I'm guessing most folks weren't expected both Atlanta and Boston to be leading their respective series to this point, but here we are. The Braves and Dodgers get the slate started at 5:08 pm ET, with the Astros and Red Sox following them at 8:08 pm ET. Depending on how things play out, Tuesday and Wednesday could be our final multi-game slates of the season.
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Let's check out the top options on today's main slate.
Of the four starters tonight, you can reasonably talk yourself into any of Walker Buehler ($9,500), Charlie Morton ($8,600), or even Nick Pivetta ($7,800) on the short slate.
Zack Greinke ($7,500) is the lone exception. Not only did Greinke produce a pedestrian 4.54 SIERA and 17.2% strikeout rate during the regular season, but he'll almost certainly be on a low pitch count, too.
Greinke hasn't made a start since September 19th, and he's otherwise only made two relief appearances since. His lone postseason appearance lasted one inning (21 pitches), and prior to that, his last regular-season outing was on October 3rd, logging just 2 1/3 innings and 28 pitches.
And, on top of all that, that's not even getting into the fact that Boston's offense has now scored 21 runs over their last two games and leads all playoff teams with an absurd .941 team OPS this postseason.
Of the remaining three, Buehler is the clear first choice. He produced a 3.73 SIERA, 26.0% strikeout rate, and 6.4% walk rate this season, and the Braves have the lowest implied total on the board (3.29).
Morton actually put up similar regular-season marks, with a 3.53 SIERA, 28.6% strikeout rate, and 7.7% walk rate, but he'll have to deal with a tough Dodgers lineup filled with low-strikeout bats. Still, he's the natural second choice, and that's reflected by Los Angeles' modest 4.21 implied total.
Both pitchers are well-rested, too, so workload shouldn't be a problem if they're pitching well.
Finally, Pivetta is a distant third, but if you want to be contrarian, he's the guy. The Astros are a brutal matchup as always, and Pivetta could easily get himself into trouble early against such a patient lineup due to his 9.8% walk rate.
But he's had his moments this season off a solid 26.5% strikeout rate, and he showed some of that upside in a strong relief appearance in the ALDS, going four scoreless innings with seven punchouts. And for what it's worth, in his lone start against the Astros this season in June, he performed well and allowed two earned runs in six innings with nine strikeouts.
It's pretty obvious that the most popular strategy will be to load up on the Red Sox versus Greinke and an Astros bullpen that's been pushed into heavy work in this series. Over the first three games, Houston starters have combined for just 5 1/3 innings, and as noted earlier, Greinke will probably keep that trend of abridged starts going regardless of how well he's pitching.
So, yeah, Boston will be chalky, but it will be hard to fade them outside of game theory reasons. Their 4.95 implied total is easily the day's highest and rightfully so.
Oddly enough, their salaries are surprisingly low, as well, outside of Rafael Devers ($4,000), Xander Bogaerts ($3,900), and Enrique Hernandez ($3,600), which should only add to their popularity. Guys like J.D. Martinez ($3,200), Kyle Schwarber ($3,100), and Hunter Renfroe ($2,600) are among those who are curiously under-salaried.
Given all of those factors, making unique Boston lineups will be difficult, so including less interesting bottom-of-the-order guys like Christian Arroyo ($2,300) and Christian Vazquez ($2,100) is worth considering.
Following the Sox, the Astros are the next logical choice against Pivetta. Pivetta doesn't have particularly stark splits, so all of the usual Houston bats are in play, with Yordan Alvarez ($3,500) and Kyle Tucker ($3,800) being go-to options versus the righty. Michael Brantley ($2,500) and Alex Bregman ($3,000) are clear values high in the order, while Yuli Gurriel ($2,600) is also under consideration near the bottom.
Houston is always capable of putting up a bunch of crooked numbers -- much like we saw in the ALDS -- so it wouldn't be shocking to see this game turn into a slugfest.
On paper, the other game is far less appealing for bats, but this is baseball, and weird things can happen on any given night. Even if you aren't too keen on going all-in stacking the Braves or Dodgers, you could pluck one-offs or mini-stacks from the game in hopes of differentiating your Boston and/or Astros stacks.
Despite this potentially being a low-scoring affair, both teams have plenty of sluggers who could knock one out. Mookie Betts ($3,900), Corey Seager ($3,700), Trea Turner ($3,600), and Will Smith ($3,000) are all easy to like for the Dodgers, while Freddie Freeman ($3,600), Austin Riley ($3,800), and Ozzie Albies ($3,700) are among the standouts for the Braves.
Atlanta is also loaded with value through Eddie Rosario ($2,700), Adam Duvall ($2,600), and Joc Pederson ($2,500).