This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
Game 2 of the 2019 World Series brings us two of the best pitchers in the league but only one of them has kept their form throughout the postseason, which could open up some unexpected opportunities as we build our lineups.
Justin Verlander ($11,400) has shown flashes of brilliance in the postseason, but his 3.70 ERA and 1.9 HR/9 rate over 24 frames represent a sizeable step back from his incredible regular season campaign. He remains someone worthy of captain consideration thanks to his high-strikeout rate and big-game potential, but it is worth noting that he has allowed at least one home run in three of his four postseason starts. The road to a World Series ring won't get any easier for Verlander, as he prepares to face a Nationals offense that finished the year as a top-10 team in both wOBA and ISO against right-handed pitching.
On the other hand, Stephen Strasburg ($10,600) has been even better than the back of his 2019 baseball card in October, logging a 39 percent strikeout rate while issuing just one walk in 22 innings. He has notched a 1.64 ERA over that span. While it's true that neither offense has been fantastic during the playoffs, Houston's struggles have been a bit more pronounced, as they have logged a .213 batting average and a .656 OPS in 450 at-bats.
The fact that Verlander is priced $800 ahead of Strasburg means that DraftKings isn't putting much weight behind their respective performances in the postseason. We can take advantage of that by putting the 31-year-old in the captain seat while looking to attack Verlander with power hitters. Fortunately, the Nationals have no shortage of bats that can leave the ballpark, and we can actually get what looks to be something of a discount on Anthony Rendon ($9,600) and Juan Soto ($8,800) as a result of the matchup.
Of course, it would hardly be surprising if this game were controlled by the starters, who were two of the best in the game at the close of the regular season. The problem here is that rostering both hurlers will almost certainly be the most popular way to go, and Verlander has shown sufficient cracks in the armor in recent starts. Still, it certainly wouldn't be considered a bad way to construct a roster, as hitters like Adam Eaton ($7,000) and Victor Robles ($6,800) are available as cost-saving options. Alternatively, selecting a reliable bullpen arm like Roberto Osuna ($3,000) or Sean Doolittle ($3,000) is always a viable option to save money in what could potentially be a low-scoring game.
Those who wish to go the contrarian route could try to stack Astros against Strasburg in GPPs. While they have struggled mightily during the playoffs, it seems unbelievable that hitters like Yordan Alvarez ($8,200) and Michael Brantley ($7,200) won't pick things up at some point, as they logged ISOs of .342 and .226, respectively, during the regular season.
The upshot of having two unquestioned aces take the hill on a showdown slate is that we get more than our fair share of cheap options to plug in as punt plays. Kurt Suzuki ($6,200) has just one hit in 23 at-bats in the playoffs, but logged a .216 ISO against righty pitchers during the regular season and has a fair amount of experience facing Verlander, tallying a .333 batting average in 42 career at-bats.