After a deflating loss in Game 3, Houston emphatically bounced back with a victory last night behind a combined no-hitter by Cristian Javier and three relievers. The Phillies will attempt to strike back in their final home game tonight.
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.
The Astros will once again turn to Justin Verlander, whose World Series struggles continued in Game 1 after coughing up five earned runs in five innings. Incredibly, Verlander now has a 6.07 ERA across eight World Series starts.
The veteran right-hander was brilliant in the regular season, but he has two poor starts and one gem in these playoffs. One positive sign is that he's still managed a pristine 2.86 SIERA, 27.9% strikeout rate, and 5.9% walk rate this postseason, and some of his woes are the result of an inflated .405 BABIP.
Still, it's fair to wonder whether his prior struggles at this stage will continue to haunt him tonight.
Noah Syndergaard will take the ball for the Phillies in what is expected to be a bullpen game. Syndergaard has made three appearances this postseason, and in his lone start, he only logged 35 pitches across three innings. Overall, he's posted a 4.04 SIERA, 20.0% strikeout rate, and 5.0% walk rate over 5 1/3 playoff innings.
Syndergaard displayed a noticeable dip in strikeout rate this year, only producing a 13.7% clip after being dealt to Philadelphia at the trade deadline.
Despite dipping into the bullpen early last night, all of Philadelphia's relievers are expected to be available.
Much of your strategy tonight could hinge on whether or not you think Verlander will have it tonight.
In the regular season, he was tough on both righties and lefties, but he also gave up a ton of fly balls, potentially leaving him open to home runs. As noted in prior helpers, Verlander's 0.62 home runs allowed per nine innings was rather suspect due to a minuscule 6.2% homer-to-fly-ball rate. Not only was that latter mark well below his career average (8.9%), but it's the first time since 2015 that he was been below 10%.
Of course, none of that will matter much if we see the Verlander who shut down the Yankees with 11 strikeouts in the ALCS.
If you're siding with the Phillies, the usual foursome of Bryce Harper ($9,500), Kyle Schwarber ($8,500), Rhys Hoskins ($7,000), and J.T. Realmuto ($7,500) remain your top candidates for the MVP and STAR slots.
Harper will be one of the slate's most popular MVPs, but he's exceeded 18 FanDuel points in 8 of his 15 games this postseason. Hoskins is tied with Harper for the most home runs in the playoffs (six), yet won't see nearly as much attention. Schwarber slugged 46 dingers in the regular season, so we know he can lead in scoring on any given night. Realmuto has been hit-or-miss, but he'll see the lowest MVP roster percentage of this group despite cracking 25-plus FanDuel points three times in the postseason.
Guessing which other Phillies will put up points is much tougher since none of them have produced standout numbers. Nick Castellanos ($6,500) and Alec Bohm ($6,000) are probably the safest bets simply due to their solid spots in the batting order.
But if we get the usual Verlander tonight, then the Astros should have a significant matchup advantage, and that's especially the case for lefties Yordan Alvarez ($9,000) and Kyle Tucker ($8,000). Syndergaard posted underwhelming marks against lefties this year, including a 4.91 xFIP and 12.2% strikeout rate. Both lefties will also have the platoon advantage against the majority of Philadelphia's relievers.
Alvarez is likely to be the highest-rostered MVP, but he's quite clearly the top play without factoring in popularity. Tucker should continue to draw fewer clicks, though, making him a fantastic MVP choice in tournaments.
Syndergaard was better in same-sided matchups this year but still only produced a 20.3% strikeout rate while allowing a 39.1% fly-ball rate. Jose Altuve ($7,500) and Alex Bregman ($7,000) can also be considered in the multiplier slots. Despite his postseason struggles, Altuve continues to garner high roster percentages at MVP.
Jeremy Pena ($6,500) remains an intriguing contrarian play at the multiplier slots. He's scored 18 or more FanDuel points four times this postseason, and two of those went for 30-plus.
The bottom four Astros hitters come at value salaries to help fill out lineups. Of the likely starters, Yuli Gurriel ($5,500) and Chas McCormick ($5,000) have been the most productive in the playoffs.