Tuesday’s fantasy baseball Showdown contest features one MLB game: the National League Wild Card playoff game between the Washington Nationals and Milwaukee Brewers, which starts at 8:08 p.m. ET. Washington finished the season 93-79, four wins better than the 89-win Brewers, but Washington significantly outscored Milwaukee, posting a run differential of +149, compared to just +3 for Milwaukee. By park- and league-adjusted metrics, the Nationals were a better offensive club than the Brewers, producing about six percent better.
Ryan Braun (calf) and Lorenzo Cain (ankle) enter the postseason hobbled, but the Brewers are hopeful each will be in Tuesday’s lineup for a must-win, single-elimination game. 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.
Editor’s Note: Braun and Cain are in the lineup for tonight’s game.
Note: All salaries will be Flex prices unless noted as Captain’s Pick prices.
— The Nationals have lost the first inning in three of their past four Tuesday home games.
— The Nationals have won each of their past nine games at Nationals Park.
— The ‘Inning 1 OVER 0.5 runs’ market has hit in each of the Nationals’ past five Tuesday games at Nationals Park.
— The Brewers have led after three innings in each of their past five Tuesday games.
— Each of the Brewers’ past five road games following an extra-innings loss have gone UNDER the total runs line.
Stats provided by DraftKings Sportsbook
The pitching matchup is expected to be handled differently between the two teams, with the Nationals using a traditional ace pitcher that will be a candidate to pitch deep into the game, and the Brewers expected to use more volume out of the bullpen. Max Scherzer ($12,600), one of baseball’s best pitchers, is taking the ball for the Nationals, and Brandon Woodruff ($10,000) is expected to start for the Brewers. Woodruff is making his third start off an injury that sidelined him for close to two months and threw just 38 pitches in his most recent appearance, so he is not built up to pitch particularly deep into the game. Since Woodruff is not likely to log a lot of volume, his fantasy value is taking a hit despite him being a strong pitcher.
Scherzer, meanwhile, is an outstanding fantasy choice against a Brewers offense that was strikeout prone during the regular season. Milwaukee struck out at the seventh highest rate in the regular season and showcased more swing and miss late in the season, striking out in a heavy 27% of its plate appearances in September, third highest. Milwaukee also showcased boosted swings and misses on a per pitch basis over that timeframe. Scherzer is one of baseball’s best strikeout pitchers, striking out 35% of batters faced, third best among qualified SP and significantly better than the SP league average of 22%. Scherzer battled an upper-back injury in the second half but returned showing no alarming signs in his pitch movement or velocity and has thrown more than 100 pitches in each of his past two starts, striking out double-digit batters in each.
Brewers batters could be in for a long night, because the Nationals have Stephen Strasburg ($11,800) and Patrick Corbin ($11,200) available out of the bullpen behind Scherzer to help cover for an atrocious bullpen that wasn’t far behind the historically bad Baltimore Orioles by bullpen ERA. Because it’s not certain either Strasburg or Corbin will pitch, combined with the fact volume likely will be limited for each, neither is much of an appealing fantasy play at their hefty price tags. Their primary fantasy impact is that facing Scherzer, Strasburg and Corbin for most or all of the innings is a tough fantasy task for the Brewers. If choosing to roster Brewers bats, their left-handed batters are the preferred fantasy choice, as the right-handed Scherzer is death on right-handed batters but more mortal against left-handed batters. Eric Thames ($7,800), Mike Moustakas ($7,200), Yasmani Grandal ($6,600) and Trent Grisham ($7,400) are the best options from the left side, with Thames, Moustakas and Grandal all carrying power hitting potential and Grisham getting a strong fantasy lineup slot at leadoff. Keston Hiura ($8,800) had a terrific rookie season but is in a tough spot against Scherzer given Scherzer’s dominance of right-handed batters.
Nationals batters are probably in a better position against Woodruff and the Brewers’ bullpen. The right-handed Woodruff was extremely hard on right-handed batters, but left-handed batters had slightly better than average numbers off Woodruff, making Juan Soto ($9,000), Adam Eaton ($8,000), Asdrubal Cabrera ($8,200) and Matt Adams ($6,200) options from the left side. Woodruff throws more fastballs than average, throwing a fastball on 64% of his pitches, higher than the league average fastball rate of 52.5%. Soto has a reputation for clobbering fastballs and posted elite numbers against fastballs this season, which could position him well against Woodruff. Right-handed batter and MVP candidate Anthony Rendon ($9,400) also posted elite numbers against fastballs. Against fastballs in the velocity band Woodruff throws, Rendon and Soto also posted plus numbers, showcasing an ability to also hit hard velocity, as Woodruff sits roughly 96 mph with his fastball. Trea Turner ($9,600) is also an option given his ability to produce with stolen bases combined with his excellent lineup slot.
On the pitching side, Scherzer ($18,900 CP) is an excellent Captain’s Pick choice with his strikeout upside, while a lack of volume makes most Brewers pitchers difficult to trust given that Woodruff probably won’t pitch much more than three innings. If looking to choose a Brewers pitcher, relief ace Josh Hader ($3,000; $4,500 CP) is a candidate to pitch multiple innings in this must-win game and is priced cheaply at $3,000, with his Captain’s Pick salary at $4,500. Hader strikes out an absurd amount of batters on a per-batter basis, striking out 48% of batters, more than double the league average. On the hitting side, Soto ($13,500 CP) and Rendon ($14,100 CP) are quality options as Captain’s Pick, with Soto the preferred option given he bats from the left side.
The Nationals’ one major weakness during the regular season was their bullpen, which ranked second worst in MLB by ERA, a big difference from their starting pitching production, which ranked second best by ERA. With the Nationals set to have Strasburg and Corbin available behind Scherzer to cover for the atrocious bullpen, Washington carries very little weaknesses heading into this one-game playoff, and is in the better position to win and advance to the NLDS.
Final score: Nationals 5, Brewers 3
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