The ALCS gets going on Friday, where we see familiar combatants in the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros, though few expected to see the Red Sox make it this far in 2021. The over/under is set at 8.5 runs, which is fairly high compared to what we've typically seen in these playoffs.
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.
We'll see a battle of lefties on the mound tonight, with Chris Sale taking the ball for the Sox and Framber Valdez getting the nod for the Astros. In terms of implied team totals, Houston has the edge over Boston 4.54-3.96.
That being said, the pitching matchup could be an advantage for the Red Sox despite Sale's struggles over his last couple of starts. In Game 2 of the ALDS, Sale coughed up five earned runs in just one inning, and before that, he lasted just 2 1/3 innings in his final regular season start versus Washington.
That may not inspire confidence, but if we take a step back and look at Sale's overall body of work this regular season, he posted a 3.44 SIERA, 28.4% strikeout rate, and 6.6% walk rate over nine starts. While that may not be the peak Sale we've seen in recent years, those are still impressive marks.
Additionally, although it's difficult to read too much into it, Alex Cora stated that Sale "found it" while warming up in the bullpen last series, suggesting Sale may have figured out whatever has caused his recent issues.
On the other side, Valdez produced a solid 3.79 SIERA this season off an absurd 70.3% ground-ball rate, but at the same time, his 21.9% strikeout rate and 10.1% walk rate aren't terribly exciting. In his lone 2021 appearance, Valdez gave up four earned runs in 4 1/3 innings to the White Sox, though he also tallied six strikeouts.
Sale is somewhat of wild card here, but if he performs up to his season-long numbers, then Boston could find themselves in the driver's seat.
While I'm cautiously optimistic about Sale, we're dealing with two potent offenses, and seeing as both starting pitchers have red flags, this really could go either way.
With both starters being left-handed, we should expect popularity going to the top righty sticks on both sides. For the Red Sox, that means Xander Bogaerts ($7,500) and J.D. Martinez ($7,500), while the Astros feature Jose Altuve ($9,500), Carlos Correa ($8,500), and Alex Bregman ($6,500). Some combination of these guys figures to be the primary ways people fill out their multiplier slots.
Additionally, Boston has a slew of value right-handed bats in Enrique Hernandez ($6,000), Hunter Renfroe ($5,500), and Bobby Dalbec ($5,000), all of whom possess enough power to consider as contrarian ways to fill out your MVP and STAR spots.
The value options for Houston aren't quite as exciting, but Yuli Gurriel ($6,000) is out there, and we could get someone like Jake Meyers ($4,000) or Chas McCormick ($5,000) near the bottom of the order. Meyers and McCormick are similar hitters, striking out roughly 30% of the time while also showing barrel rates around 10%.
All that being said, it's the lefties on both sides who could be your best multiplier choices when factoring in roster percentages.
Obviously, guys like Rafael Devers ($9,000), Kyle Schwarber ($7,000), Yordan Alvarez ($7,000), and Kyle Tucker ($8,000) aren't sneaking by anyone, but they're some of the top overall power hitters in this game, and the lefty-lefty matchups could convince most people to relegate them to flex spots. Again, they should get plenty of attention, but perhaps not quite as much as their right-handed counterparts.