the opposing pitcher rather than a monster like Yordan Alvarez ($8,200) in the DH slot. If the Astros can work Scherzer’s pitch count up again and get him out of the game early, they are more likely to face the weakness of the Nationals’ team, which is their bullpen. Washington’s bullpen was rancid and foul during the regular season, ranking as the second worst bullpen by ERA behind only the historically poor Orioles bullpen.

In Game 1, left-handed batters Alvarez and Michael Brantley ($8,000) recorded the hardest hit balls off Scherzer, with Alvarez reaching 107 mph on a laced single and Brantley reaching 102 mph on a line drive single. Scherzer eats up right-handed batters but was mortal against left-handed batters during the regular season, which makes Brantley and Alvarez more appealing fantasy options given their handedness. Since Cole is on the mound, Houston may elect to play Alvarez in the OF given Cole’s seismic strikeout rate creating less batted balls for players to field, although the Astros’ lineup will need to be monitored leading up to game time. While right-handed batters are less ideal matchups vs. Scherzer due to Scherzer’s elite production vs. RHB, the high skill levels of George Springer ($9,600), Alex Bregman ($8,800), Jose Altuve ($9,200), and Carlos Correa ($7,600) also make them fantasy options.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Max Scherzer (neck) has been scratched from tonight’s start. Joe Ross will start for Washington.


THE OUTCOME

With the league upgrade in the National League, both Cole ($16,800 CP) and Scherzer ($15,900 CP) are strong Captain’s Pick choices, especially given their ability to strike batters out at a high level. Brantley ($12,000 CP) and potentially Alvarez ($12,300 CP) — if Alvarez is in the starting lineup — make for solid Captain’s Pick choices for Astros batters given their left-handedness, while Soto ($14,100 CP) is Washington’s top Captain’s Pick choice offensively.

The Astros have a tick better pitching matchup with Cole on the mound, and if Houston can force Scherzer to get his pitch count up again like they did in Game 1, the Astros could be in position to score off the weakness of the Nationals’ team, which is their bullpen.

Final score: Astros 5, Nationals 3


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